Jay Ponder

Jay Ponder

Professor of Chemistry, of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics (School of Medicine), and of Biomedical Engineering (School of Engineering)
research interests:
  • Computational Chemistry
  • Molecular Mechanics
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulations
  • Development of Next-Generation Force Fields
  • Algorithms for Conformational Search
  • Prediction of Small Molecule Crystal Structures
  • Homology and ab Initio Models of Protein Structures

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    CB 1134
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

Professor Ponder develops and applies computational tools for problems in structural biology and in protein engineering, function, and folding. His group's research focuses on prediction and modeling of structural chemistry and the relation of structure to molecular properties.

The Ponder group develops and applies computational tools for problems in structural biology and in protein engineering, function and folding. The Ponder Lab produces and distributes software packages ranging from macromolecular mechanics and dynamics simulation (TINKER) to molecular visualization (Force Field Explorer) to empirical packing analysis of protein structure (PROPAK) to sequence analysis and tertiary structure prediction (SLEUTH). Our research focuses on prediction and modeling of structural chemistry and the relation of structure to molecular properties.

Our major research area in recent years has concerned implementation of efficient methods for including multipole electrostatics and polarization in simulations as a framework for our next-generation AMOEBA force field. This new energy model enables reliable calculation of structures and has significant advantages over traditional fixed partial atomic charge models such as Amber and CHARMM. It also yields energetics for ligand docking and drug design to within "chemical accuracy"-- absolute errors of 0.5 kcal/mol or less. Current AMOEBA applications include free energy calculations of binding interactions, elucidation of the role of ions in biology, prediction of small molecule crystal structures and refinement of highly accurate protein homology models. Planned future improvements to the AMOEBA model are ligand field splitting terms for transition metals, incorporation of charge transfer and penetration effects, improved treatment of short-range dispersion, and coupling of valence geometry to electrostatics.

In addition, we are exploring various powerful approaches to conformational search for flexible biopolymers. One method transforms the potential energy surface for a molecule by a diffusion equation-based smoothing procedure. This "potential smoothing" paradigm is applicable to a variety of problems including transmembrane helix packing, global optimization, and energy-based clustering of conformations. Another search method is based on a novel distance geometry algorithm and heuristic rules as a basis for protein structure prediction. Statistical distance distributions and predicted secondary structure constraints generate libraries of candidate folds to be scored with an informatics-based contact function or physics-based effective mean force potential. Ultimately, our interest in conformational search lies in the "end game" of protein folding--in making a connection between atomic-level protein structures and low-resolution models available from fold recognition algorithms.

Selected Publications

Tinker-HP Molecular Modeling Package, L.-H. Jolly, A. Duran, L. Lagardere, J. W. Ponder, P. Ren and J.-P. Piquemal, LiveCoMS1, 2.10409 (2019) [PDF]

Classical Pauli Repulsion: An Anisotropic, Atomic Multipole Model, J. A. Rackers and J. W. Ponder, J. Chem. Phys.150, 084104 (2019) [PMCID:PMC6386640] [PDF]

Absolute Binding Free Energies for the SAMPL6 Cucurbit[8]ruil Host-Guest Challenge via the AMOEBA Polarizable Force Field, M. L. Laury, Z. Wang, A. S. Gordon and J. W. Ponder, J. Comput. Aid. Mol. Des.32, 1087-1095 (2018) [PMCID:PMC6240481] [PDF]

Tinker 8: Software Tools for Molecular Design, J. A. Rackers, Z. Wang, C. Lu, M. L. Laury, L. Lagardere, M. J. Schnieders, J.-P. Piquemal, P. Ren and J. W. Ponder, J. Chem. Theory Comput.14, 5273-5289 (2018) [PMCID:PMC6335969] [PDF]

A Physically Grounded Damped Dispersion Model with Particle Mesh Ewald Summation, J. A. Rackers, C. Liu, P. Ren and J. W. Ponder, J. Chem. Phys.149, 084115 (2018) [PMCID:PMC6118897] [PDF]

AMOEBA Polarizable Atomic Multpole Force Field for Nucleic Acids, C. Zhang, C. Lu, Z. Jing, C. Wu, J.-P. Piquemal, J. W. Ponder and P. Ren, J. Chem. Theory. Comput.14, 2084-2108 (2018) [PMCID:PMC5893433] [PDF]

Tinker-HP: A Massively Parallel Molecular Dynamics Package for Multiscale Simulations of Large Complex Systems with Advanced Point Dipole Polarizable Force Fields, L. Lagardere, L.-H. Jolly, F. Lipparini, F. Aviat, B. Stamm, Z. F. Jing, M. Harger, H. Torabifard, G. A. Cisneros, M. J. Schnieders, N. Gresh, Y. Maday, P. Y. Ren, J. W. Ponder and J.-P. Piquemal, Chem. Sci.9, 956-972 (2018) [PMCID:PMC5909332] [PDF]

Tinker-OpenMM: Absolute and Relative Alchemical Free Energies Using AMOEBA on GPUs, M. Harger, D. Li, Z. Wang, K. Dalby, L. Lagardere, J.-P. Piquemal, J. Ponder and P. Ren, J. Comput. Chem.38, 2047-2055 (2017) [PMCID:PMC5539969] [PDF]

An Optimized Charge Penetration Model for Use with the AMOEBA Force Field, J. A. Rackers, Q. Wang, C. Liu, J.-P. Piquemal, P. Ren and J. W. Ponder, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys.19, 276-291 (2017) [PMCID:PMC5177509] [PDF]

Truncated Conjugated Gradient (TCG): An Optimal Strategy for the Analytical Evaluation of the Many-Body Polarization Energy and Forces in Molecular Simulations, F. Aviat, A. Levitt, B. Stamm, Y. Maday, P. Ren, J. W. Ponder, L. Lagardere and J.-P. Piquemal, J. Chem. Theory Comput.13, 180-190 (2017) [PMCID:PMC5228058] [PDF]