By

David Shaywitz

26
Jan
2020

Challenging Core Assumptions, Tech Backlash Paves The Way for More Thoughtful HealthTech

Digital transformation (as I recently discussed), and the implementation of emerging technologies more generally, is routinely pitched by enthusiasts like Tom Siebel as both urgent and inevitable, something organizations need to embrace or risk irrelevance, if not extinction.  Yet the “embrace or die” assertion is under increasing, and healthy, scrutiny, as the “techlash” (technology backlash) gains steam.  “Surveillance Capitalism”: Tech...
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23
Jan
2020

Incrementalism is the new Disruption, Trust is the New Black, and Positive Change (for now) at FDA: Takeaways from the 2020 Precision Medicine World Conference

I had the privilege of serving as emcee for the “Data Science and AI” track on the first day of this week’s Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) in Santa Clara, CA, as well as chairing a panel discussion on data mining and visualization.  I came away with a sense of optimism and need, organized around several key themes. In Praise...
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16
Jan
2020

Understanding The Ideology Of Digital Transformation

The phrase resounding in corporations these days is “digital transformation.” What does that really mean? According to proponents, digital transformation reflects the assertion that in order to remain competitive in the modern era, organizations need to radically rethink their approach to how they collect, manage, and analyze information.  Change is clearly afoot, but the ideology informing this hasn’t been entirely...
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15
Jan
2020

Atomwise and EQRx: Two Contrasting Strategies for the R&D Inefficiency Problem

Pharma innovation expert Bernard Munos captures the inherent inefficiency of drug development with two fascinating statistics he recently shared with me.  First, for large pharmas, the average cost of developing a new drug (simply based on the total R&D costs divided by the total number of new drugs approved for sale) works out to about $5B per drug. It’s an...
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10
Jan
2020

Entering JPM20 With a Grounded, Yet Hopeful, View of Health Tech

Health tech seems balanced precariously between excessive optimism and excessive skepticism, between the promise that emerging technology is poised to disrupt health like it has so many other areas, and the painful recognition that many idealistic technologists misunderstood both the scientific and human dimensions of the inordinately complex problems to be solved in both health care services and the development...
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9
Jan
2020

Sanofi’s New CEO Captures Pharma’s Grounded View of Health Tech

Since taking over as Sanofi’s CEO in September, Paul Hudson has been blunt in his assessment of health technology decisions, and indecisions, made by previous management. Early in his tenure, Hudson took square aim at his company’s once-heralded $500 million collaboration with Verily on Onduo. This partnership was started in 2016 and intended to help diabetics better manage their condition. ...
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1
Jan
2020

New Job, Same Thesis: Aligning Tech & Pharma To Elicit Best Of Both

With the New Year, I’m very excited to share a professional update: as of January 1, I’m the proud founder of “Astounding HealthTech,” providing advisory services to R&D-driven biopharma organizations and health tech startups striving to engage each other more effectively. The mission of Astounding is to catalyze drug development by aligning the specific capabilities and distinct needs of individual...
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5
Dec
2019

Aural Pleasures, 2019 Edition

I listen to a lot of audio, spoken word content that edifies (or at least distracts) me during daily workouts and when traveling.  Traditionally in December, I like to share with readers my annual podcast recommendations. But in reflecting on my listening habits of the last year, I realized that I’ve probably spent at least as much time listening to...
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21
Nov
2019

AI Can Help with Repeatable Processes, But Don’t Expect Thunderbolts for Drug Discovery

Biopharmaceutical and healthcare executives increasingly find themselves attending conferences and presentations featuring the evangelistic selling of AI by self-assured VCs, energetic entrepreneurs, and earnest consultants.  The promise is that AI will change everything. Then the executives return to work, face the quotidian reality of their operation, and wonder whether AI will change anything. Enter Jim Manzi. Manzi, depending on your view, is a...
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11
Nov
2019

Disruption, Fast and Slow

Chris Gibson, the CEO and co-founder of Recursion Pharmaceuticals, may have captured the essence of the difference in mindset between tech VCs and life science VCs, writing in a superb recent article (a response to my previous TR post): “The most consistent thread that differentiates tech and life science VCs is their willingness to project new data onto an industry and imagine resultant...
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5
Nov
2019

Tech VCs and Biotech VCs: Talking Past Each Other on AI Drug Discovery

[Editor’s Note: this is a new column called “Astounding HealthTech” by TR contributor David Shaywitz.] If you want to know the difference between tech venture capitalists and biotech VCs, look at their respective views on AI applications for drug discovery. Many of the most prominent AI drug discovery startups boast exceptionally rich valuations, driven by the enthusiastic participation of tech...
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18
Apr
2019

Life After Twitter

[Editor’s Note: David Shaywitz is a Palo Alto-based life science VC. He used to be active on Twitter. I asked him to share his reflections on leaving the platform–LT.] Quitting carbs last year was hard. Quitting Twitter this year has proved delightfully easy.  You might even want to try it for yourself. Twitter has tremendous upside. Most notably, it provides...
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