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”

Designing a Disruptive Technology

Did you know that the development of new drugs has been unprofitable since 2005? (article, original study) I knew we were approaching that point, but I didn’t realise that we had already passed the threshold 13 years ago.

I have an insight which will completely disrupt (transform) the pharma industry. I have the background of working in two different domains in order to give credibility to my insight. And I have the ability, on a technical level, to execute on it.

How many of you have heard this pitch before? Continue reading “Designing a Disruptive Technology”

Shame

A number of stellar academics made minor headlines, in 2016-17, by publishing CVs of their failures. This had an initial, and intended, positive effect. Many early-stage researchers marvelled at the bravery of Stanford-level professors being willing to open-up about the unsuccessful pathways which they had followed earlier in their careers. Some of those writing their admissions even argued that their current CV would not get them a real job, outside of academia.

A natural, if gentle, backlash set-in pretty quickly. It’s all very well for successful associate or tenure-track professors to open-up and reveal their inner worries. But they are doing this from a position of incredible privilege. Would it really break down any barriers to reveal that the British royal family have worries about health and relationships and money too? Of course not! It softens their public image in some eyes; it humanises them. But it does not change the fact that they are revealing that even people with privilege have mundane worries too. If you have risen to tenure-track at a top American university you have joined the privileged classes, even if you did not start out that way. Your contribution to society may be in opening up new access to the elites, but it is not in admitting that the elites also fail sometimes.

I was very tempted at the time, to join the rush, and post my own CV of failure. I wanted  Continue reading “Shame”

Simmunology is….

my first real startup. That is, the first time that I’ve actually incorporated a company. Simmunology Limited exists since last week.

The path to incorporation has been an interesting and sometimes terrifying ride. (Aside: understatement will typically be an element of my style, this should be borne in mind when reading my prose.)  I finished up a postdoc in computational neuroscience at TU Berlin last December (2017). Since then I have been trying to establish a place for myself in the world in which I get to use my, not inconsiderable, experience to choose my own directions.

I left academia with a strong feeling that not-all is right in the academic world. In fact it is very, very wrong. But more importantly, I don’t think that the kind of cross-disciplinary talents which I bring to the table will ever be fully utilised in that sector, at least not as it exists today.

I came up with two pet projects which I thought I could work on to bring an impact to the world. The first,  Continue reading “Simmunology is….”