Biology is breaking out of the lab and clinic—and into our daily lives. Our new ability to engineer biology is transforming not just science, research, and healthcare, but how we produce our food, the materials we use, how we manufacture, and much, much more. From the latest scientific advances to the biggest trends, this show explores all the ways biology is today where the computing revolution was 50 years ago: on the precipice of revolutionizing our world in ways we are only just beginning to appreciate. Through conversations with scientists, builders, entrepreneurs, and leaders, hosts Hanne Winarsky and Lauren Richardson (along with the team at Andreessen Horowitz), examine how bio is going to fundamentally transform our future.
In short, bio is eating the world.
Journal Club: From Insect Eyes to Nanomaterials
with @heyjudka and @lr_bio
How did studying insect eyes reveal a potential new way of manufacturing nanomaterials? And what does Alan Turing have to do with it? Find out on this episode of the Bio Eats World Journal Club.
It's Time to Build in Healthcare: COVID 19, Innovation, and What Comes Next
In this episode of Bio Eats World, a16z founder and internet pioneer Marc Andreessen and general partner Jorge Conde zoom out to discuss the large scale societal effects of the current pandemic on society, healthcare, biotech, and innovation. COVID-19 has been catastrophic—but also catalyzed enormous change and a dramatic groundswell of innovation. Where are we now? Which of these changes will stay, and which may recede? What new innovations and impacts might be still to come, and what are we learning that can be applied towards the future?
Building on Marc Andreessen's article and call to action, “It’s Time to Build,” Jorge and Marc discuss what needs to be built in healthcare today (for example, would a pandemic warning system help us next time?); the impact of COVID-19 on innovation and mindsets in the biopharma industry; the shift towards measuring output that could spur more innovation; and finally, what biopharma and venture capital have in common in terms of risk and experimentation that might serve as a much broader model.
Journal Club: Reversing Parkinson's with New Neurons
With Xiang-Dong Fu and @lr_bio
Parkinson's Disease is caused by the death of specific neurons in the brain. In this episode of the Bio Eats World Journal Club, we discuss research reprogramming non-neuronal brain cells (astrocytes) to become neurons to replace those lost to disease. This work paves the way for a potential cure for this devastating disease.
The Biology of Pain
Why do we experience physical pain? Is all pain the same, or are there different types? Do people experience pain differently? Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School Clifford Woolf, and Bio Eats World host Hanne Winarsky talk about everything we know about the biology of pain.
Technology is today enabling a new, deeper, and much more complex understanding of the phenomenon of pain. Which pathways and neurons are activated in the brain and when, and what patterns might represent different kinds of pain? In this episode (first aired on the a16z Podcast in September 2019), Woolf describes the four different phenotypes of pain, the purpose of each, and what changes when we begin to understand them as distinct types. What does it mean for how we can treat pain in the future… and where we can intervene?
Journal Club: Super-Scaling COVID-19 Testing with DNA Sequencing
with @srikosuri, @ArboledaVal and @lr_bio
To safely reopen society during the COVID-19 pandemic, we need tests that are fast, can be given frequently, are inexpensive, and are easy to administer. On the Bio Eats World Journal Club we discuss the open source COVID-19 diagnostic platform SwabSeq, which was recently granted an EUA from the FDA. SwabSeq uses DNA sequencing to vastly increase the scale of testing so that it can be done broadly across a population.
Biology by Design
We’re at the dawn of a new era where we’re truly able to design biology: from genetically engineered cotton, to meat made from plants, to incredibly complex new therapies composed of engineered cells and genes. And that's just the very beginning. One day, just about everything will be genetically engineered, from our medicines to our materials and manufacturing and much more. The question is no longer, can we design biology? Instead the question now is, what can we build with these tools?
So how does that really happen? How can we build precise functions and circuits inside cells? How might we we engineer a cell to sense and perceive its environment, and respond to it? What new generation of companies will be built around these new capabilities? In this episode, Alec Nielsen, co-founder and CEO of Asimov, a company that builds tools to program living cells; Vijay Pande, General Partner at a16z; and Bio Eats World host Hanne Winarsky talk about where we are on the way to this future, what scientific and industry breakthroughs got us here, and the new tools we need—libraries of genetic parts, new platforms, computer simulations and more—to truly design living systems.