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Combing AI and Chemistry: The AiChemist Program for Doctoral Researchers

Transfer, Computational Health,

The AiChemist project has officially started in September 2023 Coordinated by Helmholtz Munich the project is an Innovative Doctoral Training Network funded with 3 million euros provided by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA-DN) within the EU Horizon Research Framework. It brings together leading experts in artificial intelligence (AI), chemoinformatics, and chemistry from both academia and industry to train the next generation of AI specialists in the chemical and life sciences. This will be the fifth successful MSCA project coordinated by the Institute of Structural Biology (STB) at Helmholtz Munich, following on from ECO, BIGCHEM, AEGIS and AIDD, which have altogether contributed to the training of nearly 80 PhD fellows in environmental sciences, chemical biology, drug discovery, chemoinformatics and machine learning/AI. Many of the former PhD fellows have gone on to secure leading positions in industry and academia.

“The main aim of the project is to develop advanced AI approaches with improved accuracy and explainability, with a specific focus on representation learning approaches for drug discovery. These machine-learning models will allow researchers to reliably and confidently predict the most decisive properties of drug candidates, such as toxicity, activity and optimal synthetic routes, based on their chemical structures. The ability to make such predictions would accelerate the drug discovery pipeline drastically, allowing pharmaceutical companies to decrease inefficient consumption of energy, feedstock and resources, and generate more promising leads” says Dr. Igor Tetko, group leader at Helmholtz Munich, who will coordinate the consortium of 25 partners including pharmaceutical and life-science companies (Pfizer, Bayer, AstraZeneca, Sanofi and Syngenta) as well as public agencies such as European Chemical Agency (ECHA), US Food Drug Administration (FDA), the US National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences (NIEHS) and several small businesses.

The fourteen fellows of the AiChemist program will closely cooperate with industry partners and will benefit from a highly structured and comprehensive curriculum delivered through regular online courses and schools. Three of the fellows will be supervised by Helmholtz-affiliated academics in close collaboration with Helmholtz AI.


More information

Check out the AIChemist program

Apply for a PhD position at the AIChemist program.  The selection process has started, and new applications will still be considered.

Learn more about the Institute of Structural Biology at the Molecular Targets and Therapeutics Center and Prof. Michael Sattler. 

About the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) support researchers at all stages of their careers, regardless of their nationality. MSCAs also fund industrial doctorates, i.e. a combination of academic research work and work in large companies, SMEs, national regulatory bodies or research infrastructures, as well as other innovative training measures that improve employability and career development. In addition to generous research funding, scientists are given the opportunity to gain experience abroad and in the private sector, and to complement their training with skills or disciplines that are useful for their long-term career prospects and capacity for innovative cross-disciplinary research.