Dartmouth dedicates new chemistry building

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  • Role of computers in drug discovery analyzed An informal group of computational chemists has begun to compare experi-ences on how best to integrate comput-er-aided techniques into the drug dis-covery process.

    The group was formed in June, when 16 directors of computational chemistry and of medicinal chemistry at eight phar-maceutical companies convened at a workshop on Mackinac Island, Mich. "The basic thrust of the workshop was to analyze the impact of computer-aided methods on drug discovery and how it could be improved," says Gerald M. Maggiora of Upjohn Laboratories, who organized the meeting with Peter Gund of

    .Merck Research Laboratories and James P. Snyder of G. D. Searle & Co. Partici-pants from each of the eight companies were able to cite cases showing the effec-tiveness of computational methods in the discovery and refinement of 'lead" com-pounds for potential new drugs.

    The group expanded at the recent American Chemical Society meeting, in Washington, D.C., where about 300 re-searchers attended a symposium and panel discussion on medicinal chemistry and computer-aided drug design. To continue the dialogue, the organizers of these two meetings are now thinking of organizing a larger workshop in about a year that would involve more people and more points of view.

    The group believes, says Maggiora, that "if s important to begin to address issues about how computational methods influ-ence the process of drug discovery. If s the way these techniques are integrated into the process that gives them their power-not the techniques in themselves. You can have the best molecular dynamics and huge computers, and it can have no im-pact on dnig discovery."

    The group believes the future of computer-aided drug discovery will see a greater integration between the different types of computer-based in-formationincluding chemical and bi-ological informatics, biological simula-tions, molecular modeling, database searching, and chemometrics. "We feel it's important to keep this kind of dia-logue going," says Maggiora, "because it benefits all the companies. We all learn from each other."

    Stu Borman

    Dartmouth dedicates new chemistry building

    For the chemistry department at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, N.H., the move must have seemed long overdue. But the department is now set-tling into its new quarters in Burke Lab-oratory, following dedication ceremo-nies held late last month.

    The department had been feeling the constraints of overcrowding and obso-lescent facilities. Most of its programs had been housed at Steele Hall, which had been constructed in 1922 and was last renovated more than 30 years ago.

    "Burke Laboratory ensures Dart-mouth's future as a nationally recognized center for chemistry teaching and re-search," says chemistay department chair-man Russell P. Hughes. 'It represents a tremendous commitment on Dartmouth's part to the future of science education at the undergraduate and graduate levels."

    Hughes expresses delight that the building is named Burke Laboratory rath-er than Burke Hall. It says that science is performed in the building, he explains. Among the features in the $26.5 million building are an open design to encourage faculty and student interaction, safety details, and a $250,000 computer system.

    The Dartmouth chemistry department includes 15 full-time-equivalent faculty, eight to 10 postdoctoral research associ-ates, and 35 graduate students. The facul-ty members teach all of the undergradu-ate courses, with graduate students and undergraduate teaching assistants helping only in the laboratory. Except for one in-troductory chemistry class for nonmajors, every chemistry course has a lab compo-nent. About half of the chemistry majors conduct undergraduate research.

    The open design aspect of Burke Laboratory com-plements Dartmouth's collaborative-atmosphere approach, where under-graduates, graduates, and faculty members work side by side in the labora-tory. This approach, the school believes, provides undergraduates with an understanding of the re-wards of chemistry re-search.

    A physical separation of students' .desks from lab benches is one of the

    safety features of the new building. Stu-dents can work at the desks without needing to wear safety equipment, while at the same time they can monitor exper-iments through glass windows. The building is also very ventilation inten-sive. For example, most of the 138 hoods in the building are individually vented.

    The department has also received grants that enabled it to put together a computer package based on an IBM RISC 6000 system, with workstations to be located in teaching labs as well as in research labs.

    The building is named for Walter Burke, a 1944 graduate of Dartmouth who for more than 30 years served as president and treasurer of Sherman Fairchild Foun-dation, a philanthropic organization that has supported projects at Dartmouth as well as other colleges and organizations. Burke also served as a trustee of Dart-mouth for more than a decade.

    James Krieger

    In Burke Laboratory (entrance, top photo), Hughes (nght) and Owen Curnow check equipment at a lab station

    OCTOBER 5,1992 C&EN 59

    Role of computers indrug discovery analyzed