From Merck Fast Track to Computer Chem Frontier: Karen Akinsanya on The Long Run

Today’s guest on The Long Run is Karen Akinsanya.

Karen Akinsanya, chief biomedical scientist, Schrodinger

Karen is the chief biomedical scientist at Schrodinger. The New York-based company is a leader in computational chemistry for drug discovery. The company is privately held, and not a household name. But some wealthy and powerful people know it well. Schrodinger counts Bill Gates and David E. Shaw, the hedge fund billionaire, among its major shareholders. Nimbus Therapeutics and Morphic Therapeutic are a couple of young companies that have made strides with its computer modeling to develop new drugs.

Karen came to Schrodinger in 2018 from Big Pharma – Merck, to be specific. She received her PhD in endocrine physiology at Imperial College London. She worked her way from the lab bench to many different aspects of the pharmaceutical business. She was going places at Merck. But as she puts it, she likes new challenges. Karen is focused now on what Schrodinger can enable – how it can put a dent in the industry’s stubborn problem – the lack of drug R&D productivity.   

Karen is a native of the UK, an immigrant, a Mom, and someone who devotes considerable time and energy to youth science education. She recognizes the importance of role models who can encourage young people to go down paths they might not have known existed. I wish I had asked her more about that work, but it was good to at least hear her philosophy on why she makes time for science education volunteer work. It comes up toward the end of the conversation.

Now, join me and Karen Akinsanya for The Long Run.

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