Alessandra Villa details her experience to AstraZeneca as BioExcel continues the site visit program in support of industry.

In the beginning of October 2019 we were pleased to visit AstraZeneca’s research site in Gothenburg, Sweden for an exciting afternoon of in-depth discussions. The morning started with a meeting with our hosts, Dr Ola Engkvist (Associate Director, Computational Chemistry, Discovery Sciences, R&D) and Dr Leonardo De Maria (Principal Scientist, Computational Chemistry, Research and Early Development, Respiratory, Inflammation & Autoimmunity, BioPharmaceuticals R&D), who gave an overview of the company’s interest in molecular modelling and current challenges for molecular modellers in pharmaceutical research.  

After lunch, Prof. Erik Lindahl, BioExcel’s Scientific Director, gave a seminar to members of AstraZeneca R&D on the role of molecular simulations and integrative modelling techniques in drug discovery, with some attendees connecting remotely. The presentation covered current advances in the methodologies and applications of computational biomolecular research, new and upcoming features of GROMACS and related software tools, as well as BioExcel’s community services. The presentation was followed by a lively discussion with the AstraZeneca scientists.

After the seminar, we continued with a round-table discussions with a smaller, selected number of AstraZeneca scientists from across R&D. We touched on the advantages and limitations of molecular modelling and simulation techniques as well as opportunities for improving usability of software. Additional focus was given to understanding how BioExcel’s activities can fill skills gaps and support pharmaceutical research. Potential collaborative activities were identified as means to strengthen the relationship between AstraZeneca R&D and BioExcel partners.