Every spring semester, I contribute to the course series From Novel Targets To Novel Therapeutic Modalities. The topic of this semester is multiscale modeling and computational biology in drug discovery.

The course series is organized by my colleague Adrian Roth, who is an expert of drug safety and new alternative methods. The course is attended mostly by master students of the Pharmacy Department of the University Basel. I have so far very good experience with the course: it covers a broad range of topics in drug discovery, it is given by a panel of experts working in diverse functions and assuming varying roles, the lecture is well organized by Adrian and her assistant Mrs Christiane Kocher, and probably the most important of all, the students are curious and engaged.

This semester, my talk will be about my current understanding of multiscale modeling of drug pharmacology and safety. My hope is to introduce three types of techniques that we often use to build computational models, namely mechanistic models, statistical models, and causal models. Together with in vitro, ex vivo, in vivo models, these modelling techniques give us the opportunity to understand how human body and drug interacts.

The key messages I tried to deliver are:

  1. In drug discovery, we are often interested in multiple levels of working mechanism - molecular, cellular/omics, and system/organ-level - of drug candidates, with the final goal to achieve acceptable benefit/risk ratio in as large a population as possible.
  2. Computational biologists in drug discovery build and use mechanistic, statistic, and causal models to achieve these goals.
  3. Integrating data and models inform both disease understanding and drug discovery.

Here are the slides that I used for the lecture: slide deck. If you have comments, suggestions, and criticisms, please kindly let me know!