Chris Bahl

Sep 5, 2022

Entrepreneurship and The Promise of De Novo Protein Design

A Conversation with Chris Bahl

New Books Network 2022

What’s important about de novo protein design from an entrepreneurship perspective?


As the founder of AI Proteins, Chris Bahl leads a company focused on building proteins completely from scratch. The research and subject matter itself are nothing new to Chris, but the entrepreneurial side of his work certainly is.

From October 2017 to October 2021, Chris served as the head of protein design for the Institute of Protein Innovation, a Boston-based research institution. One month later, however, he and his team opted to leave the research world and launch a new biotech company, AI Proteins.

While the primary purpose of academic research in protein design is to learn more about the nature of proteins as they relate to disease, Chris believes the main mission of biotechnology is to cure it—and he definitely wanted to be on the “curing” side.

AI Proteins is expanding the possibilities of protein therapeutics by rationally designing entirely new proteins, or as they’re officially called, de novo proteins. Using AI-based design and a high-throughput drug-discovery platform, the company creates synthetic proteins from scratch and seeks to optimize a specific protein’s activity for a variety of therapeutic applications.

The objective is to enable the development of proteins that are inexpensive, durable, highly specific, and can be optimized for oral delivery. Such a lofty goal is what entrepreneurship in its truest sense is really about.

It’s also a fascinating story to hear in the founder’s own words.

About our guest:

Chris Stahl is the founder and Chief Scientific Officer of AI Proteins, an Andover, Massachusetts-based company focused on ways to harness the power of synthetically designed proteins to cure diseases.

The former head of protein design at the Institute for Protein Innovation, Chris is also a lecturer at both the Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, as well as a TED Fellow. His areas of expertise include computational protein design, structural biology, biochemistry, and in particular, he is credited for inventing the de novo design of synthetic miniproteins. He holds a PhD in Biochemistry from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.

About NBN:

The NBN Entrepreneurship and Leadership podcast aims to educate, inform and entertain, sharing insights based on the personal stories of carefully selected guests—all in an informal atmosphere of unscripted conversations and open, personal accounts.

Find links to past episodes here.

About our Hosts:

Kimon Fountoukidis:

Kimon is the founder of both Argos Multilingual and PMR.

He founded both companies in the mid-90s with zero capital, and both have gone on to become market leaders in their respective sectors.

Kimon was born in New York and moved to Krakow, Poland in 1993. He is passionate about sharing his success with others and working entrepreneurs of all kinds to help them achieve their goals. Listen to his story here. On Twitter. On LinkedIn.

Richard Lucas:

Richard is a business and social entrepreneur who has founded or invested in more than 30 businesses, including Argos Multilingual, PMR and, in 2020, the New Books Network.

Richard has been a TEDx event organiser for years, supports the pro-entrepreneurship ecosystem, and leads entrepreneurship workshops at all levels. He was born in Oxford and moved to Poland in 1991, where continues to invest in promising companies and helps other entrepreneurs realise their dreams.

Listen to his story in an autobiographical TEDx talk. On Twitter. On LinkedIn.

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Your Host

Richard Lucas and Kimon Fountoukidis

Richard Lucas is a business and social entrepreneur who founded, led and/or invested in more than 30 businesses.

Kimon Fountoukidis is the founder of both Argos Multilingual and PMR. Both companies were founded in the mid 90s with zero capital and both have gone on to become market leaders in their respective sectors. Kimon was born in New York and moved to Krakow, Poland in 1993. Listen to his story here.

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