with Susannah Fox (@susannahfox), Anil Sethi (@anilsethiusa / @ciitizencorp), Vijay Pande (@vijaypande), and Sonal Chokshi (@smc90)
The problem of "dark data" in healthcare isn't just a feel-good empowerment thing, but a structural issue that leads to miscommunication and extra friction, different players in the entire healthcare system not being able to collaborate with each other, and just major missed opportunities all round. And yes, it also leads to lack of empowerment for patients, not to mention doctors too (who often have less than 30 minutes on site to do their jobs).
But we already know all that. What's not clear is WHY and HOW is this the case, when the very point of HIPAA -- the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (of 1996!) -- is to make data portable, not private. That is, IF patients know to ask for it... and can easily get it. So what if we could have a sort of permissioned "permissionless innovation" for healthcare data, not only bringing all that dark data to light, but more importantly -- borrowing from the history of internet innovation -- letting all sorts of expected and unexpected uses be built on top as a result? What happens when data and entities can talk to each other (à la APIs) through patients at the center of the circle of data?
From the Dr. Google problem (or opportunity!) to clinical trials and even the opioid crisis, we -- Susannah Fox (former CTO of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services); Anil Sethi (CEO and founder of Ciitizen); and a16z bio general partner Vijay Pande; in conversation with Sonal Chokshi -- explore all this and more in this episode of the a16z Podcast. Let there be light!
a16z Podcast: The Science and Business of Innovative Medicines
with Vas Narasimhan (@vasnarasimhan), Jorge Conde (@jorgecondebio), Vijay Pande (@vijaypande), and Sonal Chokshi (@smc90)
On average, only 1 out of 20 medicines works when we actually bring them into the human body, and these rates of success haven't moved much in the pharma industry overall in the past 15 years, despite much scientific progress. Because if you really think about it, it's incredible that we find any human medicine that works at all, given that human beings are the product of billions of years of evolution, and represent an incredibly complex system we do not fully understand. Yet the business of the pharma industry -- and Novartis in particular, which covers everything from generics to innovative medicines -- is not that different from other large enterprises when it comes to managing R&D and pipelines of ideas, talent, and sales.
So in this conversation, a16z bio general partners Jorge Conde and Vijay Pande with Sonal Chokshi interview Vas Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis. How does the world's largest producer of medicines in terms of volume -- 70. billion. doses. a. year. -- balance the science and the business of innovation? How does an enterprise at such vast scale make decisions about what to build vs. buy, especially given the fast pace of science today? How does it balance attitudes between "not invented here" and "not invented yet"?
Narasimhan also takes us through the latest trends in therapeutics, such as cell and gene therapies (like CAR-T for cancer and more); RNA-based modalities; and others -- a sweeping tour from small molecules to large molecules to proteins and other modalities for making medicines. But where does tech come into all this, and where are we, really, on science becoming engineering? Why do both big companies and bio startups now need to get market value signals (not just approvals!) from payers earlier in the process of making therapeutics? And beyond all that, how could clinical trials be reinvented? Finally, what should all scientific (and all technical) leaders know when it comes to leadership? All this and more in this episode of the a16z Podcast, recorded recently on the road while at the J.P.M. health conference in San Francisco.
a16z Podcast: All About Synthetic Biology
with James J. Collins, Vijay Pande (@vijaypande), and Hanne Tidnam (@omnivorousread)
The idea of 'designing biology' -- once science fiction -- has over the last 20 years become just... science. In this episode, a16z bio general partner Vijay Pande with Hanne Tidnam talk all about the field of synthetic biology with James J. Collins, professor of bioengineering at MIT. Collins, whose work in synthetic biology and systems biology pioneered the field, has also launched a number of companies and received numerous awards and honors (including a MacArthur "Genius" Award, an NIH Director's Pioneer Award, and Sanofi-Institut Pasteur Award).
This wide-ranging conversation about the birth of synthetic biology covers everything from the founding story of the discipline to what "engineering and designing" biology really looks like in action -- when instead of engineering electrons, you are engineering toggle switches for genes -- to the disciplinary differences (and synergies) between how biologists and engineers see the world. What are the engineering and design principles, techniques, approaches that work best when applied to science? How does building a company in this new space look different, in terms of platforms and products? And how is this new field changing education in science, all the way down to kits that allow you to play with the machinery of a cell... at home... and even in middle school?
a16z Podcast: What’s Next for Marketplace Startups (Hint: Services)
The past and future of marketplace startups -- where are we? Ever since eBay popularized an internet meeting place for buyers and sellers of, well, just about everything, we’ve been waiting for 100 other at-scale marketplaces for everything else, including services.
So in this hallway-style episode of the a16z Podcast (originally recorded as a video) Li Jin -- co-author with Andrew Chen of this post -- chats with a16z Deal & Research team operating partner about why there aren’t 100 thriving marketplaces for services yet... And what’s changing to make this next wave of marketplace startups super exciting.
a16z Podcast: Talent, Tech Trends, and Culture -- with Ben, Marc, and Tyler Cowen
with Marc Andreessen (@pmarca), Ben Horowitz (@bhorowitz), and Tyler Cowen (@tylercowen)
This episode of the a16z Podcast features the rare combination of a16z co-founders Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz in conversation, together, with economist Tyler Cowen (chair of economics at George Mason University and chairman and general director of the Mercatus Center there, and host of his own podcast.) The conversation originally took place at our most recent annual innovation Summit -- which features a16z speakers and invited experts from various organizations discussing innovation at companies large and small, as well as tech trends spanning bio, consumer, crypto, fintech, and more.
This discussion covers Ben and Marc's marriage, er, partnership; the evolution of VC and "talent as a network"; and where are we right now on industries being affected by tech (such as retail) and tech trends (such as VR/AR and wearables) -- and where are we going next? Finally, is software eating culture... or is it the other way around?