Sean Ekins: Where is Collaborations Pharmaceuticals CEO Now?

With Netflix’s ‘Unkown: Killer Robots’ delving deep into the way Artificial Intelligence is changing the world to unprecedented extents, we get a true insight into its apocalyptic potential as well. After all, it comprises extensive interviews with not just enthusiasts but also ethicists as they carefully elucidate why this technological advancement might not be the greatest in the long run. Amongst these experts was actually renowned pharmacologist Sean Ekins — so now, if you simply wish to learn more about him as well as his current standing, we’ve got the details for you.

Who is Sean Ekins?

It was back when Sean Ekins was a mere kid growing up in the beautiful port town of Grimsby in Lincolnshire, England, that he first developed a passion for biology, only for it to continue expanding. The truth is he had fallen in such love with the applied side of this subject that he enrolled at Nottingham Trent University for his Higher National Diploma upon graduating from school in 1988 itself. He hence earned the qualification in 1991, yet not before uncovering his true calling in the world of drug discovery through a sandwich year (1989–1990) at the Servier pharmaceutical company.

Then came Sean’s decision to pursue a Master’s in Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, following which he obtained his Ph.D. with the financial help of Servier in 1996. As per reports, the scientist actually got into researching drug-drug interactions during the final years of his studies, driving him to continue this work at an American laboratory in the ensuing years. However, almost as soon as a chance arose, the Postdoctoral fellow stepped away from Eli Lilly & Company to join Pfizer in 1988, just to return the following year as a Senior Computational Chemist.

Sean purportedly remained here until he was offered the title of Associate Director of Computational Drug Discovery at Concurrent Pharmaceuticals in 2001, only to soon climb higher in the industry. He evolved into Vice President of Computational Biology at Gene Go in 2004, served as Sr. Vice President of Computational Biology at Arnold Consultancy & Technology for four years starting in 2006, and even thrived at Phoenix Nest as President-CEO from 2012 to 2014. We should mention that throughout this period, the researcher also proudly worked as an Adjunct Pharmacy Professor at the University of Maryland (2005 -2015), the University of North Carolina (2012-2015), as well as Rutgers University (2007-Present).

Moreover, because Sean has been serving as a consultant for various institutions practically since he kickstarted his career, he was able to utilize the experience and establish his own firm in 2014. It thus comes as no surprise that through this private company, Collaborations Pharmaceuticals Inc., whose primary focus is the research and development of innovative medicines for numerous rare, infectious diseases, he has gotten a lot of opportunities to expand his wings. Among these was a chance to speak on AI at a renowned Swiss organization, leading him to explore the misuse of his own business’ system and realize that even the slightest shift can result in chaos.

“I just wanted to make the point, could we [at Collaborations Pharmaceuti cals] use AI technology to design molecules that were deadly?” Sean explained in the series. “… [All we did was flip a 0 to 1 in our systems], and by inverting it, instead of driving away from toxicity, now we’re driving towards toxicity. That’s it.” The following day, they had close to 400,000 molecules that were likely some of the most toxic ones in the history of mankind — and it was all done on a regular device, nothing fancy. This admittedly “naive” experiment is what led the research doctor — he earned a Doctor of Science in 2005 — to contribute his voice to the discussion of control in the world of AI use.

Where is Sean Ekins Now?

From what we can tell, at the age of 53 (born March 2, 1970), Dr. Sean is proudly working as the Founder-CEO of Collaborations Pharmaceuticals in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, to this day. Plus, the family man is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of Robert Wood Johnson Medical School- Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. As if that’s not enough, he’s even an inventor as well as an author — he has at least four patents under his belt as of writing, and he has penned/co-penned not only 350+ peer-reviewed medical papers but also a book titled, ‘Winning Grants.’

As for Sean’s research areas of interest, we should specify it spans across the board with cheminformatics, computer-aided drug discovery, drug repurposing, machine learning, systems biology, rare-neglected diseases, and vitro & computational toxicology. In other words, he currently utilizes the available technologies to research ways treatment drugs for a myriad of diseases, including Tuberculosis, Ebola, Batten Disease, Pitt Hopkins disease, Chagas disease, Zika, enteroviruses, and many more, can be improved. All of this is funded by The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and The Department of Defense (DOD).

Read More: Brandon Tseng: Where is the Shield AI Co-Founder Now?