Atomwise Adds Pharma Luminaries to Board of Directors and Scientific Advisory Board

Atomwise has strengthened its drug discovery and development expertise by expanding its Board of Directors and creating a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB).

June 17, 2021 13:00 UTC

Experts include Mike Varney, Bruce Roth, John Hamer, Kemal Malik, and Andrew Lo

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Atomwise has strengthened its drug discovery and development expertise by expanding its Board of Directors and creating a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). These appointments signal a critical milestone for Atomwise as the company focuses on its own internal pipeline.

“This is the dream team,” says Abraham Heifets, co-founder and CEO of Atomwise. “Mike Varney built Genentech’s small molecule capability, Bruce Roth discovered the best-selling drug of all time, John Hamer helped take AbCellera public in the biggest biotech IPO of 2020, Kemal Malik was the Chief Medical Officer of Bayer Healthcare, and Andrew Lo is a co-founder of BridgeBio, which was the biggest biotech IPO of 2019, and he is the foremost strategist on pharma portfolio design. As Atomwise focuses on our internal pipeline, these experts are exactly who we need to help drive Atomwise’s success.”

New Directors on the Atomwise Board include:

  • Mike Varney, who was most recently head of Genentech’s Research and Early Development and a member of the Roche Executive Committee. Dr. Varney had been recruited to Genentech to build its small molecule discovery capability, which now accounts for more than 40% of Genentech’s development pipeline and has delivered Erivedge® and Cotellic® to the market. Earlier in his career, Dr. Varney pioneered structure-based drug design as a founding employee at Agouron, which delivered Viracept®, Xalkori®, and Inlyta®. He was named a Hero of Chemistry in 2018 by the American Chemical Society.
  • Andrew W. Lo, who is a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the Director of the MIT Laboratory for Financial Engineering. Prof. Lo founded AlphaSimplex Group LLC and QLS Advisors, co-founded BridgeBio Pharma, is a Director of Roivant Sciences, a member of the Board of Overseers of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, an advisory board member of the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, and a member of the NIH Cures Acceleration Network Review Board. His awards include Batterymarch, Guggenheim, and Sloan Fellowships; the Paul A. Samuelson Award; the Eugene Fama Prize; the IAFE-SunGard Financial Engineer of the Year; the Global Association of Risk Professionals Risk Manager of the Year; the Harry M. Markowitz Award; the Managed Futures Pinnacle Achievement Award; and he has been named one of TIME’s “100 most influential people in the world.”
  • John Hamer, who is a managing partner at DCVC Bio. Previously, Dr. Hamer was a Managing Director of Monsanto Growth Ventures and a Managing Director at Burrill & Company. He founded and served as CEO of Arête Therapeutics and was the Chief Scientific Officer and eventually President and CEO of Paradigm Genetics. Earlier, Dr. Hamer was a Professor of Biological Sciences at Purdue University, where he was a David and Lucille Packard Fellow and an NSF Presidential Faculty Fellow.

Collectively, these new appointees to the Board of Directors will bring deep expertise in technology, drug discovery, and corporate leadership to advise Atomwise on its business growth.

“Atomwise has extensively validated its AI platform, repeatedly demonstrating the ability to identify novel and differentiated molecules for challenging targets. The time is right for Atomwise to focus on developing its own assets. As AI continues to make critical breakthroughs in accuracy and scale, it has never been a more exciting moment for structure-based drug design,” says Dr. Varney.

The founding SAB consists of:

  • Kemal Malik has 30 years of experience in global pharmaceutical research and development. He has been responsible for bringing many innovative medicines through R&D to successful commercialization. From 2014 to 2019 he was a member of the Executive Board of Management of Bayer AG, responsible for innovation across the Bayer group. He was also responsible for Bayer LEAPS, the organizational unit responsible for strategic venturing in areas of disruptive breakthrough innovation. Prior to his appointment to the Bayer Board he was Head of Global Development and Chief Medical Officer at Bayer Healthcare for ten years, responsible for all development and medical governance issues, where he delivered twenty consecutive positive phase III trials including several blockbusters such as Xarelto® and Eylea®. Dr. Malik qualified in medicine at Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School (Imperial College London) and is a Member of the Royal College of Physicians.
  • Bruce Roth, who is best known for inventing Lipitor®. Dr. Roth was previously Senior Vice President of Research and Early Development of Small Molecule Drug Discovery at Genentech, and Vice President of Chemistry at the Pfizer Global Research and Development Ann Arbor site. He has received numerous awards including the 2013 Perkin Medal, the highest award given to industrial chemists in the United States, and was named a Hero of Chemistry in 2008 by the American Chemical Society. In 2013, he was inducted into the ACS Medicinal Chemistry Division Hall of Fame and in 2015 received the National Academy of Sciences Award for Chemistry in Service of Society. Dr. Roth is the inventor or co-inventor of 54 issued U.S. patents and the author or co-author of 51 manuscripts, 35 published abstracts, and 9 book chapters and review articles.
  • Mike Varney (vide supra).

The SAB comprises decades of experience leading some of the world’s most prestigious biopharma companies.

“We view ourselves as a preclinical pharmaceutical company and our Board additions, coupled with the formation of the SAB, reflect that growth, momentum, and excitement,” says Heifets. “We are at a pivotal moment in the field of structure-based drug design and the scientific community continues to recognize the real-world impact of AI-driven drug discovery. We are thrilled to bring together some of the most respected minds in corporate biopharmaceutical leadership and drug discovery to help us make advancements in our internal discovery pipeline, helping fulfill our mission to make better medicines, faster.”

About Atomwise

Atomwise is a preclinical pharma company revolutionizing how drugs are discovered with AI. We invented the use of deep learning for structure-based drug discovery, today developing a pipeline of small-molecule drug candidates advancing into preclinical studies. Our AtomNet® technology has been used to unlock more undruggable targets than any other AI drug discovery platform. We are tackling over 600 unique disease targets with more than 250 partners around the world, including leading pharmaceutical, agrochemical, and emerging biotechnology companies. Atomwise has raised over $174 million from leading venture capital firms to advance our mission to make better medicines, faster. Learn more at or follow @AtomwiseInc.


Wilmer Balmocena
Marketing Operations and Project Manager

Source: Atomwise