Carlos Araya, Head of Functional Modeling, Invitae
0:00 Why Jungla?
4:14 The entrepreneurial commitment in precision medicine
12:39 First beta test - looking under the hood of the industry
17:53 A vulnerable industry: no quantitative metrics
23:31 The big decision
26:31 How will this improve the lives of patients?
Warning: the first part of this story can sound quite typical. Three co-founders with backgrounds in genomics and AI found a Stanford spinout. Their goal: to bring the tools of AI and computational modeling to unlock the medical secrets of the genome and deliver those to patients. They call this company, Jungla—Spanish for “jungle”—naming not only their adventure, but the whole problem. Then things get interesting.
For their first beta testing, they go around the genetic testing industry looking for partners. Basically what they hear back, is we don’t need that. However, they don’t hear the real reason why these companies don’t need their product. The real reason is because it offers a level of quality and standardization for genetic testing that is not currently required by the industry. In fact it shows “just how vulnerable the industry is.”
But one company—one of the bigger ones, one of the more innovate in the field—said yes, we want to partner. That company was Invitae. And a year later, Invitae would buy out Jungla.
Our guest today is Carlos Araya, the CEO and co-founder of Jungla and now acting as Head of Functional Modeling at Invitae.
It’s the story of one scientist's journey from academia, driven because of a personal family loss, into entrepreneurship, and the story of one company and then one bigger company each saying, “everything can be done better."