Recursion CSO heads west for mini-brain upstart

A few months ago, as Recursion hammered out an IPO that would value them at over $3 billion, its CSO, Sharath Hegde, hopped on a plane and flew to San Francisco to visit a small, modestly backed startup, working out of an unmarked warehouse between a brewery and an air-conditioning seller off the highway.

Hegde had joined Recursion in June 2019, a month before they hauled in a $121 million Series C. It was an odd choice for the AI biotech. Recursion claimed they could remake the drug industry by generating huge datasets from their automated labs and running them through state of-the-art machine learning algorithms. Hegde was an old-fashioned drug discoverer, a pharmacologist who had spent the last 20 years playing with molecules the traditional way at Theravance.

As Recursion advanced drugs into the clinic and toward the FDA, though, they wanted a chief scientist who had done it before. And Hegde says he took quickly to the new environment, even if it took a while to learn what the computer scientists were talking about, their slang and shop-talk. “I’m a very analytical pharmacologist. I believe in applying quantitative sciences to anything and everything,” he says. “So the data scientists and computer scientists, they’re not a problem, they think analytically just like I do.”







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