Novartis Collaborates With Microsoft to Transform Medicine With AI
Novartis announced an important step in reimagining drugs by founding the Novartis Artificial Intelligence innovation lab and also by selecting Microsoft Corporation as its strategic Artificial Intelligence and data science partner for this effort. The new lab has formed with an aim to significantly bolster Novartis Artificial Intelligence capabilities from research studies through commercialization and help to accelerate the discovery and development of transformative medicines for patients worldwide.
Novartis is now looking to put AI tools on the desktops of each of its research associates, & it’s tapping Microsoft to do it.
A new 5-year collaboration between the two companies will help the Big Pharma establish an Artificial Intelligence innovation lab alongside joint research projects at multiple international centers run by both companies, spanning research, clinical trials, and manufacturing.
As Novartis Collaborates with Microsoft, they have committed to a multi-year R&D effort. This strategic alliance will actually focus on 2 core objectives:
- Artificial Intelligence Empowerment. The new lab will aim to bring the power of Artificial Intelligence to the desktop of every Novartis associate. And by bringing together vast amounts of Novartis datasets with Microsoft’s advanced Artificial Intelligent solutions, the lab will aim to create new Artificial Intelligence models and applications that can augment its associates’ capabilities to take on the next wave of challenges in the medicine.
- Artificial Intelligence Exploration. The new lab will use the power of Artificial Intelligence to tackle some of the hardest computational challenges within the life sciences field, starting with generative chemistry, image segmentation and also analysis for smart and personalized delivery of therapies, optimization of cell & gene therapies at scale.
Microsoft & Novartis will also collaborate to develop & apply next-generation Artificial Intelligence platforms and processes that support future programs across these two focus areas. The overall investment includes project funding, technology, subject-matter experts, and tools.
Their partnership will start with 3 specific projects: implementing AI-based approaches to help personalize medical treatments for macular degeneration & irreversible blindness, including through image segmentation and analysis, starting with treatments for acute lymphoblastic leukemia such as Kymriah, increasing the efficiency of cell and gene therapy manufacturing, & expediting Novartis’ processes for designing and generating new therapeutic drug molecules.
Vas Narasimhan the CEO of Novartis, said that Novartis continues evolving into a focused medicine company powered by advanced therapy platforms & data science, alliances like this will help them deliver on their purpose to reimagine medicine to improve and to extend lives. Pairing their knowledge of human biology & medicine with Microsoft’s leading expertise in AI could transform the way Novartis discover & develop medicines for the world.
Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, added that this strategic alliance will combine Novartis’ life sciences expertise with the power of Azure & Microsoft AI. They aim to address some of the biggest challenges facing the life sciences industry today and bring out the AI capabilities to every Novartis employee so that they can unlock new insights as Novartis work to discover new medicines and reduce patient costs.
Novartis is now focusing itself as a leading medicines company powered by advanced therapies & data science. “Going big on data and digital” is the key strategic pillar that helps them realize this ambition. Data science & digital technologies allow a company to reimagine how it innovates in its Research and Development, engages with patients and customers & increases operational efficiencies. Now, Novartis also focuses its efforts around 4 strategic digital priority areas:
- Scaling twelve digital lighthouse projects: Build a strong foundation and jumpstart digital transformation
- Make Novartis digital by sharing, learning & talent acquisition
- Becoming the #1 partner in the tech ecosystem; bridge Novartis with external expertise.
- Bolder moves that can lead through future disruptive healthcare scenarios with large-scale partnerships
Microsoft’s AI solutions will also aim to translate the drugmaker’s large clinical and scientific data sets into information Novartis staff can easily query from their desks, even without specialized backgrounds in data science.
Ebadollahi said that the Artificial Intelligence empowerment is a core element of this alliance. Its aim is to integrate AI-enabled insights into the workflow of how our associates do their work; he further added that in order to use Artificial Intelligence at scale in any organization, it is important to enabling the ‘citizen data scientists’ with the power of AI.
Artificial Intelligence-based tools and machine learning models will be injected into Novartis’ various workflows, culling data behind the scenes to build a broader picture of the topic at hand, and then summarizing and presenting relevant data to aid in daily decisionmaking within the company, he added.
Peter Lee, corporate vice president for Microsoft Healthcare, in a company blog post, mentioned that because many of these advances are based on the ability to analyze huge amounts of data in new ways, developing new drugs has become as much an AI and data science problem as it is a biology and chemistry problem. This means companies like Novartis need to become data science companies to an extent never seen before.
One of the priority areas within Novartis is a project called data42, a machine learning platform, designed to mine the company’s silos of data for patterns, targets, and biomarkers across its Research and Development programs.
Novartis is also working on developing tools for remotely conducted clinical trials, Ebadollahi said, by using digital solutions to access underserved patient populations, as well as building digital therapeutics.