Meet Kepa Burusco-Goni – Molecular Science Informatician

Kepa brings 15 years' experience in the areas of material sciences, molecular modelling, drug discovery and bioinformatics

Medicines Discovery Catapult

Tell us a bit about the team you work in?

I work in the Cheminformatics team; there’s four of us – Anna, Charlie and Andrew. We mainly work in the cheminformatics field, but also cover areas of bioinformatics and molecular modelling.

We use ligand- and structure-based drug design approaches, molecular descriptors, databases, artificial intelligence plus molecular modelling to elaborate activity models and propose new candidates in drug repurposing and drug combinations projects.

What’s your role in the team?

I am a chemist with a combined experience of about 15 years in the areas of material sciences, molecular modelling, drug discovery and, most recently, bioinformatics.

My current role within the team is Molecular Science Informatician. It gives me exposure and involvement in projects focusing on drug combinations, drug repurposing and free energy calculations for drug design.

I also work in the interface between different areas of knowledge and that keeps you in contact with new ideas and advances in different disciplines – I find this rather rewarding.

In three words, what would best describe your team?

Diverse, dynamic and agile.

What’s a typical day as a Molecular Science Informatician look like?

A typical day for me… every day is different, it can vary depending on the project I am working on/the challenges I face, but without a doubt, it involves programming and problem solving.

Data is very much the core of my role – classifying, filtering, sorting, analysing and/or creating data to make decisions.

How long have you worked at Medicines Discovery Catapult, and what attracted you to this industry?

I have been working at Medicines Discovery Catapult for over 2 years now. Before I joined, I was a Research Associate at the Manchester Pharmacy School (University of Manchester). During that time, I collaborated with different groups involved in drug discovery projects and with pharma companies. I liked the experience and I felt it was the right time for me to move to industry. There were clear targets, although a challenge to meet at times, but you were a part of the research study, fully involved and integrated – I enjoyed that!

Tell us about the work you’ve done, either at Medicines Discovery Catapult or elsewhere, that you’re most proud of.

I feel quite attached to the swarm-enhanced-sampling TI/FEP project I was involved when I first arrived in Manchester. However, it is my mixed background from my journey from chemistry to cheminformatics what I appreciate the most. In the past, I did research in projects related to or requiring knowledge in material sciences, statistical mechanics, programming, mathematics, biochemistry and think that here, at Medicines Discovery Catapult, I can use that experience in research projects. It’s great that I can use all my knowledge and skills developed through my education and career journey in my role today.

Talk to us about your journey from chemistry to cheminformatics?

My broad range of study areas means I have a diverse background – flexible and adaptable which is perfect for the cheminformatics role at Medicines Discovery Catapult. Learning new things, and being in touch with new science has developed me further.

What are you interests outside of work?

I am a big fan of classical music, films and international food. I go quite frequently to concerts at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. I have started going again to the cinema after a few years of low attendance.

I also enjoy eating out with friends – Indian and middle east cuisine are all-time favourites.

Learn more about the Cheminformatics team – meet the Head of Cheminformatics, Andrew Pannifer as he shares his fascination with chemistry and biology.