Blue Obelisk Award – Christoph Steinbeck of CDK

Last night we met at the Thirsty Bear pub in San Francisco. This was the second anniversary of the first BO meeting (in San Diego). There were nine of us, and the membership and programs are growing. People are taking us seriously. It is still extremely hard to get support for Open Source in domains, especially chemistry (though some of us can thank funding bodies for our existence). The market is slewed to the pharma industry who have little effective interest in encouraging Open Source, even though they know that the current products are broken and do not interoperate (see earlier blogs). It is an enormous labour of love to create tools which appear to duplicate existing commercial offerings and be ignored. That is what Christoph has born for several years as guru of CDK (the Chemistry Devlopment Kit) – the mantle having  now passed to Egon Willighagen.
CDK contains all the basic chemoinformatics routines for reading and writing molecules, analysing their chemistry by topology and fragments, substructure searching, property calculation, etc. Unlike most commercial offerings the algorithms are open and so available for validation. The BO takes this seriously and is accumulating reference data on which the programs rely and against which they can be tested.
I walked 5 miles round SF looking for blue obelisks in rock shops – few of those anyway and they were completely the wrong sort. So Christoph’s award is neither blue nor an obelisk. It’s purple and pointy. But no doubt it can be refactoered, perhaps to a superclass of colourable pointy object, and then subclassed.
Raja took the picture. When I get it I’ll try to remember to post it here

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