Computer science in biological research

Prof. Francesco Zonta

ShanghaiTech University

DATE: 31st July 2020 (GMT +8)
TIME: 3:00 – 4:00 pm (Time in China)
LOCATION: ShanghaiTech University

Molecular simulations, based on physical principles, are powerful and widely used techniques in biological fields. The ability of predicting the behavior of molecules and their interactions is unparalleled in even the most precise experiments. On the other hand, the time and space scales that can be realistically simulated with current computational power are still several order of magnitude less than those explored in most of experiments, thus direct comparison between simulations and experiments are as a matter of fact impossible. Nevertheless, the continuously increasing computing power and improvement in algorithms are rapidly filling the existing gap, and in a foreseeable future it will be possible to simulate entire cells, tissues and organs for time scales comparable with experiments. Once such scales are reached, we will witness a major revolution in the fields of biology, drug design and medicine. The ability to track the behavior of any single molecule in one cell, for example, will allow us to have a complete understanding of the effect of a drug, predict side effects and toxicity, improve its potency or specificity etc, with limited time and resources.

How far are we from this futuristic scenario and what are the major technological barrier that we need to overcome to reach it?

Research Associate Professor, SIAIS, Shanghaitech University

Co-PI of the Laboratory of Computational Biology


Francesco Zonta background is Theoretical and Mathematica Physics. After obtaining his Ph.D. in Physics in University of Padova, under the supervision of Prof. Attilio L. Stella and Enzo Orlandini, he moved to the Venetian Institute of Molecular Medicine, in the laboratory of Prof. Fabio Mammano and start working on molecular models of ion channels.  In 2015, he joined the Shanghai Institutute of Advanced Immunochemical studies first as Director of the Informatics Platform and Research Associate Professor in the Laboratory of Prof. Guang Yang and finally joined the newly established Laboratory of Computational Biology, as Co-PI of Nobel Laureate Prof. Micheal Levitt.

His research interests are focused on properties of ion channels, antibody protein interaction and multiscale simulations.

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