From Silicon Valley to the lab of tomorrow: Synfini’s leap to large chemistry models

Conceptual visualization of a molecular structure, not representative of a specific molecule. [Image courtesy of Adobe Stock]

During the COVID-19 pandemic in late 2020, the storied Silicon Valley institution SRI International secured a $4.3 million DARPA contract to develop a tool for generating therapeutic small molecules to combat biological threats. Not just known for innovations like the computer mouse and Siri, SRI International is also responsible for Synfini, a multimodal chemistry model akin to large language models like ChatGPT. In September 2023, the company spun out Synfini as an independent entity.

“The core group and project started about seven years ago at SRI International, and began as part of the DARPA Make-It program,” said Peter Madrid, co-founder and head of scientific development at Synfini. DARPA’s Make-It initiative aimed to automate small molecule discovery and synthesis. Thanks to the su…

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