Meri Williams ‘overjoyed’ at joining Healx as CTO to help find treatments for rare diseases
Healx has appointed Meri Williams as its chief technology officer, recruiting her from the challenger bank Monzo.
The Cambridge company, which uses artificial intelligence to accelerate the discovery of treatments for rare diseases, said Meri would help scale its technology and team, and broaden the use of modern product engineering approaches.
The appointment follows Healx’ $56million Series B fundraising, completed last October.
At Monzo, Meri helped to scale the engineering and data team by 500 per cent, and led significant investment in the resilience of the platform and business continuity as the bank’s customer base grew to more than four million.
Before that, she led technology teams at the online print and design company MOO, high street retailer Marks & Spencer and the government’s Digital Service, after spending the first 10 years of her career at Proctor & Gamble.
Chair of The Lead Dev conference, which aids technical leaders and holds events in London, Berlin, New York and San Francisco, she is also a tech advisor to equitable venture firm Kindred Capital and an international keynote speaker.
A published author, Meri is also a trustee on the board of Stonewall, the UK’s leading LGBTQ rights charity.
Meri said: “I couldn’t be more excited to join Healx. They have an incredibly inspiring mission, a fantastic team, and some genuinely groundbreaking technology which they’re applying to a complex and important set of problems.
“As a rare disease patient myself, I’m all too aware of the lack of investment in treatments for rare conditions. I’m truly overjoyed that I will get to use my academic background in artificial intelligence combined with my industry experience leading and scaling world class technology teams to help find treatments for rare disease patients faster, smarter and safer.”
Tim Gulliams, CEO and co- founder of Healx, said: “Meri brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the company. She has worked with a range of high-performing organisations from digital disrupters to commercial giants, and we are very excited to have her on board to apply her ingenuity, innovation and vision to our work on rare diseases.”
Healx, which won AI Company of the Year at the 2019 Cambridge Independent Science and Technology Awards, aims to identify and progress novel therapies for the 95 per cent of rare diseases that are without approved treatments. There are 7,000 known rare diseases, affecting 350 million people worldwide, and traditional drug discovery methods are poorly suited to meeting their needs.
Healx’s Healnet platform - for which Meri will be responsible - integrates data from sources such as biomedical research and scientific literature to form what is described as “the world’s most detailed rare disease knowledge graph”.
The Cambridge Independent reported in April how the company, based in Hills Road, had trained its algorithms to identify potential combination therapies for Covid-19.
The company’s latest appointment follows the arrival of Findacure co-founder Dr Anthony Hall, who joined in February as chief medical officer, and Dr Bruce Bloom, founder of Cures Within Reach, who was appointed in chief collaboration officer and lead of the Rare Treatment Accelerator in November.
Meri’s appointment is expected to lead to a raft of appointments across product, design, engineering, AI, data science and bioinformatics roles.