Fragment-based Pretraining and Finetuning on Molecular Graphs

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper


Kha-Dinh Luong, Ambuj K Singh


Property prediction on molecular graphs is an important application of Graph Neural Networks (GNNs). Recently, unlabeled molecular data has become abundant, which facilitates the rapid development of self-supervised learning for GNNs in the chemical domain. In this work, we propose pretraining GNNs at the fragment level, a promising middle ground to overcome the limitations of node-level and graph-level pretraining. Borrowing techniques from recent work on principal subgraph mining, we obtain a compact vocabulary of prevalent fragments from a large pretraining dataset. From the extracted vocabulary, we introduce several fragment-based contrastive and predictive pretraining tasks. The contrastive learning task jointly pretrains two different GNNs: one on molecular graphs and the other on fragment graphs, which represents higher-order connectivity within molecules. By enforcing consistency between the fragment embedding and the aggregated embedding of the corresponding atoms from the molecular graphs, we ensure that the embeddings capture structural information at multiple resolutions. The structural information of fragment graphs is further exploited to extract auxiliary labels for graph-level predictive pretraining. We employ both the pretrained molecular-based and fragment-based GNNs for downstream prediction, thus utilizing the fragment information during finetuning. Our graph fragment-based pretraining (GraphFP) advances the performances on 5 out of 8 common molecular benchmarks and improves the performances on long-range biological benchmarks by at least 11.5%. Code is available at: