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The new company, called Isomorphic Laboratories, is aimed at reimagining the entire drug discovery process from the ground up with an AI-first approach. The launch of this commercial venture, says the company, builds on DeepMind’s breakthrough AI system AlphaFold2, which was recognised as a solution to the 50-year-old grand challenge of protein folding – described as a watershed moment for computational and AI methods for biology.

“For over a decade DeepMind has been in the vanguard of advancing the state-of-the-art in AI,” says Demis Hassabis, Founder and CEO of Isomorphic Labs (and DeepMind), “often using games as a proving ground for developing general purpose learning systems, like AlphaGo, our program that beat the world champion at the complex game of Go. We are at an exciting moment in history now where these techniques and methods are becoming powerful and sophisticated enough to be applied to real-world problems including scientific discovery itself.”

“One of the most important applications of AI that I can think of is in the field of biological and medical research, and it is an area I have been passionate about addressing for many years,” says Hassabis. “Now the time is right to push this forward at pace, and with the dedicated focus and resources that Isomorphic Labs will bring.”

The foundational use of cutting edge computational and AI methods, says the company, can help scientists take their work to the next level, and massively accelerate the drug discovery process. AI methods will increasingly be used not just for analysing data, but to also build powerful predictive and generative models of complex biological phenomena.

“AlphaFold2 is an important first proof point of this, but there is so much more to come,” says Hassabis. “At its most fundamental level, I think biology can be thought of as an information processing system, albeit an extraordinarily complex and dynamic one. Taking this perspective implies there may be a common underlying structure between biology and information science – an isomorphic mapping between the two – hence the name of the company.”

“Biology is likely far too complex and messy to ever be encapsulated as a simple set of neat mathematical equations,” says Hassabis. “But just as mathematics turned out to be the right description language for physics, biology may turn out to be the perfect type of regime for the application of AI.”

Hassabis will serve as CEO for Isomorphic’s initial phase, while remaining as DeepMind CEO, partially to help facilitate collaboration between the two companies where relevant, and to set out the strategy, vision and culture of the new company. This will include the building of a multidisciplinary team, with deep expertise in areas such as AI, biology, medicinal chemistry, biophysics, and engineering, brought together in a highly collaborative and innovative environment.

Isomorphic Laboratories

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