The Merck Computational Biology and Chemistry Program
The major advances in computer technology and computer science over the past 30 years have dramatically changed much of our society. The biology revolution that began 45 years ago with the discoveries of DNA structure and the genetic code has also had a major impact on society, from carcinogen testing to organ transplants to genetically engineered pharmaceuticals. With the incredible volume of biological information from genome sequencing that is rapidly becoming available, the prospect for even more dramatic societal impacts are extraordinary. One of the major challenges and opportunities in the post-genomic era will be combining expertise from computer science and biology to answer questions that could not even be envisaged just a few years ago. The world-class strengths in computer science and the strong tradition of interdisciplinary research at Carnegie Mellon position the University to continue to play a significant role in this process. The growing importance of computing in chemistry, the continuing importance of chemistry in the service of society (e.g., green chemistry, combinatorial chemistry) and the challenges of expanding capabilities in the molecular dynamics of proteins and nucleic acids argue strongly for an equal focus on computational chemistry.With this background, the Mellon College of Science received a grant in 1999 from the Merck Company Foundation to create a new program in Computational Biology and Chemistry. The goals of the Merck Computational Biology and Chemistry Program are to stimulate interdisciplinary research in these areas and to train the next generation of leaders in computational biology and chemistry. Carnegie Mellon has long been a leader in training in the computational sciences, having established undergraduate degree programs in computational biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics in 1989.