skip to main content

Title: Molecular Graph Generation via Geometric Scattering
Graph neural networks (GNNs) have been used extensively for addressing problems in drug design and discovery. Both ligand and target molecules are represented as graphs with node and edge features encoding information about atomic elements and bonds respectively. Although existing deep learning models perform remarkably well at predicting physicochemical properties and binding affinities, the generation of new molecules with optimized properties remains challenging. Inherently, most GNNs perform poorly in whole-graph representation due to the limitations of the message-passing paradigm. Furthermore, step-by-step graph generation frameworks that use reinforcement learning or other sequential processing can be slow and result in a high proportion of invalid molecules with substantial post-processing needed in order to satisfy the principles of stoichiometry. To address these issues, we propose a representation-first approach to molecular graph generation. We guide the latent representation of an autoencoder by capturing graph structure information with the geometric scattering transform and apply penalties that structure the representation also by molecular properties. We show that this highly structured latent space can be directly used for molecular graph generation by the use of a GAN. We demonstrate that our architecture learns meaningful representations of drug datasets and provides a platform for goal-directed drug synthesis.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Date Published:
Journal Name:
IEEE Machine Learning for Signal Processing
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Molecular Representation Learning (MRL) has proven impactful in numerous biochemical applications such as drug discovery and enzyme design. While Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) are effective at learning molecular representations from a 2D molecular graph or a single 3D structure, existing works often overlook the flexible nature of molecules, which continuously interconvert across conformations via chemical bond rotations and minor vibrational perturbations. To better account for molecular flexibility, some recent works formulate MRL as an ensemble learning problem, focusing on explicitly learning from a set of conformer structures. However, most of these studies have limited datasets, tasks, and models. In this work, we introduce the first MoleculAR Conformer Ensemble Learning (MARCEL) benchmark to thoroughly evaluate the potential of learning on con- former ensembles and suggest promising research directions. MARCEL includes four datasets covering diverse molecule- and reaction-level properties of chemically diverse molecules including organocatalysts and transition-metal catalysts, extending beyond the scope of common GNN benchmarks that are confined to drug-like molecules. In addition, we conduct a comprehensive empirical study, which benchmarks representative 1D, 2D, and 3D MRL models, along with two strategies that explicitly incorporate conformer ensembles into 3D models. Our findings reveal that direct learning from an accessible conformer space can improve performance on a variety of tasks and models. 
    more » « less
  2. Generating 3D graphs of symmetry-group equivariance is of intriguing potential in broad applications from machine vision to molecular discovery. Emerging approaches adopt diffusion generative models (DGMs) with proper re-engineering to capture 3D graph distributions. In this paper, we raise an orthogonal and fundamental question of in what (latent) space we should diffuse 3D graphs. ❶ We motivate the study with theoretical analysis showing that the performance bound of 3D graph diffusion can be improved in a latent space versus the original space, provided that the latent space is of (i) low dimensionality yet (ii) high quality (i.e., low reconstruction error) and DGMs have (iii) symmetry preservation as an inductive bias. ❷ Guided by the theoretical guidelines, we propose to perform 3D graph diffusion in a low-dimensional latent space, which is learned through cascaded 2D–3D graph autoencoders for low-error reconstruction and symmetry-group invariance. The overall pipeline is dubbed latent 3D graph diffusion. ❸ Motivated by applications in molecular discovery, we further extend latent 3D graph diffusion to conditional generation given SE(3)-invariant attributes or equivariant 3D objects. ❹ We also demonstrate empirically that out-of-distribution conditional generation can be further improved by regularizing the latent space via graph self-supervised learning. We validate through comprehensive experiments that our method generates 3D molecules of higher validity / drug-likeliness and comparable or better conformations / energetics, while being an order of magnitude faster in training. Codes are released at 
    more » « less
  3. Representation learning via deep generative models is opening a new avenue for small molecule generation in silico. Linking chemical and biological space remains a key challenge. In this paper, we debut a graph-based variational autoencoder framework to address this challenge under the umbrella of disentangled representation learning. The framework permits several inductive biases that connect the learned latent factors to molecular properties. Evaluation on diverse benchmark datasets shows that the resulting models are powerful and open up an exciting line of research on controllable molecule generation in support of cheminformatics, drug discovery, and other application settings. 
    more » « less
  4. Inverse molecular generation is an essential task for drug discovery, and generative models offer a very promising avenue, especially when diffusion models are used. Despite their great success, existing methods are inherently limited by the lack of a semantic latent space that can not be navigated and perform targeted exploration to generate molecules with desired properties. Here, we present a property-guided diffusion model for generating desired molecules, which incorporates a sophisticated diffusion process capturing intricate interactions of nodes and edges within molecular graphs and leverages a time-dependent molecular property classifier to integrate desired properties into the diffusion sampling process. Furthermore, we extend our model to a multi-property-guided paradigm. Experimental results underscore the competitiveness of our approach in molecular generation, highlighting its superiority in generating desired molecules without the need for additional optimization steps. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract Motivation

    Expanding our knowledge of small molecules beyond what is known in nature or designed in wet laboratories promises to significantly advance cheminformatics, drug discovery, biotechnology and material science. In silico molecular design remains challenging, primarily due to the complexity of the chemical space and the non-trivial relationship between chemical structures and biological properties. Deep generative models that learn directly from data are intriguing, but they have yet to demonstrate interpretability in the learned representation, so we can learn more about the relationship between the chemical and biological space. In this article, we advance research on disentangled representation learning for small molecule generation. We build on recent work by us and others on deep graph generative frameworks, which capture atomic interactions via a graph-based representation of a small molecule. The methodological novelty is how we leverage the concept of disentanglement in the graph variational autoencoder framework both to generate biologically relevant small molecules and to enhance model interpretability.


    Extensive qualitative and quantitative experimental evaluation in comparison with state-of-the-art models demonstrate the superiority of our disentanglement framework. We believe this work is an important step to address key challenges in small molecule generation with deep generative frameworks.

    Availability and implementation

    Training and generated data are made available at All code is made available at

    Supplementary information

    Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

    more » « less