Tech Tonics: Amy Abernethy – Dosage, Disney & Data
If anyone can bridge the gap between technology and health, it just might be Amy Abernethy , oncologist and technologist, who has led the charge, first at Duke and now at Flatiron, for rethinking the way we collect and analyze clinical information. Born in Houston and raised by her mom in Orlando, Amy learned math by helping her mom write a textbook, “Dosage Calculation,” for nursing students. The book became the gold standard (now in it’s ninth edition) – and Amy is a co-author. Her interest in math and science clearly took; she attended math camp (with co-host David) at Duke while in middle school, and also programmed computers for NASA. After college at Penn, she attended medical school at Duke, and apparently really liked Durham, staying there for the rest of her medical training (internal medicine, oncology), then joining the faculty, focusing on how to improve the way oncology data are collected. (She did spend a few years in Australia doing her graduate work in evidence-based medicine and clinical research methods.) In 2014, Amy joined New York-Based Flatiron Health as SVP and CMO, though she continues to live in Durham, and commutes to Manhattan weekly. We are delighted to welcome this clinician, scholar, executive – and former Disney Can-Can dancer (tune in for details)– to Tech Tonics. This episode of Tech Tonics is sponsored by DNAnexus, the secure and compliant cloud platform that enables enterprise users to analyze, collaborate around, and integrate massive amounts of genetic and other health data. And for some additional reading…. Dosage Calculation (9th Edition) by Pickar & Abernethy on Amazon here. David’s reflections on math camp: Forbes post here, video here. Interview with Lisa on diversity in Silicon Valley here. Publication by Amy on challenges of using EHR data in oncology here. Amy’s 2013 TEDMED talk on clinical data here. Walt Disney News 1990 on Pleasure Island here.
25 Sep 2017
Tech Tonics: Jess Mega of Verily Actually Is Making the World a Better Place
Jessica Mega, an accomplished cardiologist and now Chief Medical Officer at Alphabet’s Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences), says she joined the venerable Silicon Valley company to help patients. According to Jess, physicians who love patients need to lean into the tech world because great tech that doesn’t actually change care doesn’t have much of a chance, implying also that it doesn’t have much of a point. Very early to the concept of what is now called Precision Medicine, Jess helped pioneer the idea of large scale patient data collection (e.g., a study with multiple countries, 1000 sites, 20,000 patients) while studying the individual effects of medications, such as Plavix among populations. She was early to the concept of joining genetic, clinical and phenotypic information together to inform medicine, a concept she has imported to Verily as they take on some of the most challenging clinical problems together with world class medical partners such as Novartis, Dexcom, J&J and the American Heart Association, among others. Jess imbues her work with the enthusiasm of someone who feels that work is play and that a real contribution is possible every day. She brings the kind of empathy and humanity to Silicon Valley that makes the effective intersection of tech and healthcare seem not just desirable, but also achievable. She just may be making the world a better place.
27 Mar 2017
Tech Tonics: Sam Brasch, A Modern Day Alex P. Keaton at Work
Born and bred in Mill Valley, California, where we record our podcast, Sam Brasch saw himself as a modern-day Alex P. Keaton – he just wanted to be a business man. He was “that kid” who was reading the Lee Iacocca biography in 4th grade while the other kids played soccer and kickball. Sam got his wish and is today Senior Managing Director of Kaiser Ventures, the corporate venture fund that helps drive innovation for Kaiser Permanente. In today’s show, Alex, er Sam talks about how the Bay Area changed over his life time and what motivated him to shun his alternative plan to be a Supreme Court Justice or a Senator. In fact, Sam almost diverted to medical school after his own medical crisis: a serious head injury. Instead of taking that path, he joined a consulting firm and focused on healthcare. As he thought about dream jobs, he considered how to meld his business ambitions with the field of health, first considering leadership at a healthcare system. Sam heard the siren song of eHealth and joined a startup called Medicopia (later named Vitals), his first exposure to entrepreneurship and to the pleasing notion that there didn’t have to be rules about how to solve a problem. Sam took a tour through Medtronic, then the Wharton Business School seeking his destiny. That destiny arrived on his door in the form of Frazier Ventures, a health care venture firm that “seemed sexy.” Venture clearly still has it, at least in Sam’s eyes, as he has been a venture investor ever since 2005, working in both independent venture funds and corporate funds, including the Kaiser Ventures fund that he now leads. We are delighted to welcome Sam to Tech Tonics. We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s show—Manatt Health is a multi-disciplinary professional services firm that integrates a full service law firm with a broad-based strategic business and policy consulting practice to help our clients grow and prosper. Manatt Health supports the full range of stakeholders in transforming America’s healthcare system.
4 Nov 2019
Tech Tonics: Chris Gibson, Free Range Innovator
With confidence he attributes to his free-range childhood, Chris Gibson has followed his instincts and his heart, stepping away from the MD/PhD program in which he’s enrolled to co-found and lead Recursion Pharmaceuticals, one of the buzziest companies bringing AI to drug development. In mid-July, Recursion closed a $121M Series C, bringing their valuation ever closer to unicorn status. Chris grew up in Portland, the son of a tech entrepreneur and an artist, and as a child was permitted a degree of independence that seems vanishingly rare. He went to college at Rice, pursuing both bioengineering and business management. At Rice, he also met his future wife, who then attended medical school in San Antonio; Chris followed, initially pursuing a PhD in tissue engineering, then joining the MD/PhD program. His wife then elected to continue her training in neurogenetics in Salt Lake City; Chris soon joined her in Utah, talking his way into the MD/PhD program at the University of Utah, and joining the lab of noted physician-scientist Dean Li. Ultimately, it was in thinking through a failed experiment that he and Li came up with the idea for Recursion Pharma, a company that starts with the premise that biology is “massively complex.” They realized that in order to have a chance to understand biology at the level needed for most novel therapeutic interventions, you need to operate at a very large scale and remove human bias to the extent possible, generating highly reproducible data through the aggressive use of automation and imaging, analyzed through the lens of machine learning. Founded in 2013, Recursion has not only raised significant capital, but it has also attracted a cadre of talented drug developers and sophisticated technologists. The company, based in Salt Lake City, now has over 150 employees, and continues to grow rapidly. In today’s show, Chris describes his vision for the company, but also his anxieties as a founder boldly pushing forward into largely uncharted waters. We are delighted to welcome Chris to Tech Tonics! Today’s episode is sponsored by Manatt Health—a multi-disciplinary professional services firm that integrates a full service law firm and a broad-based strategic business and policy consulting practice to help its clients grow and prosper. Manatt Health supports the full range of stakeholders in transforming America’s healthcare system.
5 Aug 2019
Most Popular Podcasts
Tech Tonics: Jason Lehmbeck of SpecialX – Empathy as a Service
Like many entrepreneurs, he was born with the itch. Jason Lehmbeck grew up around his father and grandfather, both entrepreneurs in their own areas of expertise– dad was a geologist who worked with the mining industry and grandpa had a butcher shop. He knew that his destiny was to be “one of those guys who ran a business and was his own boss.” Jason has effectively fulfilled that promise more than once. Today, Jason is CEO of SpecialX, a company bringing life-changing information and services to kids with disabilities of all kinds and their families. SpecialX is the perfect mix of pragmatism and compassion, reflecting Jason’s two primary personality characteristics. But while he is up to his elbows in the healthcare system now, he was one of those tech guys before and had a long career in internet advertising before he ever gave a second thought to the healthcare world. Jason started both successful and less successful endeavors, starting his first business while in college and capping his technology-focused career with the successful sale of his last one, DataPop, to a French company. Now he is taking his serial entrepreneur chops and delivering on a personal promise he made to himself to leverage his business skills to do good, not just to do well. Like many who cross over from tech to healthcare, Jason’s own family experience gave him the impetus to take action. As the parent of a child with a disability (a complex genetic disease called Fox-G1) found out the hard way how difficult it is for families to navigate the world of resources to help his child. Given the complexity, misaligned incentives and broken markets he experienced first-hand, Jason realized there was a serious opportunity to make a difference. As he tested his theory by speaking to hundreds of families struggling with similar situations, Jason knew a market opportunity when he saw one. Together with his business partner from DataPop, the pair is in the process of a beta launch of SpecialX, which has the mission to help parents navigate and better collaborate with in-school and beyond-school resources for their children with special needs while at the same time building a community among families to enable peer-to-peer support. The first market is the Los Angeles area where Jason resides, but his goal is to take the initiative nationwide and to build a large and profitable business, as he has done before. Think EaaS: Empathy as a Service. While Jason has turned his experience into an emerging company that may just change the dynamics of what it means to be a family supporting a child with disabilities, he is also a fellow podcaster, co-hosting the show “Who Lives Like This” with Elizabeth Aquino, to tell the stories of caregivers of disabled children and their families. What a pleasure to have Jason on our show today! We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s show—Manatt Health is a multi-disciplinary professional services firm that integrates a full service law firm with a broad-based strategic business and policy consulting practice to help our clients grow and prosper. Manatt Health supports the full range of stakeholders in transforming America’s healthcare system. And remember to leave a positive review on iTunes if you enjoy the show! References: Two books Jason recommends to have a better understanding about kids with disabilities and their families: Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon and Not What I Expected by Dr. Rita Eichenstein Who Lives Like This podcast
2 Dec 2019
Tech Tonics: Daphne Koller – Guiding Health From AI to Actual Intelligence
While most of us spent our early teens dealing with the drama of middle school, Daphne Koller was in Israel simultaneously completing high school and college. She was a computer science prodigy on the fast path to a career as a leading AI researcher, an entrepreneur, and now the Chief Computing Officer at Calico, a stealthy, brainy, well-funded startup focused on human longevity. Along the way, Daphne picked up a MacArthur “Genius” Award and co-founded the online teaching company Coursera – two remarkable accomplishments that we don’t have time to discuss on today’s show. Instead, we learn about her fascinating personal journey from Israel to the Bay Area, then spend most of our time getting up to speed on the current state of AI, and learn where, why, and when it’s likely to palpably impact healthcare. Of particular interest, Daphne discusses the need for folk who are “bilingual” – who deeply understand both AI and healthcare; such domain knowledge, Daphne says, is critically important, and associated with the development of algorithms that perform the best. We discuss the challenge of balancing the benefits of incorporating domain expertise with the concern that in doing so you might introduce your own preconceived biases. Today’s episode is brought to you by DNAnexus, the secure and compliant cloud platform that enables enterprise users to analyze, collaborate around, and integrate massive amounts of genetic and other health data.
4 Dec 2017
Tech Tonics: Kari Nadeau, Where Curiosity Meets Compassion
Stanford professor Kari Nadeau lives the life, some would say the dream, of what Judah Folkman has called the inquisitive physician, integrating her deep knowledge of chemistry, her experience in biotech drug development, and her clinical acumen and deeply-felt compassion for patients to bring the best of medicine and science to children and adults with food allergies. Kari was born in New Hampshire and raised in New Jersey, at least in part on a houseboat, as her dad worked for the EPA. An inspirational chemistry teacher in high school motivated her interest in this discipline. After majoring in biology at Haverford, she returned to chemistry for the research component of her MD/PhD training, conducting her graduate work in the laboratory of distinguished Harvard chemist Chris Walsh (whose daughter, Allison, a brilliant oncologist at Stanford, we recently featured on Tech Tonics, here). Kari describes Chris as a remarkable mentor, keenly interested in translating science into application, and in appropriately collaborating with industry to achieve this goal. After initially intending to train in pediatric oncology, Kari found herself drawn to clinical and translational research at Biogen in Boston. A sick relative on her husband’s side prompted the family to move to the Bay Area to be closer to them and further prompted Kari to realize she missed clinical medicine. After retraining as an allergist and immunologist, she continued pursuing translational work at Stanford, where she’s now a global leader in the study of food allergies. We had a fantastically inspiring conversation, and are so glad she was able to join us on the show! Tech Tonics is sponsored by Manatt Health, a multi-disciplinary professional services firm that includes a full service law firm and a broad-based strategic business and policy consulting practice to help clients grow and prosper. Manatt Health supports the full range of stakeholders in transforming America’s healthcare system. Show notes: David’s Forbes piece on Range, the captivating book he was gushing about at the top of the show (here). New York Times profile of Kari (“The Allergy Buster”) (here). Website for the Sean N Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford, which Kari directs. Recent FDA recommendation to approve the first medicine to ameliorate a food allergy (peanut) – discussed in this NPR piece.
21 Oct 2019
Tech Tonics: Deborah Kilpatrick – Calling Audibles
Deborah Kilpatrick grew up on a family farm in rural Georgia; her dad was a teacher and football coach; she describes life in her town as “very Friday Night Lights.” With a passion for math and science, Deb decided to becoming a Ramblin’ Wreck at Georgia Tech, continuing on there for a masters and PhD in mechanical engineering after spending a few post-college years working in the aerospace industry building military aircraft engines. She reports that the memory of walking through the hangar past the entirely male team came flooding back when she recently watched the film Hidden Figures. Eventually, Deb found her way to Silicon Valley, where she helped grow a medical device company (Guidant), and a molecular diagnostics company (CardioDx) before assuming her current and most ambitious role as CEO of Evidation Health, a company focused on defining and demonstrating outcomes in digital health. But as an entrepreneur, Deb draws a straight line between her childhood experience watching her dad build a football program in rural Georgia and her own willingness to start all over again every Monday and play any game and do everything you can do and then do it all over again, while building teams of people from disparate backgrounds to maximize their strengths and point them towards common goals. Rumor has it that it’s tough to work for Deb if you don’t know what “calling an audible” means. We are delighted to welcome Deborah Kilpatrick, a helluva engineer, to Tech Tonics. This episode of Tech Tonics is sponsored by DNAnexus, the secure and compliant cloud platform that enables enterprise users to analyze, collaborate around, and integrate massive amounts of genetic and other health data.
6 Mar 2017
Tech Tonics: Jim Manzi, Pragmatic Analytics For Business
A physics and math wonk from MIT, Jim Manzi figured out early in his career that he loved the application of pragmatic, quantitative approaches to solve pesky real-world business problems, including today, challenges faced by life science and healthcare organizations. Jim’s early life sounds like a Springsteen song, and indeed, he grew up less than 10 feet from E street in Belmar, NJ, where Spingsteen’s band originally practiced and from which it took it’s name. He was good in school but didn’t like it, teaching himself algebra over one summer so he could take a more advanced course in high school. Even so, he quit in 11th grade, and applied to and got accepted at MIT, and started studying there when he was just 16. This is where Jim diverges from the Springsteen narrative. Jim loved MIT and thrived there, then started a PhD program at Wharton but soon decided he preferred solving “messy, real-world problems” to pursuing the academic life. He eventually found his way to strategy consulting, which he pursued at a firm that pursued this domain in a particularly quantitative fashion. His passion later led him to start his own company, Applied Predictive Technology (APT)– that helped businesses make decisions by conducting well thought out, randomized controlled experiments in the real world business setting — how best to display food in a supermarket, for example. Jim also explored the intellectual framework for this in a must-read book, Uncontrolled, that not only talks about the value of empirical studies but also discusses the danger of overgeneralizing in the policy setting on the basis of limited data. His rational view of topics from health policy to the environment are a welcome breath of fresh air, deeply rooted in science, yet appropriately cautious about extrapolating results beyond limits of the data, independent of what might be politically attractive or expedient. Jim eventually sold APT, and more recently started a new company called foundry.ai, which seeks to apply AI to real-world business problems, including healthcare, as he discusses with us on today’s podcast (which David has also written about in his Astounding HealthTech column at The Timmerman Report, here). Today’s episode is sponsored by Manatt Health—a multi-disciplinary professional services firm that includes a full service law firm and a broad-based strategic business and policy consulting practice to help our clients grow and prosper. Manatt Health supports the full range of stakeholders in transforming America’s healthcare system.
16 Dec 2019
Tech Tonics: Sumit Nagpal, At the Crossroads of Tech and Healthcare
Sumit Nagpal was born to a pair of healthcare entrepreneurs and raised in Kashmir, India. When he was 13, he came to the United States where he saw diversity for the first time. Sumit followed his parents into the Ivy League, starting at Brown, but left to follow his muse, Steve Jobs, at NeXT, where he worked side by side with Jobs for over two years. He continues to look at technology as a key driver of innovation, this time in healthcare, now from his recently accepted role as SVP and General Manager of Health Innovation for Comcast. Sumit has been a serial entrepreneur between these two tech company gigs, starting The Method Factory, WellLogic, LumiraDx and two other enterprises, still in stealth. If Sumit has learned one thing during his entrepreneurial trek, it is this: Follow the Money. As he says, “Improvements won’t occur just because it’s the right thing to do.” An impassioned golfer, Sumit says there are many lessons for entrepreneurs in the game, “One has to take lots of swings to get a tiny focused ball to a remote target. Focus, clarity of mind, practice and persistence are everything.” We are grateful to Manatt Health for its sponsorship of Tech Tonics—Manatt Health is a multi-disciplinary professional services firm that integrates a full service law firm with a broad-based strategic business and policy consulting practice to help our clients grow and prosper. Manatt Health supports the full range of stakeholders in transforming America’s healthcare system.
22 Jul 2019
Tech Tonics: Susan Desmond-Hellmann, The Inquisitive Leader
Her illustrious career has taken her from clinician to biotech executive to university chancellor to CEO of the world’s largest foundation, yet throughout this exceptional journey, Susan Desmond-Hellmann has remained empathetic, inquisitive, and emphatically true to herself. Growing up in Reno, Nevada as one of seven children, Sue was inspired by her father, a pharmacist, and her mother, a teacher; she said she always wanted to be a doctor, but even so, she could not have predicted the direction and velocity of her subsequent career. In today’s far-ranging discussion, Sue talks about how she discovered her passion for oncology; her introduction to and involvement in the HIV-AIDS crisis; how she and her husband Nick have supported each other across the ups and downs of their often-overlapping careers; their transition to pharma; her return to academia at UCSF after an exceptional decade and a half in industry; and. now as CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, her perspective on the future of public health — a view that leverages quantitative data and focuses on precision and personalization. This is a captivating conversation that touches on translational research, executive leadership, and public health, as well as the person behind the success story. David and I spoke to Sue from her home in Washington State and were thrilled to have her on the show. Today’s episode is sponsored by IDEA pharma, the industry’s leading path-to-market strategy practice, bring more medicines to patients. You can find them at: ideapharma.com. Show Notes: This is the commentary about orphan drugs cited by David. This Forbes column from David asks how to leverage data and analytics (as Sue proposes) without fetishizing them.
22 Jan 2019
Tech Tonics: Sometimes You Just Need to Start Things – Marcus Osborne and the Transformational Role of Intrapreneurship
A capitalist colored by a deep streak of social consciousness, Marcus Osborne, the leader of Health Transformation at Walmart, grew up in the South and planned on a political life. But experience in the White House and later at the Clinton Foundation made him realize that entrepreneurship more effectively matched his internal clock speed and that the best path to an improved health system was through the commercial world, particularly where you could parlay large platforms into market power and real innovation. In fact, Marcus came to the conclusion that the real entrepreneurs aren’t the kids in dorms or at Starbucks, they are the ones turning big platforms to better use. Walmart, Amazon, Google and others, say Marcus, have the best chance to truly change the system. Marcus joined Walmart in 2007 and has been at the forefront of living that philosophy, working at what is now considered to be one of the organizations best poised to change the way healthcare is consumed, delivered, and financed. While Arkansas isn’t usually considered to be the front line of innovation, when you look at the work that Walmart has done, particularly in healthcare, it’s clearly time to reconsider. Marcus has worked on all sides of the healthcare innovation front while at Walmart, from building new clinical delivery systems to rethinking pharmaceutical pricing to looking at new ways to use data for clinical quality improvement. Marcus says that transformation is not for the faint of heart or the risk averse and that “sometimes you just need to start things,” meaning that it’s important to take leaps of faith to get ahead in business. We are grateful to GE Ventures for sponsorship of today’s episode. GE Ventures – Multiple Paths to Big Impact.
20 Aug 2018
Tech Tonics: Toyin Ajayi – No Power Suit, But a Powerful Goal to Change Healthcare Delivery
When she was a kid, Toyin Ajayi’s career goal was to “be the boss of something.” Drawn to power suits and authority, she aspired to become an unspecified boss lady. She may be a boss now, but her authority is well-balanced by a soft side. And Toyin’s path to her current role as Chief Health Officer of CityBlock Health took a route through public health and medicine where the power suit is rarely seen. Toyin grew up in Kenya and was “raised like a boy” to be independent, outspoken and adventurous, a clear difference from the usual female upbringing in her home culture. She moved to the U.S. to go to Stanford and figure out how to end up in that power suit (or authority hoodie). But instead of taking the startup route that most of her friends pursued after graduating, Toyin rejected the competitive culture of Silicon Valley to launch into public health, first in San Francisco and later, after she got her medical degree, in Sierra Leone. And yet…Toyin was always drawn to the operational and business side of medicine, and thus she ended up at a startup after all. Joining with her business partner Iyah Romm, they founded CityBlock Health, a for-profit company seeking a scalable way to help marginalized and underserved people get the very best medicine has to offer. She sees her role as a key translator between a bunch of soft and fuzzy clinicians and social workers and a hard core team of technical engineers, all of whom are driven by the the broader healthcare community’s more recent recognition of the importance of social determinants of health. If she gets her way, all of medicine will take a much broader view of patient care and change the prevention paradigm. Lisa vividly remembers the first time she meet Toyin: as an audience member at the NCQA Quality Talks event where Toyin had the significant crowd enthralled. Her intellect, empathy and authenticity were obvious and remarkable. It quickly became clear that these are the words that everyone who knows Toyin would choose; she is universally loved for her skills as a physician and her humanity in helping those most in need…and for her silly side, which is also in evidence on the show. We are grateful to GE Ventures for their sponsorship today. GE Ventures – Multiple Paths to Big Impact.
4 Mar 2019
Tech Tonics: Molly Coye’s 360 View of the Healthcare System
Dr. Molly Coye comes from a family who was obsessed with innovation and had a high tolerance for risk. They also had a history of commitment to anything that would disrupt unjust social paradigms and passed that down through the generations. Molly has packed all of these qualities and more into a healthcare career marked by making real change, not just talking about it. In fact, Molly has worked on all sides of the healthcare system. She has spent many years in governmental leadership roles, been on both the payer and provider side of the table, and in both academic and commercial environments. But Molly has had a consistent theme throughout her career – to make healthcare accessible and relevant for underserved populations and to use technology and data to accelerate that outcome. Today Molly is actively engaged with numerous companies serving the underserved populations about which she has long-cared and she is also a 15-year board member of Aetna and an entrepreneur-in-residence at Avia. But mainly she is the healthcare whisperer, helping entrepreneurs, investors, and corporate executives figure out what actually matters. Few have the healthcare pedigree that Molly has, with joint public health and medical degrees from Johns Hopkins, and a career that spans health systems such as SF General Hospital, Good Samaritan and UCLA, where she was Chief Innovation Officer; governmental leadership roles such as Commissioner of Health in New Jersey and Director of the California Department of Health and a gig at the CDC in the 1970’s where she was among the first to lug around a massive Osborne portable computer into the field in Asia. She tells a story about the helicopter pilots who ferried her around saying that they “love to see a little lady flying with her sewing machine.” Molly has also been an entrepreneur in the health technology field, first at HealthDesk and then as the founder of HealthTech, which was established in 2000 to help health systems figure out how to deal with rapidly evolving technology. Molly is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and also serves on the newly created Founder’s Council of United States of Care. In addition to all this, Molly is a fluent Chinese speaker and has published two books about Chinese history. She also is a member of the board of directors of San Francisco Jazz (SFJAZZ), and has scuba dived all over the world. We are so thrilled to have Molly on Tech Tonics today! We are grateful to GE Ventures for sponsorship of today’s episode. GE Ventures: Multiple Paths to Big Impact.
9 Jul 2018
Tech Tonics: Katherine Chou – How A Quintessential Googler Wraps Her (Deep) Mind Around Healthcare
Katherine Chou is in many ways the quintessential Googler – super smart, a passion for computer science, an engineer through and through. On today’s episode of Tech Tonics, we’ll learn how this rock star at Google decided to turn her talents to healthcare, and hear what she’s discovered about healthcare, and herself, along the way. The daughter of two aerospace engineers, Katherine had her first computer (a 32 bit Amiga 1000) when she was four, and apparently figured out how to program it not long after that. A whiz kid, she seems to have excelled in most everything in and out of the classroom. She took math and science courses in college while still in high school, while also pursuing piano, ballet, tae kwon do, and Science Olympiad, among other pastimes. She attended Stanford, where she double-majored in economics and computer science (CS), which she discovered was her true passion. She continued on to a Masters in CS at Stanford, and after an initial role at Microsoft – which she chose because she wanted to manage, and not just code – she joined Google (pre-IPO) in 2004, and has been there ever since, in roles of increasing responsibility. Today, she Head of Product for Health Research and Medical Brain, and closely involved with many of the high profile efforts (such as analyses of retinopathy and of EHR records) that have attracted so much popular attention. On today’s show, Katherine shares her vision and her passion, as well as the (very structured) approach she’s taken to many of the key choices she’s faced along the way. We are delighted to welcome Katherine to Tech Tonics! Today’s episode is sponsored by DNAnexus, the secure and compliant cloud platform that enables enterprise users to analyze, collaborate around, and integrate massive amounts of genetic and other health data.
9 Apr 2018
Tech Tonics: Glen de Vries – A Series Of Quite Fortunate Events
Glen de Vries grew up in Manhattan, a nerdy kid who admired Richard Feynman, loved his TRS-80, and went to Carnegie Mellon University planning to study chemistry and computer science. A summer of molecular biology inspired him to switch his major to biology and, after graduation, he found himself in a lab at Columbia University trying to help a productive distributed research team organize their data. The geek in Glen was sure there must be a better way and, in partnership with Tarek Sherif, he co-founded a cloud-based clinical research company, Medidata Solutions, in 1999. Over the last eighteen years Medidata has become a leading player in the clinical trials market; the New York-based company is today worth nearly $4 Billion. Today we’ll hear from Glen about the series of quite fortunate events that led to Medidata’s formation, the challenges he faced in breaking into a traditional conservative space, and the opportunities he sees at the intersection of precision medicine, digital health, and value based care. Listeners interested in learning more about Glen’s story are encouraged to listen to Glen on Janelle Anderson’s always-insightful Human Proof of Concept podcast. This episode of Tech Tonics is sponsored by DNAnexus, the secure and compliant cloud platform that enables enterprise users to analyze, collaborate around, and integrate massive amounts of genetic and other health data.
23 May 2017
Tech Tonics: Deneen Vojta – Skating to Where the Healthcare Puck is Going
Deneen Vojta has played virtually every possible position in the healthcare world. She has at various times been a physician, an entrepreneur and a payer. Today it’s a hat trick, bringing all three of these roles together to bring new clinically valid, evidence-based technologies and services to patients through her current role as Executive Vice President of Enterprise R&D for United Health Group. Deneen has long been out there ahead of the pack, whether serving as the first female meat slicer at Greenman’s Deli or starting the first direct-to-consumer pediatric and family obesity-prevention technology company long before it was cool. Today she is charged with solving the nation’s biggest healthcare challenges from what is arguably one of the nation’s largest platforms. And skating to where the puck is going is exactly what drives a rabid hockey fan like Deneen. We are delighted to host Deneen on Tech Tonics today. We are grateful to our sponsor, AARP Market Innovation. for supporting this episode of Tech Tonics. AARP Market Innovation, which works to spark innovation in the market that will benefit the quality of life for people over 50.
19 Jun 2017
Tech Tonics: Shami Feinglass – Doctor, Policy-Maker, BMX rider
Shamiram “Shami” Feinglass, MD, MPH, should have been a born again flower child. She spent her childhood among the San Francisco royalty that defined the 60’s and 70’s rock and roll culture here in the City by the Bay. Her single mom raised her while helping found the legendary Haight Ashbury Free Clinic, which was Shami’s first exposure to medicine. One of her mom’s best friend was the legendary concert promoter Bill Graham and she grew up thinking nothing of hanging out at Santana’s birthday party or having Passover at Delancey Street or celebrating at Glide Memorial Church. But Shami didn’t end up as a perennial Berkeley protestor in Birkenstocks – she had higher aspirations to be a ballerina or a doctor. In a way she got both – she is doctor by day and dances for fun. She is also currently Global Head of Medical and Government Affairs at Danaher Corp., one one of the nation’s biggest companies you never heard of. Danaher is ranked 160th on the Fortune 500 and has over $19 billion in revenue. Shami is a key leader in the company’s extensive diagnostics and life sciences businesses. Oh, and by the way, she also happens to be a nationally and internationally ranked BMX bike racer, holding a Maryland BMX State Championship spot and an active member of the USA BMX World Championship Team. At this point you should realize: Shami does nothing halfway. Shami’s path from backstage groupie to front stage leader took a path through medicine and particularly through the world of government and public policy. She helped Rosalyn Carter think through mental health policy during her own studies at Emory and was a Commander in the US Public Health Service. She was later a Senior Medical Officer at CMS, working with fellow Tech Tonics podcast guest Tanisha Carino, where she helped drive adoption and implementation of the newly rising concept of evidence-based policy. All this while raising a family of two kids, completing two medical residencies, being named a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar, and serving as a mentor to women in the medical and life sciences fields. For the record, Shami, like Lisa, is an Aspen Institute Health Innovation Fellow and both attended the same 1983 Day on the Green concert, though they did not yet know they were bound to be friends. Shami’s godfather, legendary Bay Area chef Narsai David, was the one who gave her the name Shamiram, not one that is easily found on bike license plates. Legend has it that Shamiram was an Assyrian Queen who actually invented the library, even though a man, Hannibal, later got credit for it. Shami has taken that inequity to heart and wholeheartedly committed to ensuring gender equality and equity in the workplace. She prides herself on being someone who loves to dive into things that scare her, though it’s hard to imagine what might make that list.
20 Nov 2019
Tech Tonics: Zak Kohane On Medicine and Computers
The son of Eastern European immigrants, Zak Kohane was born and raised in Switzerland; he then came to the United States where he’s nurtured a passion for medicine and computers to become one of the nation’s leading thinkers, innovators, and mentors at this important and rapidly evolving interface. Join us this week as we discuss Zak’s fascinating personal journey, but also learn his perspective on why EHRs are so bad (and what might be done to improve them), why data sharing seems to be so difficult (and how it could be made better), why he championed entrepreneurship at Harvard long before it was viewed as a (somewhat) acceptable pursuit, and why he recently founded the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Harvard (where co-host David serves as an Adjunct Scholar). Zak also discusses the value of great mentors, such as Joe Majzoub and the late Judah Folkman, both of Children’s Hospital, and explore Folkman’s explanation of the difference between persistence and obstinance. Zak brings a unique blend of technological sophistication and impassioned humanism to everything he pursues; we are delighted he joins us this episode to share this insight and energy with our listeners! This episode of Tech Tonics is sponsored by DNAnexus, the secure and compliant cloud platform that enables enterprise users to analyze, collaborate around, and integrate massive amounts of genetic and other health data.
5 Jun 2017
Tech Tonics: Scott Barclay of Data Collective, Journeying Down the Data Stream
Scott Barclay is a nearly ubiquitous presence around the healthcare IT world, standing at the intersection of technology and health since 2005. He has journeyed down the data stream from CVS to startup whisperer to venture capital investor over the last several years, always searching for ways to combine information and empathy. But it wasn’t always so. Scott started out in a small town in rural Virginia, the child of the first female engineer at Auburn University (who was also the first female pilot in Florida) and an entrepreneur who owned and operated a Styrofoam factory. Scott was supposed to turn a coveted Presidential appointment to West Point into a military future. Instead he left town and signed himself up for a liberal arts education at UVA and never looked back. Though he started his career in finance, traveling throughout the US and Europe for Montgomery Securities in its heyday, then joining Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Scott ended up taking a job at BCG client CVS having heard the siren song of health IT. Scott has been wading knee-deep in the health technology and entrepreneurial scene ever since, working with numerous companies including Syapse, naviHealth, Lumiata and the precursor to Propeller Health (Asthmapolis), among many others. Recently Scott became an investment partner at venture capital firm Data Collective after a stint as operating partner at the firm. He loves technology but firmly believes that “it’s not about the technology.” The real question is ‘what is the simplest thing that solves a problem,’” cautioning health tech entrepreneurs not to fall to in love with their own handywork. Scott firmly believes that his liberal arts background is what enables him to keep his focus on empathy and outcome before AI and other technologies du jour. It is this zeitgeist that he seeks to impart to the four children he and his wife are raising in the thick of Silicon Valley. We are delighted to have Scott on Tech Tonics today! We are grateful to GE Ventures for sponsorship of today’s episode. GE Ventures: Multiple Paths to Big Impact.
7 May 2018