It was the prospect of working on the bleeding edge of drug discovery that helped convince Christian Reich to join computational systems biology outfit Genstruct. “They have a very interesting technology platform that does really good pharmaceutical R&D by understanding the mechanisms of [disease] action,” Reich says. “These are the kinds of things that people are going to be doing in the future, and Genstruct is entirely devoted to this approach.”
As the new vice president of scientific research, Reich will help lead the company’s efforts in expanding its systems biology knowledge base to provide big pharmaceutical companies, such as GSK and Pfizer, with biological intelligence to help ramp up their R&D efforts. The chance to occupy a position with direct access to the research programs run by these big pharmas was also a huge plus to Reich. “You get to see the hot programs in those companies,” he says. “There are very few jobs in the industry where you can get to do that.”
Before signing up with Genstruct, Reich was the global head of informatics at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, where he started in 1998. Prior to that, he worked on the Human Genome Project as a researcher at the European Bioinformatics Institute.
Genstruct’s platform consists of a large knowledge base of molecular actions and processes, which is applied to data sets provided by high-throughput metabolomics, proteomics, or plasmatomics.
“The algorithms go through and figure out certain molecular activities that should have happened in order for you to observe what you did observe, and then the algorithm refines it and turns it into the actual processes that are most likely going on in the disease or drug treatment situation,” Reich says. “[The process] is very impressive.”
But regardless of where he is employed, Reich strongly feels that pharmaceutical companies should take the well-informed approach of knowledge-based drug discovery. “I want this whole approach to become the standard arsenal of pharmaceutical R&D and the one they routinely take to understand their drugs,” he says.