team news

September 29, 2020

Exscientia appoints industry R&D veteran, David Nicholson, as Chairman as company extends pipeline

Exscientia, the world-leading Artificial Intelligence (AI) drug discovery company, is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. David Nicholson as Chairman of the Board of Directors. As Chairman of Exscientia, David will apply his industry expertise and experience to help define and oversee the strategy and progression of the company’s business model and discovery pipeline through to a clinical setting.

David joins Exscientia having held key US-based leadership roles in the pharmaceutical industry, most recently as Executive Vice President and Chief R&D Officer at Allergan (New York).

Responsible for developing over 25 new drug products in his career, David brings a wealth of drug hunting experience to Exscientia’s board. He has held a number of senior leadership positions over a 40-year career in research and development at Allergan, Bayer, Merck, Schering-Plough and Organon.

Exscientia’s growing pipeline includes immunology, immuno-oncology and oncology. In these areas, Dr Nicholson brings a wealth of experience having previously championed the breakthrough anti-PD1 cancer drug Keytruda® (pembrolizumab) all the way from its earliest research and into development, heralding a revolution in cancer therapy.

Dr. Nicholson joins Exscientia following a year of rapid growth for the company. Exscientia’s AI-designed molecule in partnership with Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma was the first new drug candidate designed by AI to enter clinical trials, whilst innovative research collaborations with leading institutions SRI International (Menlo Park, USA) and Scripps Research (La Jolla, USA) pave the way for future innovation. In Europe, Exscientia has taken a central role in the CARE Consortium, Europe’s largest initiative to accelerate therapy development for COVID-19.

“David is a highly respected global R&D leader who brings a wealth of experience to the company as well as a strong US perspective. His experience will prove invaluable, as we drive through ambitious plans to expand our operations and pipeline,” said Andrew Hopkins, CEO and founder of Exscientia. “We are excited to have David’s expertise as we cement our leadership at the intersection of AI and drug hunting.”

Commenting on his new role, Dr. Nicholson said, "I am thrilled to be joining Exscientia at such a critical point in their expansion. I've been following the company and I am a true believer in their unique and innovative approach to drug discovery. I admire the work this talented team have done over the past few years in automation which should reduce the time-to-market for vital treatments for patients. I look forward to helping bring this unique approach to the US market.”

Dr. Nicholson takes the baton over from outgoing chairman, Alex Snow, founder of Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI), who has been Chairman since 2017 and overseen the company raising over $110m in financing rounds to grow Exscientia into the pre-eminent AI-driven drug discovery company.  

Stepping down as Chairman, Alex Snow said,” I am delighted to be handing over to David, who will take over as Chairman at an exciting time for Exscientia. It has been an unprecedented period of growth for the company and the past 3 years has seen Exscientia develop into a world leader in AI-driven drug design. We have developed a globally recognised team as well as partnerships with some of the world’s largest pharma companies. David’s experience and extraordinary domain expertise will be a critical addition, helping Exscientia to further expand and apply its revolutionary technology to drug design. I look forward to continuing to help the company and to support David.”


About Exscientia

Exscientia is a global leading pharmatech company, using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to drive drug discovery. Founded in Scotland in 2012, Exscientia fuses the power of AI with the experience of seasoned drug hunters. Exscientia’s innovative Centaur Chemist™ platform enables breakthrough productivity gains as well as new approaches to improve drug design. Novel compounds are automatically designed and prioritized for synthesis by its AI systems, which rapidly evolve compounds towards the desired candidate criteria for clinical development. Exscientia’s Centaur Biologist™ platform drives the flexible analysis and prioritisation of discovery targets across all pharmaceutically relevant disease space. Exscientia is collaborating with several leading pharmaceutical and life sciences companies and is the first AI company to have designed a novel molecule to enter the clinic. Exscientia has its headquarters in Oxford, England with further offices in Dundee, Scotland, the USA and Japan. For more information visit us on or follow us on Twitter @exscientiaAI   

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I am thrilled to be joining Exscientia at such a critical point in their expansion. I've been following the company and I am a true believer in their unique and innovative approach to drug discovery