Intention, collaboration, trust and willingness builds the JC Bradley Memorial Symposium

11 Jul

Next week I am looking forward to co-hosting the JC Bradley Memorial Symposium. How did this come about? The symposium is of course catalyzed by the tragic loss of our friend and colleague Jean-Claude. This hit Andy Lang and myself very hard (and of course many others) because for a number of years we had been collaborating together on a number of projects regarding Open Science, many of these to be discussed in some detail next week at the symposium. When we talked and discussed about ways to memorialize JC we happened upon an instance where we would both be in the UK at the same time and, since JC had so many interactions in place with European scientists and advocates for Open Science, we decided to try and make a go of a symposium to celebrate his work.

We received general support for a gathering and went seeking a venue that would be kind enough to host us. Thank you so much to Christoph Steinbeck for trying to make this work at EBI but because of the popularity of the venue no rooms were available. We extended our hand to Bobby Glen at the University of Cambridge and, gentleman that he is (!), he immediately gave us a home for the gathering. Bobby is Director of the Unilever center of molecular science informatics at the university and may well known scientists and open science evangelists work there, one of these of course being Peter Murray-Rust. Peter threw his support behind the symposium 100% and, together with Susan Begg, has taken all responsibility for local coordination. Despite Peter’s demanding travel schedule we have been able to coordinate the event and we owe a debt of gratitude to Susan for all the work she has done in the background to bring this together in such a short time. Literally, this event will come together as a result of a few skype calls between Andy and I and a series of email exchanges between us, Peter and Susan. When the event comes together, starting Sunday evening with a social gathering, and finally on Monday morning when the formal gathering kicks off, then intention, collaboration, trust and willingness to get it done will be the underpinnings of the meeting.

“Intention, collaboration, trust and willingness to get it done” speak volumes regarding how JC Bradley approached science. He was a get-it-done type of guy. The speakers that will gather next week, listed here, operate in the same way in my mind. They are driven, passionate and getting it done. We thank every one of them for taking their time to come and celebrate JC.

The gathering will honor his work and enormous contributions to open science. He was ahead of his time. With this gathering of people, and the support of the attendees, we hope that we will be able to discuss how to drive forward what he had put so much effort into…OPEN NOTEBOOK SCIENCE. Peter Murray-Rust has already outlined his thoughts and will expand at the gathering. What we will need to do is consider how to turn discussions into actions and deliverables to get it done. The symposium will be a start…the “networking events” (call them pub gatherings) will continue the discussions and what we do afterwards makes it work. Hope to see you in Cambridge!!!

For those of you who CANNOT attend on Monday of next week….you can still contribute…

If you have any photos of JC please send them through to me at tony27587ATgmailDOTcom for a photo loop

If you want to send a dedication to JC send a few words that I will show on a dedication loop sometime during the meeting.






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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