Testing a Gene Therapy to Cure HIV & Fundamentally Change Healthcare with Jeff Galvin of American Gene Technologies®
Today, we are excited to chat with Jeff Galvin, CEO of American Gene Technologies®. We are so glad to have Jeff back on the show, we first spoke with him last March to learn about American Gene Technologies and what they were working on. I am excited to hear all the updates and accomplishments since we last chatted. Jeff is the CEO and founder of American Gene Technologies® (AGT).
He earned his BA degree in Economics from Harvard and has more than 30 years of business and entrepreneurial experience including founder or executive positions at various Silicon Valley startups. Following his startup experience, he retired to become an Angel Investor in real estate and high tech. He came out of retirement to found and fund AGT after meeting Roscoe Brady at NIH and the incredible projects he was working on in gene and cell therapy. Jeff has contagious energy for gene technology and the future of curing for the incurable like HIV, cancer, and PKU.
Transcript is automatically generated. Please kindly excuse any grammatical and spelling errors.
[00:00:21] Kelly Stanton: Hi everyone. I'm Kelly from Qualio and I'm your host here From Lab to Launch. Thanks for joining the show today. We've published over 50 interviews with innovators and life sciences across the world. It's been so inspiring to hear the stories of perseverance and innovation to improve human health and save lives. If you're enjoying these conversations, please consider subscribing and giving us a review on Apple or Spotify. And if you wanna be on From Lab to Launch, please see the application linked in the show notes Today, we're excited to chat with Jeff Galvin CEO of American Gene Technologies. We're so glad to have Jeff back on the show. We first chatted with him last March to learn about American Gene Technologies and what they were working on. I'm excited to hear about all the updates and accomplishments since Jeff was last on with us
[00:01:08] Kelly Stanton: a little bit about Jeff. He is the CEO and founder of American Gene Technologies. He earned his bachelor's degree in economics from Harvard and has more than 30 years of business and entrepreneurial experience, including founder or executive positions at a variety of Silicon valley startups, several of his companies were taken public and, or sold to public companies, including one in the medical technology arena that was sold to Varian, the leading maker of linear accelerators used in cancer therapy. Following his startup experience, he retired to become an angel investor in real estate and high tech. He came out of retirement to found and fund AGT after meeting Roscoe Brady at the National Institute's health and the incredible projects he was working on in gene and cell therapy. Jeff has a contagious energy for gene technology and the future of curing, for the incurable like HIV, cancer, and PKU. We're a lot closer to cures than you may think. So let's hear from Jeff.
[00:02:06] Kelly Stanton: Hi, thanks for joining us today.
[00:02:07] Jeff Galvin: Thank you so much for having me on again. I enjoyed the last time and I can't wait for this.
[00:02:12] Kelly Stanton: Yeah, I'm, I'm excited to hear, more about how you guys have, progressed since we last spoke, but for our new listeners, let's talk a little bit about American Gene Technologies and your background and kind of what brought you here so far.
[00:02:25] Jeff Galvin: Sure. So I'm kind of an unusual case for biotech, uh, because I come from the computer industry and I had a good success in Silicon valley and retired. And, uh, so I was, age 42 when I retired and I got a house on the beach in Maui and I still had my home in Silicon valley. So it was a pretty nice situation, which believe it or not gets boring after a very short period of time. And so I wanted to dabble in something again, and I met Rosco Brady, as you mentioned.
[00:02:53] Jeff Galvin: And he showed me viral vectors. And to me, the viral vector is the diskette for the organic computer, the human cell, and that you are nothing but 3 trillion collaborating computers, all on a network, all running software, which is, you know, coded, not in zeros and ones like a, your desktop computer, but an ACTG. And now we can go in there and that operating system, your DNA can be modified. It could be fixed if it's got a defect and it can be improve. If we can think of ways to improve it. And that is the scope of what, what is gene and cell therapy. So, you know, when he showed me, uh, viral vectors, I just was like, somebody has to be the Microsoft of this.
[00:03:34] Jeff Galvin: It's gonna, this is gonna be a software revolution. That's gonna make the last software revolution look quite small. Cause there's 8 billion of these computers around, you know, or times 3 trillion. I mean, there's a lot of demand and healthcare's really important. You'd rather be healthy than to have the latest iPhone, for instance.
[00:03:52] Jeff Galvin: So I think this is a really, really important thing and it behaves more like software than it behaves like standard biotech. And so I, uh, naively or bravely, however you wanna put it, decided to jump in. I risked my retirement and started this company, uh, to try to maximize the potential impact that we could have in human health by using gene and cell therapy.
[00:04:20] Kelly Stanton: That's in interesting too. I've never heard it explained that way as a parallel to software, but I love that analogy that I think that really, that, that really sort of, um, illustrates it nicely.
[00:04:30] Jeff Galvin: Well, I think that the, the concept 15 years ago, when that's the way I was thinking about it, everybody just, just kept telling me to shut up about the software paradigm. Nowadays everybody kinda likes it. And in fact, there's a word that seems to be coming up a lot that I think means somewhat the same thing. Now they're calling it synthetic biology, right? Yeah. And I could have that wrong, but you know, the concept that you are, uh, you know, could eventually be reduced to a billiard ball universe that, you know, everything that happens in you erupts from your DNA and, and this very complex system. So it's not like it's gonna be predictable in, in the near future, but, but you know that what is going on chemically in your body? Has a, a level of predictability, uh, and and clear relationships that you can go all the way down into the DNA to find, right? And, and, and at that point, if you have the ability to make modifications there, you can have huge impact. And you can do these things in a very targeted way, in a very specific way. Uh, and this is something about this drug development modality that was never true about old drug development, modality. You know, the difference between. Uh, you know, this and, say a drugs that were coming out 30 years ago is the difference between, you know putting a diskette into your computer with a specific patch to the operating system or pouring the right liquid on top of that computer and hoping that it works better. Right?
[00:06:01] Kelly Stanton: Indeed. Indeed.
[00:06:02] Jeff Galvin: Yeah. So it's a, it's a whole new age, but, but I think that the metaphor is helpful for people to think that way, because I think it will make the future of this industry, more predictable in people's minds, it's gonna follow the same technology curve that we saw in many other technologies, especially the software and computer industry.
[00:06:22] Jeff Galvin: You're gonna get the same thing like Moore's law, you know, but it might even be faster than Moore's law. Uh, you're gonna see that, the same phenomena that we witnessed around Silicon valley, where you're just waiting for an innovation to come out, down the street. That's gonna allow you to do something that you've been dreaming about forever.
[00:06:39] Jeff Galvin: Right. And, and those dreams can always come true. You just don't know when, because in an environment where the capabilities of the technology are doubling every year and the cost is having, if you can dream it, you can do it. You just can't predict when all the pieces will become available.
[00:06:54] Jeff Galvin: So if you were back in the seventies going, you know, one day computers will drive cars. They'd call you crazy. but you'd be right. Cause if you can dream it, you can do it because of that technology. We're gonna see the same thing in medicine. We're gonna see the same thing in pharmaceuticals.
[00:07:09] Kelly Stanton: Well, and I love that concept too, because biology in and of itself, right? There's, there's so much variation. There's so much variability, you know, from me to you to, you know, five other people on the street. And so what works for me might not work for you and, and we've never had the ability to really drill down to the 1 trillion computers working together level, right. To understand the variability there. So the idea of targeted therapeutics, but also reduction in side effects. You know, I mean, just sitting here thinking about cancer treatment. Like, wow.
[00:07:43] Jeff Galvin: Oh, you're absolutely right about that.
[00:07:46] Kelly Stanton: Instead of the nuclear option of chemotherapy where, you know, yeah, we're gonna kill cancer, but we're also gonna make all your hair fall out and fry all your internal organs, but you'll, you'll live, you know, two years longer. Yay.
[00:07:56] Jeff Galvin: Well, let me make a bold prediction for you. Let me make a bold prediction. We're not far away from this day where gene and cell therapy will send radiation and chemotherapy, the way of blood lighting and Lee. You look pretty young to me, but I'm guessing you're gonna be telling your grandchildren, can you believe we used to beam radiation through your body to cure cancer, cancer, causing radiation. We were using yeah to cure cancer and they'll be like, but grandma that's insane. And you'll be like, yeah, it was, but it was all we had. And guess what we used to do, if that didn't work. Then we poison you with these they're called chemotherapeutics, but they're basically poison. Yeah. And what we'd hope is we could poison you to just the right level where you recovered, but the cancer didn't and they'd be like, grandma, that's nuts.
[00:08:42] Jeff Galvin: And you'd be like, exactly, you guys are so lucky to be living in, you know, the days of cell phones, gene and cell therapy, cures for cancer and, and transporter beams that allow you to visit Mars anytime you want. I mean, who knows what to be there, right, right, right. That's what's I guarantee you that's coming.
[00:09:00] Jeff Galvin: Right. Because that's the point is like what causes all the side effects in your body? Well, most of it comes from unintended consequences on tissue that doesn't need the treatment. Imagine a chemotherapeutic that only turned on in the cells that needed to be. Then you could ratchet up the therapeutic index to the max, right?
[00:09:20] Jeff Galvin: And you could essentially put a death signal into any cell that matched a criteria. Well, gene cell therapy can do that because your specific promoters can look at the cell and they can find enzymes or protein that indicate the disease state and only turn on the gene cargo in those cases. So we have the ability to target by picking the right virus.
[00:09:41] Jeff Galvin: It'll go to the right part of your body, and then we can target it further by putting chimeric antigen, uh, uh, ized envelopes on these. Viruses that would further target it down. Then we can put specific promoters in there that even if it gets into the cell, it will only turn it on if it verifies that it's the right kind of cell.
[00:10:00] Jeff Galvin: Well, when you can do that and you can isolate all the healthy cells are most of the healthy, healthy cells from treatment. Gee, it may not be one in 50,000 molecules that makes it through the clinic. It may be one in five. Mm. Think about the cost reduction.
[00:10:16] Kelly Stanton: Wow. That would be, that would be something.
[00:10:19] Jeff Galvin: Yeah now think about a platform that does the heavy lifting for you. So in other words, there's all these things that you could just buy off the shelf, right. That will do, oh, this thing will do the targeting for you. This thing will do the on, off switch, you know, based on this thing and you just piece 'em together. Like you're making a transistor radio out of components in back in the analog days, or, you know, even better. They're just, subroutines. Uh, you know, that you will call on in the operating system. And so what you, you know, what eventually we can bring you. And I hope that this is what AGT will bring is an iPhone for disease apps, where, you know, the targeting, the therapeutic expression levels, the safety, the, you know, whole bunch of variety of tools it's in the platform.
[00:11:05] Jeff Galvin: And then what you do is you need to understand the disease and what needs to happen at the molecular level to cure the disease. And if you wanna know what that is, by the way, you can just look it up on, on the NIH website. So if your kid has this particular, uh, autosomal disorder, you can go to the NIH website. They'll tell you exactly what gene in, what part of the body is not right. Well, from that information, you can actually take a platform like we're envisioning and you can fashion a drug in your garage.
[00:11:37] Kelly Stanton: Wow.
[00:11:37] Jeff Galvin: I mean, so we're ways away from that now. So I don't wanna make it sound like we're there, but that, you know, that's the, where this will eventually get to you mark my words in a hundred years long after I'm dead and this interview comes up, they'll be like he predicted this.
[00:11:54] Kelly Stanton: Definitely. Wow. Yeah. My brain is totally spining on this now, too. And I'm thinking like how very Star Trek, right? Just punch it into the computer and scan and take your shot.
[00:12:03] Jeff Galvin: Think about how much stuff from star Trek came true already. Yeah. Yeah. You know that it's good science fiction is good science.
[00:12:12] Kelly Stanton: It is. That is indeed. I'm still waiting for that teleporter though. That would be
[00:12:15] Jeff Galvin: I know I know me too. I am sick and tired of airports.
[00:12:20] Kelly Stanton: Oh yes. Yes. I, I hear that. I hear. Well, Hey, so last time you were on the show, um, you guys had an HIV viral vector in clinical trial. Mm-hmm so how's that looking? How's it going?
[00:12:34] Jeff Galvin: Well, okay. So I can't tell you too much about this because there's a lot of people that are hanging on these words and I've got, you know, um, first say that, even though I'm optimistic about this, you never know until the, all the clinical trials are over, whether you have it here. Right. So this is a cure attempt and anybody that's listening to you, I don't want them to think we got the cure.
[00:12:56] Kelly Stanton: Right, right, right.
[00:12:56] Jeff Galvin: But what we have done is we've treated seven patients with an autologous cell therapy where we pull out their HIV T cells. Remember I was saying we can correct problems or we can improve that operating system, we can improve the DNA. Well, it turns out you can improve HIV specific CD, four positive T-cell.
[00:13:15] Jeff Galvin: These are the helper T cells, which are the conductors of the immune orchestra. You can improve them so that they don't get infected and depleted by HIV. Cause that's the only reason HIV can get into your body. They kill off the conductors of the immune or. And the rest of the orchestra disbands.
[00:13:34] Jeff Galvin: But if you can protect those CD four cell helper T cells, you can Mount an effective immune response against HIV. So, and HIV is not hard to deal with it's a lentivirus. It's a slow moving virus. So if, if it doesn't have that one advantage of being able to take out the immune cells that are, that your body is counting on to protect you can clear it as easy as you can clear a cold there's the theory. Okay.
[00:14:02] Kelly Stanton: Wow.
[00:14:02] Jeff Galvin: So we've done this for seven patients now, and what we've seen is that it's safe. So we pull out these cells, we put it through an automated cell process that turns their original Luca pack into a billion of these HIV specific CD four positive T cells that are these sort of super HIV fighters that should be able to maintain the CD eights and, and the B cells.
[00:14:28] Jeff Galvin: If you put the back in body now, a billion cells is about 10 times the number of these CD four cells that you tend to have in your body after you clear a viral pathogen. So we're putting in an overwhelming force. And so the question first is, is it safe. Well seven patients and you know, this is safe to say on the air, but we had zero serious adverse events.
[00:14:53] Kelly Stanton: Nice.
[00:14:53] Jeff Galvin: So I think we got a good sense that this is safe to do this process on the patients. So the next thing was the secondary endpoints of efficacy and we wanted to see do these cells get in there and then graft. That just means did they find a home? Do they persist? So cuz the body could react against them and wipe 'em out very, very quickly, right.
[00:15:13] Jeff Galvin: Or they could, of course the thing you really worry about is they react against the body. Yeah. Because we could see either of those things. So the secondary end point of persistence was yes, they stay there. Good. The third thing that we saw was that they stay there for quite a while in pretty good quantities. And since you're still not seeing any problems, uh, you know, that's a good indicator . And then we pull them out and make sure they're still healthy. So we can look at those cells and sure enough, they're not getting infected and, they're keeping their function. So when you put 'em, when you expose them to HIV, they attack.
[00:15:46] Jeff Galvin: So this is very, very good news from the phase one, but we just started in antiretroviral treatment interruption study. So now we're gonna take those seven patient. Pull away their antiretrovirals and see whether they can suppress their virus without those chemotherapeutics. Because if they can, that's called a functional cure. Now we don't expect to see a functional cure in this study, although it's possible. And if we did, that would just be a grand slam. Yeah. But what we do expect to see is a difference, and this will help us to determine how quickly do you wanna pull people off their antiretrovirals after you give them the infusion of these super cells. Right. It will also tell us what doses work it'll give us some sense of, okay. How to do another one and to get a high percentage of these people, functionally cured.
[00:16:37] Jeff Galvin: So, you know, that's where we're at right now. And we haven't seen anything which is discouraging vis Avi, the original theory. And we've seen a lot of things that are quite encouraging and, uh, we're expecting to have a data package together by the end of the year to close out the phase one and to give some, uh, public predictions about, the, uh, future of this project, like what it may achieve and when it may achieve it. So, yeah, it's all very exciting news. I think the last time we talked, we were going into the initial study. Yeah. And it's been a ton of work um, and, uh, it's been going really well.
[00:17:19] Kelly Stanton: That's great. That's, that's very exciting news. Wow. So, um, I guess what would having a cure or in your case, do you use the words functional cure for HIV mean for patients diagnosed with the virus?
[00:17:34] Jeff Galvin: So functional in medical means equivalent to mm-hmm . So what it would mean is that we would have a one and done cell therapy. Where, where the people that got that cell therapy would never have to take antiretrovirals again, they could never get AIDS, right? So they'd be protected from AIDS. They couldn't transmit the disease because their virus would be so low. Eventually their virus would be eliminated completely from their body.
[00:18:01] Jeff Galvin: We don't know how long that would take mm-hmm , but they could also never be reinfected. So for 38 million people on. It would mean that there'd be some hope for them to live a completely normal life after that, that they would get a one and done treatment and never think about HIV again, which would really be the opposite of how they're living right now.
[00:18:22] Jeff Galvin: Cause they have to take drugs also I think the big, the hardest part for them is the fact that they have a secret that they feel uncomfortable sharing. Right. Right. It's a stigmatized subject, you know, HIV being diagnosed with HIV. There's a lot of stigma around that. A lot of people don't feel comfortable coming clean with their family, with their friends, with their, you know, whatever. And, uh, some people are even just scared to be normally social, even though the reality is, is if they're well controlled on antiretrovirals, they're the same as you and me. Right. And you know, they're not gonna ever infect anybody so long as they are virally suppressed below a certain level.
[00:19:04] Jeff Galvin: There's lots of studies that show they can no longer transmit the disease. So they really can live a normal life, but it's hard. It's the psychological aspect of it. So that's my hope is that we, uh, you know, can not only provide that, but what we can see from the current study is if the theory works. If this study shows a functional cure, either in this, you know, first phase one or in a repeat of the phase, one with a adjustment to the protocol or dosing and things like that, it will be cheaper to cure HIV than to treat it. So in other words, even the insurance companies will be like, wait a minute, you're saving us money. Not costing us money. Yeah, exactly. And so, and society would be saying, Hey, you know, these people now can go back to full productivity, even psychological. Right. And there's no chance of them transmitting the disease.
[00:19:52] Jeff Galvin: They're some somewhat vaccinated at the same time as the, their curate of their HIV condition. So, you know, it's cheaper because you're not creating new, infections that then become a burden on, society. So, yeah, it's a very exciting potential future.
[00:20:10] Kelly Stanton: And could that be preventive? I mean, you, you used the word vaccinated in there, right? Like, could that be prevented in a preventive treatment, in a high risk population you know,
[00:20:22] Jeff Galvin: well, I'd say right now, it wouldn't make sense because the cost is high enough that you you wouldn't use it like a vaccine, you know, vaccine should be $10 to make, and then it starts to make sense to give it to people who don't have the disease, but really what's the difference. You might as well get HIV and then get it right. Because it's equivalent, right. It's functionally the same. Okay. There's maybe some HIV hidden in your body, but it doesn't make a difference. Right. And so, um, now long term though, remember what I told you earlier is that the technology gets twice as good every year at half the cost. So, of course this will eventually be a $10 shot. Right okay. It's gonna take a long time, but the good news is in the meantime, the cost will come down enough that it'll get to secondary markets and even third world nations eventually within the foreseeable future. So in the same way that, you know, Africans and, you know, in, Sub-Saharan Africa or whatever are carrying cell phones now they'll also have shots in their arms that cure their HIV. Yeah. And it will be practical, uh, given the economics of that area. And that's a really exciting future it's it's saying that, you know, this isn't something that will always be so expensive, that it will be a first world product, right? Like computers like software. It will, uh, eventually spread out to everyone.
[00:21:51] Kelly Stanton: Definitely. Wow. So what do you believe the future holds then for AGT?
[00:21:58] Jeff Galvin: Well, the plan at AGT is, we're in the process of doing this right now, where they're gonna HIV looks like it's fairly baked. It really needs to start heading towards commercialization. So we need a, if this experiment is successful, uh, then what we need to do is. Um, put a, a focus on that that would justify having a whole company around it. And so we are thinking that we'll spin that out. The rest of AGT is gonna continue on that vision of a platform of an iPhone for curing diseases or an MS Dos for your body, right. Where application developers who understand diseases can collaborate with us and we can start to knock off 7,000 monogenic diseases. And this platform for HIV, you know, HIV will be one drug off of it, but there's a lot in common between HIV and HTL V which 20 million people have. And it can be deadly, uh, because it can turn into a T-cell lymphoma.
[00:23:01] Jeff Galvin: HPV, which can turn into head and neck cancer, uh, herpes. Epstein bar CMV, uh, hepatitis B, the idea of chronic viral control, which, you know, we could prove that that part of that platform could control HIV. It would make sense to take portions of that components and repurpose them in these other chronic viral infections.
[00:23:26] Jeff Galvin: So you can see how that could be on a whole chronic viral infection platform. Then we have a monogenic disease platform. It's uh, the lead program. There is phenal keto. Uh, but this is where you want to correct one gene that's missing and it's called a monogenic loss of function disorder. So you're born without one gene without having that enzyme or gene product. It creates a disease, but if we can replace it right, which is right in the wheelhouse of viral vectors, that diskette right. Yep. If we can get it in the right cells at therapeutic levels, uh, we can essentially cure you by removing issue completely. Right. Right. And so, you know, we'll, we're PKU will be our first example in there, but there's a lot of components that we're developing in that area that will make it simple for other people to do that as well.
[00:24:17] Jeff Galvin: And then we have an immuno-oncology program as well. Where we're doing things like stimulating Gama, Delta, T cells. So the theory behind that is instead of making a drug, which is just so powerful that it kills your cancer cells. What we do is we modify your cancer cells. So they're so attractive and so stimulatory through your natural immune system, that it just rises up and wipes out the cancer. Right. And therefore you don't really need a drug. What it would be is that your immune system, which is keeping you cancer free today. Okay. Over time, maybe your immune system declines a little from age and stress, and maybe the, the number of malignancies that you get on a daily basis increases, you know, with, with age and with stress. And one day you get a tumor, but it doesn't mean that your immune system wouldn't be capable of clearing that tumor. With just a little help. So what we wanna do is make a drug that paints that target in a way where, the immune system sees it sort of like a Kru on steroids now, right? Mm-hmm and it wipes it out and, and that's why I believe it's possible to send chemotherapy and radiation, the way of blood lending and leaches is because I think the immune system is gonna turn out to be quite powerful. And of course, quite targetted for use in these ways we're not there yet, but we have three immuno-oncology assets that are showing some promise in that area.
[00:25:47] Jeff Galvin: So that's the future of AGT that I wanna make like a, you know, an operating systems group. Yeah. And then I wanna spin off the applications as they come out and then I wanna use that operating system to enable other developers. Because there are 10,000 diseases that I believe will eventually fall to gene and cell therapy and one company isn't gonna do it all
[00:26:08] Kelly Stanton: right. Well, switching gears back to you, uh, what's been the most interesting or impactful story in your career thus far.
[00:26:17] Jeff Galvin: Um, I don't know, you know, I'm one of these guys who just been, um, chasing things that I was passionate about. Right. So I get excited about something and I'm not really thinking clearly I just start following it.
[00:26:33] Jeff Galvin: And that's how I got into computers. And the seventh grade, I saw a computer and I programmed a computer for the first time and I was oh, my gosh, this is amazing. This is, I could see a future where computers were gonna really enhance everyone's life mm-hmm . And that became really a 30 year love affair that ended with me retiring in Silicon valley. And then I fell in love with my wife and got married and then, but you know, um, marriage is something that you can still have a hobby on the side in business. And I was starting to feel a little bored, cuz I, I did wanna start solving some problems again or getting some stimulation for the mind.
[00:27:15] Jeff Galvin: And then it was just accidental, uh, that I, met Roscoe Brady showed me viral vectors and I fell in love with this idea. And here we are 15 years later. Um, and you know, and the vision that I had 15 years ago, seems to be, you know, rolling out exactly as I expected just a little bit more slowly than I expect, but then one of the things I always like to say is that, uh, entrepreneurialism is a congenital defect that comes with over optimism.
[00:27:46] Kelly Stanton: they're on the same chromosome
[00:27:48] Jeff Galvin: apparently, apparently because, and I think it's true. Like nobody would be an entrepreneur if, uh, they weren't an over optimist as well.
[00:27:55] Kelly Stanton: True. In my experience in the startup space, I would say you are absolutely right on with that one.
[00:28:01] Jeff Galvin: Yeah. Yeah. It's risky business. You gotta be in love with it passionate and you gotta somehow believe it's like a leap of faith almost sometimes. Yeah.
[00:28:10] Kelly Stanton: Well, is there anything you'd go back and tell yourself at the beginning of your career, if you could.
[00:28:15] Jeff Galvin: Well, you know, I think maybe one of the things that I never had was, uh, mentors. And, and who knows. I mean, it may not have been possible. I mean, I was always a really precocious kid and moving too fast. I, I remember, um, informally being diagnosed with, hyperactivity, but you know, later them saying, no, that's just, he's energetic and, you know, active. And I think that makes me quite a handful and maybe not the best student. Sometimes I have to just go out there and jump in the deep end and, and figure out how to swim on my own. So I don't know whether it's possible, but I would recommend that, you know, people, uh, keep an eye out for folks that would take an interest in their future who have experience that you might be able to avoid some of the mistakes that I've made in my life. Now they weren't deadly. I'm still here. Right. Um, you know, you can save a lot of time. I saw a lot of people get to places more easily because they could find that kind of guidance, you know, like a mature person who can who actually takes an interest in you. It's like a real friend. Right. And, um, and I think that's beneficial. I think also I would say that it's very important to understand the difference between your needs and your wants because, uh, covering your needs is really quite easy. You know, it's a food, water, you know, shelter, clothing, , uh, love, connection, whatever.
[00:29:50] Jeff Galvin: Um, and to realize that, you know, everything in excess of that is an opportunity for joy. And if you don't get addicted to a want. You can get off the treadmill as early as possible and start following your passions. Right. For me, I was killing myself in Silicon valley until I finally retired. Right.
[00:30:09] Jeff Galvin: Because you know, the material, I was on the materialistic thing too. I had a beautiful house and you know, a nice car and, you're basically you have to work in order to support that stuff. Now, fortunately, with stuff that I like. So it wasn't torture, but it was more stressful than it needed to be.
[00:30:28] Jeff Galvin: And I didn't really need any of that stuff. And so, you know, I could have, had even more opportunities to just follow my passion. So I would say that this is a, a good lesson that I learned in life, which is that, uh, number one recognize the difference between your needs and wants it's okay to go for everything, go for it.
[00:30:49] Jeff Galvin: Right. But stay happy because you know that everything that's in excess of your needs is your opportunity for joy. Right? Appreciate what you have. If you're getting some of your wants, at least get some happiness out of that, at least get some joy out of that. Some have some gratitude, you know, I find a lot of people who are religious, I'm not religious myself, but you know, the act of sitting down and thanking, you know, a power for all the good things in your life is actually an inventory of those good, good things in your life. And it makes happier people, if you realize, we shouldn't feel that it we're entitled to all that stuff and that, and we shouldn't take that stuff for granted should enjoy it.
[00:31:33] Jeff Galvin: Right. There's actually a lot of good things going on in life. So that's sort of the first thing. And then the second thing is to remember that the most important thing in the world is learning. That your best survival tool is your mind. And that the world is changing so quickly that you need to be able to adapt quickly with it.
[00:31:54] Jeff Galvin: And your mind is going to allow you to do that. And so, you know, you need to learn how to learn and then you need to keep learning. It's the flexibility of your mind, and your ability to sort of embrace. New technologies and things like that, that will allow you to keep up with something , that is in light speed right now. And that is leaving a lot of less motivated people behind one of the reasons that we have, you know, a lot of issues in the world today. Is because a lot of folks are just not prepared to keep up with science and technology and whatever. They've lost their ability to, you know, tell a fact from a non fact and to put logic together and know who to believe as opposed to just doing that from a gut perspective.
[00:32:41] Jeff Galvin: Right? Yeah. So, you know, it's, but even if other people go that direction, if you've developed a good mind, you'll see the patterns in the world. And you'll be able to stay just ahead of. And, you know, you can have a good life, it is a good life. So that would be the other thing, you know, that, uh, I would advise my young self, but I did that, you know, I was always a curious person, so
[00:33:06] Kelly Stanton: yeah, definitely. Well, I love the pivot you made there from computers to the biology and, and tying that together. The analogy you gave at the beginning. It's always fascinating to me. I've been in life sciences for a long time and, and, you know, I'm a QA professional and so sometimes I have a hard time explaining to people what I do. And so I'm always trying to come up with different ways to explain things. And of course, as we went through the pandemic, um, I feel like the whole world, all of a sudden is aware of things like drug development. How does this actually work?
[00:33:36] Kelly Stanton: You know, mm-hmm, the ongoing, I'm not even gonna go to the debate on vaccines, but there at the end, as you're saying that with, you know, keep learning and keep an open mind to these things and continue to, to kind of keep track of it. Yeah, that really ties it all together. That's important. There is so much joy to be had and the learning I continuing to learn. The value is it's all. It's it's awesome. it's great.
[00:34:01] Jeff Galvin: Thank you. That's so, so nice of you to say, and, and yeah, I think that your, your best security is yourself, right? And it's great to have friends and it's great to have family and, and you know, all those things are great support systems, right. But you know, it is your skillset that you accrue over life that allows you to have control of your life and to turn your life into what you want what you design, what you, you know, so all of this thinking that you do about life, all of this learning that you do, it's not a chore. It's really, you know, it's an opportunity. It is a, you know, sort of a, a font of, something really, really valuable that just keeps enhancing your personal value. That means that, you know, there's so many jobs and that you'd be critical at that other people can't do. And, and therefore you are always employable and some people fall behind and aren't employable, but also it's a, all of that stuff is what allows you to design your future and have some modicum of control over it.
[00:35:14] Kelly Stanton: You're an active participant.
[00:35:15] Jeff Galvin: Exactly. Yeah. Not just gets swept along exactly.
[00:35:20] Kelly Stanton: Yeah. I said so many people aren't active participants in their own lives and, and so yeah.
[00:35:25] Jeff Galvin: That's and it is possible. And that's the key as a young person. You should, that's the one takeaway that would really be valuable here is that yeah. If you learn how to learn. Right. And we make you learn everything right? Why do we make you take social studies and science and math and you know, and English and French and you know, and music and gym. Okay because it's like circuit training for your brain, right?
[00:35:47] Jeff Galvin: Yeah. You know, what you're preparing for is the decathlon of life. You don't know what event you're gonna be in. You've just gotta have an athletic mind. Yeah. And that's, what's gonna be adaptable because they're gonna invent new Olympic games. In the game of, you know, the Olympics of life, right. real Olympics indeed and, and if you've got a really athletic mind and I don't mean, you know, full of muscle, I mean, you know, that is flexible, that is strong, that can learn new moves quickly, you know, that can pick up on stuff. Well, uh, guess what, you know, you're gonna be taking home the prizes now in school, the best prize you can get is an a right.
[00:36:29] Jeff Galvin: right. But in life, You can decide what games you participate in based on the prizes that you want. Do you want more time off? Do you want more money? Do you want more freedom? Do you want more, uh, power? Do you want more, respect? These are the prizes in life. And I hope what everybody wants is more happiness that all of those other things are just about okay, well, what satisfies you? What's fulfilling to you can grab hold of that and, and you can maximize your chances of getting there.
[00:36:57] Jeff Galvin: And by the way, once you recognize that your needs are at this really low level, you'll be amazed. It doesn't matter how far you get you'll feel a ton of joy because of that gap between where you got to and the absolute baseline that was survival and, uh, you know, feel really happy and good.
[00:37:18] Kelly Stanton: I love it. I love it. Well, where can people go to connect with you and follow along with, the journey there with AGT
[00:37:27] Jeff Galvin: American gene.com of course, gene is spelled G E N E all one word. And, uh, I would love it if people went by the website and, uh, there is a newsletter you can sign up for, if you wanna kind of stay in touch that way. There is all sorts of social media and we're constantly putting things out there and yeah, I'd love it. If, folks would connect with us.
[00:37:49] Kelly Stanton: Excellent. We'll do that. All right. Well, thank you so much for your time today, Jeff. This has been a really fun conversation.
[00:37:56] Jeff Galvin: it was fun for me too. And thank you so much for having me.