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Introducing the ChemSpider Validation and Standardization Platform

16 Aug

Chemistry is complex. Anybody who has been involved with the creation of electronic datafiles containing thousands of chemical compounds and associated data (chemical names, properties etc) will tell you that errors creep in. ChemSpider has >28 million unique chemical entities and these have been sourced from many different places/groups/individuals. Some of these have been deprecated as we have determined, both manually and algorithmically, that the data are in error. Over the years we have learned a lot about data quality and ways in which algorithms can be applied to data prior to deposition on ChemSpider.

Some obvious structure-based errors that can be checked for would include: hypervalency (e.g. pentavalent carbons), charge imbalance (a compound has no neutralizing counterion for example), absence of stereochemistry (e.g. a compound with 12 possible stereocenters only has one assigned). There are many other such errors that can be detected algorithmically. It’s the old adage of why apply a human to what a computer can fix. With this in mind we have been working on a system called the ChemSpider Validation and Standardization Platform (CVSP for short). This system will serve multiple purposes. It will be one of the foundation blocks for checking structure-based data for our publications (i.e. catch bad chemistry before it is published!), it will be used for validating chemistry for our databases (Natural Product UpdatesMethods in Organic Synthesis and Catalysts and Catalyzed Reactions), it will be used to check and validate depositions going into ChemSpider, it will serve data related to the Open PHACTS project  and it will serve the community by providing an online website where you can upload your own SDF files (and other file formats in future) to validate the structures.

I won’t go into detail here about all of the functionality and capability of the system as we will discuss this in further detail on this blog. However, we will be unveiling the system in its present form at the ACS meeting in Philadelphia. Come along and meet some of the team involved in building CVSP and give us your feedback!

 

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 (www.chemspider.com). 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 (http://www.openphacts.org), 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 (http://cds.rsc.org/) and the RSC lead for the PharmaSea project (http://www.pharma-sea.eu/) 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 https://comptox.epa.gov, 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.
1 Comment

Posted by on August 16, 2012 in ChemSpider Chemistry, RSC Publishing

 

One Response to Introducing the ChemSpider Validation and Standardization Platform

  1. Alex Clark

    August 16, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Sounds like this system is to be used for catalysts: how will it deal with metal complexes?

     

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