Toronto-based artificial intelligence (AI) drug development startup Deep Genomics has hired Brian O’Callaghan as its next CEO, replacing company founder and CEO Brendan Frey.
A long-serving life sciences executive, O’Callaghan brings an extensive knowledge of biotechnology, pharma, and clinical research organizations to Deep Genomics. As part of the move, Frey is shifting to the role of chief innovation officer and remaining on Deep Genomics’ board of directors, where he will be joined by O’Callaghan.
Per Deep Genomics, the CEO shuffle comes as part of its strategic plan to become a “forward-integrated biopharmaceutical company.”
According to Deep Genomics, the CEO shuffle comes as part of its strategic plan to become a “forward-integrated biopharmaceutical company.”
“I look forward to leading Deep Genomics into the next phase of growth and working with such a visionary and committed team as we advance multiple RNA-targeted therapeutics across a range of potential indications,” O’Callaghan said in a statement.
Founded in 2014, Deep Genomics is a biotech startup that uses AI to analyze genetic data and discover and develop new drugs and treatments. With its proprietary AI, the University of Toronto spinout aims to untangle the complexity of RNA biology and identify the best therapeutic candidates.
Deep Genomics has raised a total of over $300 million CAD to date from a group that includes SoftBank, the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board, Fidelity, True Ventures, Amplitude Ventures, Khosla Ventures, and Magnetic Ventures. The startup most recently closed a $226-million Series C round in mid-2021 to help scale its platform.
Deep Genomics is just one of a number of companies applying AI to the drug-discovery process. In Canada, this group includes BenchSci and AbCellera. Some players in this space have sought to become pharma companies themselves, while others simply aim to be service providers to organizations that are actually developing new therapies.
Given its aim to become a “forward-integrated biopharmaceutical company,” Deep Genomics appears to fall into the former camp.
Frey, also a biomedical engineering professor at the University of Toronto and co-founder of the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence, has led Deep Genomics since its inception. The outgoing CEO expressed pride in the progress that Deep Genomics has made and the molecules it is advancing through animal studies.
In a statement, Frey argued that Deep Genomics’ ability to attract a candidate of O’Callaghan’s calibre speaks to the quality of the firm’s efforts to date. “I look forward to continuing to provide leadership in technology strategy and innovation as the company leverages AI to decode RNA biology for novel drug development,” he added.
Meanwhile, lead independent director William (Chip) Baird has been promoted to the role of board chair. Baird was one of a few biotech industry leaders added to Deep Genomics’ board of directors and scientific advisory board earlier this year.
Feature image courtesy Deep Genomics.