Build – Test – Move

First a mea culpa, I have a huge backlog of relatively heavy articles that I really want to add to the blog. But I’ve been busy getting married – congratulations to me – and I didn’t have enough time. I strongly believe in following relatively strict guidelines on writing and editing articles, where I set myself deadlines and avoid over-writing on topics – it is just a blog after all – but for deep insights I do also have a minimum standard that I want to be able to produce before I’m willing to hit the Publish button.

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Closing a Chapter @ Fosanis

Today is my last official day under contract to Fosanis GmbH. I had my first encounter with the founders following my talk at the Digital Health Forum in March 2018. Following that initial meeting I became an advisor, writing a major funding proposal, bringing scientific techniques to the core of the product. In November 2018, following the closure of my own company, I became a full-time member of staff – as Head of Data Science – and led the project on the basis of the ideas contained in my funding proposal.

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Keynote @ Charité Berlin

Apparently, it’s that time again. I just gave my second invited keynote at a conference at Charité Berlin. It was really fun.

The audience were dentists – academic dentists. I confess that I struggled to understand why they thought I would be a good fit for their conference. My previous keynote was at the BIH Digital Health Forum – a much more obviously appropriate audience. But, perhaps strangely, the fit was very good.

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Influences: John Holland

Sometimes I wait a too long before doing what I really want to do. I’ve postponed writing this article more than once. And this mirrors the fact that I postponed going to visit John H. Holland until I missed my chance.

Very few academics have influenced my thinking as much as John Holland did. We never met, although I did half my graduate studies in Chicago, only 6 hours away from his home in Michigan. He was actually the person I had most wanted to do a PhD with before I figured that the American system wasn’t for me. When he died, in 2015, I missed my final chance.

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Entrepreneur First the Index VC Fund

I took part in Entrepreneur First’s (EF’s) first Berlin cohort last summer. I have largely refrained from talking about my experience, even in private so far, but this hasn’t prevented a lot of people from giving me their opinions on the business model of EF.

The EF hypothesis sounds simple: get enough smart and motivated people together in a cohort and give them the opportunity (time, access to funds, etc.) to start businesses together and some of them will succeed…. bigly.

The venture capital community here in Berlin are not so convinced. Personally I sympathise with their doubts. Certainly from an operations point of view, scaling EF has seen problems. However, as a business model it may be genius.

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Fosanis: A Brave New Project

I started working at a new job last week. I am now the Head of Data Science at Fosanis GmbH. We’re a startup in Berlin, two years old, and we provide support services for cancer patients. My task is to personalise the approach.

Think personalised medicine, without the medicine. The content we provide has been professionally curated and has been shown to be beneficial to cancer patients. If you speak German, you can try out the content online right now. We will be launching an App-based implementation in the new year.

I want to then take this to the next level. Patients will be treated as a combination of their statistical attributes and their individual trajectories through the interface. From a technological point-of-view, we will be aping many of the approaches pioneered by Facebook. However, we will try to maximise a much trickier to define Quality of Life metric, rather than page refreshes or time spent on the Wall.

This is a really exciting project. I have been looking for a while to find a project where I can apply behavioural modelling approaches to healthcare goals. In a world of rapidly expanding autoimmune diseases I see this ultimately as the new treatment paradigm. What is especially nice is that, in the space in which we are operating there are no real conflicts of interest. I hope that I don’t look back on that statement as hopelessly naive. My impression is that most people in oncology are really trying to make patients’ lives better.

We will be hiring in the first couple of months of 2019, so if you know any talented biological modellers who might be interested, please tell them to email me their CV.

Doing consultancy work in Germany

Earning a little money on the side, as a specialist consultant, is one of the hardest things I’ve done in Germany. I’m not talking about the work itself. I enjoy immensely using my skills and seeing a quick return in my impact on projects. I’m talking about the administrative overhead.

German law is predicated on you knowing what you are going to do before you do it. Continue reading “Doing consultancy work in Germany”

Simmunology was…

my first startup. It’s done, we’ve shut it down.

I joined Entrepreneur First‘s initial Berlin cohort in April (2018). Through the process, I very quickly met my cofounder and founded Simmunology Limited. We followed the checkpoints laid down by Entrepreneur First (EF), through founding the company, right up to receiving an initial investment of UK£80,000 in return for 10% of the company. Then, at the end of the kick-off meeting, I told them I wanted to shut it down… Continue reading “Simmunology was…”

Berlin Tech Scene

It’s 38 degrees celsius in Berlin this week, so I’m going to keep this post relatively short. I chose to move to Berlin four years ago (that’s in 2014) directly following my PhD. I chose this city for a number of reasons, one of which is the apparent burgeoning tech scene. I wanted to do a postdoc in Europe, but I wanted the possibility of not having to move city/country again after the contract ended. At the time, three cities stood out for me: London, Paris and Berlin.

London was my first home abroad; I moved there when I was 17. But the political climate in the UK has been toxic for about 10 years now. I’ve considered moving there many times, and each time I’ve rejected the opportunity. Quelle surprise: Brexit finally happened 2 years ago! Continue reading “Berlin Tech Scene”