Computational Drug Discovery and the Role of AI: A Look at Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

The pharmaceutical industry is seeking productivity gains across the board. According to a recent report by Transparency Market Research, the Drug Discovery Informatics Market, which includes biophysical and artificial intelligence approaches, and which was valued approximately US$ 2.0 Bn in 2016, is anticipated to register CAGR of over 17.0% from 2017 to 2025 to reach value of approximately US$ 7.8 Bn by 2025. Given the growth in the market, as of May 2018, there now exists over 125 AI companies that are addressing unique opportunities in drug discovery like understanding mechanism of diseases, designing drugs, and validating drug candidates, and in drug development like designing and optimizing better clinical trials. This may give the impression that the field of AI in drug discovery is very crowded and highly competitive, but in fact each of these companies tend to address a different, narrow segment of the complex drug development process. Too often, this complementarity is ignored in the rush to adopt or invest in AI for drug development. Looking forward, is undeniable that AI will play an important role in the future of pharmaceutical R&D; however, while certainly useful, it is only one piece of the puzzle. At Cyclica, we believe that the nexus between knowledge based approaches, like AI, and structure approached based on biophysics and chemoinformatics is critical in ensuring that the best medicines are brought to the market faster and at a lower cost. This talk will provide a historical perspective of computational drug discovery, talk about current approaches and opportunities, including Cyclica’s own integrated biophysical and AI-augmented cloud platform, and position the future and how companies with unique capabilities, along with pharmaceutical partners, should come together to catalyze a productivity revolution.

Naheed Kurji is the President and CEO of Cyclica, a Toronto-based biotechnology company that leverages artificial intelligence and computational biophysics to reshape the drug discovery process. Cyclica provides the pharmaceutical industry with an integrated, holistic, and end-to-end enabling platform that enhances how scientists design, screen, and personalize medicines for patients, and has recently been named by Deep Knowledge Analytics as one of the top 20 AI in Pharma companies globally. Naheed is passionate about how people interact with technology to make more informed and faster decisions, and is dedicated to advance the responsible application of AI to healthcare problems. At Cyclica, he focuses on strategy and corporate development activities to affect change in the pharmaceutical industry and strives to foster an environment where his team can solve the biggest challenges in human health through groundbreaking innovation. Naheed is a co-founder of The Alliance for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare (AAIH), of which Naheed is 1 of 4 appointed Executive Officers. Naheed is an experienced professional specialized in strategic planning, corporate finance and entrepreneurship, having received an MBA from the University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management, and a Certificate from MIT on Artificial Intelligence and the Implication on Business Strategy. He has been featured in the Globe and Mail, CBC, Forbes, Vanity Fair, StartUp Health Magazine, WuXi Insider Perspective, and VentureBeat. Naheed is also a guest lecturer at various universities globally on the topic of entrepreneurship and AI in medicine.