TikTok Parent Company ByteDance Builds Team to Develop Drugs Using AI

Short-video app TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is looking to hire for its artificial intelligence drug discovery team in Mountain View, Beijing and Shanghai, as the company ventures into pharmaceutical research.

The Beijing-based company is looking for candidates to “join our team and conduct cutting-edge research in drug discovery and manufacturing powered by AI algorithms,” reported TechCrunch quoting one of the job postings, which has since been removed from the company’s career portal.

According to the report, the company is looking to fill at least five new research positions for its drug development team under the ByteDance AI Lab.

The AI-based research and development arm was established in 2016 with the main purpose of building the algorithms behind its content platforms including TikTok, its Chinese version DouYin and news aggregator app Toutiao. Now, the company said on its website that it is expanding the use of its AI technology and research.

“Given the number of research fields in AI, the applications of these new technologies can be found across every segment of our product portfolio,” the AI lab’s website said.

Candidates applying to the drug discovery research positions must have a Ph.D. in relevant disciplines, such as computer science, mathematics, computational biology and computational chemistry, and will be working on drug design, identification and simulation.

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Pandaily has reached out to ByteDance for comment.

Implementing AI and machine learning strategies can streamline and accelerate the drug-making process while lowering costs as much as 70%, research shows. Normally, bringing a drug to market costs about $2.8 billion over a period of more than 12 years, according to research from biotechnology company Taconic Biosciences.

China’s tech giants are rapidly venturing into the growing healthcare sector and adopting digital technologies, with the country’s online healthcare market forecast to reach $30 billion this year, according to estimates.

ByteDance in November launched its standalone healthcare business Xiaohe Yiliao, which offers paid online consultation services and a free medical encyclopedia that has nearly 32,000 entries. The brand competes directly with Baidu Health, AliHealth, Tencent-backed WeDoctor and JD Health.

Tencent’s AI Lab has also been publishing research findings since 2019 while Baidu is planning to raise funding for a new biotech startup. Huawei is also making developments in drug discovery by optimizing its cloud computing unit.