News: Herman Skolnik Award attributed to Prof. Alexandre Varnek, University of Strasbourg

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The American Chemical Society Division of Chemical Information is pleased to announce that Prof. Alexandre Varnek has been selected to receive the 2024 Herman Skolnik Award for his contributions to the development of chemoinformatics education & training and his contributions to methodologies for molecular representations and modeling of small molecules & reactions.

Prof. Varnek has been highly committed to education and training. He founded the Chemoinformatics Master Program at the University of Strasbourg and extended this program through student exchange initiatives leading to a joint international Master Program In Silico Drug Design, in partnership with Paris-Cité and the University of Milan, and then to theEuropean Erasmus Mundus project “ChemoinformaticsPlus” involving universities of Strasbourg, Kyiv, Ljubljana, Milan, Lisbon, Paris and Bar-Ilan. In addition, he continues to organize the International Strasbourg Summer School in Chemoinformatics that attracts leading investigators in the field and fosters international collaborations. He was involved in establishing the EU-funded BIGCHEM training network further emphasizes his dedication to education. More globally, he has also been invited to build new chemoinformatics laboratories and research units at the Federal University of Kazan, Russia, and Hokkaido University, Japan, and continues to be closely involved in those research programs.

In parallel to his work on pedagogy, Prof. Varnek research has a wide variety of topics in QSAR modeling of molecules and reactions. These include the introduction of the ISIDA fragment descriptors, which have proven instrumental in inductive and transductive learning and extensions to conventional QSAR that allow us to model complex systems, such as non-additive mixtures and chemical reactions His work on the Condensed Graph of Reaction (CGR) formalism is a key contribution to the representation of chemical reactions. The CGR-based descriptors have been instrumental in modeling chemical transformations. Prof. Varnek has pioneered the use of Generative Topographic Mapping (GTM) for both the visualization and modeling of chemical and biological property spaces.

Beyond academics, Prof. Varnek has served the scientific community by co-founding the French Chemoinformatics Society and was appointed by CNRS to direct the the French National Research Network in Chemoinformatics (GDR Chemoinformatique).

In summary, this award recognizes Prof. Varnek as a pioneer in chemoinformatics, contributing key methodological advances in the representation and modeling of chemical structures, and developing curricula and training programs, at the national and international levels that have led to the creation of scientific networks that foster communication, knowledge exchange and partnerships that contribute to further advancing the field.