2023 Skolnik AWARDED TO Dr. Patrick Walters

The American Chemical Society Division of Chemical Information is pleased to announce that Dr. Patrick Walters has been selected to receive the 2023 Herman Skolnik Award for his contributions to the fields of chemical information and cheminformatics applied to computer-aided drug discovery research. The prize consists of a $3,000 honorarium and a plaque. Dr. Walters will also be invited to organize an award symposium at the Fall 2023 ACS National Meeting to be held in San Francisco.

Dr Walters is a leader in computational chemistry, molecular modeling, and informatics in the pharmaceutical industry. He received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Arizona, and from 1995 to 2016, built a world-class scientific infrastructure and research group at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. In 2016, Dr. Walters joined Relay Therapeutics, where as Chief Data Officer, he has established a new area of drug discovery research, i.e., the study of protein dynamics in the design and discovery of allosteric compounds. In all his roles, Dr Walters has also driven medicinal chemistry and interdisciplinary drug discovery programs, integrating computation and experiment and promoting interdisciplinary research. 

Dr. Walters has made seminal and well-recognized scientific contributions that have shaped the informatics and drug design fields. A key feature of his contributions is to transform theory and novel research concepts into practical solutions making an impact on the day-to-day efforts of cheminformatics scientists and medicinal chemists. Dr Walters has pioneered and catalyzed entire research areas including, among others, the early use of artificial intelligence concepts in drug design, virtual screening and consensus scoring, or the design and implementation of advanced cheminformatics infrastructure and open access toolboxes. During his extensive career, software he has developed is the origin of popular Open Source applications currently used in the field. Even as an industrial scientist, he has espoused the principles of open access - not just for the sake of free availability, but as a necessary requirement for scientific reproducibility & integrity.

In addition to scientific contributions, Dr Walters' commitment to dissemination and education of cheminformatics knowledge is unique. He is the author of the popular “Practical Cheminformatics” blog, which has become a must-read for investigators at all levels. He is a guest lecturer at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where his informal and down to earth manner, coupled with rigorous scientific presentation make complex scientific concepts accessible to even newcomers to the field. As part of his commitment to outreach, Dr Walters has worked tirelessly to set scientific standards in the field, promote scientific & statistical rigor. His relentless efforts to strive for meaningful statistical assessment and reproducibility of computational work have significantly impacted how computational work is assessed throughout industry and academia.

In summary, this award recognizes Dr Walters' outstanding contributions to the development of computational methods and tools for practical applications in pharmaceutical research, and his relentless efforts to support the development of cheminformatics and drug design as scientific disciplines, including widely read educational materials.

Rajarshi Guha

Chair, ACS CINF Awards Committee