Denis Fourches joined NC State in January 2015 as a Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program cluster hire in Bioinformatics. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and a resident member of the Bioinformatics Research Center. Fourches’ research focuses on analyzing, modeling and forecasting complex interactions between chemical structures and various types of biological targets to design novel compounds with desired activity and safety profiles. To achieve this objective, he focuses on the development and implementation of innovative cheminformatics approaches that characterize the two- and three-dimensional properties of molecules; establish and validate accurate quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSAR); and use these predictive models in combination with structure-based molecular docking for screening extremely large libraries of virtual compounds and prioritizing hits to be tested experimentally. Fourches’ research on computer-aided molecular design has important applications to drug discovery, agrochemical development, green chemistry and biocompatible nanomaterials.
Previously, Fourches was a research assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Eshelman School of Pharmacy, where he led collaborative modeling projects for therapeutically-relevant endpoints and chemical risk assessment. In 2012, he received the UNC Junior Faculty Development award. Fourches’ received a bachelor of science in chemistry from the University of Limoges, France, followed by a master of science in theoretical chemistry and Ph.D. in chemistry (with a cheminformatics specialty) from Louis Pasteur University in Strasbourg, France, under the mentorship of Alexandre Varnek. After graduation, Fourches came to the United States to complete postdoctoral training on the development of novel cheminformatics methods under the mentorship of Alexander Tropsha at UNC-Chapel Hill.