He calls it “interrogating chemistry,” using computational approaches to mine nature for medicinal insights that no scientist could ever have imagined.

When did you first get interested in pharmacy?
I’ve always been fascinated with medicine, pharmacology, and the idea that chemistry can influence physiology. My view of medicine is very pragmatic: The idea of having to take a pill once a week instead of three times a day really matters to me.

How did you land at Sirenas?
I met my co-founder Ed [Esquenazi] at Vanderbilt 20 years ago. We studied biology together and have been talking about science ever since. He actually taught me to surf. He also studied oceanography and got the idea to start the company in 2012. At first, we spent a lot of time developing ATLANTIS, our software platform that performs the computations and data mining. Out in the field, our scientists are like Indiana Jones, finding samples and shipping them back for our chemists to analyze. We recently found a potent antimalarial molecule in a salt pond in the Atacama Desert in Chile. We’re calling it Atacamazole. We have a long way to go, but the stuff we’re finding now has a chance to be in clinical trials in the next three years.

What was most valuable about your UCSF experience?
I think of UCSF as a shining tower of knowledge and collaboration between the basic and clinical sciences. The whole last year of my training was clinical rotations, seeing patients, and I still carry those lessons with me. And my son, Luke, and daughter, Claire, were born at UCSF.

Do you have a philosophy of life?
I try to do a handful of things and do them decently well. I’m a husband and a dad, I work, and I try to get out in nature. It’s important to honor and be inspired by nature. That’s my mantra right now.

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