Assistant Professor of Systems Biology (in Computer Science)
Department Systems Biology
Title: Protein structure prediction in a post-AlphaFold2 world
AlphaFold2 burst on the life sciences stage with the remarkable claim that protein structure prediction has been solved. In this talk I will argue that in some fundamental sense the core scientific problem of static structure prediction is finished, but that further maturation is necessary before AlphaFold2 and similar systems can materially inform biological questions beyond those of structure determination itself. I will outline some of these necessary developments and highlight one in particular: the prediction of structure from individual protein sequences. I will describe present challenges and opportunities, and our efforts to tackle them by combining advances in protein language modeling with end-to-end differentiable structure prediction, presenting new results on the prediction of de novo designed proteins and proteins in the twilight zone of sequence space. Time permitting, I will end by speculating on what abundant availability of structural information might mean for the future of biology.