Evolve Podcast
A podcast about heroes solving the world's greatest challenges.
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Cracking The Code on Longevity

Featuring Guest -

Celine Halioua

Headshot of podcast host.
hosted by: Brandon Stover
November 15, 2021

Celine Halioua is the CEO and Founder of Loyal, a biotech startup developing drugs to extend dog lifespan. BUT with a twist! If this life-extension research and drug development works for canines, her theory is that it could lead to breakthroughs for the rest of us humans for age related diseases! Previously, she held various roles at The Longevity Fund, an early stage venture capital fund investing in companies developing therapeutics to treat aging. Celine has a technical background in neuroscience and gene therapy. She holds a B.Sc. in neuroscience from the University of Texas at Austin and was a D.Phil. student at Oxford University. She worked in the laboratories of Dr. Evan Snyder at the Sanford-Burnham-Prebys Medical Discovery Institute on novel enteric neuron disease therapeutics, and of Dr. Richard Morrisett and Dr. Keith Stevenson at The University of Texas at Austin on the development of novel silver-nanocluster neuronal tracers for applications in neuropharmacology.

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Scroll below for important resource links & transcripts mentioned in this episode.

what you'll learn in this episode

  • Why cracking the code on a dog's can fix human age related diseases
  • What's wrong with the longevity field
  • How to go from academia to startups
  • The real mental and emotional challenges of being a founder
  • How to think about sacrifice, personal responsibility, and your own mortality
  • and much more...

How Celine Believes We Can Push The World To Evolve

I think if people can like really detach from what they personally want the world to be like, and  instead say what is the goal and what's most effective way to get there that can really help with a lot of life problems.

Selected Links & Resources From This Episode

Connect With Celine Halioua:


People Mentioned


  • (00:00) - Podcast Recommendation - #impact with Regina Larko
  • (00:43) - Introduction
  • (02:17) - Celine's Mission For Better Medicine and Healthcare
  • (04:40) - Why dog longevity to fix human illness
  • (07:11) - Why Celine cares so much about longevity
  • (09:39) - What's wrong with the longevity field
  • (11:57) - What does longevity actually look like
  • (14:04) - What is Loyal for dogs and what is it creating
  • (18:33)  - How Celine wants to inspire other biotech founders
  • (20:25) - How to manage senior talent as a young founder
  • (21:59) - How to go from academia to startups
  • (26:25) - The first step for creating a biotech company
  • (28:00) - Mental models, self awareness, and emotional challenges as a found
  • (34:12) - Sacrifice and personal responsibility
  • (35:32) - Are we all delaying our own mortality
  • (36:35) - Call to Action
  • (37:24) - How to push the world to Evolve


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Celine Halioua Interview

Brandon Stover: [00:00:00] Before we get into today's episode, I wanted to share another podcast with you that I'm really not.

You know how passionate I am about learning from visionary change makers that we feature on the podcast, the grit and resilience are something that very much inspires me. On the other side of the world in Hong Kong, my new friend, Regina Larko and her team at hashtag.

Which is a podcast about stuff that matters, elevating voices of social impact invaders too. And what really draws me in is the way that they share stories in a really authentic, vulnerable, and relatable way. You're going to hear from bootstrap, social impact startups, award-winning eco warriors and leaders in the nonprofit space.

And what they share is going to help you with your own social impact. So start listening to hashtag impact on all of your favorite podcast players or visit hashtag impact.com.

Hey, you welcome to evolve a show to help you become a hero and solve the world's greatest challenges. I'm your host, Brandon Stover, and I interview social innovators, entrepreneurs, and thinkers about the global problems we face and the solutions that they have created to solve them.

Today's guest is Celine Halioua founder and CEO of loyal, which is a biotech startup that is developing drugs to extend a dog's life. But with a twist, if this life extension research and drug development works for canines, her theory is that it can lead to breakthroughs for the rest of us humans for age-related diseases.

She's going to explain why dogs are unquestionably considered the best model for human aging and just how loyal is moving leaps and bounds past other biotech companies in longevity. Now saline has an extensive background in neuroscience, gene therapy, nano biotechnology and deep tech. But as you will hear in the episode, she's very candid about what she doesn't know, how psychologically demanding being a founder can be  and even how she thinks about her own mortality.

So let's hear from Celine about her mission to solve the world's challenge of health and longevity. In your writing, you have declared that the two things you plan to dedicate your life to are better medicines for age-related diseases and ubiquitous healthcare access. You also mentioned that health is the base for every human accomplishment and goal. So can you share why improving others' health is your personal mission?

Celine Halioua: [00:02:17] I guess to give a little bit of context, I, obviously I grew up in Texas. My parents are I would, I would say we were lower middle class and one thing we had a lot of, and, and they're also not us citizens. So we had a lot of healthcare access and security as a kid. And actually until very recently I had a lot of medical debt tens of thousands or more that destroyed my credit score and made renting in San Francisco, very difficult.

And officers also does a huge burden and I'm very lucky that I was able to pay it off because of basically the career I've been able to build for myself. But I think the thing that made me really cognizant of it was just it was a couple of things. It was I think the health anxiety that I had my entire childhood and the fact that I remember as a kid, like I needed to go to the ER for something and solving me.

Like, we can't go, you can't afford. I remember I gave my mom like a fake check for like all my like Christmas savings, because she had told me only Thanksgiving that she was having a heart issue, but she couldn't go to the doctor cause she didn't have any insurance. And this is before there was a kind of the expansion of Obamacare which was the only reason she has insurance now.

it's just, it's ridiculous. Like why it was just it's I, as an adult now, looking back at childhood sleeves, like, why was that a variable? Why were they scuffled? And like, I still have like permanent issues that I deal with because we had this like healthcare insecurity. So I was one of the reasons I went to Oxford.

I went to Sweden was actually, I wanted to experience it because society and a place where like this wasn't a variable anymore. And on the health and medicine. for me, it's always been an area idea of like, free. Well, so the fact that, you know, you could want to be there for your kid's wedding or, you know, go retire at the, you know, a nice place or whatever, and then health, your cells could not behave something go wrong, you know, do you just send the wrong side of chance?

And for many of these seizes specifically came to this realization while working in the neuro-oncology. It's something anybody can do for you. Like, it doesn't matter how much you try, how much money you put, how, how, how much effort you have, how good of a person you are. You know, the, these are like undiscernible diseases.

And there's something about that. That like, lack of freewill just really, really got to me. So I'd actually gotten to college for art school and I switched to neuroscience to kind of like, basically, I just didn't want to live in a world where either of these things were the case and really worked on fixing that.

Brandon Stover: [00:04:40] because I know it's going to surprise our listeners to hear why's focusing on a dog's longevity before humans, the right solution for that mission.

Celine Halioua: [00:04:48] I got into kind of neuron aging related diseases at 18 after working in a psychology clinic. And then I, a couple of years later became bullish on the thesis of targeting mechanisms of aging to target age-related diseases, specifically the idea that there's conserved mechanisms by which our bodies age over time.

And so while we define diseases, the end state of that, so one having, you know, Alzheimer's and under genitive neurodegenerative disorders, cancer, some forms of cancer, also arthritis actually it's these conserved ways by which our cells are aging over time. You know, for me like me and you right now. That is actually the disease.

And if you target that it might be more effective way to prevent damping, ameliorate age-related diseases that are very hard to treat when they're in their age and stages. So you go on to work on this. I went to longevity fund and worked with Laura there to help her fund aging companies. The reason why we went to dog's first was a couple of reasons, but it kind of built out of this frustration of what I saw was Hampering a lot of aging companies.

So kind of the same pitch we'd always get is we have this drug extends lifespan in mice. It's great.  You know, slide five, the FDA's evil, Aging's not a disease. You know, can't run a lifespan, so you've done it or whatever. So we're gonna develop it for like this explicit indication instead of specific disease instead.

And it just didn't make sense to me that when we were taking these like conserved weights, by which we age over time, product thesis, I just explained. And then testing them in the clinic for specific end state diseases and in expecting it to work and then expecting them to be relevant to aging in general.

But basically I came to conclusion that I couldn't work on this humans directly with like a billion dollars. And I also didn't think I was the best person to run this, but dogs can up offer this unique opportunity and to be clear, I'm not the only person to have this thesis where, you know, we. You can develop drugs, explicitly targeting the mechanisms of aging in dogs that would hit a huge unmet need for a number of pet parents.

I am a pet parent. My dog is snoring behind me. Right.

Brandon Stover: [00:06:44] Mine's behind me as well.

Celine Halioua: [00:06:47] uh, And it would also be a great way, I think, to socially target some of the reasons why people don't target aging in humans today, too. I think if you could buy an aging drug for your dog, when your grandma, there's going to be a pressure from a societal standpoint of fixing or changing or modifying the regulatory frameworks, so that it's easier to get these sort of drugs through.

And that's one way to affect change when you don't have, you know, insane resources available.

Brandon Stover: [00:07:11] Hmm, well, to help our listeners understand why you care so much about longevity will you show the story of your friend that you rented a room from in South Africa?

Celine Halioua: [00:07:21] Yeah. And he's one of many stories, but he was, I think the, like the one that helped me crystallize it a lot. So I had an internship in LA Jolla, California. I was actually the first time. I really moved away from home and work somewhere else. And I rented a room from this very nice, a very sweet old man who was a veteran who didn't have a lot of money and who really became almost like a grandfather.

So you figured to me and really took me under his wing while I was there. I returned for the following summer to continue to work underneath him or work at the lab I was at and stay with him. And I remember like when he, when I came back and opened the door, he just, he had lost this. Like he, the sparkle in his eye, his eyes, he so run into Canada every day.

He really lost it, but he told me he had been diagnosed with believe it was pancreatic cancer, a very, very terminal. Of cancer and just watching over the summer, he went from, you know, functional, still running to you know, losing himself and just watching him grow grapple is his mortality and all the things that he wanted to do.

And he had a new girlfriend and he like wanted to see his kid's wedding and like all these things and just watching him. Come under this realization that he was not going to be able to do any of that. And it's also just seeing this also, like this also kind of went into the healthcare thing because he didn't have good access to healthcare.

He was quite poor. He, I remember like very explicitly, he would, he's like super ratty t-shirts I used to over pay rent because he like didn't have a, can barely work. He's been barely had any more. Would, it was just so frustrating to watch it. And he died a few months after I left LA Jolla. And just, I dunno, like, I don't know that like that, to me, it really gets to like unfairness of it all.

He was such a kind person. He's such a good person. He died in such a painful way. And you have to live with this cognizance of his death for such a long period of time. And lose all these opportunities that he had and lose his happiness that he had. And I just always, it just bothered me.

Brandon Stover: [00:09:23] well, we'll do a deep dive into loyal and a bit, but to help our listeners really understand the problem from a first principles perspective,  what are the things that are driving these issues within longevity or keeping us from.

Celine Halioua: [00:09:39] So a lot of them are logistics. Right. So for context, the human drug to get approved on average can take, you know, seven to nine years in the clinic. It can cost a billion dollars or more. It's a lot of opportunity costs. It's very expensive.

It's very challenging. So there's two like kind of end points to that. The other important thing is that we are very dependent on the patent structure because the only reason you're willing to invest that. Is because you're have exclusive sales rights basically to that product afterwards. So it's a very  regimen industry for that reason.

It's a very, very high fail rates and they're like 90%. The other challenge is that because it takes so much money and so much expertise as much context, so much people and so many connections. And by the way, when you drug. It's not like an easy DTC sales thing or selling to PBMs and pharma providers, Medicare and Medicaid, and all these very like challenging institutions to get into almost all biotech companies are actually often, even if they don't say it like.

Where you'll sell the company, you know after you show us some like demonstrable efficacy of your drug and actually pharma companies use early stage biotech companies as a way to like externalize their R and D. This is all problems for aging for a couple of reasons. One on average, there's not, this pharma is not known for being the most.

You know, contrarian institutions and all, and also just like an aging drug in general, it brings a lot of logistical challenges. It's much long. It would always be a much longer study. So then you start hitting us. These patent issues, the safety issue is really, really important, but then if you have a novel drug you don't have, if you don't have long-term safety data, right.

So then you would maybe want to look at generic, but there's no financial upside to generic. It might be hard to get funding as an aging company, because who's going to acquire you. This is literally a challenge we had in our fundraise and they're like, well, who's going to have value. Who's going to invest in aging company next.

How do I know my investments? Not going to just die after we invest in you because there isn't an established market. There isn't an ESOP. So you're building it new for the first time. And this is all important because everything that we're doing is super active. So the dogs were interesting cause it's literally an order of magnitude cheaper to do what we're trying to do.

So while I still have the fight these challenges, we can bring our own drugs to market. We're not dependent on pharma wanting to buy us. We're not dependent on pharma selling our drugs for us because it's mostly cash pay market. And these are all things that just don't exist in the human space currently and just make it much more and more difficult to build up robustness around that.

Brandon Stover: [00:11:57] Can you define what's longevity and extended human life span actually is that's different than somebody saying we're going to live to be 150 years old because that's not the actual realistic view of it.

Celine Halioua: [00:12:09] No. So the way I think, I think about aging and actually a very unsexy way, which is just a preventative medicine for multiple age related diseases at the same. Inevitably, if you prevent or delay you know, neurodegenerative disorders and cancer and dementia, you're going to live a longer life, right?

Because there are some individuals who don't develop these, these are developed in much later and they therefore live longer than those who develop them early. And I'm sure there are some, you know underlying, you know, causal aging mechanisms are just thought to be like evolutionary aging mechanism targeted, like on average is bring the shift over.

It's not just bringing everyone's to healthiest, but also shifting over, but you're not going to have like 150 year old people's any of, I think the compounds are candidates that anybody's looking at today. And this is actually a hill I will die. Is how destructive it is for the aging industry to say shit like thousand year lifespans or like 180, or like anyone else like controversial like that, because it's actually, we're basically trying to create a more effective more accessible a less human suffering way of targeting to diseases that we already pay for.

We already deal with, but we deal with them at the end stages when the drugs don't work very well and they cost half a million dollars.

Brandon Stover: [00:13:17] Right. And we're trying to make our life in those last years. Feel like what our life is in our younger years, like trying to extend that quality of life rather than, you know, extending how many years we're at.

Celine Halioua: [00:13:30] Exactly. I mean, think about it, right? Like it it's actually it's a huge burden on a younger generation, especially those with like, don't come from money. If they're a, you know, an only parent or an only child. And then it's at the care of their parents and the parents don't have retirement cause they weren't working and then they become ill.

You're not going to take as many career risks because you have to pay for your parent's care. If your parents stay long, healthier, longer than say economically viable longer, which is a very transactional way of wording it that is a net benefit for the next generation to be free, to create as much value as they want.

Brandon Stover: [00:14:04] Well, let's go ahead and dive into loyal, which is a biotech startup developing drugs to extend a dog's lifespan. Will you elaborate on what loyal is creating and how it will help the dogs in that situation?

Celine Halioua: [00:14:17] Yeah. So we're basically a translational agent company. Our goal is to bring forward the first drugs that are approved for life span and health span extension. We are, we have two core products. We have one that's targeting the way by which we hypothesized longer dogs, sexual or lifespan. So the larger dog.

The shorter on average that lifespan is, is actually a very strong negative correlation between dog size and lifespan. And so we're trying to ameliorate that. And then our second drug is targeting metabolic dysregulation was age which is a core aging mechanism. If you've heard of caloric restriction or you know, my Forman rapamycin, most of these drugs target metabolic pathways.

And we have not Metformin, not recommended. Drug that we're developing that theoretically, if applications would be across multiple dog sizes, multiple dog breeds for targeting all cause aging.

Brandon Stover: [00:15:07] from these studies that you're doing on dogs, what are you learning from? You know, the science perspective that's going to translate over into.

Celine Halioua: [00:15:15] So most importantly, well, so there's two important things. One it's target validation. So no drugs are bringing forward for dogs would be commercial candidates for people. But they will validate their drug targets. So the things, and then you can develop novel drugs, better drugs, more specific drugs for, for those things that they're affecting in the body to have their potential health span and lifespan benefit.

The second one is how to quantify aging and nobody, there's not like a true, like accepted mechanism to quantify. So it's really, how do you run these studies? How do you think that these studies, how do you validate something works? Swinging works in the short term to then like a causative. We show that it works long-term and these are all open questions.

Brandon Stover: [00:15:55] How are you guys gaining metrics around that, you know, being able to quantify aging cause like in the biohacking space, there's a lot around like using VO two max and using HRV and these different metrics to kind of like compile together and see, okay, am I doing well at my age for those.

Celine Halioua: [00:16:12] Yeah. I mean, so we look at a lot of different things. So I'm, which I think would be familiar to people, some of which I think are less familiar to people, but on average, it's just, these it's a hypothesis. We don't actually know which ones are actually going to be relevant or not, which is why we look at so many.


Brandon Stover: [00:16:26] So let's say the drug works fantastic in dogs. What is the process from going from a drug for a dog to one for a human, you mentioned, you know, all these channels. That you would have to go against if you were doing it straight with humans. Are you still going to have to go through those FDA regulations and trials as you transition over?

Celine Halioua: [00:16:44] Yeah. We'll still have to face the challenges, the ideas that we'll have more data and understanding of aging and also have. A precedent that has been set in dogs. Precedents are very important and regulatory change. But that's the big one. And also just if you think about it, so when you, before a human drug goes into human studies, you do a lot of animal work.

You can think of our dog work as an addition to bringing a product over to for pet parents to treat their dogs. It's also like the most robust preclinical research monkey could do for an aging drug raging mechanism.

Brandon Stover: [00:17:13] You mentioned earlier being part of the longevity fund and seeing a bunch of pitches and the ways that people were trying to bring a biotech startup into the space, how is cellular longevity structured differently than those biotech startups that are going to make it more of a sustainable business model?

Celine Halioua: [00:17:28] Well, cause we're going down. So we can, it's really not that expensive to bring a dog drug to market. We spend a lot of money because we do a lot of things in parallel for aging in general. But we don't actually have to like it's, you know, if I'm doubling numbers and being aggressive, it, you know, it might cost 25 million to bring a dog drug to market, which is like, not even the price of a phase, one clinical study for people.

Brandon Stover: [00:17:49] Okay. Is there any models that you've seen from those other biotech startups that could be sustainable business models as well?

Celine Halioua: [00:17:57] I mean if they're raising a lot of money. Yeah, I mean, I think bio is a really good example of a company. They in license, existing human drugs that have existing safety packages and are developing them novel. Or there sorry. Aging indication. So immune aging is a big one that they're interested in.

For example, that saves them a lot of money because they know that a drug is safe. They don't have to do all the novel compound development. And they have something that's been in people before. So while they still have to spend, you know, a lot of money to actually bring this thing to market, it's a more, much more reasonable than.

And if it fails, it's going to fail probably in a pretty specific way. Like not being relevant to like aging in this sense. Not because there's some weird toxing that comes up that nobody could have predicted.

Brandon Stover: [00:18:33] from the space X playbook, because I know you're a fan of Elon Musk. What was it of approaching customers in that way that inspired you with loyal? Is there anything that came over in the.

Celine Halioua: [00:18:45] It doesn't the customers. I appreciate that he is not single-handedly, but you can put a lot of responsibility to him getting full, excited about space again in a modern way, and kind of really being the Genesis of this industry around modern day space and modern day space races.

I mean, aerospace engineering. Famously insanely difficult,

Brandon Stover: [00:19:05] Yeah.

Celine Halioua: [00:19:06] but, and people tend to think are willing to invest in it. Now they're willing to work on it. Now they're willing to take moonshots on it. Now, I think in part, because it's been validated saying worthwhile to work on by these early entrepreneurs, and I think that needs to happen in aging too.

There's so few aging companies. This, I think agent can be bigger. Oncology definitely build a multi multi-million billion dollar company in aging. And it's not zero songs. Like I want to build the big one. I want to build the space like the aging Moderna of aging, whatever. Right. But there's going to be a lot of aging companies if we're successful.

And I really want to be that inspiration for that. That's really the big thing. The big, like metaphor

Brandon Stover: [00:19:45] Yeah. And how, how are you using that as inspiration? Right? How are you inspiring these other people to come in the space?

Celine Halioua: [00:19:52] do things like this. I try to be candidate. I write a lot about my experiences building and biotech. I try to bring a transparency. We do a lot of press for reasons like this, we I also think just like in general, I'm a very different type of founder for this type of company. It's not very common that the mid twenties, mid twenties anymore mid to late twenties, a female founder building a biotech company.

And I tried to really be candid about that as a good example of yes, you can do hard things in this space too. Nobody's shocked when you see mid twenties, you know space, space, founder, right. But it's still not really a thing. And.

Brandon Stover: [00:20:25] Thinking of the people that you're hiring into. This company, you need a lot of experts around you. And you mentioned being a younger founder. How have you drawn those people in and been able to be CEO over them when they may have many years of expertise over you?

Celine Halioua: [00:20:40] Yeah. I mean, I think this needs to how you think about leadership. Right? I see myself as a facility. I didn't hold the initial thesis. I am technical, but I'm clearly not the best person in the world to run the science. So I hired the best person in the world, but I could find, but the science to run the engineering tunnel, different verticals that we're running on.

And I think that's actually, that's like very refreshing to people. Like I facilitate money in an environment and a culture and a team to run one idea ambitiously and get out of their way. I think that's actually been a huge thing. It's like, I don't have ego about literally anything except getting.

Aging drug approved. There's no like personal buy-in besides anything besides that. And I think that makes it easy for people to build their legacies within loyal, which is a pretty compelling offer.

Brandon Stover: [00:21:24] Important person in your story that you mentioned earlier was Laura Deming. Who's the founder of the longevity fund. What did you learn from her in terms of leadership or startups leading you to start your own startup?

Celine Halioua: [00:21:35] Oh, everything. Laura is like the reason I was able to transition from academia, Texas, Oxford science land to the frameworks that you needed to have to run a company, build a team grow at the rate that you need to, to build a company. All of that. And I learned that basically from like failing while working for Laura for two years.

Brandon Stover: [00:21:59] What are the steps that you had to take to go from academia in order to go to the world of startups? Because I know there's a lot of people that are creating great solutions in academia, but they don't get out of that locked up box and come out into the world and try and put it into solution.

Celine Halioua: [00:22:16] for me it was pretty serendipitous. Like, I didn't have a great time at Oxford. I was doing well academically and I love the city and I love the stuff I was working on. But I knew I didn't want to stay. I was really frustrated by it, hierarchical nature and how I'm being treated.

So I reached out to Laura Coleman. I just aspect from do two week internship with her, just cause I wanted to learn about like, how, how does. And she said, yes, I flew out. She gave me a full-time job offer. She gave me no time at all to decide if I had to drop out of my PhD or work for her. And I was like, hell yeah, I'm going to do it.

I'm going to take the opportunity. so really it was like being willing to move to the next shiny thing when it made sense.  there's a subtlety between. Being willing to change things and make hard decisions. Leaving Oxford was hard. I saw the plane the entire way back and I solved a lot.

Those few weeks, especially like getting into Oxford was a good thing. That was a huge stream of time. But you know, it was a willingness to sacrifice or something. And feed to learn more on and not being so, but it wasn't a lack of commitment. Like that's the important thing. I think I see what I see a lot of people now they're like oscillate between like edit this as it is.

Right. And like, they're always micro optimizing. You don't want to micro optimize. You want to take big strategic steps when it makes sense. So I was committed to Oxford. I worked at Oxford as if I was committed to finishing my detail until there was a very strong reason, but I wasn't committed anymore, which was to go work with.

And I've had opportunities before that, and those wouldn't have made sense to leave Oxford. So I think it's a really important differentiation to figure out is like, when does it may actually make sense to leave and why

Brandon Stover: [00:23:48] What made it so hard that you were, you had such an emotional response to it for so long. And then like, how did you work through that response so that you were choosing the right thing?

Celine Halioua: [00:23:58] immuno is hard because I'd worked, it was such a validation, right? I think if you had to grow up in, you know, normal land and like, you know, and your parents don't get a Harvard or Stanford or whatever to get into a university like this, and it's an external validation that you're smart, that you are high potential.

It's like rather safe that you're going to be like mild to moderately successful, basically, no matter what you do, as long as you complete it, right. It's a guaranteed life path in many ways. And sometimes it's very tempting to go down. Also, it was fun, right? Oxford was cool. It was a great place to live.

It was amazing to live in it's a university town. But I think what was important was to understand why did I want to stay there? What was the strategic reason that I was there? And did I already get most of it? I think the big reason in retrospect, Was to learn about, you know, how the world thinks and how hierarchy works and how the big thing I learned is that competency.

I always thought competency was so strongly tied titles. Actually. Wasn't a, one of the big issues with my supervisor and the stuff I had there was that I was honestly more competent than him, despite him being the person above me and me not. And like seeing that actually it was very helpful because it was like, oh, like it's all BS.

Like this isn't a like a intelligent test or anything. It's just like, you know, political and I never understood that about the world before. So that was a big part of it for me was just like learning that and then getting that stamp of approval. Like I still use that. I go into Oxford. I did for a long time.

There's a external proof. That was smart, but I got that on day one. I'm getting in. I didn't need to stay there for three years. The PhD did not actually give me that much more.

Brandon Stover: [00:25:34] Yeah. I think it's interesting in the time that we live now, especially you are writing about your journey like on your blog, you post and are very candid about the processes that you've had to go through. And that is being more valued than say a stamp from Oxford is in some circles. Being able to put yourself out there, be vulnerable and.

What you actually know, and what you're capable of doing can lead you to better opportunities than say getting a stamp from somewhere.

Celine Halioua: [00:26:03] now I index more and I would anybody listening, I'd recommend them do this. A lot of what I wrote in the beginning was not useful to literally anyone, but it was useful to me to learn how to write. And now I literally yesterday had somebody who helped me and in his words, fanboy over my writing to me because it's helpful.

Right. So I really recommend that. And I love seeing that when people will want to apply or work at loyal to.

Brandon Stover: [00:26:25] Part of your writing has been to write a playbook for like how to build a biotech startup. So you can bring people behind you. You extensively wrote on that. So I won't have you retell everything, but if somebody has an idea in the biotech startup space, what are the first like two or three steps that you would tell them that they need to get?

Celine Halioua: [00:26:44] Hm. I think it depends a lot on who they are and where they're coming from. I think the first thing is talked to a lot of people. I, every time I've ever assumed. Positively or negatively something bad has happened. So things like understand why, why businesses fail? Why wouldn't this work? What is going wrong?

Like what, why hasn't somebody done this? What does the field look like? Like really understand, understand your field deeply, talk to the actual first person that characters in your field and really, really get that. The second thing I would say is really understand building a company and what that actually is.

So like one thing I'm very candid about is I spend a lot of time just doing people's stuff and replying to emails and thinking about investors and fundraising. And I love these things like don't get me wrong. But if I had started a company with the naive idealism that I was going to get paid to think about aging science all day, every.

That, that I would be disappointed. So just really understanding what it comes into. The fact that like being a founder is actually in many ways terrible because you are, if you are good, you are constantly cognizant of all the reasons why you are bad. And then you are always having to be the most mature person.

Everything always falls to you. It is your responsibility for everything. And that's just like, I think a lot of people don't really realize that going in.

Brandon Stover: [00:28:00] Sure. Well, you're, you're also a solar founder currently, so you don't have somebody to help hold that burden. How do you use that as a super power, rather than a hindrance?

Celine Halioua: [00:28:09] I dunno. I just like, I don't have an emotional attachment to my flaws. It's like the biggest thing. Cause it's like, I only, again, I try it and it's hard. Right. But I tried to say and feel that like the only thing I care about is getting an agent drug approved. I don't care if I look stupid in the short term and I don't care.

I mean, I do care from embarrassed. I care because it decreases the probability of getting an agent approved. Not because it's. reflects on my ego. And then I just also try to be really cognizant of like where the biases are. Like everybody has like childhood biases. So one of mine, I really like to be recognized.

I like people to recognize the sacrifice I made for them. That's bad because I can actually lead to toxicity, really the frustration. I don't think I'll ever fix that, but I can be cognizant of and like bias for it when I'm, you know, doing something.

Brandon Stover: [00:28:54] Is there ways that you've flipped that to use it for something positive. So I can think of that same floor. I often have a similar flaw of wanting to be important, wanting to be seen in that light recognized. And I, going back to like the Elon Musk example, he gets seen in a major light, but he's helping to inspire a bunch of people.

Do you ever see any of your flaws in that way, where they could be a positive.

Celine Halioua: [00:29:18] Yeah, I think you can recognize your flaws pretty, pretty easily. And that's something I do to be. I think if a psychiatrist is listening to this, they would maybe say, don't do that. But it's something I've done and that I find works really, really well. I think it's just like under. It's just understanding it, right?

Like it's understanding what are the motivations. I might be hiding from myself as to why I want to do something a certain way and why I'm feeling a certain way right now. And that's all you can really do. I mean, basically you just don't want, you don't want to have unknown unknowns in terms of your personal work.

And like, that's what scares me is like, what do I not know that I don't know about myself. Let's call to me to be in a certain way.

Brandon Stover: [00:29:54] Is there ways that you go about discovering that maybe with your team or like having feedback? So you have a.

Celine Halioua: [00:29:59] I asked for a lot of feedback. Yeah. That's a big one. It gets harder with size because before I was like everyone, when I'd asked for feedback now, I'm like, I really, if I fucked up it's in front of everyone in front of 40 people, not in front of like two you just got to keep on doing it. And it's sucks, but that's why it's miserable because you get really upset.

Brandon Stover: [00:30:22] What's been the hardest part for you building loyal that you've had to face. And how did, how did you overcome that?

Celine Halioua: [00:30:27] I think managing my emotions and not feeling frustrated. So, so I think there's a, you have to figure out what you, you want to die on it to figure out which issues you really care about. And then you only want to push on those and not push. So for example I get super frustrated by sexism.

I'm insanely competent and have to deal with crap and watch like male founders who are less competent me, like raise more and get more generosity given in terms of, you know, their growth or their potential that I don't get. I often feel like I can't make a mistake and if I do something, you know, I'll lose any trust that I've built, which is a very frustrating place.

But you know what? I always be so bitter about it and that's actually like a huge, it's a turnoff for somebody. Right. And so really the only way to actually change what I care about, which is like that not being a variable in the assessment of me and my performance is to set the example it's to perform excellent, Leslie.

Right. And so I used to, when I would feel sexism, it was pointed out every time and be like, Hey and like, I think in some situations that was good and some situations that wasn't actually very. Because now this presents really careful around me because they're going to be worried about getting like me today, or, I mean, these aren't harassment situations, but like, you know what I mean?

Like, they're going to be worried about getting called out for that. So while it was like short term satisfactory to be like, by the way, you're like, you know, main VCE is a sexist Dick head. It was not longterm actually lighting to the thing that would actually change. Why does behaviors are that way? Because like they have no examples or barely an examples of Deepak female founders making the ability to dollars.

Brandon Stover: [00:31:58] Well, some of the other writings that you've had are sharing, you know, your learnings of building loyal. And one of those that I resonated with was not needing to fully visualize the end point to realize it will be valuable. Can you kind of expand on this and what it meant.

Celine Halioua: [00:32:13] I mean, I think the big thing we hear is like hiring really, really good people who are aligned with you in terms of mission and caring about it and then giving them a reason to run. I think if I, if I am the bottleneck, having to understand everything fully for something to happen at loyal, that doesn't, I'm not always right.

I'm far from always. Right. And I can't have to, like if I had to have that. That isn't I have some visual on like some aspects of the company to be clear, but then there's gonna be people who have backgrounds and perspectives and ideas that are totally orthogonal to anything I've ever thought about.

And they need to have the freedom to run that too. And it needs to be wasted check. Like if it doesn't make sense, like we need to know why and things like that. But that's been like for, I wrote that in reference to our engineering team, because now I can like tell you why it's valuable. I couldn't really before.

It was really more of like, we thought this person we were hiring, Tom was quite great and, you know, he'll do something valuable. And I couldn't tell you the difference between a data scientist and the data engineer before we hired our head of data science and data engineering. I still might do like a somewhat bad job.

But it didn't matter because they were amazing and they like did things for this company that I couldn't have told you they were to do in the forefront. And you just like, you have to be okay with.

Brandon Stover: [00:33:20] And one of the things that people look for you know, in an employer or in a leader is somebody that's you competent and confident. When you are very self-aware. You often like undermine your own confidence cause you're questioning. Is this an actually a good belief? Is this, that our right direction, which is a good thing because it's helping you work through that, figure it out.

But when you were leading, how does that come off to other people? Is it a hindrance? Is it a good thing?

Celine Halioua: [00:33:45] No. I mean, I think it's just like a truth seeking. I'm confident enough that I'm willing to be wrong and ask questions and look like an idiot and admit that I don't know something. if I was externalizing my confidence on to being. Or my idea being the one that's decided on, then I think I actually would have like less perspective as a team and I'll stay with perform less well.

So nobody actually, I mean, maybe they do, but I don't think people questioned my competence because they see that I have confidence in asking these questions.

Brandon Stover: [00:34:12] Yeah, perfect. Well, you're building something that hopefully impacts millions of people and in order to do so you're sacrificing a lot in being a founder. We've talked about all of the things that you've gone through. How do you think about sacrifice and why do you feel it's your responsibility to be on this.

Celine Halioua: [00:34:28] I think it's like the morally right thing to do to do this. I have a skillset and an ability and a desire and a, all the variables and the background and whatever to build that. And I think it would be unethical if I didn't build it. I dunno if that's the case to like every type of company, but I think with something like this, where I'm doing it to facilitate so many other people could help so many dogs and hopefully people one day, I just like, I feel like I have to like, it's my responsibility to do this as well as like.

That's actually a nice motivator when you inevitably get tired is to externalize the reason as to why you need to do it. I'm also doing it for myself too, obviously. I mean, I want to do this. I don't know what else I would do if I wasn't doing loyal, but it's easy to get burnt out personally on something.

Not that I'm burnt out on loyal, but like we could like become that way and I would still do it because it's the right thing to do in my opinion.

Brandon Stover: [00:35:15] Sure. And the way I like to think about it is like, if long-term that it didn't work out. You know, you were. Proud of yourself at the, you know, at the end of your life and that you dedicated your life to something that was bigger than you, and you can look back and be proud of what you've done.

Celine Halioua: [00:35:31] Yeah.

Brandon Stover: [00:35:32] working in longevity?

How do you think about your own mortality? Because I wonder sometimes when we're focused on longevity, are we just afraid of our own death, trying to extend the.

Celine Halioua: [00:35:46] I just like slightly spicy opinions on this. I think one of the common hallmarks of people who are not high quality who work in aging is that they're trying to work on their own mortality. I have a fear of death as most people do, but it's not in the like fear of mortality. It's like actually like the fear of the impact it would have on other people.

If that sense. And, and I, I'm not motivated by that personally, cause I that's more of like a, I hope I don't get hit by a car. It's not like a man. I hope I live to 120. I very like con deliberately work on this because I think it's the best way to broadly treat aging and age related diseases.

And one of the primary sources and misery for humans. And I would like very happily sign a contract tomorrow. They'll say that I can never, ever take any of our drugs. Right. It's never personally benefit me. If it would increase the probability of success of loyal. I think the minute you get emotionally intertwined with your product, with your work, with your science, but just saying it was so common in the aging field, then you lose a degree of clarity that you need to have when you're working in a problem.

This technically.

Brandon Stover: [00:36:53] Right. Well, before I get to my last question, is there a call to action you would like to leave our listeners with today?

Celine Halioua: [00:37:00] I think it's just have to rape you to work on important problems. It doesn't have to be aging but it should be, in my opinion, there's a lot of things you can do. And there's a lot of ways you can do it and you don't have to be a scientist or an engineer or something, but you can figure out what your uniquely good thing is.

Use that on ambitious problem. Or in infield, the facilitation of working on an ambitious problem. And I'd really, really emphasize to people that it's an important thing to do. And it's also very satisfying.

Brandon Stover: [00:37:24] Yeah. Well, I think that will follow into our next question of how can we push the world to.

Celine Halioua: [00:37:30] That's a great question. so this might be a bit too. Logical propelling, a very philosophical question, but I think the, the way, the first thing I'm thinking of, like after one of the initial frameworks that Laura and I have is that we needed to have a shocking demonstration of ethicacy, something, a narrative, and a story, and a visualization that anybody could understand.

That would prove this point. Right. So I really like I talk about, and I explained my thesis for aging that is taught about thousand year lifespans in mortality or fear mortality or all these things. That's not going to convince some people. I think if you actually want to have the masses of people actually shift their mindset around treating aging itself and treating and preventative medicine and all of these variables, you need to have something that just like, so obviously, yeah.

Changes how they've thought about the problem from day one and one of the theses of loyal is that doing this in dog and having that first ever dog agent drug is a shocking demonstration of efficacy, theoretically, to really help people think that way. So I guess what I would say is when you think about a way to change and evolve, Maybe there's like the way that it should be, or like in your heads for me, like, oh, it should be like everyone understanding the agent's assistant being super into it and like understanding how we're coming from.

Like, who cares about that? Just like care about the end point, which is like people being cognizant of it. And then like what's the most effective way to communicate that end point to the biggest amount of people. And I'm very clear and effective way. And I think if people can like really attach like what they personally want the world to be like, and this instead say like this.

W w the goal is, and what's most effective waiting get there that can really help with a lot of, a lot of life problems. But I think also the evolution of thinking and people.

Brandon Stover: [00:39:11] Yeah. Well, I love the answer, Celine. Thank you so much for coming on the show today. We'll put links for everything in the show notes for loyal.

Celine Halioua: [00:39:18] Thank you.

Brandon Stover: [00:39:19] Thank you for listening to the evolve. Podcasts  links to everything we discussed today are available in the show. Notes. Transcripts are also available in the show notes and everything can be viewed on our website at evolve. The doc world that's evolve the.world.

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