3D augmented reality app helps pharmacy students study protein, drug reactions

TOP: A 2018 Wayne State STEM Day attendee uses Wayne State vr glasses, made for the university's first augmented reality app, a virtual campus tour. ABOVE: A screenshot from the new app, 3D Molecular Viewer, which displays how drugs and proteins interact using three-dimensional models. 

With lead from the Office of the Provost, Computing & Information Technology (C&IT) has partnered with Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Professor, Steven Firestine, and Mike Ilitch School of Business alumnus, Mahmoud Mattan, co-founder and CEO of BrandXR, to create a smartphone app that displays three-dimensional (3D) models of protein-drug complexes. The project was selected by the Office of the Provost as part of their mission to make Wayne State an innovator in virtual and augmented reality technology. 

The app


The free app shows how drugs interact with their targets on a molecular level — something that before was only accessible in textbooks. Using augmented reality, users are able to see how drugs and proteins interact using three-dimensional models with their smartphone camera in real-time. Students may zoom in, rotate the image, change the colors of the models, and take photos and videos directly in the app. The tool makes these models openly accessible to all, and was created with practitioners in mind, as well as students and researchers.

“Technology is a big part of our lives, and is going to be even bigger,” said Mattan. “There’s simple ways to use complex technologies. That’s how you get these really cool products and user experiences – by making it fun and easy to use.” 

During the 2020 summer semester, a team of pharmacy students will find ways to incorporate the easy-to-use app into faculty lesson plans for the fall. More drugs will be added to the database and students will be able to share feedback to shape the future of the tool. 

The 3D Molecule Viewer is available on Android and iOS


VR at Wayne State

BrandXR has worked with the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences before, helping create a driving simulation lab to study the impact of drugs and alcohol on drivers. 

This is the second virtual reality app C&IT has collaborated on within the university. The first app was a virtual campus tour in 2018, bringing future Warriors from around the globe to the heart of Detroit. Potential new students experience classrooms, campus, and city life without leaving their homes. C&IT hopes to assist with similar projects across campus as part of their efforts to support teaching and learning at Wayne State University. 

C&IT is Wayne State University's central IT organization, in the Division of Academic Affairs. Daren Hubbard is Chief Information Officer (CIO) for Wayne State University and Associate Vice President for C&IT. For support Wayne State IT systems or services, please contact the C&IT Help Desk at 313-577-4357 or helpdesk@wayne.edu. Find FAQs at tech.wayne.edu/kb and follow us on Twitter @WayneStateCIT for instant updates.

Back to listing