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Education
SHU plans computer-aided drug-design summer camp for high school students
By Sacred Heart University

Apr 11, 2019 - 5:34:34 AM

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FAIRFIELD, CT - Sacred Heart University and NLS Therapeutic Discovery will conduct a summer camp August 5-16 to introduce high school students to computer-aided drug design.

Now in its second year, the camp will teach students to use sophisticated drug-design software to aid in the discovery of new drugs. The students also will receive a high-level, pre-college introduction to the scientific, ethical, legal and business aspects of drug development.

This “Computational Drug Discovery Summer Science Experience” will engage students for two highly interactive and rewarding weeks. “During week one, students will learn about the drug discovery process and the basic theory and art of computer-aided drug design, especially as it applies to analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic drugs,” said program director Joseph Audie. “During week two, students will apply their newfound knowledge and skills to design and propose novel drug candidates to treat antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. They also will attend talks given by experts in the field of drug discovery.”

The experience will close with the creation of student posters showing research findings, which can be used at scientific conferences.

“Last year’s camp was highly educational and engaging,” said Owen O’Reilly, a junior at Joel Barlow High School. “All the activities were learning experiences. It was great and a must-attend for anyone considering biochemistry or bioengineering as a field of study.”

Participants will acquire knowledge and skills using cutting-edge laboratory techniques and instruments, Audie said. Moreover, they will sharpen critical thinking skills through scientific investigation and will be enriched by presentations from leading industry experts.

“In addition to gaining valuable new knowledge and skills, students will learn about educational and professional opportunities in the field of drug discovery and development,” Audie said, “and how computational drug science intersects with physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, computer science and the universal call to engage in works of justice and mercy.”

An associate professor of biochemistry at Sacred Heart, Audie holds a doctorate in biophysics and is co-founder of computational peptide drug-design company CMDBioscience, LLC. He also serves as CEO of NLS Life Science and Therapeutics Discovery, LLC. Joining Audie for the camp will be two other members of Sacred Heart’s science faculty: Todd J. Sullivan, a lecturer who holds a doctorate in medicinal chemistry, and Benjamin Alper, an assistant professor of chemistry who has a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology. These three will work directly with the students as both teachers and guides.

Students who successfully finish the program will receive formal certificates of completion.

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