Artificial intelligence specialist BenevolentAI has made a key hire for its bioscience subsidiary BenevolentBio.

Dr Ian Churcher has joined as BenevolentBio’s new VP of drug discovery & preclinical development.

He previously headed a discovery performance unit focused on progressing new approaches to drug discovery – including pioneering development of protein degradation technology – at GSK.

Jackie Hunter, CEO of BenevolentBio, said: “Ian is a well-recognised and respected in the pharma industry.

“He has focused much of his career on innovating the drug discovery process and increasing the efficiency of bringing new medicines to patients.

“This experience fits perfectly with what BenevolentBio are doing – using AI to disrupt traditional drug discovery methods and using technology to accelerate drug development, so we are very pleased to welcome Ian to BenevolentBio.”

Previously Churcher led a range of groups at GSK in the areas of medicinal chemistry, new technology and drug discovery and held a visiting professorial appointment at the University of Oxford.

Prior to joining GSK he worked in the neuroscience group of Merck Sharp & Dohme where he focused on Alzheimer’s research.

Churcher holds an MA and DPhil in chemistry from the University of Oxford and spent two years as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Texas.