AWS Expands Partnerships with Biopharma Giants Merck, Amgen

With a pair of announcements at last week's re:Invent conference, Amazon Web Services (AWS) solidified its position as a major provider of cloud infrastructure services to the healthcare industry.

For instance, pharmaceutical maker Merck said at re:Invent that it has chosen AWS to be its preferred cloud vendor, as well as its platform of choice for running high-performance computing workloads, particularly those related to drug discovery.

"Merck...selected AWS to strengthen its high-performance computing (HPC) capabilities to accelerate therapeutic discovery," according to a press release. "Through HPC on AWS and AWS HealthOmics, a purpose-built service for biological insights and automation, Merck can scale its protein model prediction and omics analytical work and run HealthOmics managed workflows such as AlphaFold to speed drug discovery."

Merck's partnership with AWS will also allow the biopharmaceutical giant to tap into AWS' numerous AI and machine learning solutions to improve its drug manufacturing operations. For instance, it uses the Amazon SageMaker machine learning platform to collect machinery and inspection data from multiple factories to catch quality control issues and help prevent prodction bottlenecks.

According to Merck CIO Dave Williams, "The true power of moving to AWS will come from our ability to use technologies like generative AI to make more data-driven decisions in support of patients."

SageMaker also figures heavily in AWS' partnership with biotech firm Amgen, which announced that one of its upcoming factories will use the machine learning platform to improve machinery operations.

Opening next year in Columbus, Ohio, the new Amgen facility will use SageMaker to "help reduce operator intervention and improve ergonomic safety of manual activity by using AI, sensors, and machine vision systems in the packaging lines," according to a press release. "Additionally, the collection and reporting of real-time performance metrics will be integrated with ML models to predict and prevent equipment failure before it happens."

Amgen is also looking to tap generative AI capabilities in AWS products like Bedrock and SageMaker JumpStart to facilitate faster drug discovery, improve clinical trials, and supplement its overall research and development efforts.

"Based on our longstanding AI work, generative AI is helping us improve clinical trial planning, execution, and documentation. Beyond optimizing clinical trials and regulatory filings, we're excited about making generative AI assistance available to our scientists, researchers, engineers, and others among our workforce," said Amgen senior VP Mike Zahigian, adding that "working closely with AWS experts in machine learning and analytics allows us to move forward at an accelerated pace." 

About the Author

Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editorial director of Converge360.

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