Recursion Pharmaceuticals, an emerging biotechnology company that combines innovative biological science with machine learning techniques to discover treatments for rare genetic diseases, today announced it has hired Dr. Yolanda Chong as vice president of biology. Chong joins the company after six years at Johnson & Johnson in Belgium, where as a principal scientist, she led a team that focused on applying high-dimensional biological approaches to the small molecule lead discovery pipeline.
Chong graduated from the University of Toronto with a Ph.D. in plant molecular biology and completed postdoctoral studies in yeast systems biology at the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research. She was recruited to Johnson & Johnson in 2011, and worked to modernize their high-content screening platform and bring cutting edge approaches for phenotypic drug discovery to the company’s Belgian research site. In her new role at Recursion, Chong will oversee the development of new applications of Recursion’s discovery platform, expanding the company’s capabilities into important new therapeutic indications including inflammation, infectious disease, diseases of aging and oncology.
"Being part of the medical and pharmaceutical industry, I've seen firsthand how much time it can take for a drug to go from the research and discovery phase into the market, to help those who really need it," Chong said. "I was especially taken with Recursion because of their ability to speed up the process and pinpoint treatments for diseases so quickly, and am excited to contribute my knowledge and experience to projects that will be beneficial to those who need it most."
One of Recursion Pharmaceutical’s early focus areas is to harness the power of technology to repurpose drugs, mapping them to rare conditions and providing treatments to diseases once thought untreatable. By using machine learning technology and focusing on drugs for which a large quantity of data is already available, such as shelved assets and compounds previously approved by the FDA, Recursion is hopeful that they will be able to bring new treatments to conditions exponentially faster than previous research methods.
“I’m delighted that Yolanda has joined our leadership team here at Recursion. We are striving to industrialize the drug discovery process across diverse therapeutic areas, which is a massive mission,” said Chris Gibson, CEO and co-founder of Recursion. “Having incredibly talented individuals like Yolanda is exactly how we will continue to grow, improve and ultimately help turn around the trend of declining R&D efficiency in the Biopharma industry.”
Recursion Pharmaceuticals is experiencing an incredible period of growth. In the first quarter of 2017 alone, the company has conducted drug screens across more than 30 disease models. This screening and prior validation work in orthogonal assays has resulted in Recursion more than tripling its discovery and preclinical pipeline from six to more than 20 programs in less than eight months.
Recursion is a digital biology company industrializing drug discovery. Recursion does this by combining automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and in vivo validation capabilities with a highly cross-functional team to discover novel medicines and expand our collective understanding of biology. Recursion’s rich, relatable database of 4 petabytes of biological images generated in-house on the company’s robotics platform enables advanced machine learning approaches to reveal drug candidates, mechanisms of action, novel chemistry, and potential toxicity, with the eventual goal of decoding biology and advancing new therapeutics that radically improve people’s lives. Recursion is proudly headquartered in Salt Lake City. Learn more at www.recursionpharma.com or connect on www.recursionpharma.com, or connect on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.