Michael Kauffman on Cancer, Drug Development and Market Capitalism – #48

Steve and Corey speak with Dr. Michael Kauffman, co-founder and CEO of Karyopharm Therapeutics, about cancer and biotech innovation. Michael explains how he and Dr. Sharon Schacham tested her idea regarding nuclear-transport using simulation software on a home laptop, and went on to beat 1000:1 odds to create a billion dollar company. They discuss the relationship between high proprietary drug costs and economic incentives for drug discovery. They also discuss the unique US biotech ecosystem, and why innovation is easier in small (vs. large) companies. Michael explains how Karyopharm is targeting its drug at COVID-induced inflammation to treat people with severe forms of the disease.

Vineer Bhansali: Physics, Tail Risk Hedging, and 900% Coronavirus Returns – #43

Steve and Corey talk with theoretical physicist turned hedge fund investor Vineer Bhansali. Bhansali describes his transition from physics to finance, his firm LongTail Alpha, and his recent outsize returns from the coronavirus financial crisis. Also discussed: derivatives pricing, random walks, helicopter money, and Modern Monetary Theory.

Jaan Tallinn: Coronavirus, Existential Risk, and AI – #42

Steve talks with Skype founder and global tech investor Jaan Tallinn. Will the coronavirus pandemic lead to better planning for future global risks? Jaan gives his list of top existential risks and describes his efforts to call attention to AI risk. They discuss AGI, the Simulation Question, the Fermi Paradox and how these are all connected. Do we live in a simulation of a quantum multiverse?

Dan Gable: Legendary NCAA and Olympic Wrestler & Coach – #41

Steve and Corey talk to legendary NCAA and Olympic wrestler and coach Dan Gable. Gable describes the final match of his collegiate career, an NCAA championship upset which spoiled his undefeated high school and college record. The Coach explains how the loss led him to take a more scientific approach to training and was critical for his later success. They discuss the tragic murder of Gable’s sister, and the steps 15-year old Gable took try to save his parents’ marriage. Gable describes his eye for talent and philosophy of developing athletes. Steve gets Gable’s reaction to ultimate fighting and jiujitsu.

COVID-19, Blockchain, and the Global Startup Scene – #39

Steve and Corey talk to Kieren James-Lubin and Victor Wong of the blockchain technology startup, BlockApps. They begin with a discussion of the COVID-19 epidemic (~25m): lockdown, predictions of ICU overload, and helicopter money. Will personal contact tracking become the new normal? Transitioning to blockchain, a technology many view as viable even in times of widespread societal disruption, they give a basic explanation of the underlying cryptographic and consensus algorithms. Kieren and Victor explain how BlockApps was founded, its business model, and history as a startup. They conclude with a comparison of startup ecosystems in China, Silicon Valley, and NYC.

Yang Wang on Science and Technology in China, Hong Kong Protests, and Coronavirus – #34

Yang Wang is Dean of Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Professor Wang received his BS degree in mathematics from University of Science and Technology of China in 1983, and his PhD degree from Harvard University in 1990 under the supervision of Fields medalist David Mumford. He served as Chair of the Mathematics department at Michigan State University before joining HKUST.