Speaker Insight Series: Andrew Lo

Suzette Loh. Charles Harris. Julia Lo. David Staelin. Svetlana Sussman. These are all names of friends and family that Andrew Lo, one of our six Fall 2015 speakers, lost to cancer in the recent past. As an economist, he felt useless sitting on the sidelines and watching cancer take his loved ones, until he realized he could design financial structures that could unleash billions of dollars for biomedicine.

Andrew LoRecent scientific breakthroughs have increased the complexity of drug development, leading to increased financial risk for biopharma investors. As a result, there exists a backlog of promising research that is not being pursued and fewer new drugs are coming to market. Today, financing drives the scientific agenda of drug discovery, when, in reality, it should be the other way around.

It’s by no means a stretch to say that high healthcare costs are a burden on the US government. In some areas such as antibiotics and Alzheimer’s, which tend to carry even greater financial risk for investors, research and development have languished and we’re on the verge of a national crisis if the trend continues; we could bankrupt the nation with the current healthcare system we have.

People are dying despite the fact that we now have the means to save them—but it takes money.

Curing cancer and other serious diseases has now become a numbers game rather than a guessing game. On the TEDxCambridge Fall 2015 stage, Andrew will discuss how personal loss led him to his idea on how to apply financial engineering to biomedical challenges. We can save lives if we just use our financial imaginations.