My guest today is Paul Kohlhaas. Paul is the co-Founder and CEO of Molecule, a software platform to accelerate innovation in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry. It connects scientists, patients, and industry to advance drug development and therapeutics in an open market. To achieve this, Molecule employs Web3 and blockchain technology to leverage the power of distributed incentive-based ecosystems.
We start the conversation by talking about what Molecule is trying to achieve with scientific funding. Paul explains the current projects they're working on; then he explains why crowdfunding could help avoid the valley of death in science. We talk about the cultural and social aspects of science that will need to change in the future. My favorite part of the episode was to hear Paul's prediction about where science will be in ten years from now.
Please, enjoy my conversation with Paul Kohlhaas.
Find Paul online:
Provide us with all your relevant research data, progress metrics, team information and funding needs. If your project matches our criteria, we will help you compile a promising investor pitch. We will provide expert opinions from our advisor network that will support your funding request.
💬 Topics we Discuss
- What Molecule is doing
- The funding problem in science & academia
- The valley of death in science
- How to speed up discoveries — where is the bottleneck right now?
- Creating an open market for pharmaceutical innovation
- The work of Molecule on the distributed ownership structure for drug development
- Bringing decentralized research to science
- The future of biotech/science
- Paul's favorite underrated books
Some quotes from Paul's articles:
As one of our advising researchers put it, “we spend 80% of our time writing grant applications and 20% doing the actual research”. Furthermore, study selection tends to skew towards more traditional projects that take fewer risks and agencies often require proof-of-concept studies as part of submissions which makes it enormously difficult for experimental ventures to get off the ground.
To overcome these hurdles, many researchers are starting to reach out to the public to directly fund their work. Consequently, crowdfunding has emerged as a potential solution for the lack of research investment. Platforms like experiment.com, Consano, and lifespan.io managed to connect scientists with supporters and raise significant amounts for their undertakings.
In this approach, the focus of securing funding shifts from being about status measured by publications to the ability of exciting individuals about your research cause. This forces scientists to actively engage with the public and opens crucial feedback loops for persons of interest to steer direction with their personal investments. In this sense, crowdfunding can act as a tool to democratize research spending that directly benefits society by bringing more people into science.
We’ve spent the past year developing Molecule, a software protocol that will provide a new distributed ownership structure for drug development. It will unite researchers, biotechs, investors and patients in public marketplaces that democratize research capital allocation and create novel collaboration and data sharing incentives. Our ultimate goal is to improve efficiency and enable new, sustainable business models in an industry that is challenged by a decline in innovation and rising drug prices.
With Molecule Catalyst, we will launch an incentive-driven funding system for basic research. We are working with leading research institutes in their respective fields whose work ranges from early testing of entirely new molecules up to real clinical trials of potential therapeutics. Our launch projects are in the areas of:
Rare and neglected diseases,
📚 Books Recommended by Paul
📖 Some of my Favorite Articles from Paul and Resources Mentioned in the Episode
Introducing Molecule Catalyst
First some context. In the current system, basic research in early-stage drug development is almost exclusively funded by public money. Yet, it is often this early stage that drives innovation and where valuable intellectual property (IP) is first developed that can be commercialized privately later on.
Reinventing Pharma Amidst Covid-19: From Siloes to Ecosystems
We are currently facing one of the largest healthcare crises in modern history - and it's far from over. The hunt for cures and vaccines for COVID-19 is forcing scientists, governments and the public at large to rethink our current biopharma innovation models. They're too slow, too expensive and risky.
Hello World. Hello Molecules.
At the age of 12, I first learnt that close relatives of mine were taking prescription medication for mental illness. As an adolescent, the concept of medicating the mind seemed strange, and both worried and fascinated me.
Funding models for science and invention
In my last post I wrote about the importance of funding models to progress. Here I want to survey the major types of funding models particularly for science and invention. This list is probably incomplete, but it's a starting point.
Stagnation, scientific incentives, and funding models
A new paper by Jay Bhattacharya and Mikko Packalen, "Stagnation and Scientific Incentives", argues that the focus on citations and impact factor has incentivized scientists to avoid early, exploratory work in novel areas, and instead work on more incremental advances in already-popular areas.
Crowdfunding Psychedelic Research at Molecule Catalyst: Interviews with Tyler Golato and Rotem Petranker - B MAGAZINE
In the past few months, we have been on the lookout for innovative blockchain startups that are developing new and unique applications of the technology. Along the way, we found Molecule Catalyst, a reward-based, crowdfunding platform for scientific research using cryptocurrency, specifically research in early stage drug development.
Molecule Catalyst and UTM to crowdfund psychedelics research with blockchain - Decrypt
The University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) is financing a study into the psychedelic psilocybin with the help of decentralized fundraising platform Molecule Catalyst, in the first attempt to fund a clinical trial into psychedelics using decentralized finance.
How Many Undetected Frauds in Science? | Fantastic Anachronism
0.04% of papers are retracted. At least 1.9% of papers have duplicate images "suggestive of deliberate manipulation". About 2.5% of scientists admit to fraud, and they estimate that 10% of other scientists have committed fraud. 27% of postdocs said they were willing to select or omit data to improve their results.
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