When Victor Solovyev looks at solving a protein structure, he sees it less as unraveling the complexities of biology and more as a tough physics challenge. Trained as a physicist in his native Russia at the university in Novosibirsk, Solovyev, the new chief scientific officer at bioinformatics company Softberry, long ago succumbed to the lure of biological puzzles.
“Physicists usually compute atoms or small molecules, but it was a huge, interesting task to compute a protein structure,” Solovyev recalls of his first exposure to the field, which also taught him about genetic databases and bioinformatics. He’s been working in the field since 1977. His career has included time at Amgen, Baylor College of Medicine, the Sanger Centre where he was the group leader for computational genomics, and Eos Biotechnology as director of bioinformatics. At Sanger, he enjoyed the environment of working on the Human Genome Project and found himself focusing on gene prediction. He learned about gene expression at Eos, as well as the corresponding algorithms to analyze and normalize expression data.
These experiences have given him a solid foundation to bring to little Softberry, which does software work in EST clustering, protein structure prediction, and analysis of gene regulation and expression data. Along with nurturing Softberry’s current lineup, Solovyev hopes to push the boundaries in systems biology, for one. “We have a lot of demands for good computational packages and approaches in industry and academia,” he says. “We have a lot of unsolved problems where we can improve.”
— Meredith Salisbury