Student Recognized Internationally for Research

Published on 14 April 2016

Mathew Koebel was focused so intently on explaining his work to a fellow chemist, he didn’t hear his name being called multiple times from a loudspeaker. Koebel, a P1 student at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, was being called to the front of the room to accept the award for outstanding undergraduate research poster at the American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition in San Diego.

“I took off running,” Koebel said. “It was nice and a big shock.”

Koebel’s winning research focused on his work on computer-aided drug discovery. By refining a current program that predicts whether molecules will bond together, Koebel was able to view a drugs effect on the body. As soon as he returned from San Diego, Koebel began preparing for the next round of conferences which will take him on a journey of more than 10,000 miles. He has planned a trip across Europe this summer from the western shores of Norway to Sweden and France.

“Not only is it a chance to advance Mathew’s career, it is a great opportunity to show the world scientific community the unique, innovative research being done at St. Louis College of Pharmacy,” said Suman Sirimulla, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry at the College, and Koebel’s faculty mentor.

Koebel is preparing unique presentations for each. The first presentation will focus on a refined computer program which accounts for both sulphur and halogen bonding in chemical molecules. The next presentation will go more in-depth on the sulfur bonding, and the final will look at how computers are assisting in the development of medication to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

The main goal of all of Koebel’s work is to establish a server powered by his research program. Chemists, pharmacists, and researchers will be encouraged to upload the chemical structure of their drug molecules to simulate how the molecules will work on the body prior to testing on patients.

“We’re trying to get the fundamentals right and build it from there,” Koebel said. “We didn’t want to start building something and optimize it later.”

Shortly after the win in San Diego, Koebel and Sirimulla learned a manuscript on a similar topic was accepted in to the Journal of Cheminformatics.

“This is a high-impact journal in this field,” Sirimulla says. “Mathew is the first author. It is a great achievement.”

Read more about the computer-aided drug design research Sirimulla and Koebel are conducting at the College.

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