As someone who writes about pharma and the biotech industry, I get invited to join the sidelines in hearing the stories of innovators in our field. I truly enjoy the idea of reporting about the research and innovations that scientists and CEOs take on.
When I first heard about the opportunity to sit down and talk to Dr. Alex, the founder of an artificial intelligence company in healthcare, I felt a rush. The chance to have a glimpse of the future in drug discovery. As I was getting ready for the interview, what came to my mind was movies I saw as a child. Do you remember the film I,ROBOT the one with Will Smith? A very futuristic idea when people first hear about it, yet we arrived at an era where it no longer seems impossible.
What would you do if you knew you could live to 150 years?
Not only is he leading that project, but he has taken the ambitious goal of starting pharma.ai, young.ai, and chemistry.ai. Companies that are working together to harness the power of deep learning, where algorithms scour through images, videos, and genomic data recognizing trends and patterns to design compounds and molecules for medicine. (Woah)
Pharma.ai is one of his projects that uses genomic data to develop drugs. He has collaborations and partnerships with the biggest pharmaceuticals in the world, AstraZeneca and WuXi APPtech. A CEO that is changing the way that drugs are developed.
This is big. Drug discovery in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology is expensive and costly when trying to find the next billion-dollar drug. It takes a decade to have a drug approved, and 99% of the time, drugs fail phase III because it didn’t reach their endpoints. If you’re an investor that invested millions of dollars, you can kiss that money goodbye. Better hope the company has another IND (Investigational New Drug).
His company has been cited more than 3,000 times, something that should not be left unnoticed. His goal is to publish an article every week. As a scientist, it is essential to note that publishing research is vital for transparency. It is what allows you to talk and be reviewed by other scientists about your research, experiment, results, and form a discussion of ways to improve experimental designs.
I decided to ask him some more personal questions. I wanted to know more about the person behind the CEO and Scientist.
What does Dr. Alex do in his free time?
Dr. Zhavoronkov made sure to let me know that in his free time, he works. A workaholic determined to reach his goals.
What inspires Dr. Alex?
He said Jeff Bezos and Deep Mind. I’m sure the world knows who Jeff Bezos is by now if you have Alexa or an Amazon account you’re using his technology. Jeff Bezo’s has artificial intelligence in every part of Amazon. This has allowed him to build one of the wealthiest company in the world. Deep Mind is a company aiming to solve the most complex problems in the world without teaching a computer to solve the problem.
If you could have any answer in the world, what would it be?
He made sure to let me know that living forever. As someone who knew the story to his company, I wasn’t surprised that he continues his ambitions for longevity.
If you want to learn more about Dr. Alex Zhavoronkov, I invite you to visit his site. Artificial intelligence is the future of biology and chemistry. With innovators like Dr. Alex leading the way, who knows how long will it take to create a drug that will treat and cure diseases. I’m betting it will be soon.