Webinar: Digital Transformation in Life sciences — BUT what the heck are we transforming to?

Ashley George, a self-confessed “old, cynical chemist” delivered a thought-provoking, forward-looking presentation on digital transformation in life sciences, and chose as his starting point Garland Marshall’s seminal 1981 Fortune paper “The Next Industrial Revolution: Designing Drugs with Computers.” This laid out the premise that computers were going to revolutionize drug discovery, by lowering the odds of only 1 in 8,000 compounds screened making it to market. Chemists would avoid spending weeks synthesizing compounds that the computer could show would have little chance of working. Ashley updated this vision statement to include AI and ML techniques, quantum computers, and chemists evolved into geneticists, and scaled up the numbers to millions and trillions: and then pondered how we might make this transformation real. 

Foundational technology is now well established, including cloud, social, mobile, big data, and algorithms; and the next tech wave of 3D printing, renewable energy, internet of things, cognitive systems, nanotech, and robotics can begin to accelerate the foundations and bring about societal disruption. Ashley outlined the desired workflow as involving an initial analog-to-digital transformation, followed by knowledge mining and deep learning using AI. This then needs a digital-to-analog “call to action” whether through robotics or visualization, to effect the desired changes and gain new and enhanced outcomes.

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