26 Nov 2020

Inside Benevolent

This year we welcomed our first fully-remote cohort of exceptional interns to the BenevolentAI team across engineering, data science, machine learning and business operations. In this blog, we caught up with our interns to find out about their background and why they chose to join Benevolent for their tech internship, and in part II, to learn about the projects they have been working on.

First up, we have Arielle, our NY office-based Data Science Intern who is currently getting her master’s degree in Data Science from the University of Pennsylvania:

“Prior to my master's, I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering in May 2020. I am particularly interested in working at the intersection of biology and technology.” 

Arielle joined Benevolent to combine her passions for both biology and data science: “Since interning for a pharmaceutical company in high school, I have been fascinated by the drug discovery process. Additionally, throughout my college experience, I found myself drawn to the technical aspects of Bioengineering as I particularly enjoyed courses in statistics and programming. BenevolentAI seemed like a great fit for me to apply and expand my technical skills to solve challenging problems at the intersection of science and technology.” ‍

Our other Data Science Intern, Benjamin did his undergrad in biology at the University of Oxford, followed by an MSc in Control of Infectious Disease at LSHTM:

“I’ve always had an interest in epidemiology, however until now I have predominantly worked on infectious diseases. Following my MSc, I spent a year working as a research assistant at the Sanger institute which is where I first developed an interest in bioinformatics. Currently, I am in the second year of my PhD at Imperial College studying the epidemiology of antibiotic resistance.” 

Benjamin chose Benevolent because it helped him gain experience in data science, while also working in a company at the forefront of AI applied drug discovery: “After completion of my PhD, I hope to work as a data scientist in health tech. Benevolent is one of the most exciting companies in the field of health technology, and everything I had heard about them previously was very positive.” ‍

Next on our list is Niraj, our Machine Learning Research Intern from Nagpur in India, who is studying a Master's in Computer Science:

“I am currently a second-year student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, pursuing Master's in Computer Science. Prior to that, I finished my Bachelor and Master's in Biological Sciences from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras. My broad interest lies in using Machine Learning approaches to analyse biological data and solving problems in the Healthcare domain.” 

Niraj set out on his internship search to find purposeful companies in the healthcare industry: “I liked Benevolent’s mission. What motivates me most is their application of the latest advancements in ML/AI to drug discovery. I realised that this would be a perfect opportunity for me to apply the theoretical knowledge in machine learning acquired through my coursework and learn how the company works.”

Next we have Adam, who studied maths at Cambridge for four years, finishing up by studying probability and statistics in the infamous Part III, and is now in the fourth year of his PhD:

“After graduating, I worked in California for a year with an early stage start-up called Roam Analytics that, not unlike Benevolent, was building a knowledge graph for healthcare. I returned to the UK to start my PhD at Oxford under the supervision of Yee Whye Teh and Tom Rainforth. During my PhD I’ve worked on a number of different topics: a major focus has been on optimal experimental design, more recently I have focused on representation learning. I’m now starting my fourth year.”

At BenevolentAI, Adam saw an opportunity to work on real world applications of ML that could positively impact our world: “Having studied aspects of machine learning that are more or less theoretical, I want to know what uses these techniques can be put to. I’m particularly interested in applications of AI that have the potential to make a positive impact on our world. With those thoughts in mind, joining BenevolentAI as an intern was the perfect opportunity to understand how AI can advance the process of drug discovery.”

Adam found his success as an intern at BenevolentAI boiled down to having similar research interests to the topics that his team was working on: “I would suggest to anyone interested in doing an internship at Benevolent to find out about potential teams that they could join within the company and, ideally, think of potential projects that they could work on during their internship.”

Ferran joined BenevolentAI as a Machine Learning Researcher in our Knowledge team while he completed his PhD at University College London:

“I am currently a PhD student at the CoMPLEX centre at UCL, where I carry out research on Natural Language Processing for biomedical applications. Previously, I obtained a BEng in Biosystems Engineering from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and carried an MRes in computational biology at UCL. After two years as a PhD student, I wanted to gain hands-on experience in an industry setting. An internship at Benevolent looked like the best way to do this, since it provides an ideal setting to carry out fundamental research with all the advantages of an industrial environment.” 

Constantin joined us as an AI science intern in Precision Medicine while completing his DPhil in the Oxford Protein Informatics Group, where he works on applying ML models to antibody property prediction:

“Several members of my research group took jobs with Benevolent, which motivated me to look into the company more. With its overlap between applied life sciences and state-of-the-art machine learning research, it immediately became the obvious choice for me to do an internship here.”

After a productive work-from-home internship, Constantin would advise future interns to never be afraid to ask for help: “Everyone in the company wants to see you succeed and as such is more than happy to give up some of their time to make sure you are set up properly or fully understand the tools you are working with etc. A quick Slack question will almost always be answered within minutes and can save you hours of debugging.”‍

Our Legal Intern, Corlijn, was brought to Benevolent by her passion for bringing people and ideas together, especially between law and technology:

“I did a BSc in Medical Sciences with an iBSc in History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine at UCL. I initially intended to be a doctor, which is why I was enrolled in the MBBS iBSc programme. After my BSc, I went to the University of Cambridge study law and I just finished my degree in June. This September I begin my master's in EU law in Leiden.  I really like interdisciplinary work. I enjoy bringing people and ideas together. My academic background has meant my focus has been on the intersection between law and technology/the life sciences.” 

Corlijn was drawn to the opportunity to work in a dynamic environment, where law and technology overlap with a mission that matters: “I want to work in a vibrant, diverse environment at the intersection of law and technology and I am motivated when I feel I can contribute to a worthwhile goal - like drug discovery. I’m very keen on working for startups because I like the culture and general appreciation of initiative. I was also looking to learn more about IP law because I knew I needed more insight in that area if I wanted to pursue a career in life sciences law.”‍

Our Comms Intern, Jasmine, had recently graduated from UCL with a Bachelors in Biochemistry:

“I didn’t love being in the lab so wanted to branch out to the more corporate side of science and technology. Outside of Benevolent, I work for a charity tutoring refugees over skype in English and I really love doing this as charity work is a passion of mine. I also am a huge animal lover. I chose to join Benevolent as I loved the company culture and what they do. Benevolent is a company really trying to help all people, and I love that.”

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