Notes on Engineering Health, October 2022: Some Digitalis Ventures News

The Digitalis Team

The Digitalis Team

October 31, 2022

Here’s a bumper sticker I’d like to see: We are the proud parents of a child whose self-esteem is sufficient that he doesn’t need us promoting his minor scholastic achievements on the back of our car.
–George Carlin

I’ve said it before, and by gosh, I’ll say it again—don’t be afraid to toot your own horn.”
–Emlyn Chand

While we would like to follow George Carlin and ignore Emlyn Chand, we’d be remiss not to feature in this month’s newsletter a recent positive development at the firm. Specifically, last week we announced the closing of our fourth fund, totaling $300 million in commitments. The new capital will be invested in leading entrepreneurs and researchers developing breakthrough science and technology with the potential to transform patients' lives.

“With this fund, we will continue to support founders looking to solve some of the hardest challenges in healthcare, providing guidance for the growth and success not only of the company but also of its leadership team,” said Geoffrey W. Smith, our Founder and Managing Partner. “We're investing in solutions inspired by an engineering mindset and informed by deep technical, financial, and domain expertise. By envisioning what's possible and determining the most efficient path forward, our team will enable companies to move from technology development to clinical and market translation addressing unmet patient needs.”

Since our inception in 2016, Digitalis has invested in over 50 companies across the US, UK, and Europe. Representative investments include Good Therapeutics, whose lead conditionally active cytokine program was acquired earlier this year by Roche; GRO Biosciences, which is scaling the production of proteins that incorporate non-standard amino acids; Terray Therapeutics, which is developing an AI-powered small molecule discovery platform; Cayaba Care, which is providing home-based pregnancy care in communities that need it most; and findhelp, the leading technology provider of social care infrastructure in the US.

To advance our mission of creating a healthier world through the life sciences and healthcare technology, we've built a multidisciplinary team of investors, combined with an expansive, long-term network of entrepreneurs, academic institutions, and co-investors. Our continued aim will be for our portfolio companies to benefit from team members' accessible expertise, their deep technical understanding, and their experience in building successful businesses. Onward.

First Five
First Five is our curated list of articles, studies, and publications for the month. For our full list of interesting media in health, science, and technology, updated regularly, follow us on Twitter or Instagram.

1/ Are our brains quantum computers?

The computing power of the brain continues to inspire. A new study reveals that the human brain may be capable of quantum computing. The brain functions measured in the experiments seem to be instrumental in short-term memory performance and conscious awareness. While explaining consciousness is still an allusive endeavor, this study could lead to new understanding of it. As the German poet Novalis said, “Inwards lays the path full of mysteries.”

2/ What do you know?

A forthcoming article in PNAS showed how broad the range of results and conclusions could be coming from a common set of data and hypotheses. The variability in conclusions cannot be explained by researchers’ modeling decisions or prior beliefs. The group of psychologists highlighted the complexity and ambiguity inherent in the scientific data analysis process.

3/ Keep your eyes on the ball

Looking at an object and extending a hand to grab it is a skill we acquire early in life. These seemingly natural behaviors require complex coordination between different brain regions specialized in looking and reaching. A recent Nature publication shed new light on the fine-tuning of this prowess and describes a new mechanism at the single neuron resolution.

4/ Fever comes from the brain

While the reason for running a fever is well understood to kill or slow down the replication rate of viruses and bacteria, which cells or organs were responsible for this response is still unclear until now. A Swedish research group has identified in mice the cells in the blood vessels of the brain that are necessary for a fever reaction.

5/ Smile and you’ll feel better :)

The serious Nature Human Behavior journal published a study confirming the surprising hypothesis that forcing a little happy face does influence one’s mood! Time to smile at the world to feel better.

Digitalis Commons
Public-Interest Technologies for Better Health

Digitalis Commons is a non-profit that partners with groups and individuals striving to address complex health problems by building public-interest technology solutions that are frontier-advancing, open-access, and scalable.

The Edelman Trust Barometer is always worth a read. This Edelman special report on healthcare institutional investors provides one view of the near-term future in healthcare.

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