Marco De Vivo awarded by the American Chemical Society
The American Chemical Society (ACS) has awarded Marco De Vivo, researcher at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), with the ACS COMP OpenEye Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, reserved to young researchers who achieve remarkable results during their career, in particular in computational chemistry.
This is the first time that an Italian researcher, who works in Italy at an Italian institution, receives an award for studies in computational chemistry by the American Chemical Society, considering that to date the award has been almost exclusively assigned to scientists from U.S. institution, such as, just to mention a few, Yosuke Kanai, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Robert S. Paton, Oxford University, Rhiju Das, Stanford University, Thomas Markland, Stanford University , Rommie E. Amaro, University of California - San Diego, Allen Aspuru-Gudzik, Harvard University.
The prestigious recognition by the ACS Division of Computers in Chemistry was obtained thanks to De Vivo’s achievements in the study of the enzymes regulating DNA and RNA in cells, made by computer simulations: these studies will be useful for the development of new personalized therapies.
Marco De Vivo joined the IIT in 2009 and in 2014 he was appointed head of the research team in “Molecular Modeling & Drug Discovery”, which is focused on the development of molecular models of biological systems and chemical compounds of pharmacological interest, by means of computers.
Computational calculation allows to simulate events which occur on a very small scale and in variable time frames, thus identifying relevant details in complex biological systems and in the interaction between chemical components and biological systems that could not be estimated with traditional techniques.
In their most recent paper, reported here, the team coordinated by De Vivo discovered the dynamics driving DNA polymerization, called SAM (or Self-Activated Mechanism), a fundamental biochemical mechanism for the replication of nucleic acids.
Marco De Vivo, 42, born in Rimini, joined IIT after five years of scientific research in the United States. After obtaining a degree and PhD in Chemistry from the University of Bologna, he has worked for two years at SISSA in Trieste and for 6 months at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) of Zurich, until 2004 when he joined the laboratory of Prof. Michael L. Klein, expert in computational chemistry and member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS), at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. In 2007, he became researcher at Rib-X Pharmaceuticals, a spin-off of Yale University, which includes among its founders Nobel laureate in Chemistry Thomas Steitz and Prof. William Jorgensen, eminent scientist in computational chemistry applied to drug design at NAS.
Besides having a number of publications and patents on disease treatment, De Vivo is supported by AIRC (Italian Association for Cancer Research) and since 2015 he is Research Associate at the Computational Biomedicine Institute Forschungszentrum in Jülich, Germany.