Call for Application #2021-AIL-C02 closed since February 15, 2022

Smart AI to Advance Clinical Trial Readiness of Drug Candidates

Call closed!

1 Scientist Founder
2 Scientist Co-Founders

What we are looking for

AION Labs the Israel-based alliance of AstraZeneca, Merck, Pfizer, Teva, Israel Biotech Fund, and Amazon Web Services (AWS), powered by BioMed X is supporting the establishment of a new, fully funded startup company in the field of:

Smart AI to Advance Clinical Trial Readiness of Drug Candidates

If you hold a PhD or master’s degree with an outstanding track record or strong interest in the fields of computational biology, bioinformatics, or in vitro assay development, we invite you to apply with a project proposal for a position in our new startup team.

Each AION Labs startup team is sponsored by several industry-leading partners and supported by the Israel Innovation Authority. The sponsors of this call for application are AstraZeneca, Merck, and Pfizer, with close support from AWS.

Most drug candidates fail in clinical trials because of unexpected safety issues or lack of efficacy in human subjects. Omics technologies have improved dramatically in recent years allowing for extensive tissue and single cell profiling over time. These technologies are routinely applied in large scale preclinical in-vitro and in-vivo studies. However, these multi-omics datasets are heterogenous, not integrated and unreliable in predicting human biology. There is currently no automated solution that employs all preclinical data in a way that allows a reliable assessment of the clinical trial readiness of a drug candidate.

We invite you to propose the development of a versatile next-generation computational platform that integrates all in-vitro and in-vivo pre-clinical data and can be adapted to multiple therapeutic areas focusing on the following key challenges:

  • Identification of hidden safety liability and lack of efficacy of a drug candidate based on preclinical in-vitro and in-vivo multi-omics / high-dimensional perturbation datasets.

  • Prediction and ranking of biological pathway related effects, processes, or mechanisms in specific tissues which are likely to be modulated by the drug candidate and may be underrepresented in the preclinical datasets investigated.

  • Suggest focused human in vitro perturbation assays and assay conditions leveraging multiplexed technologies, to close identified gaps in the drug candidate pre-clinical data package thereby significantly improving the probability of success in clinical trials.

The proposal should include a validation phase in which the clinical trial readiness of an actual drug candidate is advanced by at least one iterative cycle of prediction and in vitro perturbation experiments. The pharma partners involved in this project will provide data for model training and their expertise in setting specifications and evaluating the outcome.

Very original ideas which go far beyond the current state-of-the-art are particularly encouraged.

The group leader / startup founder position is intended to suit candidates who would like to develop themselves towards an entrepreneurship path, and who typically have a PhD plus four to eight years of additional research experience in academia and/or industry.

Candidates for postdoctoral researcher / scientist co-founder positions are expected to have completed a PhD or equivalent within the last four years and a certain degree of specialization in one or more relevant cutting-edge technologies and scientific areas including, but not limited to computational biology, bioinformatics, or in vitro assay development.

What we offer

  • A position in a fully funded new startup company: the funding package covering salaries, consumables, services, travel costs, as well as access to the core facilities and data repositories of major research institutions, hospitals, and health management organizations in Israel and beyond
  • Equity in the new startup company
  • An initial funding term of at least $1M for first two years, with the possibility of prolongation for up to two additional years with at least $1M, with working space provided in the AION labs premises including wet and computational labs
  • Continuous guidance and support from experienced mentors from academia, the pharma industry, the tech industry, and venture capital
  • An exciting research opportunity in a multidisciplinary and international startup incubator embedded in one of the strongest biomedical innovation ecosystems in Israel

There is flexibility over starting dates, but successful applicants are welcome to take up post in Israel starting June 1, 2022.

Application & Selection Process

  • Please apply online at the Career Space of this website
  • As part of the online application procedure, you will be asked to submit: (i) A competitive project proposal addressing the challenge of this call (3-5 pages describing your core hypothesis, scientific rationale, and unique approach to solve the challenge); (ii) Your curriculum vitae including your publication record.
  • Deadline for applications: February 13, 2022.
  • After a first selection round, candidates will be invited to a five-day innovation boot camp in Israel from April 3 to 7, 2022 (all expenses covered). With guidance from experienced mentors, candidates will jointly work on their project proposals and present them in front of a jury on the final day. Successful candidates will be offered a position as founders in the new startup company at the AION Labs innovation lab in Israel.

About AION Labs

AION Labs is a first-of-its-kind alliance of AstraZeneca, Merck, Pfizer, Teva, the Israel Biotech Fund and Amazon Web Services (AWS) that have come together with one clear mission: to create and adopt groundbreaking new AI technologies that will transform the process of drug discovery and development in order to contribute to the health and well-being of all people world-wide. Located within the Israeli biotech hotspot in Rehovot adjacent to Weizmann Institute for Sciences, AION Labs is a unique venture hub where brilliant innovators convene from around the world to solve the biggest R&D challenges guided by years of accumulated know-how, data and experience in pharma. The lab leverages its partners’ wealth of knowledge and a new multidisciplinary mindset with the ingenuity, agility and innovative power of Israel’s start-up ecosystem, to develop strong companies with clear long-term strategies, that will pave the way to the future of healthcare. AION Labs cultivates innovation from within; its unique venture creation process bridges the gap between outstanding academic research in the field of AI and the biggest R&D needs in the discovery and development of new medicines for the benefit of patients.

About BioMed X

BioMed X is an independent research institute located on the campus of the University of Heidelberg in Germany, with a world-wide network of partner locations. Together with our partners, we identify big biomedical research challenges and provide creative solutions by combining global crowdsourcing with local incubation of the world’s brightest early-career research talents. Each of the highly diverse research teams at BioMed X has access to state-of-the-art research infrastructure and is continuously guided by experienced mentors from academia and industry. At BioMed X, we combine the best of two worlds – academia and industry – and enable breakthrough innovation by making biomedical research more efficient, more agile, and more fun.



4 Oppenheimer St.
Rehovot Science Park
Ogen Building
7670104 Rehovot

Phone: +972 50-831-8505