In the Media: U of T’s Acceleration Consortium is changing the way we do science|Professor Alán Aspuru-Guzik Interview with The Globe and Mail

June 27, 2023 by Mayuri Punithan - Department of Chemistry

How do we solve growing societal issues, such as combating climate change and curing life-threatening diseases? Science is the answer to these problems, but as Professor Alán Aspuru-Guzik, states “we need faster and more responsive research.”

The Department of Chemistry's Professor Aspuru-Guzik is leading the University of Toronto's Acceleration Consortium. The Consortium is building "self-driving labs" to design and test new materials and molecules in a rapid and cost-efficient way. These labs are created by combining artificial intelligence, machine learning, advanced computing, and robotic and automated methods. Notably, the Acceleration Consortium discovered a molecule that could be used to create a new drug for liver cancer by using AI. The process to synthesize such molecule took only 30 days, when it could take many years using traditional methods.

You can’t just stay in your corner of industry or government or academia and do it alone. You need all stakeholders in the room at the same time working together and using their strengths. We decided to call this a consortium instead of an institute because it’s more representative of the intimate collaboration between all of the involved participants.

- Professor Alán Aspuru-Guzik

On April 28th, 2023, the Acceleration Consortium received a $199.5M grant from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) —the largest federal research grant in U of T and Canadian history. The fund will support the Consortium's current work on self-driving labs, such as developing datasets to better train AI models and to help validate the model's predictions in real-time.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Professor Aspuru-Guzik discusses how the Acceleration Consortium’s projects can meet the scale and urgency of humanity's biggest challenges, their unique "open science" approach, and how Toronto is an ideal location for science and innovation.

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May 26th, 2023, | The Globe and Mail