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Molecular Visualization: Transitioning Chimera to ChimeraX

Project ChimeraX

John Morris (University of California, San Francisco)

Funding Cycle 4

Proposal Summary

To keep ChimeraX molecular and microscopy analysis software current with the latest technology and facilitate the migration of tens of thousands of Chimera users to ChimeraX.



Several developments to the ChimeraX molecular visualization software will maximize its utility to the biomedical community and keep pace with technology advances, as well as migrating tens of thousands of researchers and a number of remaining high-value analysis tools from the older program, Chimera. To migrate the large user base of the 20-year-old Chimera application to the new, more capable software, the team will enable Chimera to export ChimeraX-compatible sessions, allowing users to easily transfer their projects containing molecular structures, sequences, and image data to ChimeraX. ChimeraX efficiently handles large data and includes entirely new capabilities such as virtual reality visualization not possible in Chimera. ChimeraX utilizes over 50 open-source packages, updated several times per year, to maximize software reliability and to allow third-party ChimeraX developers to use the latest capabilities of those packages. This proposal will begin the migration of ChimeraX to the latest cross-platform graphics library, Vulkan, supported on macOS, Windows, and Linux. The proposed developments will sustain cutting-edge biomedical research with Chimera and ChimeraX (as cited in over 3500 journal articles in 2020), and will enable continuing innovative developments by ChimeraX plugin developers.

Key Personnel

John Morris
Thomas Goddard