The Second IASTED International Conference on
Computational Bioscience
CompBio 2011

July 11 – 13, 2011
Cambridge, United Kingdom


Computational Biology, Structural Bioinformatics and Making New Medicines

Prof. Sir Tom Blundell
FRS, FMedSci, Department of Biochemistry , University of Cambridge, United Kingdom


The knowledge that is now emerging from genomics of man and pathogens and from biochemical and structural biology programs has the potential to accelerate drug discovery.
Genome sequences, and most recently non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms and somatic mutations, when taken together with structural and functional information on the gene products, can provide insights into the relationship of human genetic variation and disease. This is also helpful in identifying new targets for drug discovery; it is an exploration of biological space. High-throughput biophysical and structural analyses can be used to investigate the chemical molecules that proteins might bind; this is an exploration of chemical space. I will argue that this is best achieved by structure-guided and fragment-screening techniques, which inform not only lead discovery but also optimization of candidate drug molecules. I will describe computation approaches to the exploration of biological and chemical space in the context of making new medicines.
My lecture will describe a multidisciplinary approach with computational, physical, chemical and biological techniques. I will describe recent developments both identifying targets and in making new medicines in academia and industry. I will discuss applications in HIV, cancer and TB.

Biography of the Plenary Speaker

Plenary Speaker Portrait

Tom Blundell is Director of Research and Professor Emeritus In the Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge. Until 2009 he was Sir William Dunn Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, and Head of the Council of Biological Sciences in Cambridge. His research is focused on structural biology and bioinformatics and their applications to drug discovery and medicine. Most of his work has been on multi-component protein assemblies – cell surface receptors and intracellular signal transduction enzymes - that mediate cell regulation. He has been interested in how high signal to noise is achieved in Nature by using complex molecular interactions and how understanding the architecture of the assemblies can assist the discovery of new medicines, especially for cancer treatment. More recently he has used structural approaches to understanding Mycobacterium tuberculosis with a view to discovering new antimicrobials against TB.
After research and teaching positions in Molecular Biophysics in Oxford and Biochemistry in Sussex Universities, he was appointed in 1976 Professor in Birkbeck College, University of London and in 1989 Honorary Director, Imperial Cancer Research Fund Unit of Structural Molecular Biology. He moved to Cambridge in 1996. Tom Blundell is a member of Academia Europaea, a Fellow of the Royal Society and Fellow of Academy of Medical Sciences. He has Honorary Doctorates from fifteen universities.
Tom Blundell has played an active role in national science policy. In the 1980s, he was a member of the advisory group to the Prime Minister (ACOST). He was Director General, Agricultural and Food Research Council (1991 1994) and founding Chief Executive, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, BBSRC (1994-1996), Chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (1998 to 2005) and President of the UK Biosciences Federation between 2004 and 2008. He has been non-executive Chairman of BBSRC since 1 July 2009. He was a Non-Executive Director of Celltech from 1996 to 2005 and has been involved in science advisory roles with Pfizer, UCB and SmithKlyneBeecham. He co-founded Astex Therapeutics which has oncology drugs in early stage clinical trials in USA and UK.