Ex-Dyson lead joins BioTech targeting rare diseases
Posted on April 27, 2021 by Jonathan Symcox
Cambridge BioTech Healx has appointed a former key figure at Dyson as VP of artificial intelligence.
Andrew Watson has joined the senior leadership team of the AI-powered, patient-inspired technology company accelerating the discovery and development of rare disease treatments at scale.
He will be tasked with scaling Healx’s AI team and strategy to develop best-in-class drug discovery tools and accelerate innovation in the field of tech-driven treatment development for rare diseases.
At technology giant Dyson he was the founding member of the machine learning research department, leading the research and implementation of machine learning and artificial intelligence across a variety of global product categories.
Prior to Dyson, Andrew also oversaw various innovation projects at security software company Symantec, where he was responsible for architecting and delivering the world’s largest repository of information security data.
He has also led technical teams at GCHQ and is currently undertaking a PhD in Pharmacy and Pharmacology at the University of Bath, with a focus on the pharmacokinetics of topically applied drugs.
Renowned for delivering novel solutions to ‘impossible’ problems, Andrew’s expertise will be a huge asset to Healx’s work in the rare disease space, where 95% of rare conditions remain without treatment. A core tool under his remit will be Healnet, Healx’s AI-driven drug discovery platform.
Healnet integrates data from multiple sources, including biomedical research and scientific literature, to form the world’s most detailed rare disease knowledge graph. This graph can then be analysed by multiple cutting-edge AI methods to rapidly identify and rank novel drug-disease relationships at scale.
As VP of AI, Andrew will be tasked with continuing the momentum of technological development and drug discovery set by the Healx team over the last year. Indeed, Healx recently announced that it had added its 13th project to its active discovery and development portfolio in April, and the team plans to launch its first clinical trial later this year for Fragile X syndrome.
“We are thrilled to welcome Andrew to the team,” said Tim Gulliams, CEO and co-founder of Healx.
“He brings with him a rare set of skills that cut across technology, leadership and drug discovery, and we are very excited to have him on board to apply his expertise and build cutting-edge AI solutions.
“I am certain that under Andrew’s technical guidance, Healx will continue to confidently move towards realising its mission of helping rare disease patients around the globe access critical life-improving treatments.”
Watson said: “I’m excited to be joining Healx as it continues to scale. I’ve always been fascinated by applying machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques to difficult problems and Healx is a great company for me to apply the skills I’ve learned in previous roles to help make a difference to rare disease patients.
“The scientists, researchers, and engineers at Healx have developed an unparalleled drug discovery platform in Healnet, and I look forward to taking it even further as we continue to unlock the power of AI for rare diseases.
“I’m confident that together we can accelerate the development of new treatments, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Watson’s arrival follows the appointment of ex-Monzo CTO Meri Williams last year.