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GSK prescribes data tonic and bets big on artificial intelligence

Pharma giant part of inaugural Technology Leaders Index.

GlaxoSmithKline chief digital and information officer Karenann Terrell described Covid-19 as “the biggest challenge I have ever faced in my career” at the online AI Summit event in September 2020.

The former Walmart CIO joined in the new executive leadership-level technology position in 2017, and described her function’s work as part of the organisation’s response to global restrictions brought about by coronavirus.

GSK artificial intelligence

“Our ability to keep moving through this crisis has been challenging,” she said. “Making sure we continue to support our factories, making sure that we are in touch with our customers, and our patients that are in clinical trials continue to be supported when we move to a completely virtualised environment has been an extraordinary exercise in innovation and technical support.

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“And doing that while you fully pull up almost 100,000 people in remote work has been a massive challenge.”

Terrell said a combination of technology and culture provided the platform for GSK‘s robust response — as well as key technology partners and working with “frenemies” to securely exchange information as part of industry collaborations to help develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

Part of the inaugural Technology Leaders Index, GSK is also noted as an innovative pacesetter in the pharma sector by research and analyst organisation GlobalData due to its strategic investments, particularly in the areas of big data and artificial intelligence. Indeed, in September 2020, GSK opened a £10m research hub in London to leverage AI for the discovery of new drugs to treat cancer and other diseases.

With the aim to partner with other pharma companies using AI in drug discovery, 30 scientists and engineers at the King’s Cross site will collaborate with neighbouring hubs at the Francis Crick Institute, Europe’s largest single-site biomedical research centre, and The Alan Turing Institute.

Edward Qualtrough

Special projects editor

Edward Qualtrough is special projects editor for Tech Monitor.