Sonicules: Designing Drugs with Sound

Project: Other projectOther internal award

Project Details


Sonicules is a live audio-visual performance which engages audiences with the process and challenges involved in the design of new anticancer drugs. It centres on current research in the Departments of Electronics and Chemistry which is investigating the potential use of spatial sound to speed up the drug design process. The newly commissioned performance takes its creative impetus from interactions between biochemical data, interactive immersive surround sound and audio reactive visualisations. Additionally audience members can experience for themselves the powerful potential of sound to speed up the design of new drugs using a specially developed demonstrator incorporating 3D graphics and sound.

The key to effective design of new anticancer drugs is the ability to target specific biomolecules by carefully engineering the 3-D shape of new drug molecule to reach the optimal docking between a drug and target-enzyme. Currently chemists and biochemists can ‘tune’ this energetic interaction purely with the aid of visual software. The process is imperfect, slow and often misses some of the principal electronic interactions. However, recent research shows that auditory display - displaying data as sound - has potential alongside visual representations to improve the efficiency and speed of this aspect of drug design.

Key findings

NEW COLLABORATION ESTABLISHED with Dr Dominik Gront and Prof W Rudnicki, Dept of Bioinformatics, University of Warsaw

Potential Collaboration with BioBlox Project (Imperial and Goldsmiths, London)

June 2017 Wellcome Trust Public Engagement Fund (not funded)
June 2017 Funding Application to National Science Centre, Poland (Polish funding council)for 3 year project to incorporate spatial sonification into new protein modelling software PI Dr D Gront (Uni of Warsaw) , CoI Prof W Rudnicki (Uni of Warsaw), J Brereton as advisor (through first round)


Sept 2017 Performance at Stockholm TechFest, Stockholm, Sweden,

23.8.2017 Demonstration at the Variety in Chemistry Education and Physics Higher Education Conference (ViCEPHEC) 2017, York, UK

Invited to write Book Chapter "Soundings: Documentary Film and the Listening Experience", Published by University of Huddersfield


03.09.2017 Performance at Stockholm Tech Fest,

17.5.2017 Marvellous Molecules Presentation, Pint of Science Festival, The Winning Post, York

28.4.2017 Presentation, Demonstration, Panel Discussion and Performance at Centre of New Technologies, (CeNT, University of Warsaw, Poland

27/4/2017 Museum at Night, Copernicus Science Centre performance, presentation and demonstration

27.4.2017 Radek Rudnicki (composer) Interviewed by Polish TV channel Canal+

27.4.2017 Presentation and demonstration at Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modelling, University of Warsaw, Poland

24.2.2017 Presentation at Sound and Music in Documentary Film Conference, University of Huddersfield, UK

19.11.2016 Performance at Sines and Squares Festival, Manchester, UK (

28.9.2016 Performance and panel discussion at 9th Symposium of the Polish Bioinformatics Society, Białystok, Poland (

22.7.2016 Presentation at Audio and Music Technology Research Symposium, York

28.6.2016 Presentation at Sounds In Space Symposium, University of Derby

June 2016 Documentary Video (

21.6.2016 Documentary presentation and demonstration at AHRC Commons, University of York

11.6.2016 Demonstration/outreach day at York Festival of Ideas

12.6.2016 Live Audio-visual performance, Festival of Ideas

26.4.2016 Public Engagement presentation at Pint of Science Festival, Eagle and Child, York

Short titleSonicules
Effective start/end date1/01/16 → …