September 2013 Author: , (, )

Extracted from Wendy Warr’s Meeting Report:

Continuing a recent tradition, the UGM proper began not with a keynote address but with Alex Drijver, CEO of ChemAxon interviewing Mark Murcko, Senior Vice President, Strategy at Schrödinger as follows.

Alex: Schrödinger has a long relationship with ChemAxon which goes back to the days when Schrödinger acquired Seurat.

Mark: Schrödinger has always focused on physics-based method development, but two years ago it started to add more tools to help with decision making. Rather than reinvent the wheel, the company decided to extend its relationship with ChemAxon.

Alex: ChemAxon has an “Android-like” business model: many providers can use the same platform, as you will see in the partner session later.

Mark: Collaboration is important. The Schrödinger advisory board gives the company serious advice; according to Joy’s Law: “most of the smartest people work for someone else”.

Question from the floor: Why doesn’t Schrödinger build toolkits?

Mark: LiveDesign, Schrödinger’s next generation drug design platform, is plug and play. All Open Eye tools began at Vertex where they wanted to create an open environment. You want your scientists to be able to concentrate on what your own company is uniquely good at. Heads of medchem have a pent-up dissatisfaction with their IT groups because the IT solutions do not address the real needs.

Alex: How was your relationship with your IT people?

Mark: I hired all the IT people at Vertex. The IT groups that are the most successful have people who have a strong science background; people who are not just experts on Ruby on Rails but want to solve problems for scientists.

Alex: What will hardware and software look like in three years’ time?

Mark: Allosterism, designing non-Lipinski compounds, macrocycles. polymorph prediction, undruggable targets, ADME prediction, X-ray data and p450, these are the science challenges that we face. I will need a system that anticipates my needs. It will tell me “Did you know that Lilly made something like this years ago?” Or “Your series looks as if cuts across that patent: do you want to see it?” Pharma is using less than 1% of its information; we need to get all the information into a software package that is a joy to use. LiveDesign needs to be like Google and Facebook. Not all IT people are excited about medicine; Schrödinger recruits IT people who are keen on medicine.