J. Andrew McCammon
Statistical mechanics and computational chemistry, with applications to biological systems

Contact Information
Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Joseph E. Mayer Chair of Theoretical Chemistry
Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology
Fellow, San Diego Supercomputer Center

Office: Urey Hall 4246
Phone: 858-534-2905
Email: jmccammon@ucsd.edu
Web: mccammon.ucsd.edu
Group: View group members
Education
1976 Ph.D., Harvard University
1969 B.A., Pomona College
Awards and Academic Honors
2011
Elected Member, US National Academy of Sciences
2008
American Chemical Society National Award for Computers in Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research
2006
Elected Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2003
UCSD SPPS Associated Students Teaching Award
2002
Chancellor's Associates Award for Research
2000
Appointed Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
1999
Elected Fellow, Biophysical Society
1997
Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
1995-
Joseph E. Mayer Chair of Theoretical Chemistry, U.C. San Diego
1995
Smithsonian Award for Breakthrough Computational Science
1991
Centennial Lecture, University of Chicago
1987-1992
George Hitchings Award for Innovative Methods in Drug Design, Burroughs Wellcome Fund
1984
Elected Fellow, American Physical Society
1982-87
Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award
1981-1994
M.D. Anderson Chair of Chemistry, University of Houston
1980-85
N.I.H. Research Career Development Award
1980-84
Sloan Research Fellow
1976-1978
N.S.F./N.I.H. Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University
Research Interests
Most chemical reactions are carried out in solution. The solvent surroundings affect such reactions in a variety of important ways. For example, the rates of reactions between ionized molecules are often limited by the rate at which the reactants diffuse through the solvent and come into contact. Also, specific solvation effects often determine the relative free energies or stabilities of reactant, transition state, and product molecules. In our group, we study such phenomena using methods from statistical mechanics. These methods range from simulation studies, in which the equations of motion of the atoms in a model system are solved on a computer, to formal studies in which we develop and solve differential or other equations.

We also use computer models and formal techniques to examine how protein molecules function. The proteins of interest include enzymes and ligand binding proteins such as antibody molecules. The theoretical studies show, for example, how a substrate may be attracted to the active site of an enzyme by electrostatic interactions, and how the atoms within an enzyme move to participate in the catalytic transformation of a bound substrate. These methods are of practical importance in the design of new enzymes that can be synthesized by genetic engineering techniques, and in the design of new drugs that bind strongly to their receptors.

Our simulation studies benefit from the excellent computing facilities to which we have access. These facilities include parallel supercomputers and sophisticated computer graphics systems that allow for the visualization of the atomic dynamics in solutions or protein molecules by virtual reality methods.

Primary Research Area
Physical/Analytical Chemistry
Interdisciplinary interests
Biophysics
Computational and Theoretical

Outreach Activities
I am very committed to mentoring and encouraging individuals from diverse backgrounds in science. To this end, I have been an active participant in the UCSD Summer Training Academy for Research in the Sciences (STARS) program, the UCSD Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD) program, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Exceptional Research Opportunities Program (EXROP). These programs are aimed at undergraduate students. In addition, I have actively recruited a diverse set of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars.
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Selected Publications