Biotech's Big Data maven
Name: Iya Khalil
Title: Co-founder and executive vice president
Company: GNS Healthcare
Not even scads of the world's smartest biomedical researchers could fully puzzle out how an unfathomable number of factors involved in human health impact diseases. So, some of them have turned to Iya Khalil and her colleagues at GNS Healthcare to apply computer analytics to piece it all together.
Khalil, co-founder and executive vice president of GNS, has promoted use of the Cambridge, MA-based company's technology in the biopharma industry. One of the inventors of the company's computational platform, her work has helped major players such as Biogen Idec ($BIIB) and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) to make computer-driven discoveries for their respective R&D programs.
Biopharma companies' lack of biological understanding explains a great many miserable failures in drug development. GNS' approach, known as reverse engineering/forward simulation, is able to crunch billions of genomic, molecular and clinical data points and identify cause-and-effect relationships. Such insights help pinpoint predictive biomarkers for experimental drugs and new targets for therapies.
Khalil has pushed personalized medicine toward reality for more than a decade. She and GNS CEO Colin Hill started the company more than 11 years back while Khalil was wrapping up her Ph.D. in theoretical physics at Cornell University, and she has been at the forefront of integrating computational biology into the drug development process.