Charles Rupert McIntyre Prize 2024

Congratulations to 3rd year PhD student Finlay Clark, who has been named the second winner of the Charles Rupert McIntyre Prize.

Finlay is pursuing his PhD in Computational Chemistry within the Michel group, focussing on free energy calculations and machine learning. He was presented with the Charles Rupert McIntyre Prize at the Joseph Black Conference earlier this month in recognition of his outstanding research.

A winner is selected each year by the School’s Postgraduate Committee based on their research outputs and scientific contributions to the field of research. Students must also demonstrate their own intellectual contribution to the project, and their role in enhancing exchange of knowledge with collaborators, partners, and the wider academic community, including those outwith their immediate field of research.

Finlay Clark with Edinburgh skyline
Finlay Clark, 3rd year PhD student

I’m honoured to receive the prize. It’s been a pleasure working with a range of scientists across academia and industry and I’m grateful to Julien and everyone in the lab for creating such an enjoyable research environment.

We were delighted to present Finlay with the 2024 Charles Rupert McIntyre Prize, which reflects all of the hard work that he has put into his research. Congratulations to Finlay on this outstanding achievement!

Research summary

Developing new drugs is a slow and expensive process. A significant amount of time and money is spent creating molecules that need to strongly attach (“bind”) to a specific protein to achieve the desired biological effect. If we could predict how well potential drug molecules bind using computers, we could save a lot of time and resources by not making ineffective molecules in the lab. However, until recently, accurate computational methods for predicting drug binding strength were too slow and complex for regular use in the industry.

Now, with advances in computational power and the availability of user-friendly commercial software, there is renewed industrial interest in these predictive methods. We develop methods to improve the accuracy and efficiency of these computational predictions, and we implement these methods in free and open-source software. Our goal is to make these tools accessible to a wide range of researchers, enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of early-stage drug discovery.

Overview of the drug discovery process

The Charles Rupert McIntyre Prize

The prize has been established in memory of Dr Charles Rupert McIntyre, an alumnus of the University of Edinburgh School of Chemistry, to reward the research excellence of postgraduate students in the School. The School of Chemistry is grateful to Fujifilm Imaging Colorants for generously sponsoring this prize in Dr McIntyre’s memory.