Meet the world's top modellers: the Laboratory of Mathematical Chemistry - winner of the 2014 Lush Prize for Science - is one of the most influential molecular modelling labs in the world.
Professor Ovanes Mekenyan is the man at the helm of the almost 40-strong team, which includes chemists, biochemists, physicists, mathematicians, statisticians and software engineers. Together they predict the toxicological and biological properties of chemical compounds, as well as simulation of metabolism.
The laboratory works with a number of integrated EU projects and in silico chemical risk assessment services used in the chemical and cosmetic industries by those such as P&G, Dow Chemicals, L’Oréal, Givaudan, ExxonMobil, Unilever and DuPont. These services are also provided to the State regulatory agencies of countries across the world including the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and Germany.
The major scientific achievement of the LMC is QSAR. It might sound like the name of a spaceship, indecipherable modern text speak, or a Bond villain’s secret lair, but it’s none of these things.
QSAR Toolbox is a software application that enables the implementation of various methods for categorising chemicals. The subsequent data gaps that arise can then be filled for the purpose of hazard assessments. The system provides the capabilities to reduce animal testing by taking advantage of already available experimental data to reliably estimate the hazard assessment of chemicals.
It is this combination of international cooperation, interdisciplinary expertise and diversity of scientific products (including both mathematical models and software) that makes the Laboratory of Mathematical Chemistry such worthy winners.
The team's research activities are based on academic science, but at its core the LMC brings scientific products to the market and routinely invests some of the gains back into innovative research.