Imran S. Haque, Ph.D., a computer scientist by training, has made a name for himself at the intersection of machine learning and biology by maintaining a high standard of critical thinking and rigor when approaching data science in the medical field. Dubbed the “grounded data scientist” by Forbes contributor David Shaywitz, Dr. Haque has held roles of increasing importance in machine learning at cancer diagnostics company Freenome and clinical genomics company Counsyl. And today, Recursion, a tech-first biopharma company combining automated, experimental biology with artificial intelligence to discover and develop drugs at scale, became Dr. Haque’s new home.
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Dr. Imran S. Haque, Recursion’s new VP of Data Science, standing with members of the data science team, including CTO/CPO Mason Victors and Data Scientist Dr. Jes Ford. (Photo: Business Wire)
Dr. Haque joins Recursion as Vice President of Data Science, bringing his penchant for clinical standards and rigor to the high-growth area of machine learning for drug discovery and development.
“After years of leading research teams in machine learning-powered genomics and diagnostics, I became interested in combining my experience in large-scale biology with my research in chemical machine learning — motivating a return to therapeutics. While many therapeutics companies are doing interesting work, most do not have defined data strategies. These companies are either too focused on the wet lab rather than the dry lab or are building datasets piecemeal from historical literature,” said Dr. Haque. “Recursion is different. They have built a massive dataset from scratch and an experimental infrastructure tailored to the particular problem they aim to solve — mapping human biology and deriving new treatments from it. It’s an audacious bet and ambitious vision that is ripe for the best minds in machine learning to come together to tackle it.”
Dr. Haque received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford where he studied large-scale machine learning algorithms for drug discovery under luminaries Drs. Vijay Pande and Daphne Koller. He then went on to join the engineering team at Counsyl, managing automated, high-throughput clinical genetic testing. He later became Counsyl’s VP of Scientific Affairs, helping set the direction for Counsyl’s entire research program, with a focus on technology development and population-scale genomic data mining. In 2016 Dr. Haque joined Freenome as Chief Scientific Officer, helping develop tests for cancer detection based on next-generation sequencing, machine learning and functional genomics. At Freenome, he hired and led a multidisciplinary team of machine learning scientists and engineers and molecular and computational biologists.
Like many other senior leaders at Recursion, including Chief Operating Officer Tina Larson, Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Sharath Hegde and Chief People Officer Heather Kirkby, Dr. Haque has relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area to join Recursion’s 150-plus team in Salt Lake City.
The growing field of machine learning for biology is not without its challenges, technically and culturally. With Imran’s appointment, Recursion aims to address both head-on.
Said Dr. Jes Ford, a member of Recursion’s data science team, about Dr. Haque’s appointment: “It’s exciting to welcome a leader like Imran who has worked in this area for many years, knows how challenging it can be, and remains both realistic and results-oriented. We’re also excited about Imran’s experience in computational chemistry as it will help accelerate the development of our predictive pharmacology modeling and our ability to discover new medicines more quickly.”
Added Recursion’s Chief Technology and Product Officer Mason Victors: “There is an understandably huge amount of hype around AI and machine learning today. People are skeptical not only of AI’s ability to radically transform industry but also, increasingly, the associated risks and biases that can, if unfettered, come with it.
“In Imran we quickly identified someone who not only has a lot of experience building world-class data science teams but is also incredibly grounded and committed to developing new machine learning methods that are validated from every angle. With Imran on board, we are poised to establish new ML standards for the biotech industry that improve the success rate in drug discovery.”
For more information on Recursion’s unique approach to applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to drug discovery and development, visit www.recursionpharma.com.
To apply for a job in data science at Recursion, visit www.recursionpharma.com/careers-home/.
Recursion is a next-generation, clinical-stage biopharma company combining experimental biology and automation with artificial intelligence in a massively parallel system to discover and develop drugs at scale, including rare disease, inflammation, immuno-oncology, and infectious disease. Recursion’s rich, relatable database of over 3 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 and potential toxicity, with the eventual goal of decoding biology and advancing new therapeutics to radically improve lives. Recursion is headquartered in Salt Lake City and in 2019 was designated a Fast Company “Most Innovative Company.” Learn more at www.recursionpharma.com, or connect on Twitter and LinkedIn.