I was interested early on in using concepts and approaches from physics and chemistry to explain biology. I saw a great opportunity to pursue these interests in the laboratory of my PhD advisor Cyrus Levinthal, who was developing what were then the first and most powerful computational and graphics tools for modelling proteins and protein interactions. Importing and implementing many of these tools to Belgium and France (with crucial support from CECAM (Centre pour le Calcul Atomique et Moléculaire) in Paris, and EMBO), we developed the first docking algorithms for the prediction of protein-protein interactions and one of the first procedures for defining structural domains from the atomic coordinates of proteins. We then used molecular simulations and bioinformatics approaches to investigate the role of local interactions in stabilizing the native state of proteins, protein structure prediction, protein folding, and fold recognition. Together with my teams (at the University of Brussels/Belgium, EBI/UK, and SickKids/Toronto) we have developed efficient procedures for automatic protein design, for simulating protein interactions and conformational changes, and for analyzing protein interactions networks and cellular pathways. Since 2001 I serve on the Management Committee of CAPRI (Critical Assessment of Predicted Interactions), a community-wide international initiative for fostering the development of methods and algorithms for the prediction of protein interactions and complexes, and I am currently coordinating this effort.
I founded and co-directed the Centre for Structural Biology and Bioinformatics and headed a Master’s program in Bioinformatics. I have been a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) since 1990. I held a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics from 2005-2012, and was elected an ISCB fellow in 2016. I am a member of F1000 since 2017. I have been a member of numerous expert panels and Advisory Committees in Europe, US and Canada, and am on the Editorial Boards of several journals in my field.