The chemical theatre of biological systems

Beilstein Bozen Symposium 2004

24 – 28 May 2004

Bolzano, Italy

Scientific Program: Carsten Kettner and Martin G. Hicks


Proceedings of this Beilstein Bozen Symposium.


The Beilstein workshops address contemporary issues in the chemical and related sciences by employing an interdisciplinary approach. Scientists from a wide range of areas – often outside chemistry – are invited to present aspects of their work for discussion with the aim of not only to advance science, but also, to enhance interdisciplinary communication.

To set the stage for the workshop, it is useful to consider the development of both natural and life sciences from their early origins in natural philosophy. Technical equipment and methodologies, as well as, the systematizing and cataloguing of phenomena and entities, have always underpinned scientific advances. However, even in science, there can be resistance to change, and it has often taken a generation of overwhelming experimental evidence to swing opinion, and allow new paradigms to be accepted into the collective scientific wisdom. Whilst technology and information are the driving forces for advances, it is interesting to note that the most significant developments often take place at the intersections of different lines of thought.

In the natural sciences the search for a “life-force” has given way to the generalization that biology can be defined as being interdependent “complicated chemistry”. To gain the insights that lead to the understanding of complex processes, the usual scientific method is to break down the problem into smaller units, create a model for each of them, and through refinement of the models attempt to develop a unified theory.

Whereas initial insight into biological systems can be obtained by modelling the chemistry of the parts of the system, the properties and functions of the components of a biological system are not those of discrete molecular entities; they are dependent on the presence or absence of other components and their behaviours in relation to one another. Thus modelling the system as a whole is a very complicated if not a highly complex task.

One of the most current challenging problems of the natural and life sciences is the understanding and prediction of the biological chemistry of the cell, with particular reference to the role of organic compounds therein. These molecules are the products of highly refined in-vivo and in-vitro organic syntheses; they have complex biological functions – making up the systems themselves as well as interacting with and perturbing them. It is our belief that advances can only realistically be achieved in an interdisciplinary environment, where the lines of thought of different scientific cultures are related sufficiently to each other that given the right circumstances, interactions can take place and new developments can follow.

By raising the curtain on the Chemical Theatre of Biological Systems and through the performances of players invited from the areas of chemical, biological and information sciences, our aim is that this workshop, supported by the active participation of the audience, will afford new insights into contemporary scientific issues.

Scientific Program

Opening Remarks and Greetings
Martin G. Hicks, Beilstein-Institut, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Evolution or Revolution: The Challenge to Today's Medicinal Chemist
Steven V. Ley, University of Cambridge, UK

The Value of Chemical Genetics in Drug Discovery
Keith Russell, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals Wilmington, USA

Changing Paradigms in Drug Discovery
Hugo Kubinyi, Universität Heidelberg, Germany

Thermodynamic-based Algorithms in Drug Design. High Affinity, Selectivity and Adaptability
Ernesto Freire, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA

Combinatorial Biosynthesis of Nonribosomal Lipopeptides
Jason Micklefield, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), UK

Chemical Complementation: A Genetic Assay for Protein Evolution and Proteomics
Virginia Cornish, Columbia University, New York, USA

Using Structural Similarity in the Search for Bioactivity
Peter Willett, University of Sheffield, UK

Small-Molecule Lead Generation in the 21st Century
Konrad H. Bleicher, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., Basel, Switzerland

Chemical Approaches in Cellular Microbiology
Nicholas J. Westwood, University of St. Andrews, UK

Multidimensional Exploration into Biochemical Pathways
Johann Gasteiger, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany

In-silico Protein-Ligand Dynamics: New Paradigms
Chandra Verma, Bioinformatics Institute, Matrix, Singapore

Molecular Information Theory: From Clinical Applications to Molecular Machine Efficiency
Thomas D. Schneider, National Cancer Institute, Frederick, USA

Handling Far-From-Equilibrium Processes in Metabolic Mode
Athel Cornish-Bowden, CNRS - Bioenergétique et Ingénierie des Proteines, Marseille, France

Simulating Self-Organization in Biomolecular Systems
Alan E. Mark, University of Groningen, The Netherlands

Catalytic Strategies for the Activation of Sulfate
Thomas S. Leyh, The Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, USA

Navigation in Chemical Space
Gisbert Schneider, Universität Frankfurt, Germany

Evolutionary Perspectives on Protein Folding, Structure and Dynamics
Richard A. Goldstein, National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK

Modelling and Simulation of Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic Systems - Approaches in Drug Discovery
Alex J. MacDonald, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., Basel, Switzerland

Summary and Closing Remarks
Kevin Davies, Bio IT World Inc., Framingham, USA

Bozen 2004