10 Years in the World of Commercial Cheminformatics Software Development – Time for Something New.

03 Aug

For those of you who know me you are likely aware of the fact that I have worked at Advanced Chemistry Development, ACD/Labs, for over a decade, with the past few years as their Chief Science Officer. During that time I have had the privilege of working with a group of incredibly productive colleagues and have participated in producing some of the most innovative chemistry software in the industry (in my opinion). The scientific intellect within ACD/Labs is simply excellent.

After 10 years of helping ACD/Labs shift from being a start-up in the industry to one of the leading players in the industry I have made a decision to have a change in my career. As a result I have stepped down from my role, have left ACD/labs, and have chosen to take a “personal sabbatical”.

For the next few weeks/months I’m going to take some downtime with my family and focus on some personal projects prior to deciding what to do next with my career. Over the next few months I’m going to finish up a number of publications and probably start writing a couple of books which I have the privilege of co-authoring with colleagues from ACD/Labs and especially with my friend Gary Martin (well-known for his NMR skills as well as his photography). I’m going to apply some more time to ChemSpider and initiate a series of collaborations around the system. I am especially intending to dedicate some more time to what I’ll generically refer to as “family time”…giving back some of the time to my wife and our young twins that a dedicated and busy career has taken away during the long hours of the job.

My departure from ACD/Labs is very amicable. Some of my best friends still work at the company. It is simply time for me to do something different. I am still trying to determine what the next few years hold for me and I still have some specific visions in mind to execute on.

Meanwhile, in my “downtime”, I am interested in participating in any interesting ventures which might keep me connected to the world of chemistry and utilize my skills. My background is outlined in my LinkedIn profile. You know where to contact me…you’re on the right site! Excuse the shameless self-advertising but hey…isn’t it a great use of a blog?


About tony

Antony (Tony) J. Williams received his BSc in 1985 from the University of Liverpool (UK) and PhD in 1988 from the University of London (UK). His PhD research interests were in studying the effects of high pressure on molecular motions within lubricant related systems using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. He moved to Ottawa, Canada to work for the National Research Council performing fundamental research on the electron paramagnetic resonance of radicals trapped in single crystals. Following his postdoctoral position he became the NMR Facility Manager for Ottawa University. Tony joined the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York as their NMR Technology Leader. He led the laboratory to develop quality control across multiple spectroscopy labs and helped establish walk-up laboratories providing NMR, LC-MS and other forms of spectroscopy to hundreds of chemists across multiple sites. This included the delivery of spectroscopic data to the desktop, automated processing and his initial interests in computer-assisted structure elucidation (CASE) systems. He also worked with a team to develop the worlds’ first web-based LIMS system, WIMS, capable of allowing chemical structure searching and spectral display. With his developing cheminformatic skills and passion for data management he left corporate America to join a small start-up company working out of Toronto, Canada. He joined ACD/Labs as their NMR Product Manager and various roles, including Chief Science Officer, during his 10 years with the company. His responsibilities included managing over 50 products at one time prior to developing a product management team, managing sales, marketing, technical support and technical services. ACD/Labs was one of Canada’s Fast 50 Tech Companies, and Forbes Fast 500 companies in 2001. His primary passions during his tenure with ACD/Labs was the continued adoption of web-based technologies and developing automated structure verification and elucidation platforms. While at ACD/Labs he suggested the possibility of developing a public resource for chemists attempting to integrate internet available chemical data. He finally pursued this vision with some close friends as a hobby project in the evenings and the result was the ChemSpider database ( Even while running out of a basement on hand built servers the website developed a large community following that eventually culminated in the acquisition of the website by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) based in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Tony joined the organization, together with some of the other ChemSpider team, and became their Vice President of Strategic Development. At RSC he continued to develop cheminformatics tools, specifically ChemSpider, and was the technical lead for the chemistry aspects of the Open PHACTS project (, a project focused on the delivery of open data, open source and open systems to support the pharmaceutical sciences. He was also the technical lead for the UK National Chemical Database Service ( and the RSC lead for the PharmaSea project ( attempting to identify novel natural products from the ocean. He left RSC in 2015 to become a Computational Chemist in the National Center of Computational Toxicology at the Environmental Protection Agency where he is bringing his skills to bear working with a team on the delivery of a new software architecture for the management and delivery of data, algorithms and visualization tools. The “Chemistry Dashboard” was released on April 1st, no fooling, at, and provides access to over 700,000 chemicals, experimental and predicted properties and a developing link network to support the environmental sciences. Tony remains passionate about computer-assisted structure elucidation and verification approaches and continues to publish in this area. He is also passionate about teaching scientists to benefit from the developing array of social networking tools for scientists and is known as the ChemConnector on the networks. Over the years he has had adjunct roles at a number of institutions and presently enjoys working with scientists at both UNC Chapel Hill and NC State University. He is widely published with over 200 papers and book chapters and was the recipient of the Jim Gray Award for eScience in 2012. In 2016 he was awarded the North Carolina ACS Distinguished Speaker Award.
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Posted by on August 3, 2007 in Uncategorized


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