Meet our Scientists
Michael Edmund Beck: The Electrons Mystery Solver
Even though their single components are known, molecules are a mystery. Software, computer modeling and computation help analyze the interaction of active ingredients and their protein targets. This is where Dr. Michael Beck comes in.
To me, the world consists of mathematical equations. They tell me whole stories.
Chemical research is like a dark, misty room: You wander around, trying to find the solution to your problem. With mathematical computation, I set up a small candle to suggest a direction. That’s the core of computational life science: providing computer-based support to chemical and biological experiments.
My profession is all about numbers, algorithms and equations. I’m mainly engaged with unraveling how molecules are built, how they interact with other molecules, and how they behave in cells or organisms. Understanding the dance of electrons within and between molecules guides us in our search for new plant protection products.
The first step is usually to raise a precise question. Understanding the problem and transforming it into mathematical shapes often proves more difficult then expected. Once these calculations are done, I interpret the results with my colleagues, who work as experimental chemists and biologists. Our interpretations give us a first clue about a molecule’s function, but we can only be certain after really testing it. I want to disprove the possibility of coincidence; I’m satisfied if I can provide better hit rates than random experiments.
Recently, Bayer launched a new product. This is a great example of our internal teamwork and interplay of theoretical and practical work. By studying computer models, the team and I discovered new aspects of already known chemical compounds and we designed an additional one that will be valuable for effective pest control. Inspired by the hypothesis, my colleagues continued research and finally succeeded in developing this new product to protect crops against bloodsucking insects.
Fun with Theory
Curiosity led me to chemistry. My humble ambition as a young person was to defeat cancer. During my studies, theory gripped my curiosity. To quote Johann Wolfgang Goethe, I wanted to “perceive whatever holds the world together in its inmost folds.” Theoretical and quantum chemistry quickly became my home turf, and have remained so ever since. Analyzing the inner nature of chemical compounds was always fascinating to me, and with Bayer my passion now serves a greater good: the making of products which contribute to food security. I’m very glad that my research has a real benefit for society.
Relaxing to the beat
After work, music lets me relax and let go. I enjoy fast and loud metal sounds, as well as music from classical composers like Johann Sebastian Bach or Igor Stravinsky. Since I was a child, I’ve loved playing drums. I started by playing on buckets. Today, I perform in various bands, including some live shows. On stage, I’m no longer a small candle in the dark. I become the roar running through it.
CV: Michael Edmund Beck
1967 Born in Düsseldorf, Germany
1994 Master thesis in theoretical chemistry, University Köln, Germany
1997 Phd in theoretical chemistry, Universities Köln, Germany and Lund, Sweden
1998 postDoc at Zürich University, Switzerland
1999-2005 Lab Head at Bayer CropScience Research
2005-2011 Head of Scientific Computing within Bayer CropScience Research / Discovery in Monheim
2006-2011 Scientific Coordinator for Bayer CropScience in the Chemical Genomics Center, a collaboration involving industry partners and the Max Planck Society
2008-today Lecturer “Computational Methods in Drug Discover” at the Technical University in Dortmund, Germany (Technische Universitaet Dortmund)
2001-today Head of “Computational Science” within Bayer CropScience Small Molecule Research, for all European research sites
2016-2017 2016 Coordinator for Bayer CropScience in the Chemical Genomics Center with the Max Planck Society