The 2,401st Meeting of the Society

January 11, 2019 at 8:00 PM

Powell Auditorium at the Cosmos Club

Presidents' Lecture

Personalized Drugs on Demand

The Digitization of Chemistry

Leroy (Lee) Cronin

Regius Chair of Chemistry
School of Chemistry
University of Glasgow

Sponsored by Millen, White, Zelano & Branigan, PC

About the Lecture

Why are drugs so expensive? Can drugs go out of manufacture? How can we lower the cost of healthcare and develop personal medicine for 7 Billion people?  In this talk I will describe how we are going to digitize chemistry leading to a “Moore’s law of drug discovery and molecules discovered.” Unlike digital electronics and the internet, which rely on open standards and formats allowing universal implementation, chemistry is in the dark ages.  This is because chemistry relies on expert users to design, carry out, and analyze chemical processes, making universal reproducibility impossible. Our goal is to develop the concept of ‘Chemputing’ which enables and exploits the universal digitization of chemistry. The key to achieving this goal is finding a practically implemented approach to the translation of a chemical synthesis into a universally executable set of instructions or chemical programs. The underlying software suite detaches the computer readable description of the chemistry from the control aspects of the hardware, enabling portability of synthesis. Our vision is to use a software language to be able to program the manufacture of any drug in a library as easily as running software on a computer or app on a phone. But will this be possible? Will the digitization of chemistry be achieved?  This lecture will seek to answer both questions in the affirmative.

About the Speaker

Lee Cronin is Regius Professor of Chemistry in the School of Chemistry at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, UK, where he was previously Gardiner Professor of Chemistry.  Lee also is visiting Professor at Beijing University, and he is involved in more than 150 collaborations with research groups throughout the world. He also has been visiting Professor at the University Pierre and Marie Curie in France. Presently, Lee’s research is focused on five main interests: electron transfer; chemical synthesis; complex chemical systems; artificial (synthetic) life; and nanoscale molecular architectures.  He and his co-workers are investigating these areas in uniquely interdisciplinary ways using robotics, artificial intelligence, and big data to develop new tools to explore and design chemical systems spanning the range from new chemical reactions to the synthesis of complex molecules, molecular devices, and synthetic life. Lee is an author or co-author on two books and more than 400 scientific papers.  He is an inventor in 10 patents, and he is the founder of Deep Matter, a company focused on chemical robotics.  Lee speaks widely on his lab’s research, and has given over 400 invited lectures, including the Pearlman Lecture at the Weizmann Institute; the Solvay Lecture at the University of Belgium, and PSW’s own 81stJoseph Henry Lecture. Among other honors and awards Lee has received the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Interdisciplinary Prize, Tilden Prize, Hutton Prize, Corday Morgan Medal and Prize and the Bob Hay Lectureship.  He has also received a RISE Award, a UK Science Counsel Award, and the Royal Society’s Wolfson Award. Lee earned a BS and a PhD in Chemistry at the University of York.

Highlights