Bridging the Gap between Research and Industry Startups : AI Driven Drug Discovery with Generative Models and Reinforcement Learning



Riashat Islam

Imtiaz Farhan Bin Habib

Abstract: As the field of artificial intelligence continues to make unprecedented strides, its application in drug discovery stands out as a promising frontier. This seminar explores the intersection of research and industry startups, focusing on the use of generative models and reinforcement learning in AI-driven drug discovery.
Identifying the challenges inherent in drug discovery and underscores the importance of bridging the gap between research endeavours and the practical needs of the pharmaceutical industry is crucial for the success of sustainable startups in this industry. Understanding the product-market fit is crucial in developing solutions that address the unique demands of the healthcare sector.
Deep learning emerges as a key player in advancing drug discovery, with a specific focus on protein design for targeted drug development. The utilization of generative models, akin to those used in face or video generation, presents a groundbreaking approach to designing intricate protein
structures. This innovative technique opens new avenues for precise and tailored drug targeting, promising efficiency and efficacy in pharmaceutical development.
Large Language Models, exemplified by ChatGPT, contribute significantly to drug discovery by
enhancing communication and information processing. This seminar explores the integration of such models in deciphering complex biological data, facilitating collaboration among researchers, and
streamlining the drug development pipeline.
The discussion highlights the remarkable success of AlphaFold, developed by Google DeepMind, as a milestone achievement in using deep learning models for designing drug structures. The
presentation showcases the transformative impact of AlphaFold in advancing our understanding of protein folding and its implications for drug design.
The seminar further examines the emergence of tech startups specializing in generative models
within the healthcare sector. Special attention is given to collaborations between these startups and major pharmaceutical companies such as AstraZeneca, underscoring the increasing integration of AI- driven technologies in the pharmaceutical industry.
A comparative analysis of sequence-based versus structure-based protein design is explored, unveiling the promises and challenges associated with each approach. The seminar concludes by
highlighting the significant research opportunities in this evolving field and the potential impact on the drug discovery landscape within the industry.


Riashat Islam

Riashat Islam is currently a research scientist in a AI based drug discovery startup called DreamFold AI. His current research includes using RL and LLMs for protein sequence and structure design; and leads a research team at DreamFold working in phase 1 drug design. He holds a PhD from Mila,
Quebec AI Institute, the largest deep learning institute in the world founded by Yoshua
Bengio. Riashat is supervised by Doina Precup, head of Google DeepMind Montreal. He has worked for 4 years at Microsoft Research and has also done numerous internships including Apple, Morgan Stanley, IBM. His background reseaech includes work in deep reinforcement learning and latent
structure discovery. He did his Masters at University of Cambridge and his undergrad at University College London (UCL).

Imtiaz Farhan Bin Habib

Imtiaz Farhan Bin Habib is a dynamic professional with a diverse background in finance, supply chain management, and entrepreneurship. He completed his Bachelor’s degree from the Institute of

Business Administration (IBA), Dhaka University, showcasing a strong foundation in business and management. He has passed CFA Level 2 examination and holds a certification as a Supply Chain Analyst.

Kicking off his career as an Investment Banker, Imtiaz gained valuable experience in the financial sector before transitioning to a leadership role as the Head of Business Development and Research at a prominent marketing firm in Bangladesh. This role allowed him to blend his financial acumen with strategic business development and research skills. His international experience includes a stint in

the communication industry in Australia, where he likely further expanded his global perspective and understanding of diverse markets.

He has founded multiple startups and ventures, showcasing his innovation and leadership in the business world. Beyond entrepreneurship, he actively contributes to the startup ecosystem by serving as an advisor to various companies. Imtiaz also plays a crucial role as an investor in early- stage and pre-seed startups, both domestically and internationally, emphasizing his commitment to fostering innovation and growth in the startup community.