The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Biology and Biomedicine category goes, in this fifteenth edition, to David Baker, Demis Hassabis and John Michael Jumper for their contributions to the use of artificial intelligence for the accurate prediction of the three-dimensional structure of proteins from their primary amino acid sequences.
Dr. Baker developed RoseTTAFold, while Dr. Hassabis and Dr. Jumper created AlphaFold2. Both computing methods rely on a sophisticated machine learning technique known as deep learning to predict the shape of proteins with unprecedented accuracy, similar to experimentally-determined structures, and with exceptional speed.
This breakthrough is revolutionizing our understanding of how the amino acid sequence of proteins leads to uniquely ordered three-dimensional structures. It has already reduced the number of proteins for which no structural data is available to just a few. Scientists are now using these new methods to predict protein conformations, understand protein complexes, design entirely new proteins, and identify novel drug targets.