Pharmaceutical software launched for researchers and clinicians

1st August 2019
Lanna Cooper

A new company, Pumas-AI has been established by University of Maryland School of Pharmacy faculty members Vijay Ivaturi, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, and Joga Gobburu, PhD, MBA, Professor in the department have announced the release of its first software platform for pharmaceutical researchers and clinicians.


Known as Pharmaceutical Modeling and Simulation (Pumas), the software was developed through a partnership with experts at Julia Computing. Research and software development efforts were led by Christopher Rackauckas, PhD, senior research analyst in the department, with input from independent contributor Joakim Nyberg, PhD, of Uppsala, Sweden. 

Pumas is a comprehensive platform based on the Julia programming language that contains multiple modules designed to meet the needs of analysts in the pharmaceutical industry, while also working to advance therapeutic innovation in the clinic setting. 

Pumas was the topic of a workshop at JuliaCon 2019, the year’s biggest Julia conference for developers, enthusiasts, and others. JuliaCon was held at the University of Maryland, Baltimore in Baltimore, Md., from 23rd-26th July.

“The success rate for pharmaceutical innovations is approximately two percent,” said Gobburu, who also serves as Executive Director of the Centre for Translational Medicine (CTM) at the School of Pharmacy.

“Pumas software is tailored to revolutionise big data analytics in healthcare, unlike those tools used in other fields. By combining the extensive health care knowledge of our faculty and staff with the scientific computing experts at Julia Computing, we have developed a tool that will not only benefit business leaders working in the pharmaceutical industry, but also those who are caring for patients on the frontline of health care delivery.”

The Pumas software platform is the first product released by Pumas-AI, whose goal is to double pharmaceutical and patient care success rates by democratising tools and education in the health care data analytics space.

Pumas provides a wide range of analytic capabilities for pharmaceutical and biotechnology development, as well as therapeutic decision making - addressing a crucial need for pharmaceutical companies and investors, who often base their decisions on a combination of technical, regulatory, and commercial success probabilities, all of which the Pumas software can provide quantitatively.

“Pumas is our company’s first product specifically designed for professionals in the pharmaceutical and health delivery sectors to bridge this gap,” said Gobburu. “It leverages the Julia programming language, and combines modern Artificial Intelligence (AI) with traditional mechanistic models, allowing the CTM to foster one of its goals of enhancing real-world data analytics.”

Julia was selected for its speed and succinctness as a programming language, which produces an interface that looks similar to R, but operates at the speed of FORTRAN. Because Pumas is created entirely in Julia, users can make direct use of the language’s database, statistics, and visualisation functionality - all without losing performance.

“Pumas is the first pharmaceutical modeling suite that is designed from the ground up to use modern Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) hardware, parallelised stiff differential equation solvers, and allow for the integration of machine learning with pharmacometrics,” said Rackauckas. “We are excited to not only accelerate current workflows, but also help users explore the new, realistic models that are enabled by this technology.”

In addition, Julia is the programming language of choice for prominent researchers who work on projects at the cutting-edge of machine learning as well as in differential equations research, which means that, unlike many other tools, Pumas has the unique ability to directly incorporate modern techniques to achieve maximal efficiency and accuracy.

At the CTM,” said Ivaturi, “we strive to develop point-of-care solutions for providers and clinicians that can help individualise treatment for patients. The Pumas software platform will be instrumental in helping us optimise treatments for a number of conditions and therapeutics.”

Ivaturi, who serves as a pharmacometrician in the CTM, added: “It is going to revolutionise therapeutic decision making and allow health care organisations to benefit from payor incentives by demonstrating substantial improvements to successful patient care.”

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