VitaDAO Letter: Year in Review + Interview with VitaDAO Co-initiator, Tyler Golato
What a year it has been! 2022 was a year full of growth, science, and a whole lot of funded longevity research. In the 1.5 years since VitaDAO’s historic Genesis auction, VitaDAO has funded 15+ longevity projects, gathered 9000+ community members, and continued to lead the decentralized science movement. Here at VitaDAO, as a new year begins, we’re filled with gratitude. Travel with us as we highlight some of the craziness that was 2022!
VitaDAO is a decentralized organization made up of individuals from across the globe working to fund early-stage aging research and spin out longevity biotech startups. VitaDAO is focused on maximizing healthy human lifespan.
In the coming year, we hope you’ll join our mission. Want to get involved in the longevity field? Contribute to VitaDAO and receive $VITA tokens in return. Join the VitaDAO community on Discord and stay up to date on Twitter! Want monthly updates on what’s happening at VitaDAO? Subscribe to this Newsletter to stay up-to-date.
Below, read about what went DAOn in 2022. Buckle up! Even though this is not an extensive list, it’s still a lot!
$3.5M+ Research Funded
250+ Projects Sourced
1300+ Token Holders
9000+ Community Members
15,000+ Twitter followers
Meet: VitaDAO Co-initiator, Tyler Golato
Tyler Golato graduated from Stockton University before completing research fellowships at Columbia University and the National Institute on Aging. As a researcher, he has a background in experimental therapeutics and biogerontology. As an entrepreneur, in February 2021, Tyler Golato co-initiated VitaDAO. Today, Tyler also serves as Chief Scientific Officer at Molecule AG, a platform created to facilitate decentralized, modular, and collaborative drug development.
I started out my career aiming to be a physician. As I progressed in that, I became aware of how primitive medicine is as an applied practice. Beyond communicable disease, there is not much that we can cure. Most conditions are simply managed, at best.
I had an interest in oncology, and in particular, intractable cancers such as glioblastoma and pancreatic cancer. As an oncologist, you mostly apply a standard of care and the outcomes fall along a predictable statistical distribution. Most prognoses are poor, and we have not advanced much regarding cancer therapy, across all cancers, over the last 50 years. Thus, I became more interested in research and trying to understand how I could advance the field.
I joined an experimental therapeutics laboratory at Columbia University where I worked with Dr. Robert Fine. I found the work very interesting and rewarding, but most of the developments and wins in pancreatic and brain cancer were focused on stabilizing or shrinking tumors and extending overall survival by months. I was really much more interested in how we might prevent cancer, or even mutation, altogether.
With this in mind, I became more interested in biogerontology. When you realize how primitive medicine is and how poorly our reactive, treatment-focused health care system treats conditions (sick care, not health care), it becomes more attractive to consider how we might prevent disease. In my mind, biogerontology was the closest thing that existed to preventative medicine as a research domain. Most chronic disease and mortality is age-related. If we could understand the driving causes of aging, perhaps we could affect them and therefore also age-related diseases. Further, I was interested in the metaphysical aspects of fighting aging as a conquest. This always inspired a sense of awe in me, as I imagine it does for most people, and certainly has for humanity throughout millennia.
When I finished at Colombia, I joined the National Institute on Aging in the Laboratory of Molecular Gerontology under David M Wilson and Vilhelm Bohr. My focus was on DNA damage and repair, and segmental progerias, which recapitulate some segments of the aging process. I really enjoyed my time at the NIA, but ultimately decided I wanted to focus on something that could improve the overall system of science funding and healthcare at the incentive level, as opposed to being a researcher.
Before founding Molecule and later, VitaDAO, were you involved in Web3/decentralized technologies?
I interacted with Bitcoin as early as 2013, and found the technology curious. I was also interested in Ethereum from 2015 or so, but primarily around innovations in governance the ideas that were brewing around The DAO. After that failed, I remained skeptical about the general maturity of the technology. While I found it intriguing, I didn’t see many near-term relevant use cases. It was only in 2017/2018, when I met Paul Kohlhaas, my co-founder at Molecule, and the technology started to mature, that I became seriously interested. I was mostly interested in novel approaches to mechanism and incentive design in science and drug development, specifically. Web3 provided a clear architectural framework where one could create a sandbox environment to play with incentive and governance designs. This excited me a lot.
How did you first come up with the idea of VitaDAO?
VitaDAO is really an amalgamation of ideas. Before VitaDAO, Molecule had been working on the premise of creating a decentralized drug development protocol. We always thought about this through the lens of using IP ownership as a distributed incentive. What if, instead of a company owning a patent, a group of disparate collaborators - patients, researchers, VCs, pharmas, academic labs, biotechs - all worked together and contributed to the development of a drug in exchange for partial ownership in IP? This idea of turning IP ownership into a fractional incentive was really exciting to me, given how modular drug development had become, but also given the fact that there was often a missing incentive for collaboration.
With this idea in mind, we began working on an IP-NFT framework for funding research projects. This is at the core of Molecule’s and VitaDAO’s technology stack today.
VitaDAO was really the first working proof of concept to bring those principles together in a unified structure, focused on biogerontology, which is my passion. We believed that by bringing together a community of diverse stakeholders from all aspects of biogerontology, we could build a more robust organization than a biotech company, a nonprofit, a university, or a fund. While it is still a work in progress, I believe we are beginning to see the validation of that thesis.
What do you think is VitaDAO's greatest strength?
VitaDAO’s biggest strength is its community, and the fact that anyone capable of adding value can easily become a core part of that community. VitaDAO has a lower barrier of entry than a startup or a traditional org - you can show up in the Discord and if you have something the organization needs, you can become productive quickly. This is incredibly unique and enables a constant influx of talent and dealflow. Additionally, I think VitaDAO’s unique structure - one focused on creating a sustainable organization that is not distinctly for or non-profit - gives the organization the ability to succeed and rise up in a field currently bogged down by poorly designed incentives and a lagging status quo.
What has surprised you the most about VitaDAO?
The thing that has surprised me most about VitaDAO is the extent to which it has been responsible for catalyzing the broader DeSci movement. There has been an explosion of new bioDAOs and DeSci orgs seeking to do something similar to VitaDAO, but in different therapeutic areas or with slightly different design parameters. This has been hugely exciting and rewarding to watch (and participate in), as it creates a real sense of legacy for one’s work. I take a lot of joy and comfort knowing that independent of the success of any of these organizations, the spirit of DeSci and making science more open, accessible, collaborative, and democratic is virtually unstoppable at this point.
How do you see VitaDAO evolving in the future? - What is something you believe today that you didn't believe ten years ago?
VitaDAO is going to become laser-focused on translating its assets to market. Our first year was really focused on funding projects. Now, we will become more focused on incubating these projects, spinning them out, and really proving our thesis end-to-end. My hope is that the organization will continue to grow and thrive, and that we will be able to fund total moon shots - things that traditional organizations wouldn’t touch, where the risk is too high (but the reward also asymmetric). I believe VitaDAO will become one of the top 5 go-to sources for funding in biogerontology, and that we are at the beginning of a journey towards DAOs becoming the default organizational structure for funding and incubating assets.
There are many things that I believe today that I did not believe 10 years ago. Technology is advancing so quickly that anyone who believes they can see 10 years into the future is likely wrong. 10 years ago, I couldn’t see the extent to which technology - things like web3, AI, etc - would completely transform how science is conducted.
I’ve recently written about my vision for the future of science and drug development here: https://www.molecule.to/blog/the-scientific-singularity-our-vision-for-the-future-of-research-with-ip-nfts. This is a future I could not have fully imagined even 5 years ago, but I now have a high degree of confidence we will see this reality soon. We are already beginning to, and VitaDAO is playing a major role.
Hackathon: Jan 20th - 22nd - Join VitaDAO’s Hackathon - a remote, cross-disciplinary hackathon focusing on the future of longevity. Registration is now open!
VitaDAO @ Longevity Med Summit: May 4-5, 2023 - Come join VitaDAO in sunny Lisbon, Portugal at the 2023 Longevity Med Summit. Here, join other longevity enthusiasts in learning about the development of anti-aging science, the exploration of new regenerative and longevity therapeutics, and the limiting R&D challenges faced in therapy development.
Check out VitaDAO’s calendar and view all our upcoming events: https://vitadao.com/calendar