In this episode, Navid, the CEO of three innovative healthcare companies, sits down with Mike to discuss the power of AI in revolutionizing the medical industry.
With a background in finance and law, Navid co-founded CureMetrix and CureMatch, which use AI and machine learning technology to improve cancer detection and treatment. The American Medical Association recently recognized CureMatch, making it the first of its kind in providing augmentative intelligence to oncologists.
Navid and Mike delve into the benefits of using chat GPT in healthcare, including the automation of repetitive tasks and the ability for healthcare professionals to focus on more important things. They also discuss the role of AI in clinical trials and how it can improve patient care.
Navid believes that AI will not replace doctors, but rather enhance their abilities to make more informed therapy decisions. The ultimate goal of using AI in healthcare is to make cancer a manageable condition and improve overall health through early detection.
Tune in to learn about Navid's background and the exciting work he is doing in the field of AI and healthcare.
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Mike: [00:00:00] Navd, for those who haven't come across you online, introduce yourself and tell our listeners what we're talking about today.
Navid: My name is Navid Alipour. I am co-founder and CEO of AI Med Global, which is our DBA name for the two companies under this umbrella. CureMetrix and CureMatch. On the CureMetrix side, it's a diagnostic we developed to detect breast cancer and heart disease from the same mammogram on the CureMatch side. We co-founded it with one of the world's top oncologists, a lady by the name of Dr. Razel Krock, that's K U r. R O C K for your listeners. tons of content on her if you look her up.
And, what we do there is, recommend the best combination of drugs for each patient's specific cancer using our ai,
Mike: I don't know if you've, uh, seen on the internet, it's been out the last couple years about the factorial of a deck of playing cards. if you take 52 cards and there's never been a shuffle that looks the same. And, they talk about, if you were to shuffle the cards once every five seconds, Take a step around the equator, and once you did that, you took a drop of water out of the Pacific Ocean and then had a bird go to Mount Everest and peck on that.
And after all that goes down to zero, the dry Pacific and the mountains come down, then you're only, 1000000000th of the way there some, it's just this crazy number. And I imagine that cancer medicines are kind of like that too.
There's kind of this factorial going and once you put two in there, then you've doubled that and then quadrupled in exponentially problems and stuff. And I imagine there's so many different combinations and I think that's where the AI comes in a bit, right?
Navid: Mike, you nailed it on, on the head there. So if a doctor wants to recommend a three drug combination, there's literally over four and a half million combinations. So it's beyond human cognition to process that many. Right? And so that's where our K r ai, which stands for knowledge, representation, and Reasoning ai.
And I can get it. , it's a differentiation between that and N L P, natural language processing and machine learning that more people have heard of. but that's where that comes in. And,cancer, like a fingerprint, like two snowflakes, they never look the same. and so that's where what we do at CureMatch in short, is, again, we're digital health.
We don't touch the physical sample. We don't have a wet lab. We take that input from the labs that do the next generation sequencing and we get that pdf, that 30-31 page pdf or the doctor's office can enter it in our private site. And that next gen sequencing to the layperson, I'd say it's like the 23andme of that patient specific count cancer down to the molecular profile.
And so we base our report then based on that specific patient's cancer. Then, no two cancers are ever the same. And so that's true precision medicine, right. And that's what we are. In short, do in fact,be very excited to share with your audience that the American Medical Association found out about us last year and encouraged us to apply for our C P T code with them.
because roughly 40% of cancer patients are already getting off-label use treatments. And that percentage is only gonna go up. It's not gonna go down. And so we, submitted for our CCP T code, went through that process in front of the pathology caucus in front of the AMA, and, very excited to share that.
we got it. And so on January 1st, the AMA announced companies that got their C P T codes, and we were one of those companies. It's the first of its kind, in fact, in this,in this category of, providing this augmentative intelligence. To the oncologist. again, not replacing, there's, the robots and AI aren't taking over, in my opinion, anytime
Navid: soon, uh, especially in healthcare.
and so, but we do say that the, AI's not gonna replace the doctor, but the doctor using it will replace the doctor That is not
Mike: I'm a rough audience nav because you hear of. cancer killed all these people, over the years. And then you hear about the success of cancer treatment now, and I'm thinking about all the talent that's out there and all this stuff. And then when I hear of someone dying of cancer still, like that started in their prostate or something, as my dad started in prostate, went to all the bones and I'm like, really?
People are still dying of that. You know? It seems so simple to me and it's not, but I just, I'm so gung-ho about the future of the medicine that I'm always surprised when someone just gets ravaged by cancer. And I know it's going fast, but we've got a ways to go still.
Navid: we do. We do. And, like you, I'm a glass half full guy. or we couldn't do what we do. It'd be too depressing, right? And, We've in advanced incredibly, my wife's a Hodgkins lymphoma survivor going on 20 years, knock on wood. And,Hodgkins is a very survivable cancer, like prostate, like breast cancer if you catch it early enough.
We all know early detection is [00:05:00] crucial. However, people still die from breast cancer, from prostate, from Hodgkins that are very curable. , unlike some cancers that like ovarian that gets detected very late, and pancreatic and kidney that are much, you know,the mortality rate is significantly higher.
but even with these cancers that are more treatable, one, it's all about, as early detection as possible. and two some of these cancers that are just much nastier, right? They have more variants. And the more variants you have, whether it's prostate or breast cancer, that,to stick with those two, the more variants, the more pathways for the cancer to get away and metastasize and spread, right?
Navid: And so you have to think of it, and I like my analogies. If you're trying to block water going down a river,the higher up you block it, the higher the odds of success, right? Whereas if it's lower, the water will find ways to spread or traffic on a highway. if you block it,high up,you, you're more successful.
Whereas if you block it later up, lower down, there's more on-ramps and off ramps for the cars to exit and get away.
And so, that's where, what we do as CureMatch is to recommend based on the cancer patient's specific NGS panel. and we're agnostic by the way. Is that from Foundation, medicine?
Which RO Schwa for a couple billion. Is it,public companies like Garden or Caris or Vita or LabCorp? we're agnostic, right? and so we'd get that input from. Whether they send it to the oncologist and it said the patient sends it and will recommend it, based on that patient-specific cancer.
Now, sometimes we're incredibly useful when it's a nastier cancer. There's more variants, there's more pathways. Cuz then that's even harder for the, again, the human cognition of so many combinations. And in some cases where there aren't as many variants, we're still useful. we'll just validate that the existing standard of care is the best one to go
with.but it, it's sad but true that the law is always behind technology and any industry, whether it's healthcare, whether it's with cryptocurrency, right, the law is always gonna play catch up to technology. and so, that's where a lot of. oncologists, a lot of healthcare professionals, they're gonna go with this existing standard of care and they have that legal air cover to do that, right?
they're not gonna get sued if you give a lung cancer patient the NCCN guideline standard
Navid: of care, cuz even if 98% of them pass within two, three years,and then if it doesn't work, then they'll look at more cutting edge technologies like us. Now, I think with the C P T code that now gives that validation for oncologists say, look, they got this, they had oncologists from top institutions like MD Anderson and Morris and John Hopkins that sent their letters of support saying, CureMatch, changed my therapy decisions.
and so there's something there. The validation is there. and so we're, where the industry is gonna go. I think instead of us being used when nothing else is working and sure, let's just try. Do it immediately. your patient gets diagnosed. It's the worst news they've arguably ever gotten in their life.
They get that biopsy sent to a lab. It gets sequenced. Then get that to us to then recommend some combination therapy treatments, out of the gate before anything is administered then. And that's where we're gonna be saving, and prolonging more lives.
Mike: I've known so many guys, and I guess gals too, but they say, I was on the treadmill for my stress test, and the doctor said, you're not going home for lunch. You're gonna take your next step into this hospital bed and have your surgery done to replace all your heart pipes, and that, and it's like, I'm always thinking it'll be a great day when you don't wait for your first pain to hop on.
Maybe, the treadmill where, where, they're finding these things earlier, but I guess they're costly to do stress tests and all that kind of stuff. And I guess with your stuff, it's probably the same thing once you can depend on them more, and then the costs are in line and all that, and the C p T code comes in.
Once all that lines up, then that all equals earlier and earlier means more helpful.
Navid: No, II think that's very accurate. and,and that's where, again, to prolong lives and save lives. And what you touched on earlier that why, why are so many people still dying from cancer? It's gonna be the case for some time that cancer and heart disease are the top two causes of mortality at a global level, right?
and so to make cancer, something like diabetes or h i v, that it's not a death sentence as much, anymore, but it's something people live with for decades. and so that's the goal is to try to make cancer as something that is not in that sentence. And it's something that can either beat or prolong lives as the oncologist just says, increase the PFS and the os, a progression-free survival and overall survival.
Navid: So yes, there's treatment decision support, that, what we do on the CureMatch side. what we do at CureMetrix, which again, these are two separate Delaware C Corp companies. We started them at separate times. On the Qmetric side, it's specifically our woman's health suite of products, where we detect breast cancer and heart disease from the [00:10:00] same mammogram. and so that's where. just that's our input, the mammogram's, our input, we're digital health. Again, we don't make physical devices. We're agnostic as to whether it's a GE machine or a WholeLogic machine. but we're arguably the best technology out there in detecting breast cancer from a mammogram.
and what we do that no one else does is also score, detect and score the breast arterial calcification and the arteries of the breast tissue. and so that is early on, so it's a heart disease. So this is something that,for us men,as we get older,we'll have ch symptoms of heart disease.
Navid: We'll have chest pain, shortness of breath. You go to your doctor, they tell you how bad you've been eating and not exercising. Do the EKG and stress test and get you on statins and other medications. So hopefully it's not the surgery at least that's delayed or, if not immediately in your example of going straight to the surgery center and just getting on that statin alone reduces the risk of a cardiac event by 50, 60%.
Now with women, heart attack is called the silent killer because 65% die on that first heart attack. Completely asymptomatic. No chest pain, no shortness of breath, fatigue, for example. Fatigue is a symptom of heart disease, a heart attack coming for women, but it's obviously misdiagnosed, like, and so that's where if a woman goes in for her first mammogram at the age of, let's say 40 42, she's not a super athlete, but she's in decent shape.
She eats decently. She doesn't have any known heart disease in the family. She's going in for her mammogram. And if we detect breast star arterial calcification, that merits her, then going to see a cardiologist to do the EKG and the stress test and get on any medications needed. We just added years of life to that woman, by that early detection. So to your point, it's not behind the eight ball where, you know, assuming no heart attack has happened, but you go to a doctor for some discomfort and they're like, Hey, you got a problem. You, this has been developing for years, to get that early at 42, that's gonna impact countless lives and improve women's health significantly at a global level.
Mike: Tell me about the structures of your company. Are they public, private? I know you have a board, so I know you got people harping on you for this or that, and I imagine you bring a board on when it's not all of your money. You got people that want to be talking and watching and things like that.
How are the companies set up? Basically who owns them and that kind of stuff?
Navid: Absolutely. So, we are not public. we, while we did get some interest,before the stock market melted down,and had some talk with bankers and others, we're still private, we're a startup, right? and startups. Some are small, some are very large, but we're private.
Each one is its own Delaware C Corp. So we started to CureMetrix first. When we met the scientists outta uc, San Diego, that literally rocket scientists had done work for NASA for Los Alamos,now, helping detect anomalies and space weather to the tune in 99% accuracy to reposition satellites that.
Navid: No one else could do it. And so they came to us, we have our small venture fund analytics ventures. And they had come to us, no business plan, no business model, just said, Hey, we're these AI machine learning experts anywhere you can use it to make a prediction or recommendation or forecasts or detect anomalies that don't belong, whether in data or images.
There's an opportunity, right, to bring efficiencies, increase revenues. And that's where we said, look, we're in San Diego. It's a defense town. It's a healthcare town. What can we do in the interest of time in healthcare? And that's where we said, Hey, can you detect breast cancer better than existing computer assisted detection technologies?
and they very confidently said, yeah, we can do that. And we personally co-founded then Qmetric. and that was the beginning,on that front. And then my business partner, blaze Barley,dear friend and business partner, then developed cancer himself. And, I'm happy to say he's cancer free because of combination therapies.
But, because of that, we met Dr. Krock. At the time she was at the Morris Cancer Center. She's now in Wisconsin. but when she was in San Diego, the Morris Cancer Center, amazing work. And so that's where,we said, Dr. Krock, have you thought of starting a company so we can scale with technology and marry your oncologist background and domain expertise with our artificial intelligence team and expertise and let's get this out to the world.
cuz you are one person at the end of the day and can only see so many patients a day, right? And so, that was the beginning of the CureMatch. And so we have these two separate companies that we co-founded and,driving them, at, together in a sense, because we are fighting cancer,on both sides.
Mike: Is that common where you've got people that have this kind of skill or maybe a new technique, but maybe they're not ready to do their own business, they're just like, Hey, we've got the product in quotes. Is it common that they would go to venture firms and ask to kind of make those come together in a company?
Or is it more typical that a company is going to come to a venture firm and wanna do that? How unreal is that? That somebody would come with this skill and then [00:15:00] you would not just go from the venture company, but to actually opening up your own company?
Navid: Let's peel back the layers of the onion, as they say there. there's a lot there. Coming from both sides. You have the traditional guy or gal from Google or Facebook or Intel or elsewhere who has an idea. or they get laid off and that finally pushes them to do something on their own.
And right now there's been a lot of layoffs in tech, and this is. In a sense, good for innovation because people get comfortable. They have the day job, they get paid great by these companies. and,they have families and college tuition and obligations.
it's hard to walk away from that, right? But then sometimes someone's hand is forced and they end up then being in a position saying, okay, I could either go apply for another job, or I've had this idea, let me work on this. Right? And so you have the companies that start and they put their own skin in the game if they can, or if they can't, they go raise money.
Navid: And of course, if someone truly believes in something, they wait as long as possible to raise capital because the farther along you are, the better terms you'll get. Right. but then you have situations where someone's, you know, Dr. Kurzrock was never gonna stop caring for her patients. to start a company.
And in fact, if someone is truly a fantastic doctor and oncologist in this case, that's what they should be doing is taking care of their patients, right? and doing research and new innovation. and so, so that's where we said, no, don't quit your job. and, keep taking care of cancer patients.
Keep doing the incredible research you're doing, but let's start this company together and let's get it out there. So, we then of course put our money in as a, put our risk in, put our time in, and then raise money around that. Now, this venture studio model, as it's called, we didn't invent.
It's been around for quite some time, whether the name was put to it or not. But it happens more and more, and especially in the healthcare side and the life science side where, let's say,there's, VC firms like domain associates,in, out of Boston, or Avalon Ventures out of here in San Diego, where they'll go into.
and look at the ip, look at the technology being developed at, the labs at uc, San Diego or Stanford or m i t or elsewhere. and license that to, develop a new drug, let's say. Right? And so it does happen more and more, and you do have VCs that end up jumping in as operators, and you have operators that end up becoming VCs or, or private equity execs.
and I think it makes you a better investor to have that operational background, and I think it makes you a better operator to have that investment background to know what will resonate better in, in how to position, in build, as the company matures.
Navid: We see it both ways, right?
There's people that start the company first and then go down the traditional path of raising a seed round, a series A around series B and so forth. And, there increasingly is more and more, companies that are started under this venture studio model, with the institution, with individuals, and licensing a technology, let's say, in that example.
Mike: It's probably not a fair question because right now you might say things differently. Here's a question. Before these medical companies came along, what was your goal with the venture? I can't ask you that now because you don't wanna say, oh, I want to get these things off my plate. These are a pain in the ass, and I wanna do something else. But let me go back 10 years. What was your goal at that point?
Navid: That's a great question, Mike. And so I think, we all grow and mature and, and, some people, maybe they know their career path from day one and hats off to them, and kudos to them. and many of us,the Uzi and u zag, right? and so on, in my case,if you asked me 10 years ago, I would say, we'd started our small VC fund and would like to grow that and invest in, in existing companies and then raise a fund, two and three and four.
If we're successful, of course. and,and identify great technologies and entrepreneurs and invest in 'em and,and also then drive a good return for our investors, right? that's what I would've said. now we ended up literally co-founding, CureMatch and CureMetrix because we saw an opportunity.
and, but for us, these companies would never exist, right? and so we saw an opportunity and it did kind of pull at my personal passion, around healthcare. My family, my wife's family, all doctors were, I joke that we're the two that went to the dark side of finance and the law.
but it's always been a passion of mine and frankly, it's easier to get up every morning. when you're doing something that's going to help people live longer, as opposed to,walk your dog app
Navid: or a sales enablement app, or a digital, let's say, advertising technology, which all those are great.
but for me personally, what gets me up every morning right now is what we're doing, to fight cancer and heart disease. and,I feel like that's my, this is what I, not to get off philosophical about it and, but I almost feel like this is what I was meant to do. and so I'll drive these companies until I'm not needed, whether a bigger company [00:20:00] acquires us, whether we go public and, I, step out when I'm not needed.
but that'll be a good problem to have.
Mike: Your law degree. Whenever I thought of maybe getting a different degree besides pharmacy, I always thought of law. And here's why. It seems that a lot of the bullies in the business world, our attorneys, corporate, our attorneys, are the ones that always seem to have that last threat.
Like, well, you just wait because I'm an attorney and I'm gonna find a way to screw you. And I would sometimes wanna get a degree in that. And politics, let's say a lot of attorneys in politics, I'd wanna get a degree sometime, because you've seen that in political discourses. When you're watching one of the congressional hearings or something like that, and the two people, it seems like they can tell people to stick it out, are MDs and attorneys, because they'll use the reasoning, which isn't always fair, but of a higher authority.
It's like, well, are you sir a medical doctor as I am? or are you an attorney as I am? And both of those are like, shove it degrees, do you get that? Do you ever have people that want to kinda, face up to you and because you have the degree, you're able to say, no, you're not gonna try to out degree me.
Navid: Yeah. it's funny, Mike, I've never heard it put that way. Shove, shove it degrees. I like that. I think the way I'm, just thinking out loud here, we live in a country that follows the rule of law, right? And. Yes, sometimes it could be a pain and it could be, it's litigious. but you know what, it's, it's what has made the United States what it is today, right? And,and where,rights can be addressed now.
Sure. Are there bad actors? Of course, like in any field,there are bad actors that give a certain profession a bad name, right? Whether that's, doctors, that's attorneys, that's a mechanic, a dentist, right? There's bad actors. and, Regards to having a law degree.
There's more people with jds, the degree, right. in the US that don't practice law versus those that do.
Mike: Oh, that's interesting.
Navid: so I'm one of those, I have a JD but I'm not practicing law and, but it gave me a great background and when I was younger, when I didn't have all this gray hair, I know your listeners are just listening, but before I had the gray hair, the JD got me some credibility right?
As I'm developing whatever I was doing or doors I was trying to open. and when I meet someone that's gone through law school, I don't care if that's a tier one law school or a two or three, but if they finished law school, to me it says they have followed through, they have work ethic cuz law school.
Is a pain. It's a lot of work. And so if they finished it, I know they can follow through and it also alters the way you think about things. And so I think that's the value in the degree. Now, if I can go back to, the year 2000 when I started law school, and know that what I do now, and if I knew I can get to where I am now without going to law school, I may not have gone, I'll be frank with you because I'm not practicing law, right?
So if I knew I could get to where I am without it . I wouldn't have gone through the torture of law school but I'm proud of having it. That said, and I'm probably, sliding doors would probably not be where I am,
but for that,
But, someone asks, should I go to law school?
But I go, first off, don't romanticize it. Right. If I'm talking to students at a college, and, it's not cheap. there's a lot of student loans and there's a lot of lawyers that don't make much money either, right.
It's certainly not, you got a law degree and you're going to financially do
I'm proud of having the background,and it changes the way you think. but it's certainly not for everyone. So I would say to anyone considering. Going for their JD and going to law school.
It's a huge time investment in financial investments.
Mike: I was talking to a guest last week and we were talking about colleges too, and typically that's always been my response and the same response to my children saying, look guys, this is gonna show that you're able to set a goal and make it, and you can figure out how to live in a dorm by yourself and how to do this and how to do that.
And that's because there was really, Good communication. There wasn't another great way to do that. Let's say 10 years ago that really put a stamp on someone that said, you've got the drive to do that. And I think about different things now like withGoogle's got this six month degree and I think of this program that we use at the pharmacy for scheduling and so on.
I think there's gonna be metrics to show people have dedication without having to spend, a hundred, $200,000 on something. when the colleges lose that, putting a mark on people. And there's other ways to mark that on people.
You wonder what's gonna happen to the [00:25:00] college stuff.
Navid: And I think that, the four year college, traditional program, is not for everyone. And there's, now,other courses and professional licenses that someone could get. There's a factor two, there's, the colleges keep raising their tuition every year. and it, and then the burden of student debt is something that has to seriously be considered if someone's gonna go to college. and, are they gonna be able to pay that off with a degree?
Like, if you're gonna get a degree in underwater basket weaving, I don't think you're gonna pay that degree off. Right. Or that student debt off. If you're going to, go down and, become a pharmacist or a doctor or engineer, you're probably gonna pay that debt off. Right. and so I think it's important to, as parents, I have kids and, we tell 'em, well, it's important to factor all this in.
That said, as a country, I think we are. At risk, because folks in other countries put more emphasis on the stem, right? The science, technology, engineering, math programs in the US parents complain because Susie had too much homework.
Navid: And in China and Russia and Eastern Europe and Israel and Iran and India, they're not complaining. In fact, they know that education is their path
you know, either leave the country because it's unstable wherever the country is or, be successful in their own country if, stable.
and the fact is there are a ton of women from those countries that are scientists and engineers. And in fact, our team, CureMatch and CureMetrix, it's like the United Nations people from all over the world. And half of them are women. and I, and again, because science and math are emphasized and there's no reason for that.
Navid: One should say, boys are better at it than girls. That's ridiculous. but we need to change how we think in the US and in some ways and not complain about more homework for kids. And also to emphasize the sciences and make that as attractive as getting a communications degree.
Navid: and by the way, AI is probably gonna replace, marketing jobs and communication jobs more so than, a pharmacist job or doctors or an
engineers or lawyers.
Mike: You and I growing up, You know, watching the Jetsons and things like that, you always thought that computers were gonna take from the bottom, they were gonna be the hamburger flippers and automatic garbage collection.
you were thinking of this from the bottom up, but quickly a slap in the face from,chat G P t I mean, people's minds go crazy here. you, we realize that it's from the top down and unfortunately, throw pharmacists and doctors and everybody in there, and all of a sudden it's like the white collars are waking up and saying, whoa, this came from the wrong end.
Navid: absolutely. And there's certain jobs that are going to be replaced. and there's jobs that are going to be created though that we can't fathom, right? So you have the folks when the automobile was invented that said, what's gonna happen to the people that take care of the horses and the horse buggies and carriages?
They're gonna lose their jobs. And yes, they did lose their jobs, but look at all the jobs that were created because of the automobile, whether it was to build it, to take to, to, take the mechanics, to take care of it. All the jobs that came,and that were not foreseen, right?
And on top of that,there's a, oh, AI is evil, or no, it's a technology, it's not good or evil. How is it used? The automobile was killed. Tens of millions of people, car accidents and Maine, tens of millions of people, at a global level. but it has brought more good to us as a civilization of society.
and so the car is not good or evil, it's a technology, right? And so I think that's where with AI in healthcare, it's, yes, some jobs may be replaced, but again, we have a shortage of healthcare professionals, from the doctors of the lab techs. so you know, it's gonna be a technology to empower them to take care of their patients better.
Navid: So, I'll give you an example on the CureMetrix side. In detecting breast cancer by law, the radiologist has to look at every single mammogram. There's a huge burnout amongst radiologists and,as one of our radiologist, investor said, when he sits in front of a, a screen and he is gonna look at mammograms for the next four hours, he wants to get this suspicious cases first thing,
not toward the end.
And, and and so that's why our, our first of its kind FDA cleared product, CM triage on the Qmetric side, it's, it batches the mammograms and is suspicious and not suspicious. So this batch, nothing suspicious was detected. Look at these mammograms when you have time, get it to your junior radiologist.
read them, add your convenience, this other batch anomalies detected. Get to these women asap. Read these mammograms asap. And so just there, that workflow tool is a huge benefit to the radiologists and the patients that are going to. have their cancer diagnosed faster. and again, we have a shortage of mammographers, right?
Mike: So this technology can also turn your general radiologist into a mammographer. And , you have then a junior radiologist that using [00:30:00] technology can be as good as a senior radiologist. I'm gonna pick on pharmacy, here's a pharmacy that has all these pharmacists and albeit Covid was here, but you look at life expectancy and have we been shuffling papers for the last 20 years?
Because the life expectancy is about the same and it's cancer and the heart disease that are doing it. And so when I think about AI, I'm thinking let the AI be the new calculator. Let it do that. And let's start really looking at the metrics of life expectancy and things like that and not be spending the last 30 years, you know, for.
A lot of our professions are kind of a secretarial role, just having things churn. Let's use AI and then let's jump above that.
Navid: love that you said that, Mike. and,it's interesting you said calculator. an analogy I've used before is to say, CureMatch is like excel for oncologists, right?
Excel didn't replace your CPA or my cpa. If anything, there's more CPAs, right? But it's a tool they use to process information to do their job faster and more efficiently.
And so that's what we do at CureMatch is we are a. To empower the doctor to deliver better care. It's just one tool in their toolbox. There's other tools as well, right? And so, that's whereAI helps process more information, that, again, is beyond human cognition.
and to detect better, to treat better and to monitor better.
Now, what's also worth discussing is,we have a cure that matches our clinical trial intelligence platform for the pharma companies to help get drugs to market faster in oncology. it's about a billion dollars in 10 years to get a drug to market. and by the way, it's sad, but, true that, they only need a 20% efficacy on that trial to get the drug cleared.
Meaning it's, when it's cleared, it's gonna be, have a good response for 20% of the patients. And the other 80%, have minimal response. And in some cases, as we know, toxic responses as well. Right. And so that's where our clinical trial intelligence platform, we could go in and it's public information, right?
So, you could look it up on trials.gov, right? Pfizer has 23 oncology trials going. So, we could help by giving us the NGS panel of the cohort of patients you're considering for a. And we'll tell you based on just their, the PDF you send us, right? of those potential clinical trials, patients will say, this arm will have a toxic response that you don't want 'em in your trial.
It'll kill, if not delay your trial. This other arm, they'll have a much better response, better efficacy. You want patients like that if you're doing your preclinical trial setup, let's say. and so everyone wins. At the end of the day. You gotta follow the money. The pharma company's gonna spend less on trials and it's gonna unlock their IP faster and start making money faster as they can sell the drugs.
the patients benefit because the drugs will get to market faster. and so that's where,following the money, the two deepest pockets in healthcare are the pharma companies and the payers, the insurance companies. And so if you could help them make money or if you could help them save money,then, Ultimately that's what's gonna drive getting these technologies to market.
Navid: And it's frustrating, it's maddening for me and many others in the industry that these technologies don't get out there cuz we all have loved ones or friends that end up having cancer and other diseases and they have to just work the system, right? And, it's not as, healthcare is a diff, just a different animal.
But that's where,again, artificial intelligence can be used to process more information, not to replace, but to empower. And at the end of the day,an AI algorithm doesn't need a coffee break. It doesn't have a food coma. after lunch it doesn't get
Navid: distracted, right?
And so if you use that technology to, let's say, detect breast cancer, faster. Better, more accurately. if you help in recommending best treatment potentials, combinations. it's, it's not replacing, it's empowering.
Mike: Just messing around with, chat, G p T and kind of analogy to this is, let's say I do this podcast and I have to make show notes, in the past I would listen to the show and I think, okay, here's what nav said, and I'm gonna maybe call it this. And it's like, let me get something out on paper so I can complete this.
Now with the chat, G p T, now you throw that in there, but when it comes out instantaneously, then you can say, I don't like the tone of this. I think we should have gone this route. you can take a standard that before took me an hour to do, and now it takes 60 seconds and you can spend that hour.
Do you want it to be poetic? Do you want it a mandate? there's a lot of things you can do. And like you say, there's a limited number of healthcare professionals out there and they're getting burned out just because their fingers are tired from hitting the enter key or something like that.
and we've gotta accept that and move up to [00:35:00] the next level, it seems.
Navid: Absolutely, Mike. And the fact is that, if we can automate the redundant tasks, the boring tasks, then human creativity can be unlocked and spent on other things, right? And in any industry, right? and so that's absolutely relevant here in healthcare. If a doctor can, whether it's to take care of more patients, then without using a certain technology or whether, it's now a lab tech, let's say, there's a technology out there that,you know, a LabTech can use to look at EKGs.
and so then it doesn't need to be, as it's not as much of a burden on the cardiologist, right? and so guess what? Lab techs cost less.
Then a cardiologist. Right? And so that reduces the spend in the healthcare system. But by the way, it's not taking any business away from the cardiologist cause they got plenty of other stuff to
Mike: There's plenty of lives to save. the percent's not there. I imagine that the word AI now is kind of a hip term and you probably even, I think I've even seen companies that have switched their name in the last like few weeks because they want to take up on the trend.
Do you look at companies that come out and say, Well, that's not ai. That's a calculator they're using for that. I mean, is there a definition or can pretty much anybody who say that they're using a computer that brings out more than they put in, than it's AI
Navid: It's a completely overused term and it's become a marketing play and a lot of technologies, again, with the investor hat on you. See countless pitch decks and investor decks. and a lot of them are just glorified business intelligence, right? That's all it is. It's a business analytics tool.
it's not any real, neural, network or machine learning or natural language processing or what we do at CureMatch. K R AI is so unique. it's, and it's not, it's not something that many folks can do. And it was years ago, I think in a New York Times article, that said, in the world, globe at a global level, there were only like 10,000 or 20,000, I forgot the number of true data scientists, right?
and so if, I'm sure it's more now, but the fact is, artificial intelligence, it's been around for decades, but it came into the lime line and then it went away. . And I think the reason they last call it 10 years, it's only accelerating and we're only hearing about it more and more.
It's because of some convergence of technologies. One, there's more data to process. So whether it's the iWatch we all wear or our iPhones or other, internet of thing devices, IOT devices. If you drive a Tesla, it is an IOT device, right? It's connected to the internet. and as engineers say, there are more nodes, a node being anything that's connected to the internet.
Navid: It could be your iPad, it could be your phone, a laptop. It could be a medical device that's connected to the internet, a pacemaker. all these are nodes, and they're all generating so much data. so there's just more data to process and it's again, it human can't do it without then some tools, right?
And so you have more data, you have higher compute capacity, so you have more powerful computers to process that data. You have the cloud. So by being on the cloud, it vastly reduces the cost. So, if we're 100% cloud-based, and so if you gave me 20 million mammograms tomorrow, we could process it no problem.
because we're, we just, ramp up on aws.whereas before the cloud, you'd have to have the physical hardware in your office, right? the servers. And if you got 20 million mammograms and you're like, oh my God, well it's gonna take months if not years and tens of millions of dollars to buy those servers to process, right?
Mike: And so you have more data, you have higher compute capacity, and you have the cloud. and so I think this convergence is then allowing more data to process, to train the algorithms. and so that's where then it, the innovations are accelerating. You said the word there,, it keeps training the algorithm. Is that the definition is there a solid definition
Navid: Well, there's different definitions of artificial intelligence, but essentially it's a technology that can sift through. mountains of data to again, make a recommendation or prediction or forecast or detect something that does not belong. Right. Whether it's cancer in a image or it's,the space weather,detected from satellites
And so literally machine learning, if you feed it, let's say images, right? And so you say, this is a dog, this is a cat. This is a German shepherd. This is a golden retriever. And you, the more data you feed it, the better it gets
at detecting it, right?
And so that's where there's a dozen types of breast cancer. So we fed our algorithms, images of different cancers from a heterogeneous dataset, by the way. So meaning mammograms from women of all ethnic backgrounds and so that now it could be useful, whether it's a Caucasian woman, an Asian-American woman, an African-American woman, a woman in Brazil, and right.
And dense breast tissue versus not dense [00:40:00] tissue. It's much harder to detect breast cancer and dense tissue. and so you train it and the more data you have, the better it gets. . Now what's interesting is that, there's that consensus now that data is the 21st century oil. but data is, oil is, Venezuela has more oil than any country in the world, more than Saudi Arabia.
but the country's falling apart because they can't get their act together to get the oil outta the ground refined and turned into gasoline. and so that's the same thing with data. You could be sitting on a pile of data. the, you could be the Venezuela of data and it's useless unless you can get that data out of the ground.
Navid: I say the, you have the scientists and,and then, to then curate the data, clean the data. and by that I mean it, everything has to be kind. So if you have a, if you're training an algorithm to detect. And learn to see this patient that just came into the ER is gonna have a heart attack or is gonna develop sepsis or, whatever's gonna happen.
You need to feed them all kinds of information, whether it's the patient's weight, their height that's collected, their age, their blood work. all of it has to be collected exactly the same for all the patients that are used to train the algorithm or it won't be accurate or as accurate.
and so that's what I mean by cleaning the data. and then, at some point though, with machine learning, there is a diminishing rate of return if we're 98% accurate in detecting breast cancer and you said,, here's 10 million more mammograms. Do you want it? Of course we'll take it, but how much better are you gonna get once you're at a certain level of accuracy?
Navid: Whereas what we do a CureMatch with our K R ai, it's knowledge, representation, and reasoning. And the reason machine learning doesn't work, is not optimal for best combination treatments. because back to, earlier in our conversation, no two cancers are ever the same.
So it's impossible to use machine learning to train to get the optimal outcome because you need it to be the same to train the algorithm. Right. And so if no, if a cancer is an N of one, there's no lung cancer patient, that their molecular makeup of their cancer is the same as any other cancer in the world.
And so that's, that it takes that knowledge, representation, and reasoning ai, which takes that domain expertise. And then the input is the NextGen sequencing of that patient's specific cancer. And then the algorithm will ingest that. And based on our database, it's always being curated to recommend the top three drugs, two drugs, one drug combos.
In that patient-specific case, the analogy I'll use there is that it's like GP gps, it uses K R R ai, right? If you and I were in the same city and one second after each other, we're gonna map how to get to the airport, we wouldn't get the exact same results. Cause traffic patterns are always
Mike: With , the breast tissue we were talking about
that you can duplicate m more, but the other one you can't because it's individual genetics.
Navid: Exactly. It's individual based on that person's specific cancer. and a lot of oncologists increasingly are saying that cancer should not be identified by the organ of the body. It's found that there really is no lung cancer or breast or brain or stomach. It should be identified by the molecular makeup of the cancer.
Right. and so that's where, like Merck's Keytruda drug was initially for lung cancer. And we found out years ago that it kept popping up in our reports for stomach cancer, for example. and in, in the case it was a, former Vietnam that, he lived in the Central coast here in California by Sam Lu Obispo.
and I forgot how he found us, was literally on his deathbed, two, three weeks to live, he'd done a foundation medicine, NextGen sequencing report. So he had that. And so we used that as our input again, and when we cured him, we got that report from the doctor. And one of the drugs recommended in this three drug combination was Merck's Keytruda drug.
Navid: And the doctor said, I would've never thought of that
Because Keytruda was meant for lung cancer.
and so this patient ultimately did pass, but they lived, he lived another nine months. And, we got a letter from his family, thank you. Saying, thank you for nine more months with the grandkids and sunsets of the central coast here.
and, and so for us, that's what drives
Navid: us. And, and to say, to know that we, yes, he ultimately passed, but he lived longer he would have, but for us,
Mike: Nav v, your weak. If you could break it down, as your role now as being involved with these three companies, breakdown percentage, Is it 20% thinking of, fundraising? Is it 10%? Thinking of marketing? Is it 20%, meeting with so and so? What does your
weak look, that's a great question. And I've done a few podcasts here and there, but I haven't been asked for that one. so, I always like getting new questions. So the fact is, No one day is the same. For example, today,before I got on this podcast with you, which helps us get the word out there and helps people know about us, right?
we had a
Navid: weekly team call, right? , and then afterwards I, I'll have a,a zoom with, our CFO and I'll have a meeting with a potential partner and,I'll have a meeting within a potential [00:45:00] investor or our bankers, right? So it varies day to day. I think I'm not a micromanager and what I look to do is to find people that are better at everything than me at everything.
And I think that's part of the job as a CEO is to find someone that's better at you than sales, better at you in the market. , certainly on our side. I'm not a data scientist. someone's better in that as someone that's a better clinician, right? And so you put the best, you get the best people on, on the bus, and they'll drive in the right direction.
and so I don't micromanage especially in this post covid environment where we have an office, but we also work remote, so we're hybrid. and so we have a developer in Oklahoma City, and we got a marketing guy in Portland, Oregon, and a regulatory expert in Chicago, right?
and so, so that's where we truly made lemonade out of lemons in this new environment. and you have to trust and empower these people to do their job. And of course, there's milestones and it's, you, someone doesn't meet them. you see it whether you're in office or not.
but I think that's whereI look to find people that I can then. Empower, in, in, whatever we need them to do for the company and also have 'em own, have ownership and pride in the company. And, ownership of course comes in options. and you want people to, uh, everyone's incentivized, right?
Navid: Not only to get paid, but to have a vested interest in the success of the company. At the end of the day, no one goes to the startup, for the cash compensation. Of course you gotta pay them a competitive salary, but you can go to a big company and get paid much more,or maybe not much more, but you can get paid more.
And,and so it takes a certain, for some people, they're big company people and, others, they hate big companies and they wanna be entrepreneurial and part of a startup and have more responsibilities. and so, that's where my day varies, but it's some combination thereof of.
internal team meetings,marketing efforts and corporate communication efforts to get the word out there. meeting with new potential oncologists or radiologists to make them aware of what we do. and,and so Every day varies.
Navid: which keeps me, keeps me excited every day.
Mike: If somebody on your team wasn't. a good fit for the company. Why would that be? Would it be that they lost focus, they were maybe hired wrong? They're, they're just lazy. If you could think of somebody who would not be a good fit, what would you have been thinking previously?
And then, what's
the matter now?
Navid: So, there's a reason, there's a saying, higher, slow fire
fast and advice is always easier given than taken. But that, the older I get, the more you know, that resonates with me. It's so true. Higher, slow, and fire fast. Cuz if you have the wrong person inside an organization, it's literally like a cancer that can grow and metastasize and spread.
Right? And so, when we got Ali Lina to join us as Chief Science Officer,it. excellent addition to the team. She was at Human Longevity Inc. Worked with Craig vendor who, first human genome mapped. She developed an oncology division. The NeoGenomics then purchased in 2020, went on to volume, the microbiome company that helped that scale.
And then,we were able to get her to join us in 2020. And good people follow good people. Sowe have people on our team that work with her at Human Longevity Inc. Then had followed her to volume and now here at CureMatch. So that's, on the positive side,
getting someone in and she's passionate and she's driven and she has a purpose and,there's no nine to five, right?
She's not a clock watcher when,clocking in at nine and clock out at 5:00 PM and you certainly have those people that, oh, weekends are my time and work life balance. I don't believe in work life balance. If you're truly trying to do something fast. And, for better, for worse, and, I'll check my email on the weekend or I'll,or Slack or, tax, and again, that's, you have to find your personal balance with family obligations and other things.
But there's those that are just so driven and passionate that they're, they can't stop thinking and doing right. And then you have the others that literally,other types of people that you know, no, they're not gonna reply to that email over the weekend or,or that slack. and, there's again, pros and cons and people have different opinions on that, but then there's people that are toxic too.
And so even in a remote environment,if someone creates a toxic environment, let's say on Slack or on a Zoom, that still has an impact. So I think it's really important for. leadership at a company to be aware of that, just because we're in a remote environment doesn't mean there can't be a toxic work culture.
and so we're really mindful of that. And,at the end of the day, we have a no assholes rule, right? So if someone's an ass and, or someone's difficult to work with and they're not gonna be a fit, and,I put a lot of emphasis on, treat others as you want to be treated.
Mike: When I was younger I always looked up to, we all did, we looked up to adults and we thought they had all their stuff together, just cuz they were older. And I think sometimes when people look at it. Tech companies, for example, might think that people are easier to get along with than you would at a local burger joint, where you have high school kids working and so on.
But people are people,
you know, and all kinds of different organizations, and you get people that are, [00:50:00] assholes wherever you go.
Navid: I didn't invent this saying, but I believe in it that you could tell, or you could tell a lot about someone by how they treat someone at a restaurant, the server, right? And it's like, it's not that difficult to mind your, your pleases and your thank yous, right?
and they're serving you food and don't be an ass, right? And so, That's a personality trait. It doesn't matter if they got 50 degrees behind their name or if they never made it to college, right? and so I think, that's just a, in any industry, to your point, whether it's a burger joint or a biotech or a software company,people are people and, that's why when you put the right people together, like magic happens, right?
Navid: You get the right people on a team. They respect each other, they like working with each other. They believe in the mission, the purpose of the company. and,then you're more successful. You help more people. whether it's in healthcare or an ad tech company, right?
You're gonna be more impactful. And at the end of the day, we're doing good, but it's not illegal to make money either,
right? And. and I think, that's where you do good, especially in healthcare, and the money will follow
Mike: What's your favorite hour of the week and your worst hour of the week? And so, the favorite might be, oh, I really like meeting with my CFO. And the worst might be that you gotta do this that week. What are those two bookends?
Navid: So let me rephrase that to not our, but day. So I love getting the week going on Mondays because I'm excited about what is upcoming for the weeks. I know some people hate Mondays cuz they gotta go to school or go to work. I love Mondays. On the same token, as much as I love my weekend, I can't wait to spend time with my wife and my kids and see friends and do non-work stuff on the weekend.
sometimes I get, and I've talked to other people about this, I get. Friday afternoon work anxiety. Right. Where, yeah, I'm sorry. I love Fridays. I'm not gonna say I don't like Fridays, but I love Fridays, but I'll catch myself because I'm like, let me, send one more email, let me make one more phone call.
Navid: Let me go through one more spreadsheet. Right. and the fact is, I have to, talk to myself to say, doing that at 4:00 PM on a Friday is not, it's probably nothing. I can't wait, in some cases, right. And especially if someone, let's say you're, we're on the West Coast, it's not on the East Coast.
Three hours ahead. It's 7:00 PM on a Friday night in New York or Atlanta, Georgia. And so, like, don't bother saying in that email right now. Right. and so, so I can't say the best hour or the worst hour, but I'd say, I look forward to Mondays and sometimes I do get work anxiety at the end of a Friday. Cuz again, I'm so excited about what we're doing,
Mike: It's a good sign.most of the people in the US are the opposite of that
Navid: I'm, I'm not a religious person, but I use the word blessed. I feel
blessed to,to do what I'm
Mike: Navi, tell us one more time, I know that we mentioned the companies, and I'll put a link to this in the show notes, but what's a good place for them to get the basics of what we talked about today about your companies?
Navid: sure. No, thanks for asking Mike. And so if anyone goes to ai med global.com, it will drive them to the links for CureMetrix.com or CureMatch.com, which I ever want interest somewhere they could just go directly to, CureMatch.com or CureMetrix M E T R I x.com. and we have of course our contact information there, email, phone number, and we're want all of the social threads from LinkedIn to Twitter and people can find us there as well.
Mike: Well, Navita, I appreciate what you're doing. Thanks for your time and thanks for sharing that with us. It's exciting stuff.
Navid: Well, Mike, thank you so much for having me on your podcast. And again, thank you for helping us get the word out.
Mike: Very good nav. we'll keep in touch. Thanks again.
Navid: Take care. Thank you, Mike.