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Dr. GPCR Podcast

Dr. Aurélien Rizk

About Dr. Aurélien Rizk

"Dr. Aurélien Rizk is a scientist and entrepreneur in drug discovery. He is Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder of InterAx Biotech, where he specializes in the development of a technology platform deciphering cell signaling pathways combined with AI-based approaches to elucidate structure to signaling relationship.

During four years of postdoctoral research at ETH Zurich and the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, under the guidance of Prof. Gebhard Schertler, he developed methods for kinetic mathematical analysis of GPCR signaling. He also worked on creating novel methods for systems biology using temporal logic specifications while pursuing his Ph.D. at INRIA Paris-Rocquencourt, France.

Before focusing on the development of innovative mathematical modeling and simulation methods for drug discovery, Dr. Aurélien Rizk co-founded Algorizk, a company that created real-time physics simulations for education, serving over 1 million users. His academic background includes studies in mathematics, physics, and computer science at the French Grande École, École Normale Supérieure de Cachan."

Dr. Aurélien Rizk on the web


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Quick recap

Yamina Berchiche and Aurelien Rizk engaged in a conversation about their professional backgrounds and current projects. They explored the potential of merging mathematical models with biology, the complexities of GPCRs within cells, and the applicability of technology to other fields. They also discussed the founding of a company focused on GPCRs, the transition from academia to the biotech sector, the evolution of a company that started with the development of technologies combining mathematical methods and a wet lab, and the importance of interdisciplinary teamwork in drug and technology development. They emphasized the significance of mathematical models in systems biology and pharmacology and the challenges of transferring information between different families of GPCRs. They wrapped up the conversation by discussing job opportunities at Interax Biotech and their anticipation for future interactions.


Professional Backgrounds and Projects Discussed

Yamina Berchiche and Aurelien Rizk had a conversation about their professional backgrounds and current projects. Aurelien Rizk, a co-founder and CEO of Interax Biotech, shared about the company's development of a discovery platform for GPCRs and their focus on signaling pathways. He also talked about his past experiences in mathematics, physics, and computer sciences, and his involvement in developing mathematical models for various systems. The discussion concluded without any clear decisions, action items, or open questions.

Integrating Mathematical Models and Biology: A Fascinating Discussion

Yamina and Aurelien Rizk had a conversation about the importance of merging mathematical models and biology. They highlighted that while there was a time when biology lagged due to the lack of appropriate tools, it is now progressing faster. They found it fascinating to integrate both fields and the potential it holds. Aurelien Rizk mentioned the importance of being able to test and adjust predictions in real-life scenarios. They also touched upon the transferability of this approach across different systems, which Yamina found attractive.

GPCRs, Software, and Fluid Dynamics

Yamina Berchiche and Aurelien Rizk discussed the complexities of GPCRs within cells and the potential for applying models from one system to another. Yamina also questioned Aurelien Rizk about his interest in software, computer science, and mathematics. Aurelien Rizk shared his journey of using these disciplines in biology and how his company, Interax, came to be. The discussion ended with Aurelien Rizk sharing his current work on numerical simulations of fluid dynamics.

GPCRs: A Focus for New Company

Aurelien Rizk and Yamina Berchiche discussed the founding of a company focused on GPCRs and the potential applicability of the technology to other fields. Aurelien Rizk shared that he had always focused on GPCRs but had also worked on other types of receptors, indicating that the technology could be applied broadly. Yamina asked if there was ever a consideration to work on targets other than GPCRs, to which Aurelien Rizk explained that they chose GPCRs due to their wide application and potential impact. The conversation concluded with Yamina asking if Aurelien Rizk had a favorite GPCR to work on, though his response was not included in the transcript.

Cell Signaling and Cancer Metastasis Discussion

Aurelien Rizk and Yamina Berchiche had a detailed conversation about the intricacies of cell signaling and chemokine receptors. Yamina shared her research experience, emphasizing the fascination of understanding how cells respond to gradients and signals, particularly in relation to cancer metastasis. Aurelien Rizk also contributed to the conversation, highlighting the complexity of the process. However, the transcript is somewhat unclear and disjointed, making it difficult to summarize the specific points discussed.

Academia to Biotech: Strategic Planning and Interdisciplinary Approach

Yamina Berchiche and Aurelien Rizk discussed the differences between academia and the biotech industry, with Aurelien Rizk sharing his experiences transitioning from academia into the biotech sector. They highlighted the strategic importance of planning in the biotech sector due to limited funds and the need to show positive results when securing new investments. Aurelien Rizk also mentioned the interdisciplinary nature of his company, which includes mathematics, signaling pathways, a wet lab for data generation, and AI and computational chemistry. The discussion also touched on recent changes in leadership at Aurelien Rizk's company, with the introduction of a new CEO a year ago and the valuable contributions of Mark Levick, a former reviewer for the European Medicines Agency and CEO of a biotech company.

Technology Evolution and Ligand Residence Time Prediction

Yamina Berchiche and Aurelien Rizk discussed the evolution of the company, which started with the development of technologies combining mathematical methods and a wet lab to ensure the technology functioned. They validated their technology and made collaborations for expertise on chemokine receptors. The conversation also revolved around the company's ability to predict the residence time of a ligand and its potential correlation with a therapeutic effect or activation of a specific signaling pathway. The discussion concluded with the idea that ligand residence time could be an important factor in effective therapy.

Therapeutic Effect and Receptor Interactions

Aurelien Rizk and Yamina had a detailed discussion about the importance of gaining more information about the therapeutic effect in patients or animals and the dynamics of receptor interactions. They emphasized the need to quantify the dynamics of the pathways and the residence time of the receptor. Yamina raised a question about the transferability of information between different families of GPCRs and the possibility of generating a mathematical model for potential patterns. They also discussed the challenges of system dependency in data and the need to express data in a uniform way to apply models.

Mathematical Models in Systems Biology and Pharmacology

Aurelien Rizk and Yamina discussed the importance and relevance of mathematical models in systems biology and pharmacology. They reminisced about previous meetings and events, including a GPCR retreat where Terry presented his work. Yamina mentioned her struggle with the mathematical aspects of Terry's papers but acknowledged their importance in quantifying and removing system biases. They also discussed plans to offer a course with Terry, due to high interest. Towards the end, Aurelien Rizk shared his top three 'aha' moments as a scientist, emphasizing the importance of learning and controlling systems.

Interdisciplinary Teamwork and Drug Development

Yamina Berchiche and Aurelien Rizk emphasized the significance of interdisciplinary teamwork in drug and technology development, noting the challenges of communication and collaboration across different fields. They also shared their preference for small molecule therapies over protein therapeutics. Aurelien Rizk confirmed his attendance at the upcoming GPCR-Targeted Drug Discovery Summit in Boston. The discussion concluded with a brief overview of job opportunities at Interax Biotech, with Aurelien Rizk and Yamina clarifying that job openings are communicated via email and through their job board. They expressed their anticipation for future interactions.

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