Fankuchen Memorial Award: David S. Goodsell (2022)

David Goodsell is the recipient of the 2022 I. Fankuchen Award, an honor that is “To recognize contributions to crystallographic research by one who is known to be an effective teacher of crystallography.”  He is Professor of Computational Biology in the Department of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology at the Scripps Research Institute and Research Professor at Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey, who is known for his extraordinary skills as a communicator of science. 

David started his work in structural biology with Richard Dickinson at UCLA.  During his postdoctoral appointment with Arthur Olson, David developed the automated docking method known as AutoDock, the most widely-used computational docking program in the scientific community.  His studies now center on methods for computational structural biology especially their application to drug design, protein function prediction, and modeling of the molecular structure of entire cells.  In support of this research, David developed CellPack, a new method for creating three-dimensional atomic models of large portions of cells.

David has succeeded admirably in a dual career in research and in scientific outreach and education.  It was in graduate school, while writing molecular graphics programs to visualize protein and DNA structures, that David became interested in scientific illustration.  He developed his own signature style of watercolor painting that incorporates scientific rigor while creating easily interpretable illustrations of molecules and the structure of living cells.  He has elaborated complicated biological assemblies in profoundly accurate, artistic and informative ways to aid in the realization of their complexity and functionalities in ways that would not be appreciated without his contribution.

For the last two decades, David has worked with the Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics Protein Data Bank (RCSB PDB) writing and illustrating a monthly column – Molecule of the Month - that tells stories about molecular structure and function.  These columns have introduced students, teachers and researchers around the globe to the science of structural biology using three-dimensional structures.  The success of these columns inspired development of a much larger public outreach effort by the RCSB PDB, much of it in collaboration with David.  He has made his extraordinary, iconic educational materials and paintings freely available to the public. 

Throughout his unique and impressive career, David has promoted and enabled effective teaching and learning of biochemistry and molecular biology and has inspired the public with his vision, his creativity, and his artistic genius.