TikTok parent ByteDance hiring for AI drug discovery team

ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, is entering the health industry as it seeks to diversify a business dependent on advertising and livestreaming sales. The company, which prides itself on content algorithms, has started seeking talent in AI drug discovery across Mountain View, Shanghai and Beijing, its recruiting page shows.

“We are looking for candidates to join our team and conduct cutting-edge research in drug discovery and manufacturing powered by AI algorithms,” one of the job postings said.

The drug discovery team, which is looking to fill at least five roles including interns, falls under the ByteDance AI Lab. The AI-focused research and development arm was first established in 2016 to serve ByteDance’s content services like TikTok’s Chinese version Douyin, but it’s unsurprising to see the lab extending its reach to pharmaceuticals, which can similarly benefit from the machine learning technologies that power short video feeds.

“Given the number of research fields in AI, the applications of these new technologies can be found across every segment of our product portfolio,” said a description on the ByteDance AI Lab website.

All five drug discovery research positions require a PhD degree in relevant disciplines, such as computer science, mathematics, computational biology and computational chemistry. Candidates will be working on drug development such as design, identification and simulation, according to the postings.

ByteDance cannot be immediately reached for comment.

Other Chinese tech behemoths have made similar moves into the health space. Tencent’s own AI-powered drug team, also under the firm’s AI Lab, has been actively publishing findings since at least August 2019. Baidu planned to raise $2 billion for a new biotech startup focusing on drug discovery and AI-powered diagnosis, Reuters reported in September. Huawei has also made endeavors in drug discovery as well as medical imaging through its cloud computing unit.

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