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Axial Podcast

Axial Podcast

By Joshua Elkington
Conversations with great founders and inventors in life sciences.

Axial partners with great founders and inventors. We invest in early-stage life sciences companies such as Appia Bio and Seranova Bio often when they are no more than an idea. If you or someone you know has a great idea or company in life sciences, Axial would be excited to get to know you and possibly invest in your vision and company. We are excited to be in business with you - email us at

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​​New Models, Tools, and Targets for the Brain: Breakthroughs in Phosphoproteomics and Neurodegeneration with Nader Morshed from the White and Tsai Labs at MIT
We discuss Nader's career from learning structural biology in the Marqusee and Alber Labs at UC Berkeley to his pioneering graduate work at MIT with Forest White and Li-Huei Tsai and now at Stevens at Harvard Medical School. The conversation is centered around the 2 groundbreaking papers he published while earning his PhD: 1. Phosphoproteomics identifies microglial Siglec-F inflammatory response during neurodegeneration 2. Quantitative phosphoproteomics uncovers dysregulated kinase networks in Alzheimer’s disease His research uses phosphoproteomics to capture the heterogeneity in Alzheimer's disease progression and uncover new leads to understand neurodegeneration. Genetic studies like GWAS will only find risk factors so proteomics and other tools are needed to comprehensively understand new biology and disease. Nader's work is centered around new models, tools, and targets. In particular, we need better mouse models to capture the same genes and capture human pathology. For example, Nader's work has found glial cell protein clusters as a promising lead that increase in expression slightly later than tau but earlier than neurodegeneration. This observation would not have been captured by a purely genomics approach. I am sure the best is yet to come given the impact of his research. A favorite quote of mine after speaking with Nader is around his long-term goal to "inspire the next-generation of scientists."
January 11, 2022
Precision-First Therapeutics: Building the Next Roche with Diego Rey, Co-Founder and CSO of Endpoint Health
We discuss Diego's career from building GeneWeave (acquired by Roche) to Endpoint Health now. Endpoint is pioneering a new business model merging diagnostics, data, and drug development to start with patient data and back into a therapy. The company is using their platform to develop first-line medicines for indications in infectious diseases with no approved therapies and beyond. Truly, Endpoint is leading a new wave of progress within critical and chronic illnesses. A favorite quote of mine after speaking with Diego: during an acquisition, "as an entrepreneur, you do a deal like this once." so while at GeneWeave they hired a bank to organize the entire process.
December 07, 2021
From Paint to Biotech: Turning Biology into a Predictive Science, The Story of Seven Bridges, Totient, and AbSci with James Sietstra and Deniz Kural
We discuss James' and Deniz's careers from how they first met to founding Seven Bridges and Totient and now building AbSci after Totient was recently acquired. With experience leading teams in the 100s spanning genomics and SaaS to drug development and even paint from James' childhood entrepreneurial pursuits, both have an incredible amount of wisdom on scaling technology companies. We touch on AbSci's unique model of accelerating and lowering the barriers for biologics development and talk about the finding the right platform-partner fit. Some favorite quotes of mine after this conversation are: during any negotiations, "competition is highly important for deals" and Deniz's experience of "seeing the future early but unevenly distributed" just as sequencing costs began coming down outpacing Moore's Law.
December 07, 2021
Data Driving Experimentation: Merging Biology and Data Science with Jacob Oppenheim, VP of Integrative Data Sciences at EQRx
We discuss Jacob's career going from physics to biology and making the transition from academia to industry. Building and leading data science teams at GNS Healthcare, Indigo, and now EQRx, Jacob is one of the best data scientists in biotech. In our conversation, we talk about ways to generate standardized data for machine learning models, building interdisciplinary teams, and implementing relevant models for drug development.  Then we touch on EQRx's fast follower drug development model and the role of data in integrating decision making across the board from target ID to commercialization. A favorite quote of mine from talking to Jacob was: "things don't change much until they change all at once."
December 03, 2021
Next-Generation Biotech Platforms: Engineering Biology with Brian Naughton, Founding Scientist at 23andMe and Co-Founder and Head of Data at Hexagon Bio
We discuss Brian's career starting at Trinity in Dublin to Stanford, 23andMe, and Hexagon. In our conversation, we talk about the interplay between computation and biology, business models in biotech, and what it takes to build world-class teams. Brian really has the superpower of building and being part of talent hubs. If he ever wants to, I know he would build the best talent agency in biotech.
November 26, 2021
Cloud BIology: Automation and the Future of Biology with with DJ Kleinbaum, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Emerald Cloud Lab
We discuss the founding story of Emerald Cloud Lab, their mission to help scientists to get access to any instrument they want, the company's platform and applications, long-term vision and more. A favorite quote of mine from talking to DJ was: "understand the stories of the advice you get."
November 19, 2021
Borgs: Genome and Climate Engineering with Basem Al-Shayeb from the Banfield and Doudna Labs at UC Berkeley
We discuss Basem's recent preprint, Borgs are giant extrachromosomal elements with the potential to augment methane oxidation. In our conversation, we discuss Basem's scientific career, the story of Borgs, how they were named, and their impact on our environment. A favorite quote of mine from talking to Basem was: "the next great discovery could be right in your backyard."
November 12, 2021
Beyond Undruggable: The Future of Drug Development with Cameron Pye & Joshua Schwochert from Unnatural Products
Cameron Pye and Joshua Schwochert are the founders of Unnatural Products. For the first podcast, we discuss their founding story coming out of academia, the history of macrocycle natural products, and how Unnatural Products is using synthetic macrocycles to usher in the the future of drug development.
July 18, 2021