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Joanne Hackett joins BIOS as chair of the board




Prof Joanne Hackett has been chief commercial office at Genomics England since 2017
Prof Joanne Hackett has been chief commercial office at Genomics England since 2017

Joanne Hackett, the chief commercial officer of Genomics England, has joined Cambridge-based open-standard AI/human interface company BIOS as chair of the board.

BIOS, founder in 2015 and winner of the Start-Up of the Year title at the 2019 Cambridge Independent Science & Technology awards, is developing a full-stack neural interface platform that uses AI to decode and encode the signals from the brain to the body, to treat chronic health conditions.

Co-founded by Cambridge University graduates Emil Hewage, a computational neuroscientist, and Oliver Armitage, a biomechanical engineer, the Cambridge-based company is made up of a wide range of experts from neuroscience and artificial intelligence, software engineering and medicine. The combined team brings more than 300 peer-reviewed publications, 6,000 clinical procedures, and 10 first-of-kind medical devices.

An accomplished entrepreneur, scientist, and strategist, Prof Hackett has deep expertise in scaling and commercialising biotech innovations. As the public face of Genomics England she has become a national figure, and has contributed to many Cambridge events and conferences.

BIOS is an agile, fast-paced and ambitious entrepreneurial biotech,” said Prof Hackett. “These are crucial characteristics of successful early-stage companies. The interface between technology and the human body is one of the most important fields helping us move beyond incremental changes to our approach to health. The platform that BIOS is developing could lead to a much bigger step change and is something I could not wait to be a part of.

“I look forward to helping BIOS realise its potential, and I am excited by the opportunity to learn more about such an exciting field.”

The panel at the Wellcome Genome Campus for a personal genome conference last year. From left are Nikk Taverner, George Church, Stephen Beck, Joanne Hackett, Yaniv Erlich and Colin Smith. Picture: Richard Marsham
The panel at the Wellcome Genome Campus for a personal genome conference last year. From left are Nikk Taverner, George Church, Stephen Beck, Joanne Hackett, Yaniv Erlich and Colin Smith. Picture: Richard Marsham

There are three parts to BIOS’ technology. Firstly, its implanted neural interface connects directly with the nerves to isolate the signals that travel between the brain and the body. Secondly, its AI decodes and encodes this neural information from hundreds of thousands of individual neurons, tens of thousands of times per second, and sends corrected signals back into the body. Lastly, using this neural code, we can build a whole digital healthcare treatment. For a person with a severe chronic health condition, that means their condition could be managed via the nervous system directly by AI, giving personalised and accurate treatments, where the burden of pills and doctor visits become a second resort rather than a daily reality.

Emil Hewage said: “Professor Hackett’s background as a clinical researcher and senior executive at both Fortune 500 companies and start-ups have given her a unique ability to identify innovations and bring them to maturity. As one of the key global figures in personalised medicine, she immediately enhances the presence of BIOS in the sector. She is an experienced and highly skilled operator, and we’re thrilled to have her support and guidance.”

Prof Hackett retains her role at Genomics England.


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