Pharma executive joins Healx to drive integration of AI

Dr Kate Hilyard

Healx, the Cambridge (UK) technology company developing breakthrough treatments for rare diseases, has appointed Dr Kate Hilyard as Chief Operating Officer (COO).

A senior pharma executive, with extensive drug discovery expertise, Hilyard’s appointment underlines Healx’s mission to combine deep pharmacological expertise with artificial intelligence (AI) and active patient engagement to give sufferers of rare disease a better quality of life.

At Healx, Hilyard will be lead strategy implementation to drive business growth enabling Healx to deliver rare disease treatments at scale through AI and cutting-edge technologies.

Her industry experience adds to that of cofounder Dr David Brown, the inventor of Viagra and ex-Global Head of Drug Discovery at Roche and the Healx drug discovery team.

The company’s massively parallel approach to drug discovery combines its unique AI technologies with one of the largest collections of insights from rare disease patient groups.

Tim Guilliams, Healx’s cofounder and CEO said: “Kate brings a wealth of experience to Healx and her appointment is a real coup. Having started Healx with an artificial intelligence and patient care focus, Kate’s appointment broadens our senior expertise with further deep rare disease research knowhow and will be core to our goal of transforming the lives of patients, using our AI to find treatments based on existing drugs."

"Kate will help shape the next company milestones as we grow our world-class talent and demonstrate our ambition to transform the lives of rare disease patients.”

Hilyard’s track record of scientific and business leadership includes more than 25 years’ drug discovery experience in the pharma and biotech sector, with a decade finding new treatments for rare diseases.

She joins from Charles River where she was Corporate VP Discovery, leading and integrating multiple sites in the UK, EU and US working with a global client base.

Previously she has held senior leadership roles at BioFocus DPI (which was acquired by Charles River) and Cambridge Antibody Technology (now part of MedImmune), having commenced her industry career at Roche. She gained her PhD in molecular immunology from Oxford University and her early academic career includes postdoctoral research in human biology at Oxford and Harvard Universities.

Kate Hilyard, COO, Healx said: “The unmet medical need for patients with rare diseases cannot be met using the traditional drug discovery and development approach. A radical shift away from blockbuster drugs towards more personalised treatments and patient-centric approaches is required. Using AI to discover new therapies has already been shown to be transformative in terms of time and money spent on clinical trials and Healx is at the forefront of changing drug discovery using AI.”

In July, Healx announced that it had raised £10 million in a Series A financing which will be used to more than double Healx’s diverse and multi-disciplinary team of software engineers, data scientists, pharmacologists and drug development experts and to expand its world class artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies.

Its Healnet AI platform facilitates highly parallelised, automated, large scale drug discovery that drastically reduces time and cost to discovery compared to traditional processes and can cut medicine development time by up to 80%.

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