Ron Dror: 2014 Plenary Session


Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Location: Fisher Conference Center, Arrillaga Alumni Center

"Observing Biological Machines Under a Computational Microscope"

Both cells and the proteins within them act as complicated machines, with well-defined structures and moving parts that are critical to their function.Although the workings of these machines underlie the effects of drugs and other medical treatments, they are often difficult to observe experimentally.Computational methods, including molecular and cellular simulation, provide a complementary -- and increasingly powerful -- means to capture critical biomolecular and cellular processes, ranging from drug--receptor interactions to protein folding to cellular signaling.I will describe the rapidly evolving state of the art for such computational methods, illustrate the types of biological discoveries that can now be made using these techniques, and discuss challenges motivating continued innovation in this field.


Ron Dror joined Stanford University in March 2014 as an Associate Professor of Computer Science.At Stanford, he is also affiliated with the Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering, the Institute for Chemical Biology, the Biophysics Program, and Bio-X.Previously, he served as second-in-command of D. E. Shaw Research, a hundred-person research group, where he focused on high-performance computing and biomolecular simulation -- in particular, developing technology that accelerates molecular dynamics simulations by orders of magnitude, and applying these simulations to the study of protein function, protein folding, and protein-drug interactions (part of a project highlighted by the journal Science as one of the top 10 scientific breakthroughs of 2010).Dr. Dror earned a PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, an MPhil in Biological Sciences as a Churchill Scholar at the University of Cambridge, and both a BA in Mathematics and a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice University, summa cum laude.He has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and the Whitaker Foundation, as well as a Gordon Bell Prize and several Best Paper awards.