Dr. Michael K. Gilson, Ph.D., M.D.

Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Chair in Computer-Aided Drug Design
Co-Director of UCSD Center for Drug Discovery Innovation

Michael K. Gilson, Ph.D., M.D.

Prounouns:  He|Him|His

(858) 822-0622

Human Resources

Mandi Garhartt (formerly Walker)


Nicholas "Nick" Vistro

Fund Management

Lisa Jandt Auvil

Research Summary

Computer simulations of the molecules of life are powerful tools for the design of new medications for a wide range of diseases. My lab accelerates drug discovery by improving the realism, speed, and accuracy of these fundamental simulations through methods development and software development and sharing. We also run BindingDB, an open database of measured protein-small molecule binding data over 2 million data for over 1 million compounds, and we are actively engaged in molecular design and synthesis for drug discovery projects relating to cancer and anesthesia.

Academic Achievements

Education: A.B. Bioengineering Magna cum Laude, (1981) Harvard College; Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics (1988) Columbia University; M.D. (1989) Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. 

Awards and Honors: Howard Hughes Medical Institute Physician Research Fellowship (1991-94). Distinguished Lecture in Computational and Mathematical Biology, University of California, Irvine (2014). Endowed Chair in Computer-Aided Drug Design, UC San Diego, 2010- present. 5th Annual Kollman Lectureship, UC San Francisco, 2016

Leadership Experience: Executive Committee, UC Drug Discovery Consortium, 2018- present. Co-Director UCSD Center for Drug Discovery Innovation 2013-present. Co-Founder, VeraChem LLC (2000-present). Chair, NIH MSFD study section (2007-2008). Member of Editorial Advisory Boards; e.g., J. Med. Chem., J. Chem. Inf. Mod. 

Key Contributions
  • Statistical thermodynamics of protein-drug binding as a basis for binding affinity calculations
  • Structure-based development of mutation-resistant HIV-protease inhibitors
  • Invented the Mining Minima technology for computer-aided drug design
  • Founded BindingDB, a public, web-accessible medicinal chemistry database