How drug discovery software is inspiring US high-school students

Optibrium and the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM), are celebrating five years of an education support collaboration.

As part of this specialist science and technology summer school initiative, Optibrium provides free access to StarDrop, Optibrium’s software for small molecule design, optimisation and data analysis. This encourages high school students to take their first steps in drug discovery. This year, in addition to the academic year course ‘Honors Computational Medicinal Chemistry’, 80 rising juniors and seniors will embark upon a special summer short-course entitled ‘Computing COVID-19’, using StarDrop in conjunction with other bioinformatics tools.

Optibrium’s lead product, StarDrop, is a suite of integrated software used by pharmaceutical and biotech companies in their drug discovery programs. As part of Optibrium’s commitment to supporting education, Optibrium sponsors NCSSM use of StarDrop, enabling students to experience realistic drug discovery processes using software.

NCSSM aims to educate their students to become state, national, and global leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; advance public education in North Carolina; and inspire innovation through challenging residential, online, summer, and virtual learning driven by instructional excellence and the excitement of discovery.

Sarah Perkins, who attended the NCSSM course in 2016, is currently completing an undergraduate degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University, said: “The NCSSM medicinal chemistry course was transformative for me in that it catalysed my interest in computational and modeling approaches to biology alongside more traditional wet-lab approaches. The extensive computational framework and experience we built in the course have influenced my academic trajectory and approach to scientific research.”

Dr Matthew Segall, Optibrium’s CEO, said: “Through our educational outreach program, we aim to encourage the next generation of computational chemists, scientists and software developers, and enable them to explore the latest developments in cutting-edge technologies currently employed by leading pharmaceutical R&D organizations. In addition to NCSSM, we are working with several universities worldwide and are pleased to consider support for institutions who wish to collaborate with Optibrium.”

Image: Tim Mossholder

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