OpenBioSim: bridging academic research and industrial applications

I am excited to announce the launch of the OpenBioSim Community Interest Company, a not-for-profit organization that aims to promote and sustain the use of open-source software for scientific research in computer-aided drug design in academia and industry.

The origins of most modern technology can be traced back to fundamental research. For instance, the thermodynamic integration method was invented by Kirkwood at Cornell University in 1935, before computers were available to make numerical applications of the theory to molecules practical. Today, computational chemistry is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry. Long-term success in this industry requires investment in innovative R&D processes to bring new medicines to market before the competition.

Open-source software in academic research and industrial R&D

Over the last few decades, a growing number of academic computational chemists have adopted open-source software (OSS) to pursue research in novel computational methodologies. OSS aligns well with the academic ethos of creating and sharing knowledge by building on the work of peers.

In the field of computer-aided drug design using OSS can bring many benefits to commercial organisations. 

For instance, OSS can lower development costs. Instead of starting from scratch, companies can use existing OSS tools as a foundation for their proprietary technologies. OSS facilitates collective pre-competitive efforts to validate industrial applicability of a new technology. This can save on development time and resources, allowing companies to bring their products to market faster and at a lower cost. 

 Additionally, OSS can increase innovation. By using OSS, companies can tap into a global community of developers who are constantly working to improve the software. This can lead to new features and capabilities that the company may not have been able to develop on its own. 

However, working with OSS presents challenges for commercial organisations. Academic research incentivizes production of proof-of-concept software that open new venues of inquiry. Frequently the software is written by early career scientists that move on to other roles after a few years. This creates significant barriers for adoption.

OpenBioSim, at the interface of academia and industry

OpenBioSim was founded to lower barriers for adoption of OSS in industry by providing long-term support for research software that has demonstrated its value. This will also accelerate academic research as well-maintained and supported OSS projects that implement thoroughly validated methodologies are more likely to be used by academic researchers, leading to new discoveries and advancements in computer-aided drug design.

I am looking forward to working on OpenBioSim’s mission to help democratise knowledge and accelerate the application of computational chemistry in industry.

Written by Julien Michel