I had the pleasure and honor of being an intern at Human Longevity, Inc. (HLI). HLI’s goal is to revolutionize human health by developing and applying large-scale computing and machine learning to the world’s largest and most comprehensive database of whole genome and phenotype data. HLI’s headquarters are located, in San Diego California (UTC), housing state-of-the-art genomics and clinical laboratories, bioinformatics and business facilities. Their ultimate objective is to turn medicine from a reactive approach, to one of preventive and personalized medicine.
My internship was part of an HLI program, launched for the first time this summer. I was one of eleven total interns, and one of two MBA students in this first cohort of interns. I have been told many times that the atmosphere in a startup is hectic and shifting – HLI was no exception. As such, I had a part to play helping senior employees of my department in several activities and projects. In general, these projects related to the understanding of the competitive landscape and the development of proper strategy to operate in it.
Pictured above: HLI’s main entrance. The World Headquarters is located here at UTC, in San Diego California. Other Locations in Mountain View, CA and Singapore. Currently HLI has nearly 200 employees and is actively hiring.
I was lucky to have not one, but two mentors who helped me to grasp and comprehend different sides of the business activity. Ramlah Nehring, the Product Development and Market Intelligence Director, guided me on aspects of developing business Intelligence in the forms of monitoring direct competitors and performing market research. Jey Won, the Business Development Lead, taught me aspects of business development related to the initiation of alliances and collaborations.
With Ramlah, I learned the importance of business Intelligence, i.e. monitoring the competition. At this moment personalized genomics and medicine is an exploding field. It seems that every day another genomics company jumps to the fray, with new genomic products and offerings. This poses the unquestionable need to keep track of the competing activity to ensure that the way ahead—towards HLI’s strategic goals—remains true and unobstructed. Tied into this, was marketing research of indirect-to-consumer genomic products. Our goal was to get a better understanding of the consumer perception of genomic sequencing and interpretation, how it can be applied to their own healthcare and how valuable they consider it to be.
With Jey, I delved into understanding the activity of Big Pharma companies. With only one in every 5000 compounds entering the R&D pipeline, receiving approval with an average cost for each successful drug estimated at overat $1 billion, new drug development is a high stakes game. Lately, there has been a lot of interest in using and identifying genetic signatures to guide and inform drug development. Improving success rates in human clinical trials can potentially save billions of dollars a year for the industry, but more importantly, could increase the speed at which more effective medications are delivered to those who need it. To this end, I studied the activity in the Big Pharma industry with the goal of identifying grounds to initiate B2B relationships and establish alliances that will foster the discovery and development of new therapeutics.
Pictured above: My mentors at HLI, Ramlah Nehring, Product Development and Market Intelligence Director (Left) and Jey Won, Business & Corporate Development Lead (Right).
It has certainly been a powerful experience, especially for someone like me, who is making the transition from academia to the private sector. Without the lessons learned during my first year at the Rady School, I would have lacked even the most basic vocabulary to understand what was going on around me. I feel that my MBA program gave me the tools to insert myself into HLI’s activities, in an effective and efficient manner.
Pictured above: A view of HLI’s back courtyard.
I only have words of gratitude for everyone I worked with at HLI. It has been a wonderful experience. This was a place where my advanced science degrees were not a drag, but a powerful asset to be leveraged. I was given an opportunity, support and guidance, but most importantly understanding and patience.
Francisco J. Uribe (’16) is an MBA candidate at the Rady School of Management. He spent his summer as a Business Development and Marketing Intelligence Intern at Human Longevity Inc (HLI).