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Crafting intersections: MIT News updates on Creating the crossroads

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In Short:

Gevorg Grigoryan, a former Dartmouth professor, co-founded Generate:Biomedicines with Noubar Afeyan after reaching out for advice. The company focuses on data-driven protein design for therapeutic purposes, enhancing drug development through machine learning. Grigoryan’s academic background in biochemistry and computer science prepared him for this cutting-edge work, highlighting the importance of mentorship and balancing industry and academia, while prioritizing people in all aspects of his career.

A few years ago, Gevorg Grigoryan PhD ’07, then a professor at Dartmouth College, had been contemplating an idea for data-driven protein design for therapeutic applications. Unsure of how to proceed with launching this concept into a company, he reached out to the instructor of an entrepreneurship course he had taken during his PhD at MIT.

After spending hours perfecting the email, Grigoryan finally hit send in the early hours of the morning. Just 15 minutes later, he received a response from Noubar Afeyan PhD ’87, the CEO and co-founder of venture capital company Flagship Pioneering.

This interaction ultimately led to the co-founding of Generate:Biomedicines, where Grigoryan now serves as the chief technology officer.

Generalizing principles and improving lives

Generate:Biomedicines represents the culmination of advancements in machine learning, biological engineering, and medicine. The process of de novo protein design, which used to be extremely labor intensive, has been revolutionized. Grigoryan explains the significant progress made in this field.

He emphasizes the importance of the company’s mission to improve human lives through the development of innovative therapies.

Mixing disciplines

Grigoryan’s background in STEM majors, combining physics, biology, and computational sciences, led him to envision new possibilities at the intersection of these fields. Despite the lack of established infrastructure for such education during his undergraduate years, he pursued a unique path.

Heading to Cambridge

Grigoryan reflects on his decision to attend MIT and highlights the pivotal role the institution played in shaping his career as a scientist. His work with Amy Keating and the exposure to interdisciplinary research left a lasting impact on his trajectory.

Balancing industry and academia

Grigoryan’s transition from academia to industry underscores the challenges and rewards of pursuing scientific innovation. He acknowledges the importance of scaling a company at the right time and the complexities that come with growth.

He shares insights on the differences between academic and industry mindsets, emphasizing the shift from independent research pursuits to collaborative goals in a corporate setting.

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