JPM24: Nvidia expands drug discovery footprint with new Amgen, Recursion alliances

Nvidia’s forthright ambitions to expand its drug development footprint are coming into focus, with the global computing powerhouse announcing a trio of new initiatives including a new collaboration with Amgen’s deCode. 

Nvidia said Monday that deCode will power its new genomics foundation models with Nvidia’s supercomputer and BioNeMo generative AI platform. BioNeMo is Nvidia's suite of programs aimed at accelerating drug discovery, a burgeoning platform combining a number of foundational models that companies can tinker with using their own data. 

What programming languages like R and Python are to data science, packages within BioNeMo are hoping to be the same for drug development. Nvidia says that cloud APIs are being unveiled on the BioNeMo platform this month, but it’s getting an early start, unveiling the foundational model MolMIM on Monday. Nvidia healthcare chief Kimberly Powell said in a briefing that the program is meant to produce “controlled molecular generation of small molecules.” 

Recursion is also joining the party and will be the first third-party addition to the BioNeMo platform, adding its Phenom-Beta program for wider use. CEO Chris Gibson believes that Recursion’s head start on building out an internal operating system that translates cellular images into discernible research findings on cellular state warrants offering a version of the program to the wider industry.

“We think this will become as big and exciting as genomics,” Gibson said on the press call. 

Recursion’s effort has propelled it to the top of the pack of AI-based drug developers—a class of companies often referred to as techbio—with numerous clinical-stage assets across rare disease and oncology. Recursion's work has also drawn in partnerships with companies like Bayer and Roche’s Genentech.

Gibson confirmed that much of Recursion’s know-how is being kept proprietary and off the platform, namely its own unique data that informs internal discovery. But the basic programming that's been built over the year will be available for other companies to use through BioNeMo. 

Powell said the expanded offerings are part of a larger, more universal mission to allow healthcare companies to take greater advantage of the data they accrue. She said that partnerships with more biotechs and pharmas can be expected, given that data is a core piece of intellectual property to which all drug developers have the keys.

“We’re not a consulting company, we can’t do infinitely large ones of these and so we partner very strategically,” said Powell.