Bio Eats World

Biology is breaking out of the lab and clinic—and into our daily lives. Bio (our shorthand for the intersection of the life sciences, healthcare, technology and industry) 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 leading scientists, builders, entrepreneurs, and leaders, host Lauren Richardson (along with the team at Andreessen Horowitz), examines how bio is going to fundamentally transform our future. In short, bio is eating the world.

Featured Episodes

The Biology of Aging

Contributing Guests
Laura Deming, Kristen Fortney, Vijay Pande, and Hanne Winarsky
Aging research is entering a new phase. How is studying aging helping us understand disease and increasing the amount of time we are healthy? 

Discovery, Translation, and the State of Bio Today

Contributing Guests
Patrick Hsu, Jorge Conde, and Alexander Marson
On this episode, we are taking a pulse-check on the state of the intersection between biology, healthcare, and technology with two scientists that sit at another intersection, that of academia and industry: Alexander Marson and...

Engineering an Epigenome Editor

Contributing Guests
Vijay Pande, Jonathan Weissman, and Lauren Richardson
On today’s episode we are discussing the results and implications of a recent study that describes the creation of a new set of tools to turn off or on any region in the genome with high specificity. Host Lauren Richardson and a16z...

Evolving Embodied Intelligence

Contributing Guests
Vijay Pande, Li Fei-Fei, Surya Ganguli, and Lauren Richardson
On today’s episode, we are making the full arc from the theoretical and borderline philosophical to the applied. Let’s start with the theory: embodied intelligence posits that the body, or the physical form, plays an active and...

Building Digital Health's Github

Contributing Guests
Jonathan Bush, and Julie Yoo
Today’s episode is all about the history and future of infusing tech into healthcare with the goals of improving outcomes and lowering costs, and features one of the leading voices in this field, Jonathan Bush. Jonathan, aka JB,...

The Genetic Testing (R)Evolution

Contributing Guests
Vineeta Agarwala, Peter Donnelly, and Lauren Richardson
Genetic testing is on the cusp of a major revolution, which has the potential to shift not just how we understand our risk for disease, but how we practice healthcare. In the clinic today, genetic testing is used only in cases where...

The Problem with Urgent Care

Contributing Guests
Justin Larkin, Vineeta Agarwala, and Lauren Richardson
When it comes to healthcare, the topic of how expensive it is and what we can do to lower costs is always top of mind. One area with particularly steep costs is the emergency department. These are hospital departments that can take...

Viral Genomes from A to Z

Contributing Guests
Lauren Richardson, and Judy Savitskaya
If there is one rule in biology, it is that there is an exception to every rule. This includes even the basic biochemistry of DNA, which was once thought to be universal. On this episode, host Lauren Richardson and Judy Savitskaya...

World’s largest supercomputer v. biology’s toughest problems

Contributing Guests
Vijay Pande, Lauren Richardson, and Greg Bowman
This episode was recorded in March of 2019 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Folding at Home, the distributed computing project for simulating protein dynamics, and originally aired on The a16z Podcast. Folding at Home is run on...

The Trials of Clinical Trials

Contributing Guests
Vineeta Agarwala, James Zou, and Lauren Richardson
On the path from scientific discovery to new drug, the clinical trial is a huge — and critical — hurdle. Clinical trials are themselves experiments, and to make sure that they are doing the best possible job at determining the...

The New Science of Cell Shape

Contributing Guests
Vijay Pande, Maddison Masaeli, and Lauren Richardson
They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but can you judge a cell by its shape? On this episode, host Lauren Richardson is joined by Maddison Masaeli (CEO and cofounder of Deepcell), and a16z general partner Vijay Pande...

Journal Club: Sleeping Under the Star-Shaped Cells

Contributing Guests
Lauren Richardson, and Kira Poskanzer
Neuroscientists have long been trying to determine what happens in the brain during sleep, but to date, they have overlooked a key player: astrocytes. These star-shaped cells were once thought to be the glue that held the brain...

The Power of Patient-Centric Healthcare

Contributing Guests
Freda Lewis-Hall, Jay Rughani, and Julie Yoo
Today we are re-running an episode exploring a question that seems super straightforward, but that on closer examination reveals incredible complexity, and that is "how do we put the patient at the center of the healthcare system?”...

Journal Club: Hunting the Eagle Killer

Contributing Guests
Lauren Richardson, and Susan B Wilde
In 1994, 29 bald eagles were found dead at DeGray Lake in Arkansas. This mass mortality event kicked off a search for the culprit which has last over 25 years. On this episode of the Bio Eats World Journal Club, host Lauren Richardson...

Journal Club: Sourcing the Secrets of Climate Adaptation

Contributing Guests
Thomas Juenger, and Lauren Richardson
Understanding how plants have adapted to natural climate change over millions of years provides a playbook of evolutionary strategies to help us prepare for and respond to man-made climate change. On this episode, host Lauren...

Evolution: Animals, Aliens, and Ourselves

Contributing Guests
Arik Kershenbaum, and Lauren Richardson
The search for and conjecture about alien life has evolved, from science fiction to just plain science. On this episode, host Lauren Richardson talks to Arik Kershenbaum, Ph.D, author of the new book “The Zoologist’s Guide to the...

Journal Club: Bioengineering Birth... Again!

Contributing Guests
Anthony Atala, and Lauren Richardson
Today we are re-running a previous episode of Journal Club — our show where we curate breakthrough research and bridge paper to practice — in light of a recent article published in the journal Nature (see show notes below). In...

Solving Medical Mysteries in the World of Rare Disease

Contributing Guests
Euan Ashley, and Hanne Winarsky
In this conversation, Stanford Professor Euan Ashley—geneticist, cardiologist, author of the new book, The Genome Odyssey, and first co-chair of the Undiagnosed Diseases Network—talks with Bio Eats World host Hanne Winarsky about...

Journal Club: Taming the Taste for Blood

Contributing Guests
Lauren Richardson, and Leslie Vosshall
Mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on Earth and for millennia humans have tried to rid themselves of these disease-spreading pests, with shockingly little success. On this episode of the Bio Eats World Journal Club, host Lauren...

The Theory of a Thousand Brains

Contributing Guests
Vijay Pande, Jeff Hawkins, and Hanne Winarsky
In this episode, we talk with Jeff Hawkins—an entrepreneur and scientist, known for inventing some of the earliest handheld computers, the Palm and the Treo, who then turned his career to neuroscience and founded the Redwood Center...

Journal Club: Restoring a Reflex

Contributing Guests
Lauren Richardson, and Aaron Phillips
In a healthy person, your body automatically adjusts blood pressure constantly, and this adjustment is governed by what’s called the baroreflex. However, a spinal cord injury can disrupt this reflex, which has both short term...

Sea Turtle Medicine

Contributing Guests
Max Polyak, and Hanne Winarsky
Sea turtles occupy a very special biological niche in our world. And we still know relatively little about these creatures, one of the very few marine reptiles on the face of the planet. But as population growth and activity on coasts...

Journal Club: Assembling an Egg

Contributing Guests
Justin Larkin, Vineeta Agarwala, Lauren Richardson, and Judy Savitskaya
On this episode of the Bio Eats World Journal Club, we explore the very compelling question of whether we can use our understanding of developmental biology to create oocytes (aka eggs or female gametes) from stem cells in the lab. If...

The Art and Science of Biology's Future

Contributing Guests
Vijay Pande, and Jennifer Doudna
In this episode of Bio Eats World, we talk to Dr. Jennifer Doudna—winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize for the co-discovery (with Emmanuelle Charpentier) of CRISPR-Cas9—about the art and science of biology. Huge breakthroughs such as...

Journal Club: Engineering Living Materials

Contributing Guests
Tom Ellis, Lauren Richardson, and Judy Savitskaya
To date, synthetic biology has been mainly focused on reproducing existing compounds and materials with biomanufacturing. Think of engineering yeast to produce anti-malarial drugs, or bacteria producing spider silk. But as our guest...

Value Versus Volume (in Healthcare)

Contributing Guests
The way we pay for healthcare in the US has long been by fee-for-service: per doctor visit, per test, per surgery, per hospital stay. But that system has led to rapidly escalating volumes of services and cost to the system—without...

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm in Healthcare

Contributing Guests
Vijay Pande, Vineeta Agarwala, Marc Andreessen, Jorge Conde, Nikhil Krishnan, and Julie Yoo
In this episode, we share an episode of the brand new a16z Live podcast feed called “It’s Time to Heal”—a live conversation on audio/drop in chat app Clubhouse every Monday at 5pm PT, covering the latest trends and future of...

Journal Club: My Tick Teacher

Contributing Guests
Seemay Chou, and Lauren Richardson
Ticks are "master scientists of our skin," says our guest — Seemay Chou, Assistant Professor at University of California, San Francisco. On this episode of the Bio Eats World Journal Club, Dr. Chou and host Lauren Richardson discuss...

May I Have Your Insurance Card Again, Please?

Contributing Guests
Bill Frist, Malinka Walaliyadde, Hanne Winarsky, and Julie Yoo
There's been a lot of talk (including on this show!) about the many kinds of innovations and technologies changing healthcare delivery for clinicians and patients. But what's happening behind the scenes in healthcare: in billing, in...

Journal Club: Suppressing Superbugs

Contributing Guests
Andrew F Read, and Lauren Richardson
"Superbug" is shorthand for multi-drug resistant bacteria. Infections with superbugs are the most difficult to treat, because these bacteria have evolved ways of evading multiple — and sometimes all! — of our available...

From Junk DNA to an RNA Revolution

Contributing Guests
Rick Young, Hanne Winarsky, and Jorge Conde
What the heck is "junk DNA"? In this episode, a16z General Partner Jorge Conde and Bio Eats World host Hanne Winarsky talk to Professor Rick Young, Professor of Biology and head of the Young Lab at MIT—all about "junk" DNA, or...

Journal Club: Slaying the Sleeper Cells of Aging

Contributing Guests
Andy Tran, Lauren Richardson, and Jorge Conde
Today we are revisiting a topic and episode that was originally aired back when Journal Club was part of the a16z podcast. We are covering it again in light of a new research article published in Science, as both this episode and this...

The Fundamental Principles of Reality

Contributing Guests
Frank Wilczek, Lauren Richardson, and Hanne Winarsky
What are the fundamental principles that govern the physical world around us, and how did we get to them? In this episode, Bio Eats World hosts Hanne Winarsky and Lauren Richardson talk to Nobel prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek...

Journal Club: A Safer Psychedelic

Contributing Guests
David Olson, and Lauren Richardson
Move over microdosing, there is a new approach to psychedelic medicine. Psychedelics — like LSD and psilocybin — are some of the most powerful drugs that affect our brains, but their therapeutic potential has been limited due to...

The Genetics of Risk

Contributing Guests
Vineeta Agarwala, Peter Donnelly, and Lauren Richardson
Genetic testing is on the cusp of a major revolution, which has the potential to shift not just how we understand our risk for disease, but how we practice healthcare. In the clinic today, genetic testing is used only in cases where...

Journal Club: Synthetic Germs, Our Newest Weapon for Fighting Cancer

Contributing Guests
Lauren Richardson, and Willem Mulder
Immuno-oncology, which leverages the body's own immune system to fight cancer, is a true medical revolution. But to date, these therapies have only targeted one of the two arms of the immune system: the adaptive immune system. This is...

The Biology of Brain Organoids (or, Don't Call it a Brain in a Dish!)

Contributing Guests
Vijay Pande, Sergiu Pasca, and Hanne Winarsky
For more on brain organoids and their many applications, check out this episode of Journal Club: "Modeling Mysterious Brain Structures." Host Lauren Richardson talks to Dr. Madeline Lancaster, a Group Leader at the MRC Laboratory of...

Journal Club: Why do only some people get severe COVID-19?

Contributing Guests
Lauren Richardson, and Helen Su
One of the enduring mysteries of COVID-19 is why some people get a severe disease that can be fatal, whereas the majority experience a very mild or even asymptomatic disease. On this episode of the Bio Eats World Journal Club, host...

So You Wanna Build a Software Company in Healthcare?

Contributing Guests
Hanne Winarsky, Jorge Conde, and Julie Yoo
Building a software company in healthcare is hard—and comes along with unique challenges no other entrepreneurs face. In this conversation, a16z bio general partner (and previous founder of genomics company Knome) Jorge Conde; and...

The Machine That Made the Vaccine

Contributing Guests
Hanne Winarsky, Jorge Conde, and Stephane Bancel
A year ago, none of us would believe that mRNA vaccines would be a household name. And yet here we are, at the end of 2020, counting the days towards a vaccine that could not just save lives but help bring us back into a world that...

The Cost Disease in Healthcare

Contributing Guests
with @pmarca and @vijaypande How come things like healthcare, education, and housing get more and more expensive, but things like socks, shoes, and electronics all get cheaper and cheaper? In this episode of Bio Eats World, a16z...

Journal Club: How to Win an Evolutionary Arms Race

Contributing Guests
Lauren Richardson, and Harmit Malik
Viruses (like HIV) and their hosts (like humans) are locked in an evolutionary arms race, with each trying to outwit the other. But viruses seem to have a big advantage (MUCH faster evolution), so how can the slowly evolving human...

The Google Maps Moment in (Modeling) Biology

Contributing Guests
Hanne Winarsky, Judy Savitskaya, and Markus Covert
You don't have to build a million planes to test a million aeronautical designs; we have mathematical simulations and models that do that for us. But in biology—once the class you'd take in high school if you loved science, but...

Journal Club: Bioengineering Birth

Contributing Guests
Anthony Atala, and Lauren Richardson
Infertility is a common struggle with limited treatment options, particularly if caused by an issue with the uterus. On this episode of Journal Club host Lauren Richardson (@lr_bio) talks to Professor Anthony Atala about his lab's...

The Story of Schizophrenia

Contributing Guests
Robert Kolker, Stefan McDonough, and Hanne Winarsky
Descriptions of the mental illness we today call schizophrenia are as old as humankind itself. And more than likely, we are are all familiar with this disease in some way, as it touches 1% of us—millions of lives—and of course,...

Food as Medicine

Contributing Guests
Andrea Feinberg, Joshua Hix, and Julie Yoo
We all know that eating healthy is better for you—and that following that advice is far harder than it sounds, for a multitude of reasons, from culture to preferences to access and affordability. And yet the reality is that access...

Journal Club: Decoding Developmental Disorders

Contributing Guests
Vineeta Agarwala, and Lauren Richardson
Approximately half of all severe developmental disorders are caused by de novo (new, not inherited) mutations in protein-coding genes. But which genes? In this episode of the Bio Eats World Journal Club, Vineeta Agarwala (@vintweeta)...

Health—at What Price?

Contributing Guests
Marty Makary, and Julie Yoo
Imagine if the airline industry did not post prices for flights in advance. What if instead of posting fares on travel sites, airlines argued they could only bill you after the flight, because they didn't know what the fuel price will...

Journal Club: Defeating Type 1 Diabetes

Contributing Guests
Lauren Richardson, and Ronald Evans
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease with no cure and challenging treatment regimes. The disease is characterized by self-reactive immune cells that attack and destroy cells in the pancreas that produce insulin and are essential...

We, the Patients

Contributing Guests
Freda Lewis-Hall, Jay Rughani, and Julie Yoo
Healthcare is perhaps unique in that the entire system exists entirely to serve the patient... and yet, in many ways, that same patient is not the customer. In fact, the patient—and the patient's voice—can often be lost or...

Journal Club: Architecting an Aggressive Cancer

Contributing Guests
Lauren Richardson, and Elaine Fuchs
Mechanical forces and architecture may not sound very "bio", but they are key tools of epidermal stem cells.  These stem cells essentially engineer their environment by producing both the cells above them (the skin cells) and the...