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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Phenomics: What It Is and Why It Is the Future of Drug Discovery

Any researcher worth their salt will tell you that understanding human disease biology is hard. That is because biology is complex – it cannot be easily distilled into one feature or component. The good news is that today we have new tools for an old approach to biological discovery that thrives in the face of complexity: phenomics.

Phenomics is a transdisciplinary area of research that takes data from genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics and relates them to observable phenotypes. In doing so, we get a more complete picture of human biology that allows for more biological complexity, appropriate for understanding diseases with multiple causal genes or pathways.

For the last few decades, phenotype-driven drug discovery was outpaced by target-centric approaches. Target-based strategies have been optimised for drugging the ‘low-hanging fruit’ of diseases that can be treated by modulating a single target. However, there are many disease areas, such as neurodegenerative diseases, where target-based approaches have failed. Due, largely, to the lack of consideration of effect on organismal phenotypes until the later stages in the target-driven drug discovery process, the majority of Phase III clinical trials fail, meaning the target they picked wasn’t quite right.

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Stacie Calad-Thompson, PhD, is a pharmaceutical R&D and biotech leader with expertise in AI and machine learning applications for drug discovery. At BioSymetrics, she guides the company on its drug discovery and partnering strategies, with a focus on translating human-relevant disease biology. Prior to BioSymetrics, Stacie led collaborations and partnerships in the AI-powered drug discovery space as Vice President and Head of AI Molecular Screening Partnerships at Atomwise. Previously she established and co-led the Accelerating Therapeutics for Opportunities in Medicine consortium, a publicprivate partnership developing machine learning tools to accelerate drug discovery. She worked at GSK for more than 13 years, starting as a process chemist and moving up into R&D strategy and operations roles, where she led several change initiatives and teams. Stacie holds a BSc in Chemistry from University of California Berkeley, US, and a PhD in Chemistry from University of California Irvine, US.
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Stacie Calad-Thompson
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