On this episode, we are taking a pulse-check on the state of the intersection between biology, healthcare, and technology with two scientists that sit at another intersection, that of academia and industry: Alexander Marson and Patrick Hsu, who are professors at UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley, respectively, who both use cutting edge gene editing technology to create next generation therapies, and are prolific biotech founders. Patrick also recently co-wrote an article on Fast Grants, one of the speediest sources of emergency science funding during the pandemic, which you can read about on our media site Future.com. But in this conversation, Patrick and Alex discuss — with a16z bio general partner Jorge Conde — what is different about this moment in bio.
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Healthspan, Lifespan, and the Biology of Aging
34:13In this episode, Kristen Fortney, cofounder and CEO of BioAge, joins Vijay Pande, founding partner of a16z Bio + Health, and Olivia Webb, editorial lead, to discuss the biology of aging, how she started a company, and some fun things — like how long a hypothetical venture capitalist can expect to live. Additional reading:Greg Egan, whose writing inspired Kristen, has a list of his books on his website
Payors and Providers Post-Pandemic
28:24In this episode, Paul Keckley, the managing editor of the Keckley Report and a health policy expert, joins Julie Yoo, general partner at a16z, and Olivia Webb, editorial lead at a16z. Together, they talk about how payors and providers are reacting to changing tailwinds, how employers are demanding more in today's market, the opportunities and challenges for startups in a consolidated industry, and what the next few years of health policy might bring. Additional reading:The Keckley Report
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Using AI to Take Bio Farther
33:24Jakob Uszkoreit and Vijay Pande discuss all things AI — from Jakob's time at Google Brain, to how humans (and computers) process language, to Inceptive’s belief in the promise of RNA, and how Jakob believes we’re entering inflection point territory. You can also find a full transcript of this episode on our website.Additional reading:Attention is All You NeedA Decomposable Attention Model for Natural Language Inference
Expert AI as a Healthcare Superpower
56:53The last few months have seen dramatic—almost magical—applications of expert generative AI released to the public. (One of those applications, incidentally, was in editing the sound mix of this episode.)But what does this mean for healthcare and bio? Vijay Pande, founding partner of a16z Bio + Health, and Marc Andreessen, cofounder of a16z, sat down for a wide-ranging discussion on AI as an additive superpower…for healthcare as well as screenplays, music, and more.You can also watch the full episode on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@a16z.
Cultivated Meat: Challenges, Opportunities, Future
24:19From initial inspiration in a sci-fi novel to the current state of “designing biology” in cultivated meat, SCiFi Foods cofounder and CEO Joshua March chats with Bio + Health general partner Vijay Pande and editorial lead Olivia Webb about company building, developing and iterating in biology, and what the future of cultivated meat could be.
AI is Here. Now What?
34:26AI is here...so why isn't it in every clinic? Eric Topol talks with a16z Bio + Health general partners Vijay Pande and Vineeta Agarwala and editorial lead Olivia Webb about what's taking so long, where AI can help patients and providers the most, what needs to happen to speed up adoption, and whether data or policy is more likely to be an obstacle. Eric has written extensively about AI in healthcare, including in his most recent book Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human Again. He also writes a Substack focused on Covid research, called Ground Truths, linked below. Finally, as a marker of how AI and AI adoption has (and hasn't) changed over the last few years, check out Eric's 2019 interview with Vijay on the a16z Podcast, also linked below.Ground Truths - https://erictopol.substack.com/a16z Podcast: AI and Your Doctor, Today and Tomorrow - https://a16z.com/2019/06/13/ai-doctor-deep-medicine-topol/
Regulatory Trends in Telehealth
26:06Perhaps no area of healthcare has undergone such a rapid shift as telehealth during the Covid pandemic. But as the world emerges from the public health emergency, it's an open question what will happen with the regulatory aspects of telehealth. Daisy Wolf, deal partner at a16z Bio + Health, talked to Sarah Thomas, general counsel at Sameday Health, about asynchronous telehealth, working with regulators, how counsel thinks about inducements, and more.
Demystifying DC: Opportunities for Collaboration
17:30In this episode, a16z Bio+Health general partner Vineeta Agarwala spoke with Bobby Franklin, the president and CEO of the National Venture Capital Association, about whether healthcare can be a bipartisan topic, how regulation can potentially enable care models at scale, and the opportunities for collaboration between DC and startups.
The Consolidated Drug Channel and Cash-Pay Drugs
36:21What’s up with the drug channel? Julie Yoo, a general partner at a16z Bio+Health, joins Adam Fein, the CEO of Drug Channels Institute, and Olivia Webb, the editorial lead for a16z Bio+Health, to discuss this question. We talk about PBMs, the 340B drug program, some of the startups working within and around the primary drug channel, and whether there’s room for entrepreneurs to build in such a consolidated space.For additional reading, see some of Adam’s work on his blog, Drug Channels:https://www.drugchannels.net/2022/08/the-340b-program-climbed-to-44-billion.htmlhttps://www.drugchannels.net/2022/04/the-top-pharmacy-benefit-managers-of.htmlhttps://www.drugchannels.net/2020/05/insurers-pbms-specialty-pharmacies.htmlhttps://www.drugchannels.net/2020/08/how-goodrx-profits-from-our-broken.htmlhttps://www.drugchannels.net/2022/10/five-surprising-facts-about-goodrx-and.html
Bio x Games: Is a Fun, Therapeutic Game Possible?
33:10Can a game be both fun and therapeutic? Vijay Pande, the first employee at Naughty Dog Software and a current Bio+Health general partner at a16z, joins Jon Lai, a Games general partner, and Olivia Webb, the editorial lead for Bio+Health at a16z, to discuss this question. We talk about what constitutes a game, how games and bio can intersect, and what we called the “healthy dessert” problem — the challenge of building a game that’s both fun and therapeutic.Additional reading discussed during the episode:a16z general partner Chris Dixon’s essay “Strong and weak technologies”