What’s in a name: Molecular Materials

I am presently attending the Gordon Research Conference: Computer Aided Drug Design meeting, having a wonderful time, and at this moment taking an afternoon break to relax and catch up on some work. This is one of my favourite properties of the GRC meeting format, because it means that it’s not necessary to be pretty much out of the loop for the entire week.

So far I’ve met and reacquainted myself with more scientists of my own particular species than I can count, and a recurring theme of the introduction/renewal process is taking turns to explain what we’re both doing these days. One part of this which seems a little incongruous is that the name of the company that I created is called “Molecular Materials Informatics”. Since the occasion is a conference that is exclusively devoted to the pursuit of drug molecules and a few related parts of life sciences, this requires some explanation.

The actual reason is quite simple: I consider molecular materials to be a superset of drug-like molecules, at least in a sense. The fact that I am personally very interested in the subset of materials research that involves distinctively molecular functional blocks does of course have quite a bit to do with it, too. One of my own medium-term goals (and by proxy that of my company as well) is to expand the field of cheminformatics to also include non-organic compounds such as, for example, the organometallic metal complexes that I used to make when I was a graduate student. It is to my constant irritation that to this day these cannot be well represented with any popular cheminformatics software.

There are worse reasons to quit the day job and found a new company, I suppose!

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