Robert C. Rizzo, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics
Stony Brook University


Targeted Drug Design Using Computation

Under the broad category of Computational Structural Biology our research group seeks to understand the basis for molecular recognition at the atomic level for specific biological systems involved in human disease, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, and influenza with the ultimate goal of developing new and improved drugs. Computation is used to model how drugs (typically small molecules) interact with a given receptor (typically a protein). The resultant 3D atomic level structural and energetic information from the calculations can be used to quantify and rationalize drug-binding and resistance for known systems and to make predictions for new ones. The research is geared towards developing improved methods and computational tools for estimating binding energies and for virtual screening (docking) calculations which facilitate structure-based drug design. Improved computational methods have great potential to save billions of dollars in drug development costs and reduce the time associated with bringing clinically useful medicines to market. The research is very interdisciplinary and includes not only Mathematics and Statistics, but Chemistry, Biochemistry, Bioinformatics, and Computer Science/Programming. The group has active collaborations with researchers at Stony Brook, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the University of California at San Francisco.


Robert Rizzo earned a B.S. from Villanova University in the Department of Chemistry in 1995, and Ph.D. from Yale University in the Department of Chemistry in 2001. After graduate school he was a Post-Doctoral fellow at the University of California at San Francisco from 2001-2004 in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry. He is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics at Stony Brook. Dr. Rizzo was recently a recipient of the NYSTAR Investigator Award (2005-2007), the Hewlett Packard Outstanding Junior Faculty Award (2007), and the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Award (2007).

updated: 2008-09-16