Zoe Cournia, a computational chemist and assistant professor level investigator at the Biomedical Research Foundation, Academy of Athens (BRFAA), Greece has been selected as the recipient of the 1st PRACE Ada Lovelace Award for HPC.
Cournia was selected for the award because of her outstanding contributions and impact on HPC in Europe. The Award will be presented at the upcoming PRACEdays16, to be held from 10 to 12 May in Prague.
‘Using the PRACE HPC resources and recent advances in computer-aided drug design allow us to develop drugs specifically designed for a given protein, shortening the time for development of new drugs,’ said Cournia.
Cournia will participate in the final plenary panel: ‘How can we assess European competitiveness in the global HPC race?’ at PRACEdays16. She will also be awarded a cash prize of €1000 and trophy at an award ceremony during the conference.
‘I believe that our work is a good example of how computers help develop candidate drugs that have the potential to save millions of lives worldwide. I am honoured to receive this prestigious award and hope that this serves as inspiration to other female researchers in the field,' Cournia added.
The research focused on understanding the way in which mutant proteins cause the onset of cancer and opened up the possibility of designing drugs that can stop this process. Her work as a collaborator with Paraskevi Gkeka on new designs in drug delivery was featured in the PRACE Digest 2015. This research focused on research into nanoparticle-cell membrane interactions and is making vital contributions to advancing the field of drug delivery design in biological systems.
Cournia was awarded core hours on PRACE resources as principal investigator for research on ‘Mechanistic studies of the Arp2/3 complex activation and Selective inhibition of the PI3Ka E545K mutant through MD simulations, in vitro assays and SPR experiments’ in the 6th and 9th Project Access calls. She was also a collaborator on other projects in Nanotechnology and Clinical, Experimental Surgery and Translational Research.
Cournia’s research results were recently featured in the PRACE ‘Women in HPC Magazine’ in an article entitled ‘Computers in the Fight Against Cancer’.