2003 Distinguished Service Award: David Weininger

// Chemical & Biological Engineering

Tags: alumni, CBE E-Day, David Weininger, Engineers' Day

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David Weininger
Daylight Chemical Information Systems, Inc.
PhDCBE ’78

David Weininger has taken his lifelong interest in chemistry and developed a leading-edge company in the emerging field of chemical informatics.

Weininger is co-founder and president of Daylight Chemical Information Systems. He received his PhD in water chemistry from UW-Madison in 1978. Weininger was a research scientist before founding Daylight Chemical Information Systems. The privately held company focuses on chemical informatics — the application of information technology to the investigation of chemistry problems and the analysis of chemical data. The goal of chemical informatics, according to Weininger, is to create systems that can handle not only large amounts of data, but can also organize and evaluate data to provide new insights into chemical research. Daylight is widely regarded as the leading chemical informatics innovator in the life sciences industry. The company has offices in California, New Mexico and England.

In particular, the company has worked with the pharmaceutical industry and other companies that design chemicals with specific chemical properties.

Weininger’s doctoral thesis work at the college focused on the accumulation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in lake trout in Lake Michigan. His work was considered groundbreaking in the developing field of bio-accumulation of organic chemicals in the environment. He then joined the EPA’s National Environmental Research Laboratory in Duluth.

In 1983, he began work with the Quantitative Structure Activity Relationships chemical modeling group at Pomona College. His advances in the field led to the development of SMILES (Simplified Molecular Input Line Entry Specification), a simple yet comprehensive chemical nomenclature. It is utilized throughout the pharmaceutical and chemical industries for designing organic chemicals with specific chemical properties. Weininger’s role in developing SMILES, and the larger role he has played in fostering the emerging field of informatics, has been chronicled in the book, The Info Mesa (Norton). Writer Ed Regis focuses on Santa Fe, New Mexico, home to Daylight’s research laboratories and Weininger’s personal home, as the next-generation Silicon Valley, where entrepreneurs such as Weininger analyze and catalogue huge amounts of information.

In his spare time, Weininger flies his Alon A-2 Aircoupe single-engine airplane and rafts on the Colorado River.