“Dengue Drug Discovery: Using Global Computing to Combat a Global Disease”

Stan Watowich
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

Stan Watowich

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
5:45 p.m. – Networking Reception
6:30 p.m. – Presentation

Dengue, a mosquito-borne disease, has strained global healthcare systems throughout tropical and subtropical regions of the world. In addition to plaguing developing nations, recent locally-acquired dengue outbreaks in Florida, Australia, France, and Taiwan demonstrate that this disease can rapidly re-emerge in developed countries. Infection with dengue virus can result in dengue fever, dengue hemorrhagic fever, dengue shock syndrome, and death. There are no approved vaccines or drugs to prevent or treat dengue-related illnesses.

Current approaches to developing therapeutics are extremely costly and time-consuming, but rarely successful. In this talk, Dr. Stan Watowich will discuss recent work at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) to improve conventional computational and biochemical approaches to discover dengue antiviral compounds. UTMB uses a novel in silico screening approach that harnesses the combined computing power of IBM’s World Community Grid and the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) to complete millions of docking calculations and thousands of extensive simulations to identify promising dengue antiviral compounds. These results are combined with high-throughput in vitro screening, X-ray crystallography, and detailed biochemical modeling to develop compounds that disrupt dengue virus replication.

SPEAKER BIO

Dr. Watowich is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UTMB. He was a founding member of UTMB’s renowned Sealy Center for Structural Biology and most recently launched UTMB’s Molecular Therapeutics Initiative. In addition, he serves as a consultant for drug discovery projects in developing countries, most recently focusing on a project in Colombia to combat Leishmaniasis. Dr. Watowich received his B.A. from Carleton College, his Ph.D. from University of Chicago, and did post-doctoral studies at Harvard University before migrating south and joining the faculty of UTMB.