Call for Application #2023-AIL-C06 closed since July 23, 2023

AI-Powered Drug Discovery of New High-Affinity Small Molecules

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:

AI-powered drug discovery of new high-affinity small molecules

If you hold a PhD or master’s degree with an outstanding track record or strong interest in the fields of computational biology, structural biology, medicinal chemistry, or other relevant field, 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 AION Labs partners and supported by the Israel Innovation Authority.

Computational methods for small molecule drug design improved significantly for the specific scenario where the drug target and active site are accurately modeled, and some ligands are known. However, in about half of the cases we encounter, the drug target has no experimentally determined structure, the active site is not clearly defined, and no ligands are known. This scenario often requires experimental screens that rely heavily on trial and error cycles to identify active molecules.

The desired solution involves developing AI/ML software tools to improve accuracy and speed in identifying active molecules as a starting point for drug discovery. These tools should address the following three objectives:

  • Modelling the target for small molecule design in the absence of an experimentally determined structure or active site;

  • Computational screening of a pre-defined library of compounds and identifying dozens of high-affinity hits;

  • Ranking the hits for their binding affinity.

The ranked hits will then be synthesized by the partnering companies and experimentally tested using functional assays.

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

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

Candidates for 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 computational biology, bioinformatics, computer science / machine learning, medical and life sciences.

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 November 2023 – January 2024.

Application & Selection Process

  • Please apply online at
  • 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: July 23, 2023.
  • After a first selection round, candidates will be invited to a five-day innovation boot camp in Israel from September 10 to 14, 2023. 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

Contact: Dr. Yair Benita

Phone: +972 50-831-8505