Connecting the user-friendly molecular graphics program VMD to the widely adopted MD program NAMD, QwikMD allows its users to setup a molecular simulation in just a few minutes, allowing for quickly study of point mutations, partial deletions or even steering experiments. While making it easy for a new user to perform simulations, QwikMD also works as a learning tool with several "info buttons" where the theoretical background underlying the procedures is provided.

Recent News and Announcements

QwikMD at San Francisco Workshop

QwikMD will be presented during the Computational Biophysics Workshop in San Francisco taking place in December 2016.

VMD 1.9.3 Release

QwikMD is now available on VMD 1.9.3. Employing QwikMD, a user is able to setup MD simulations in just a couple of minutes, allowing quick studies of point mutations, partial deletions and even atomic force microscopy experiments. It is also possible to use QwikMD to prepare Molecular Dynamics Flexible Fitting simulations, which integrates Molecular Dynamics simulations with density maps from cryo-EM experiments.


QwikMD is available free of charge on VMD 1.9.3 and newer.

Download VMD for free here

To perform Molecular Dynamics simulations you will also need the widely employed NAMD program, which is available free of charge here.

Employing QwikMD on your research? Please don't forget to cite us: J.V. Ribeiro, R.C. Bernardi, T. Rudack, J.E. Stone, J.C. Phillips, P.L. Freddolino, K. Schulten; QwikMD: Integrative Molecular Dynamics Toolkit for Novices and Experts; Scientific Reports, 6, 26536 (2016)

What is QwikMD?

Providing dynamics to structural data from experimental sources, molecular dynamics simulations permit the exploration of biological macromolecules in unique detail. The last advances in molecular dynamics simulations are moving the atomic resolution description of biological molecules to the million-to-billion atom regime, while a variety of sampling techniques are allowing for the exploration of millisecond regime. Although the advances of molecular dynamics simulations are taking us to a new level of knowledge of macromolecular complexes, the vast majority of molecular dynamics users are interested in simple "brute-force" molecular dynamics simulations of relatively simple proteins. In special, structural biology experimentalists are becoming more interested in performing molecular dynamics simulations to improve their understanding of protein structure/function relationship. To help these experimentalists and also beginners to MD to transcend the initial learning curve barrier of any MD simulation software, we developed a new tool that connects VMD to NAMD, two of the most popular simulation programs. Employing our tool, namely QwikMD, a user is able to setup a molecular simulation in just a few minutes, allowing for quickly study point mutations, partial deletions and even steering experiments. While making it easy for a new user to perform simulations, QwikMD also works as a learning tool with several "info buttons" where the theoretical background underlying the procedures is provided.

Incorporating the most widely used features of NAMD and VMD, QwikMD provides a graphical user interface (GUI) for the standard MD workflow (see image below). Built on this workflow, QwikMD automates all necessary steps while checking for common errors and ensuring reproducibility of the result by recording each step performed.

QwikMD Workflow


While waste recycling in daily life has become popular only recently, living cells have been recycling their protein content since the very beginning. Recycling of unneeded protein molecules in cells is performed by a molecular machine called the proteasome, which cuts these proteins into smaller pieces for reuse as building blocks for new proteins. Proteins that need to be recycled are labeled by tags made of poly-ubiquitin protein chains. The proteasome machine recognizes and binds to these tags, pulls the tagged protein close, then unwinds it, and finally cuts it into pieces. Despite its substantial role in the cell's life cycle, the proteasome's atomic structure and function still remain elusive. In our recent study, we obtained an atomic structure of the human 26S proteasome by combining computational modeling techniques, through molecular dynamics flexible fitting (MDFF) of the cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) data. The features observed in the resulting structure are important for coordinating the proteasomal subunits during protein recycling. One of the key advances is that for the first time the nucleotides bound to the ATPase motor of the proteasome are resolved. The atomic resolution of the structure permits to perform molecular dynamics simulations to investigate the detailed proteasomal function, in particular the protein unwinding process of the ATPase motor. Furthermore, our obtained structure will serve as a starting point for structure-guided drug discovery, developing the proteasome as a crucial drug target. The atomic models are deposited in the protein data bank (PDB) with the PDB IDs 5L4G and 5L4K and the 3.9 Å resolution cryo-EM density is deposited in the electron microscopy data bank EMD-4002. More information about our proteasome projects is available on our proteasome website. Easy access to our modeling techniques is provided through QwikMD, which was employed here for the first time.
Other Spotlights

Support & Bug Report

The first version of QwikMD is available in VMD 1.9.3.

Attention, this is the first public release of QwikMD. Even though the software was exhaustively tested, QwikMD might still have some bugs so use caution.

If you find any problems using QwikMD please contact us by using our BUG REPORT form, or by e-mailing one of QwikMD's main developers:,, or

Any feedback is appreciated.

QwikMD Main Features

Easy Setup of MD Simulations

Point Mutations

Changes in Protonation

Protocols for MD, SMD, MDFF

Live View Simulations

Integrated Basic Analysis

Info Buttons to Guide Novices

Advanced Protocols for Experts

Setup Membrane Environment

Advanced Analysis

Full log Capabilities

Easy Reproducibility

Available on Amazon Cloud

Training & Workshops

QwikMD is an important part of our training workshops. You can check our upcoming workshops where your can learn more about Computational Biophysics here.


QwikMD User's Guide


QwikMD is in constant development by a team of investigators in Professor Klaus Schulten group at University of Illinois. The QwikMD main developers are:

Dr. João V. Ribeiro;

Dr. Rafael C. Bernardi;

Dr. Till Rudack.

How to use QwikMD?

For those who are experts in both Molecular Dynamics and Computational Biophysics, using QwikMD should be intuitive. For beginners, QwikMD is a perfect tool that helps overcoming the initial learning barrier imposed by most Molecular Dynamics software. The "info buttons" present in QwikMD help both beginners and experts to take the best advantage of Molecular Dynamics simulations. Each "info button" generates a window where the user can find fundamental information related to Molecular Dynamics simulations, such as the description of solvent models and protein structure, as well as short explanations of the options available in QwikMD graphical interface and the actions triggered by the buttons. For more information, the user is redirected to web-pages through links present in the bottom of the information window.

Please check out our one page tutorials, which are useful for a quick start. A complete tutorial is available on our tutorials website.

Download one page tutorials:

Scientific Successes

QwikMD is the newest software developed by our group and it was officially released in the Fall of 2016. However, QwikMD was already employed in some breakthrough research:

Making hybrid QM/MM simulations easy, our next goal

Biomolecular force fields fail to address chemical reactions and other complex quantum effects near, e.g., reaction centers. Treating such parts of the molecule via quantum mechanics (QM), while the majority of simulation remains classical, allows the accurate representation of quantum effects in relatively large systems, such as enzymes. While many levels of quantum theory are available, QM/MM simulation requires the exchange of only positions, charges, and forces, enabling a common NAMD interface serving multiple QM engines.

In NAMD, a prototype QM/MM interface to both ORCA and MOPAC has already been developed and will be fully available in late 2016, or early 2017. QwikMD will work to prepare with very simple steps all the necessary files to perform these advanced QM/MM simulations.

We expect that QwikMD will be able to fully support QM/MM simulations in the next VMD release in 2017.

Read more about QwikMD

1. QwikMD: Integrative Molecular Dynamics Toolkit for Novices and Experts; J.V. Ribeiro, R.C. Bernardi, T. Rudack, J.E. Stone, J.C. Phillips, P.L. Freddolino, K. Schulten; Scientific Reports, 6, 26536110 (2016)

2. Easy and Fast Setup of Molecular Dynamics Simulations: Combining VMD and NAMD for Experimentalists; J.V. Ribeiro, R.C. Bernardi, T. Rudack, K. Schulten; Biophysical Journal, 110(3), 641a (2016)