Utah startup Recursion Pharma takes high-tech approach to drug discovery

Writers and filmmakers love to leverage the intersection of advanced robotics and artificial intelligence into dystopian outcomes for the blood-and-bones innovators behind the technology.

"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?," "Ex Machina," "I, Robot" and, of course, the "Terminator" films, are just a few examples of a genre that portrays grim results for the human race on the backside of the moment when machines acquire the ability to think and make decisions.

But for Salt Lake City biotech startup Recursion Pharmaceuticals, melding robot-driven automation with digital artificial intelligence is creating an innovation path that could revolutionize how new drugs are developed to battle some of the rarest and most challenging of human medical conditions.

After outgrowing two previous facilities in the University of Utah Research Park, the company now has room to expand both its staff and research processes in the 100,000-plus square feet of the cathedral-like anchor space at the north end of Gateway, across from Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Recursion Chief Operating Officer Tina Larson said the new location is allowing the company to embrace a collaborative approach —with data scientists, computer programmers, biologists and chemists — to research and development efforts that have combined deep technology with the science that drives drug discovery.

"This space really creates a unique opportunity to bring together groups of people who don’t normally work together," Larson said. "There’s been a lot of thought put in to how we designed the space so that we can ... get those groups together to discover an unprecedented number of new treatments for patients."

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Deseret News Mon, 11/05/2018 - 21:38