On Monday, October 16, 2023, Alexandre Varnek, director of the chemoinformatics laboratory at UMR 7140 Complex Matter Chemistry (Unistra/CNRS), received the Herman Skolnik Award from the American Chemical Society. This award recognises outstanding achievements and contributions in the theory and practice of chemoinformatics, a field of science that applies computing to chemistry-related problems.
An international 68-year-old professor in theoretical chemistry, Alexandre Varnek is passionate about chemoinformatics, which he sees as a game. Originally from Ukraine, he studied in Moscow, where he became an associate professor. He was invited to France in 1992 for a year of research, but he ended up staying in Strasbourg. He taught himself French and became a lecturer at the age of 40, joining the Laboratory for Molecular Modeling and Simulation. He stumbled upon chemoinformatics while researching radionuclide separation and has since established a laboratory, developed chemoinformatics training programs, and contributed to the creation of similar labs in Russia and Japan.
Professor Varnek considers each publication an achievement but always focuses on the next step. He is a co-founder of the French Chemoinformatics Society and is known for his use of Generative Topographic Mapping (GTM) in the visualization and modeling of chemical and biological data. For him, the Skolnik Award is significant recognition, shared with his enthusiastic team. In Alexandre Varnek's view, in the realm of research, talent and publications are what matter, regardless of one's background.
Read the article in Savoir(s), the University of Strasbourg's daily publication, for more information.