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Professor Charlotte Deane in the Department of Statistics was one of a panel of experts contributing to the RSC report, which sets out a vision for how digital technologies will enable and accelerate scientific discovery and solutions to global challenges.

The cover of the Digital Futures report

In September 2019 the Royal Society of Chemistry set out to gain a more in-depth understanding of the long-term promise of and concerns about the use of data and digital technologies for scientific discovery by inviting 14 experts from different scientific fields and sectors to its first Strategic Advisory Forum. This forum brought together leaders from the natural sciences and digital fields to set out a vision for how digital technologies – from computational chemistry and multiscale modelling to machine learning and robotics – will enable and accelerate scientific discovery and solutions to global challenges.

Professor Charlotte Deane was asked to attend to contribute her expertise and experience in protein bioinformatics, and bring a unique perspective on the rapidly evolving, interdisciplinary frontier across science and digital technologies.

She said: “It was a pleasure to work with the Royal Society of Chemistry on their Digital Futures report. It is exciting to see how the increasing use of computation and robotics in chemistry is accelerating discovery and helping to speed up our findings and response to global challenges and crises.”

The RSC's Digital Futures report is a follow-up to Science Horizons, which engaged over 700 academic researchers globally to seek views on key trends and emerging research areas in the chemical sciences and its interfaces. Data and digital technology emerged as one of the main themes.

The new report says that digital techniques that could make scientific discovery up to a thousand times faster must be urgently embraced in a new post-COVID national research strategy. Recent advances in AI, robotics, data analysis, modelling and simulation have allowed scientists to augment their research to advance discovery more quickly, with many of these techniques being exploited to accelerate research into coronavirus treatments, reducing the time it takes to do some tasks in labs from weeks or months to just hours and identifying patterns and possibilities that humans alone would not see.

See the full Digital Futures report on the RSC website and watch the video below.