Our bold ambition:
Decode biology to radically improve lives.

Key Facts

Numbers

2013
Founding Year
170+
Team Members
100K
Sq. ft. of Space
70 ft
Climbing Wall in Office
4
Clinical-Stage Programs
6
Preclinical candidates

Founders

HQ

SLC
UT.
USA

Investors

Our bold ambition:
Decode biology to radically improve lives.

By Chris Gibson, Ph.D., Co-Founder & CEO

In 2013, I was working on my Ph.D. in Bioengineering at the University of Utah. I was part of a team that was searching for potential treatments for cerebral cavernous malformation (CCM), a rare, genetic disease that causes clumps of leaky blood vessels in the brain. CCM can lead to seizures, speech or vision problems, and even brain hemorrhages. While there are three genes known to cause CCM, there was (and still is) no approved drug to treat it.

While at the University of Utah I began to have a first-hand appreciation for how traditional, reductionist approaches to drug discovery fail patients. For some time we tested one drug for CCM that was based on historical knowledge and understanding of the disease. This drug ultimately made the symptoms worse in animals. As someone maybe newer and naive to the field I was incredibly frustrated; how is this the best we can do? Is there no more efficient, more effective way to discover potential treatments than relying on the limits of our own intelligence? This idea that we, as humans, know so little about complex biology really bothered me. And so, our team began to use a newer tool to explore the biology of the disease: machine learning.

Our team used open-source machine learning software to scan cellular images and probe the effects of more than 2,000 drug compounds, looking for ones that improved the function of blood vessel cells carrying the defunct genes. These machine learning algorithms ultimately led us to a chemical that reduced the blood vessels by 50% in animal tests. This was incredibly validating and gave me an idea.

I began thinking less about becoming a surgeon — my original, chosen path — and more about the potential, exponential impact we could have by applying machine learning to cell images and generating massive datasets that would reveal new biological interactions, potential drugs, and ultimately, industrialize a process that is ripe for innovation. I thought: I could be a surgeon and impact maybe 100 or so people a year OR I could start Recursion and someday, hopefully, impact hundreds of millions of lives over years.

And so, along with my co-founders Dr. Dean Li (then head of the lab I worked in, now the SVP of Translational Discovery at Merck) and Blake Borgensen (our original CTO and today an ardent advocate for AI ethics), we founded Recursion in 2013. The CCM program became our first clinical-stage program and remains one of our lead programs today. Fast forward to today: six years in business and the progress we have made in that time is unmatched.

Drug discovery is hard. We don’t pretend to make it easy. But by embracing the wave of advanced technologies and thinking introduced by the fourth industrial revolution — machine learning, high-throughput sequencing, CRISPR editing, and more — we stand to bring about a new era of discovery that is more data-driven and predictive than ever before. We can, finally, build a map of human biology, empowering us to decode biology and radically improve people’s lives.

It is that ambitious, bold vision that has gotten me up early and excited every single day since the first day I helped start this company. The future is bright and the path seems clear; digital biology is here to stay, and I am proud for Recursion to be a driver of it.

— Chris Gibson



Timeline

Early 2013
Co-founder & CEO Chris Gibson uncovers opportunity to apply ML to cell images while doing PhD at University of Utah.
November 5, 2013
Recursion is founded.
January 1, 2014
Move into the first lab space at 383 S. Colorow (1,081 sq. feet).
October 5, 2015
Lead clinical program REC-994 receives FDA Orphan Drug designation.
April 25, 2016
Sign research agreement with Sanofi Genzyme.
September 2, 2016
Close Series A financing with lead investor Lux Capital.
January 19, 2017
Move into a new lab at 630 Komas Dr. (15,000 square feet).
September 25, 2017
Close the Series B financing with lead investor DCVC.
July 10, 2018
REC-994 is granted an IND to treat Cerebral Cavernous Malformation.
October 19, 2018
Move into current headquarters in Downtown SLC (100,000 sq. ft!)
October 24, 2018
Launch first Phase 1 study for REC-994.
January 4, 2019
Identify and in-license second clinical-stage asset, REC-2282 for Neurofibromatosis type 2.
February 12, 2019
Close the Series C financing with new, lead investor Baillie Gifford.
May 6, 2019
Release first open-source data; launch RxRX1 machine learning competition on Kaggle.
December 23, 2019
Identify and in-license third clinical-stage asset, REC-3599 for GM2 gangliosidosis
April 16, 2020
FDA grants pivotal registration trials to commence in a number of assets
April 24, 2020
Release second open-source data; launch RxRX19 & RxRx2 on SARS-CoV-2 virus
May 14, 2020
Identify and in-license fourth clinical-stage asset, REC-4881 for solid tumors
July 28, 2020
Finalize company's first acquisition in Vium, a digital vivarium™ company
September 9, 2020
Secure $239 million in over-subscribed Series D, led by new investor Leaps by Bayer
September 9, 2020
Collaborate with Bayer in industry-leading partnership for fibrotic diseases