The TNQ Distinguished Lectures in the Life Sciences Series II, Third Edition
Google DeepMind’s

John Jumper​

‘Highly Accurate Protein
Structure Predictions:
Using AI to Solve Biology Problems
in Minutes Instead of Years’
Bengaluru | Mumbai

John Jumper, a Breakthrough Prize laureate, was the second Featured Speaker of the TNQ Distinguished Lectures in the Life Sciences – 2024. This was the first year TNQ was presented with the remarkable opportunity of hosting a second speaker in the same year.

John Jumper currently leads the AlphaFold2 project at Google DeepMind, where he has been developing novel methods to apply AI and machine learning to protein biology.

The title of his lecture was ‘Highly Accurate Protein Structure Predictions: Using AI to Solve Biology Problems in Minutes Instead of Years’.

Dr Jumper’s lectures in Bengaluru and Mumbai in February 2024 were the Third Edition of the Series II lectures.

About John Jumper

John Jumper, together with Demis Hassabis, was awarded the 2023 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. In 2023, they also won the Canada Gairdner International Award and the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award. These prestigious awards were for developing AlphaFold, the artificial intelligence (AI) system that can predict the structure of a protein, at scale and in minutes, down to atomic accuracy.
Jumper was initially trained as a physicist and earned his BS in Physics and Mathematics from Vanderbilt University, USA, in 2007. Following his MPhil in Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics from the University of Cambridge, UK, he joined D.E. Shaw Research (DESRES), where he worked on molecular dynamics simulations of protein dynamics and supercooled liquids. He then did his PhD in Chemistry at the University of Chicago, USA, where he developed machine learning methods to simulate protein dynamics.
Proteins perform a variety of vital roles inside cells. Their diverse functions are closely linked to the forms they take after they fold from linear amino acid chains into three-dimensional (3D) structures. Predicting their 3D structure from the sequence of their amino acids has been the grand challenge in biology for over 50 years and central to understanding the workings of life. Conventional methods that have taken years and millions of dollars are being replaced by novel AI-driven technologies. Dr Jumper has been at the forefront of these efforts.
Dr Jumper joined Hassabis in Google DeepMind in late 2017 to work on the nascent AlphaFold project. In 2018, he became the research lead, with the goal of redesigning the system with a completely new architecture. The advent of AlphaFold2 has presented unparalleled progress in protein structure prediction. This highly accurate system has made structure predictions for over 200 million proteins; they cover almost all documented proteins – not only of humans but also of animals, plants, fungi, bacteria, and viruses.
DeepMind has made these structure predictions freely available through the AlphaFold Protein Structure Database. Designed in partnership with the European Molecular Biology Laboratory-European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), the AlphaFold public database serves as a “google search” for protein structures, providing researchers and pharmaceutical companies with instant access to accurate predicted models of the proteins they are studying. Professor Ewan Birney, EMBL-EBI Director, states that it will be “one of the most important datasets since the mapping of the Human Genome”. Since its launch, it has been accessed by over a million researchers and users across 190 countries.
The AlphaFold2 program dramatically reduces the time scientists typically spend determining protein structure and demonstrates the impact AI can have on scientific discovery and its potential to accelerate progress in some of the most fundamental fields of biology. This research will help to better our understanding of disease and to accelerate the development of new targeted drugs. Furthermore, this work is being used to accelerate progress on important real-world problems, ranging from antibiotic resistance to plastic pollution and food insecurity.

Awards &

2021 - BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biology and Biomedicine (shared with Demis Hassabis & David Baker)

2022 - Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences (shared with Demis Hassabis & David Baker)

2023 - Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (shared with Demis Hassabis)

2023 - Canada Gairdner International Award (shared with Demis Hassabis)

2023 - Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award (shared with Demis Hassabis)

Lecture Schedule


Monday, February 19, 2024, 4:30 pm​

JN Tata Auditorium, Indian Institute of Science (IISc) campus

Introduction by

Professor P. Balaram,
Chairperson, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) & former Director, IISc


Friday, February 23, 2024​, 4:30 pm​

Homi Bhabha Auditorium, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) campus​

Introduction by

Shravan Hanasoge,
Associate Professor, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, TIFR

Other Lectures

David Julius
‘Marvelous Molecular Motors’
Ron Vale
Marvelous Molecular Motors
Venki Ramakrishnan
My Adventures in the Ribosome