Crowdsourcing to Drive Medical Advancements
In the past, research communities have often spent years working to solve the same scientific problem. At times, this model of research has relied on the input, time and expertise of a relatively small number of specialists. In a world where breakthroughs in cancer treatment, vaccines, degenerative disease and food safety can improve and save billions of lives, we must now look to more innovative and collaborative methods of research. The crowdsourcing movement has the power to revolutionise the way we approach medical and health discovery, by unlocking solutions that might otherwise take scientists years to find. It can usher in a new culture of collaboration across organizations, borders and cultures to solve some of our grandest challenges.
In this breakfast hosted by Mars, Incorporated, Professor Michael Levitt (2013 Nobel Laureate in chemistry), Assistant Professor Justin Siegel (University of California, Davis) and a selected young scientist will discuss if traditional research methods are fit for purpose and how medical crowdsourcing can help drive scientific progress.
Many successful and popular medical crowdsourcing platforms today use 3D representations of proteins or neurons as a foundation for participants to simulate biological reactions. The field of computational biology can be traced back to pioneering work by Michael Levitt, Martin Karplus, and Arieh Warshel, who together won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2013. Their work leveraged computer algorithms and software to model complex biochemical processes. The advances made by Levitt, Karplus and Warshel have since contributed to countless significant breakthroughs in the field of drug design and discovery.
Drawing on current examples of science crowdsourcing, this panel discussion will explore the potential of the crowdsourcing movement to transform medical discovery. Young scientists will have the opportunity to join the crowdsourcing movement at the event at the interactive Foldit gaming hub.
Michael Levitt, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2013. Levitt, who was born in 1947, in Pretoria, South Africa, developed the first computer software to conduct simulations of DNA and proteins and worked on simplified representations of protein structure for analysis. Part of this complex calculation can be performed using classical mechanics but accurately predicting the course of the reactions requires advanced calculations based on quantum mechanics. It was for his work creating a computer programme to perform these ‘multiscale’ calculations that Michael Levitt was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, which he shared with Martin Karplus and Arieh Warshel.
Justin Siegel, Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Chemistry, and the Genome, University of California, Davis. Justin leads the Siegel Lab at UC Davis. The primary thrust of his research is to develop new tools and the knowledge necessary to rapidly and reliably discover novel enzyme catalysts. Research within the Siegel Lab focuses on the use and development of computational modeling tools to evaluate how changes to a protein sequence, and therefore structure, results in a modulation of function. As members of the Rosetta Commons the majority of the modeling work carried out in the lab is done within the Rosetta Molecular Modeling Suite. He follows up the in silico modeling through in vitro studies leveraging recent breakthroughs from the field of synthetic biology to experimentally evaluate the properties of the designed proteins. To date, his group has discovered and engineered enzymes to treat celiac disease, fight anthrax infections, catalyze novel chemistry never before observed in nature, produce high value chemicals, fixate carbon dioxide, and attack cancer-causing toxins in food.
07:00 – 07:30 Breakfast
07:30 – 08:40 Panel and Q&A Discussion