Peter Murray-Rust

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Peter Murray-Rust
Peter Murray-Rust,8083939.JPG
at Wikimania 2014
Born 1941 (age 74–75)
Residence United Kingdom
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford
Thesis A structural investigation of some compounds showing charge-transfer properties (1969)
Doctoral students Nicholas England[1]
Known for
Notable awards Herman Skolnik Award
recorded July 2014

Peter Murray-Rust (born 1941) is a chemist currently working at the University of Cambridge. As well as his work in chemistry Murray-Rust is also known for his support of open access and open data.


He was educated at Bootham School and Balliol College, Oxford. After obtaining a Doctor of Philosophy he became lecturer in chemistry at the (new) University of Stirling and was first warden of Andrew Stewart Hall of Residence. In 1982 he moved to Glaxo Group Research at Greenford to head Molecular Graphics,[2] Computational Chemistry and later protein structure determination. He was Professor of Pharmacy in the University of Nottingham from 1996-2000, setting up the Virtual School of Molecular Sciences. He is now Reader Emeritus in Molecular Informatics at the University of Cambridge and Senior Research Fellow Emeritus of Churchill College, Cambridge.


His research interests have involved the automated analysis of data in scientific publications, creation of virtual communities e.g. The Virtual School of Natural Sciences in the Globewide Network Academy and the Semantic Web. With Henry Rzepa he has extended this to chemistry through the development of markup languages, especially Chemical Markup Language.[3] He campaigns for open data, particularly in science, and is on the advisory board of the Open Knowledge Foundation and a co-author of the Panton Principles for Open scientific data.[4] Together with a few other chemists he was a founder member of the Blue Obelisk movement in 2005.[5][6][7]

In 2002, Peter Murray-Rust and his colleagues proposed an electronic repository for unpublished chemical data called the World Wide Molecular Matrix (WWMM). In January 2011 a symposium around his career and visions was organized, called Visions of a Semantic Molecular Future.[8][9][10][11] In 2011 he and Henry Rzepa were joint recipients of the Herman Skolnik Award of the American Chemical Society.[12] In 2014 he was awarded a Fellowship by the Shuttleworth Foundation to develop the automated mining of science from the literature.

Murray-Rust coined a term for the phenomenon that Blue Obelisk project and Open Science projects in general exhibit a "Dr Who" model in June 2009.[13][14] This model describes the concept that when a project leader does not have the resources to continue to lead a project (e.g. because the leader moves to another university with other tasks), a different person will stand up to become the new leader. As such, the project continues to be developed.

As of 2014, Murray-Rust was granted a Fellowship by Shuttleworth Foundation in relation to the ContentMine project which uses machines to liberate 100,000,000 facts from the scientific literature.


Murray-Rust is also known for his work on making scientific knowledge from literature freely available, and in such taking a stance against publishers that are not fully compliant with the Berlin Declaration on Open Access. In 2014 he actively raised awareness of glitches in the publishing system of Elsevier, where restrictions were imposed by Elsevier on the reuse of papers after the authors had paid Elsevier to make the paper freely available.[15] He has also made statements about predatory journals; he has come under criticism by Jeffrey Beall for his involvement with controversial publisher MDPI and for his account of this involvement.[16][17]


  1. ^ England, Nicholas William (2011). Automatic analysis and validation of open polymer data (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ Murray-Rust, P.; Glusker, J. P. (1984). "Directional hydrogen bonding to sp2- and sp3-hybridized oxygen atoms and its relevance to ligand-macromolecule interactions". Journal of the American Chemical Society 106 (4): 1018–1025. doi:10.1021/ja00316a034. 
  3. ^ Murray-Rust, P.; Rzepa, H. S. (1999). "Chemical Markup, XML, and the Worldwide Web. 1. Basic Principles". Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling 39 (6): 928–942. doi:10.1021/ci990052b. 
  4. ^ Panton Principles for Open data in science
  5. ^ Guha, R.; Howard, M. T.; Hutchison, G. R.; Murray-Rust, P.; Rzepa, H.; Steinbeck, C.; Wegner, J.; Willighagen, E. L. (2006). "The Blue Obelisk - Interoperability in Chemical Informatics". Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling 46 (3): 991–998. doi:10.1021/ci050400b. PMID 16711717. 
  6. ^ O'Boyle, N. M.; Guha, R.; Willighagen, E. L.; Adams, S. E.; Alvarsson, J.; Bradley, J. C.; Filippov, I. V.; Hanson, R. M.; Hanwell, M. D.; Hutchison, G. R.; James, C. A.; Jeliazkova, N.; Lang, A. S. D.; Langner, K. M.; Lonie, D. C.; Lowe, D. M.; Pansanel, J. R. M.; Pavlov, D.; Spjuth, O.; Steinbeck, C.; Tenderholt, A. L.; Theisen, K. J.; Murray-Rust, P. (2011). "Open Data, Open Source and Open Standards in chemistry: The Blue Obelisk five years on". Journal of Cheminformatics 3 (1): 37. doi:10.1186/1758-2946-3-37. PMC 3205042. PMID 21999342. 
  7. ^ The Blue Obelisk, CDK News, 2005, 2, 43–46
  8. ^ Jones, R.; MacGillivray, M.; Murray-Rust, P.; Pitman, J.; Sefton, P.; O'Steen, B.; Waites, W. (2011). "Open Bibliography for Science, Technology, and Medicine". Journal of Cheminformatics 3: 47. doi:10.1186/1758-2946-3-47. PMC 3206455. PMID 21999661. 
  9. ^ CCL Archives, 2010,
  10. ^ Meeting Archives and publications, 2011,
  11. ^ Murray-Rust, P. (2011). "Semantic science and its communication - a personal view". Journal of Cheminformatics 3: 48–11. doi:10.1186/1758-2946-3-48. PMC 3206456. PMID 21999715. 
  12. ^ CCL Archives, 2011,
  13. ^ Glyn Moody, The Doctor Who Model of Open Source, 2009,
  14. ^ P. Murray-Rust, The Doctor Who Model of Open Source, 2009,
  15. ^ Paul Jump, Elsevier: bumps on road to open access, Times Higher Education, 2014,
  16. ^ "Beall's criticism of MDPI lacks evidence and is irresponsible". 
  17. ^ "MDPI and Beall - further comments from a "brainwashed Brit"". 

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