12 Questions with Chih Han Chen
Chih Han Chen is a distinguished leader with a strong footing in data science and AI for the life sciences sector. With a PhD from Imperial College London and a Microsoft data science certification, Chen has played a key role in the success of AI products. As the CTO and a founding member of Virtual Science AI, his exceptional leadership and ability to bridge the gap between technical and non-technical stakeholders is recognised industry-wide. His vision is to leverage advanced technology to empower stakeholders in the life sciences industry, aiming to drive significant transformation through the power of AI and data science.
What are the main responsibilities of your current role? As the CTO of Virtual Science AI, my main responsibilities revolve around leading the technological direction and strategy of the company. This covers Technology Vision and Strategy, Product Development, Technical Architecture, Research and Development, Team Leadership and Management, Technical Due Diligence, and Compliance and Security. Overall, my role involves overseeing the technical aspects of the company, driving innovation, and ensuring that our technology aligns with our business strategy to deliver value to our customers and stakeholders.
What is your background prior to this role and how did it prepare you for the work you do now? Prior to my current role as a CTO, I obtained a PhD in AI from Imperial College London and gained valuable research experience in the field. I then served as an AI Lead, where I successfully built and led multiple AI products specifically tailored for the life sciences industry. This background provided me with a comprehensive understanding of AI algorithms, models, and their practical implementation. Additionally, working in the life sciences industry allowed me to gain insights into the unique challenges and opportunities within the domain. I collaborated closely with diverse teams, including researchers, engineers, and domain experts, which honed my ability to bridge the gap between technical expertise and business requirements. Overall, my research background, coupled with my experience in leading AI initiatives for the life sciences industry, equipped me with the knowledge, skills, and strategic mindset necessary to excel as a CTO in driving technological innovation and leveraging AI for business growth.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment to date? My proudest professional accomplishment to date is the successful development and adoption of AI products that I built and led for the life sciences industry. These products quickly gained traction and were adopted by prominent life sciences clients, making a significant impact on their operations, business decisions, and research endeavours. Witnessing the tangible benefits and positive outcomes resulting from the implementation of these AI solutions has been immensely gratifying.
What is your personal mission statement? What values keep you centred in your work? Guided by my passion for AI and technology, my mission as a CTO is to be a catalyst for meaningful change in the life sciences industry, thereby establishing a legacy of enhanced patient outcomes. Innovation, integrity, and collaboration form the bedrock of my value system. I aim to continually push the boundaries of the possible, with a steadfast commitment to ethical decision-making. The essence of my work lies in creating a supportive environment that encourages diverse perspectives, fostering collaborative efforts to drive ground-breaking advancements. My overarching objective is to use the transformative power of AI to better patient lives, contributing to an enduring positive impact on global health.
What are your biggest short-term goals for this year and next year? My immediate objective for this year and the next is to significantly scale and refine our Virtual Science AI medical AI functionalities, aligning our offerings with the unique demands of life sciences. Through collaborative engagement with domain experts, we will augment AI features to tackle specific challenges in the field. This enhancement aims to bolster data-handling capacities, optimising efficiency for larger datasets. Our overarching goal is to support enterprise-wide, data-driven decision making, which will ultimately lead to improved patient outcomes. This approach underlines our commitment to transforming life sciences with robust AI solutions.
What are your biggest long-term goals for five years or 10 years from now? My biggest long-term goal is to establish virtual science AI as the leading and go-to data science and AI solution for the life sciences industry, driving transformative advancements, accelerating drug discovery, and improving patient outcomes.
What are the most important professional skills in your work and how do you hone them? I value technical expertise, project management, and effective communication. These skills, sharpened by lifelong learning and real-world practice, are essential in our AI-driven industry. Equally important are consultative skills to understand our clients’ needs in this rapidly evolving landscape. Yet, beyond professional skills, I believe in the willingness to go the extra mile. This character trait, when combined with technical prowess and dedication, allows us to exceed expectations, innovating and delivering impactful solutions in a future shaped by AI
What excites you most about current industry trends? What thrills me most is the accelerating use of AI in the life sciences industry. This movement promises to reinvent drug discovery, precision medicine, and healthcare delivery. To navigate the challenges in life sciences, we need to focus on improving decision-making processes. Harnessing AI can lead to quicker, higher-quality, and more quantitative reports. This not only expedites scientific advancements, but also enhances patient outcomes. It's a thrilling juncture to leverage technology for need beyond existing boundaries.
What has changed most about the industry since the start of your career? The most substantial transformation I've witnessed since the onset of my career has been the universal acknowledgement of data's pivotal role in shaping the industry. This has led to the subsequent adoption of AI systems, which are primed on the concept of big data. This shift is of paramount importance as it has revolutionised our ability to utilise data more effectively. More importantly, this enhanced capability directly contributes to expediting the process of bringing crucial drugs to patients, thereby hastening treatment timelines and improving patient outcomes.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time? In my free time, I enjoy reading and exploring the latest technologies and games. I also find relaxation in listening to and playing the piano, which provides a creative outlet and a means to unwind.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? If I could have any superpower, it would be the ability to travel to the future and personally witness and experience the advancements of technologies and wonders that await humanity.
How do you manage health, fitness, and wellness in your life? I prioritise my health, fitness, and wellness by engaging in regular workouts to maintain physical health and practicing meditation for mental well-being. These activities help me stay balanced, focused, and energised in both my personal and professional life.
Connect with Chih Han Chen on LinkedIn.