Moderna Among Companies Partnering With OpenAI to Boost AI Efforts

Robot working on laptop

Pictured: AI robot working on a laptop/Taylor Tieden for BioSpace

As biopharma companies navigate the world of generative AI, some are formalizing their efforts by partnering with OpenAI, developer of the ChatGPT chatbot. Those organizations include Moderna, which has collaborated with OpenAI since 2023.  

Artificial intelligence has the potential to transform data-driven industries like biopharma, according to Brice Challamel, vice president of AI products and platforms at Moderna, which recently moved into its new headquarters. He told BioSpace the company has seen firsthand the impact AI can have on developing new classes of medicines.  

“The informational nature of mRNA lends itself well to drug design simulation and optimization,” Challamel said. “Beyond early-stage drug development, implementing AI across the value chain, from research to manufacturing to commercialization, allows us to accelerate and improve our outcome at every step of the way to deliver mRNA medicines.” 

AI in Life Sciences

Some life sciences companies are proceeding with caution on certain aspects of AI, according to a ZoomRx survey of over 200 industry professionals. It found that 53% of life sciences companies—including 65% of the top 20 pharma businesses—ban employees from using ChatGPT. That said, 57% of workers use it. The survey also found that 58% of companies using AI are in the early stages of implementation.  

ZoomRx reported six use cases for artificial intelligence in life sciences organizations: 

  • Drug discovery (41%). 

  • Precision/personalized medicine (36%). 

  • Copywriting (33%). 

  • Trial optimization (27%). 

  • Safety prediction/monitoring (24%). 

  • Data analysis/knowledge base (21%).  

A recent BioSpace article echoed those findings, noting that companies are looking to use generative AI to optimize pharma R&D, from target discovery to drug development to regulatory approval to commercialization and postmarket pharmacovigilance.   

Some biopharma firms are partnering with life sciences–focused AI services organizations or Big Tech businesses wanting to tap the biopharma market, as detailed in a recent BioSpace story about generative AI’s role in drug development. Others are developing generative AI technology in house or working directly with OpenAI. 

In addition to Moderna, biopharma companies partnering with OpenAI include Amgen, Genmab and e-therapeutics. Amgen and Genmab are working with the organization in a similar fashion as Moderna, according to BioPharma Dive, and OpenAI named Amgen as an early ChatGPT Enterprise customer. With ChatGPT Enterprise, companies own and control their business data, as OpenAI doesn’t train on their data or conversations, and its models don’t learn from organizations’ usage.  

In 2023, London-based biotech company e-therapeutics shared it was integrating large language models (LLMs) such as Open AI’s GPT model to enhance computational capabilities and transform HepNet, its hepatocyte-focused computational biology platform, into a dynamic knowledge resource. The company’s long-term vision is to use OpenAI’s GPT-4 and LLMs to fully automate the preclinical drug discovery process.  

How Moderna Is Partnering With OpenAI

Moderna’s partnership with OpenAI is part of the company’s vision to use AI to scale its development of life-saving mRNA medicines and maximize its impact on patients, according to Challamel. 

An OpenAI case study highlights key collaboration milestones, including Moderna launching an internal AI chatbot tool, mChat. More than 80% of the biopharma company’s workforce adopted the tool. Another milestone is deployment of ChatGPT Enterprise, which allows the organization’s employees to create their own GPTs. Within two months of the launch, Moderna had 750 GPTs across the company.  

The organization’s GPTs include Dose ID, intended for use as a data-analysis assistant to the clinical study team. According to Moderna, Dose ID can help evaluate optimal vaccine doses that the team selects. By applying standard dose selection criteria and principles, the GPT provides a rationale, references its sources and generates informative charts illustrating its findings.  

How Moderna Trained Employees for AI

Moderna laid the groundwork for employee adoption of AI before its partnership with OpenAI began. Challamel shared that in late 2021, the company launched its AI Academy to build artificial intelligence capabilities and skills across the entire organization. He said it’s since moved beyond educational content and courses to serve as an innovation incubator for AI capability, projects and ideas. 

Successful AI implementation requires an intentional cultural transformation and a mindset shift around how each employee approaches their work, according to Challamel.  

“Our people can no longer be on the receiving end of technology and change,” he said. “They now embrace it and share best practices with each other as an intelligent and constantly learning organization.” 

Challamel also noted the importance of the employees themselves to AI success.  

“We recognize that technology alone does not drive change—people do,” he said. “How we work, and the tools we enable, are critically important to realizing our mission.” 

What’s Next for Moderna’s Partnership With OpenAI

Moving forward, Moderna’s partnership with OpenAI will continue to be important, as Challamel noted the biopharma company is advancing a broad and diverse pipeline at a scale never seen before in the industry. According to the OpenAI case study, Moderna is looking to bring up to 15 new products to market in the next five years. Given the organization’s plans, Challamel said, it needs to have a highly skilled and adaptable team—and artificial intelligence can help. 

“We believe a few thousand with the right AI mindset and technology can achieve the same as a traditional biopharma of tens or hundreds of thousands, and this partnership will drive that human augmentation forward with not only a major leap forward in productivity, but also in innovation and quality of outcome,” Challamel said. “This partnership with OpenAI is the outcome of more than a decade of engagement with AI, and yet it is only the beginning of our journey.” 

Angela Gabriel is content manager, life sciences careers, at BioSpace. You can reach her at angela.gabriel@biospace.com and follow her on LinkedIn

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