April 18, 2013
By Lauren McMillin
Khaled Elokely, a doctoral student in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Mississippi, was selected third runner-up in a research-based competition sponsored by the American Chemical Society. He presented his winning project at the society’s April 7-11 spring meeting in New Orleans.
Called “Teach-Discover-Treat,” the competition involved creating computational chemistry tutorials that can be used for education and discovering drugs to treat diseases neglected by pharmaceutical companies.
“It is a duty and great responsibility to aid in reducing human suffering and, in particular, suffering among those in neglected groups,” Elokely said. “It was also an honor to be selected to represent my group in the American Chemical Society. I enjoyed sharing my project and experience with other groups.”
While developing their tutorials and workflow models, participants were required to use freely available software tools. Elokely’s project was completed under the guidance of Robert J. Doerksen, associate professor of medicinal chemistry.
“Khaled’s project was to design a systematic computational procedure that could be useful for targeting human African trypanosomiasis, a deadly disease,” Doerksen said. “The disease has been neglected by most large pharmaceutical companies and research laboratories because the infected patients are too poor to afford expensive drugs. Khaled’s computational approach may assist discovery of a new drug, which can be made available at low cost.”
A panel of judges, the “Teach-Discover-Treat” steering committee, selected the winning tutorials based on scientific content, presentation and clarity, educational benefit and reproducibility. Out of six submissions in four categories, the committee selected an overall winner and three runners-up.
As third runner-up, Elokely won a $1,500 travel award from ACS’s Division of Computers in Chemistry to attend the group’s meeting in New Orleans and present his tutorial there.
“Khaled had the wonderful experience of presenting his research to the experts at the conference,” Doerksen said. “Hopefully, his conversations with them will lead to future collaborations and job opportunities.”
To view Elokely’s winning tutorial and computational model, as well as others from the “Teach-Discover-Treat” competition, visit the competition’s website.
“Khaled is one of the best students in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry,” Doerksen said. “He also has been selected to win a University of Mississippi Graduate Student Award this year.”