PhD Ideation Challenge: The Future of Game-Changing Biotechnology, Part III (GSAS and Postdocs)

PhD Ideation Challenge: The Future of Game-Changing Biotechnology (Part III)

Ajay Dhankhar, Managing Director in the Healthcare Group, Lazard Ltd

Thursday, Jan. 26th 2023, 9am-12pm (tentative), at Lazard in New York City

No subject matter expertise required! 


What is the PhD Ideation Challenge?
Join us for fun, fast-paced workshops led by leaders from diverse sectors. You will practice strategic thinking around a real-world problem while developing a professional portfolio.

Yale PhD students and postdocs from all academic backgrounds are welcome. This quick-fire, collaborative process thrives from an interdisciplinary exchange of PhD creativity! You will:

  • Gain experience in strategic thinking in a new format
  • Interact with leaders working on complex and interesting issues
  • Help organizations of interest solve a current problem
  • Learn about rewarding careers for PhDs
  • Practice interdisciplinary teamwork with peers outside of your field


Ideation Prompt

This challenge will be led by Ajay Dhankhar (Yale PhD ‘97, MB&B), a Managing Director in the Healthcare Group at Lazard LTD and formerly a Senior Partner at McKinsey leading its Life Sciences R&D practice.

You will have the opportunity choose one of the following topics:

1. What is the future of Cell and Gene Therapy?

  • What are the prospects of companies such as Sangamo, Sarepta, BlueBird, or Medera?
  • What other companies in the space do you think have promise, near- or long- term?

2. What is the future of Gene Editing?

  • Within gene editing, how will Classical approaches such as CRISPR/Cas9 play out versus the newer approaches such as CRISPR/Cas9 Prime Editing or CRISPR/Deaminase Base editing?
  • What are the prospects of companies such as Intellia, CRSPR Tx, Mammoth, Metagenomi or Beam?
  • What other companies in the space do you think have promise, near- or long- term?

3. Besides single-gene diseases and Oncology, which disease might the above techniques be most relevant for?

  • What companies do you find exciting in other diseases and why?

4. How should these high risk technologies be funded?

  • Is the current NIH/VC model broken? -What new sources of funding could come into this space? -Is there a better model to value these therapies and companies?

5. What are the hidden gems at Yale in these areas?


Workshop Format

This ideation challenge will have 3 sessions. We highly recommend that you attend all 3, but it is not necessary.

Note that you may commit as much or as little time as you wish to these prompts. There is no requirement to produce extensively researched responses, although some students may enjoy the process of doing so. Others are welcome to simply attend the sessions according to time available.

Session 1: Introduction by Ajay Dhankhar (Successfully held on Nov.11th)

  • If you want to form a team before the actual ideation challenge, please refer to the team building sheet: https://qrd.by/ideation_ajay_groups

Session 2: Follow-up with Ajay Dhankhar

  • January 6th 2023 (tentative), via Zoom

In this informal session, Ajay will continue the conversation around the 3 topics and answer any questions that you might have.

Session 3: On-site Ideation and Presentation Session at Lazard LTD in NYC

  • January 26th 2023 (tentative), on-site at Lazard in NYC

The 3rd session will be an exciting opportunity to visit Lazard LTD in NYC and meet some of Ajay’s colleagues. During this 3 hour session, you will have the opportunity to continue to ideate around the prompts and present your ideas to the Lazard team. More details to come!


About Ajay Dhankhar (PhD, Yale, Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry)

Ajay Dhankhar (Yale PhD ‘97, MB&B), is a Managing Director in the Healthcare Group at Lazard LTD and formerly a Senior Partner at McKinsey’s leading its Life Sciences R&D practice. He is a former biochemist and a highly experienced healthcare advisor, with particular expertise in the fields of medical technology, diagnostics and tools, and biopharmaceuticals. He is an established thought leader, espousing the concept that portfolio optimization through M&A, joint ventures and divestments, when coupled with rational capital allocation, can help companies deliver sector- and industry-leading shareholder value.


About Lazard Ltd

Lazard, one of the world’s preeminent financial advisory and asset management firms, operates from 40 cities across 25 countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. With origins dating to 1848, the firm provides advice on mergers and acquisitions, strategic matters, restructuring and capital structure, capital raising and corporate finance, as well as asset management services to corporations, partnerships, institutions, governments and individuals.


About Ideation Workshops and Design Thinking

Design thinking is a structured thinking model to address complex challenges, big or small (see a great introduction from the University of Michigan Center for Socially Engaged Design). Ideation is part of the design thinking process, which emphasizes brainstorming on possibilities after gathering data and distilling a problem down to its core.

Wondering what impact ideation and design thinking can make? You can find more case studies from one of the largest organizations that provide design thinking and consulting services, IDEO.


Can’t attend?
Signup here to be the first to hear about upcoming workshops.


Contact McDougal Fellows Abhishek Dev and Yiqun Jiang.


Add to your Calendar: Add to Google CalendarAdd to Outlook / Download ICS