Michael Milken - Philanthropist, Financier, Medical Research Innovator, Public Health Advocate
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Mikemilken.com   |  Conversations with Michael Milken
COVID-19 has changed the way we work and live. In response to the pandemic, Mike is hosting a series of podcasts engaging a range of industry leaders, medical experts, government officials and philanthropists to help us better understand and confront current challenges, and how we will work, socialize, and fight disease for years to come.
 
Kenneth Adler, BioMarck Pharmaceuticals
Rajin Ahuja, BioMarck Pharmaceuticals
James Allison, Nobel Laureate; M.D. Anderson
Steve Ballmer, USA Facts; former Microsoft CEO
David Baltimore, Noble Laureate; Caltech
Arie Belldegrun, Allogene; Bioscience Pioneer
Gene Block, Chancellor, UCLA
Adam Boehler, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC)
Arul Chinnaiyan, University of Michigan Medical School
Stephen Cloobeck, Diamond Resorts Int’l
Francis Collins, National Institutes of Health
Roger Crandall, MassMutual
Ray Dalio, Bridgewater Associates
Sue Desmond-Hellman, Gates Foundation; UCSF; Genentech
Francis deSouza, Illumina
Laura Esserman, I-SPY Breast Cancer Trial Platform; UCSF Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center
Judy Faulkner, Epic Systems
James Golden, WorldQuant Predictive
Lynn Goldman, George Washington University
Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson
Thomas Gottstein, Credit Suisse
Piyush Gupta, DBS Group
Margaret Hamburg, Nat’l Acad. of Medicine; former FDA Commissioner
Rod Hochman, Providence
Barbara Humpton, Siemens USA
Ynon Kreiz, Mattel
Esther Krofah, Executive Director, FasterCures
Esther Krofah, Executive Director, FasterCures
(special video conversation)
Eric Lefkofsky, Tempus; Groupon
Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball
Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman, Econet Group
John Mazziotta, UCLA Health Systems
Michael Milken, Milken Institute
(special video conversation)
Peter Nelson, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Kurt Newman, Children’s National Hospital
Vivek Ramaswamy, Roivant Sciences
Senator Harry Reid, former Majority Leader
Matthew Rettig, UCLA Health
Steve Rosenberg, National Cancer Institute
Eric Schmidt, Google
Padmanee Sharma, M.D. Anderson Cancer
Jonathan Simons, Prostate Cancer Foundation
Jonathan Simons, Prostate Cancer Foundation
(special video conversation)
Jeff Skoll, Skoll Foundation
David Solomon, Goldman Sachs
Richard Stone, Veterans Health Administration
Admiral James Stavridis, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO
Joe Tsai, Alibaba
Andrew von Eschenbach, former FDA Commissioner and NCI Director
Henry Waxman, Former U.S. Representative
(D-Calif.); Chairman, Waxman Strategies
Tom Wyatt, KinderCare
Tal Zaks, Moderna
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Ep. 52: The Stakes, with Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa (5/26/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Strive Masiyiwa
Listen: iHeartRadio Apple Podcasts Spotify Overcast

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“Public health will not be able to cope with this pandemic if it becomes a major crisis of the scale that we have seen in the West and in China. There's almost nothing we can do about it because we just don't have time. But it has been a massive wake-up call.”

Strive Masiyiwa
Founder and Executive Chairman, Econet Group

 

Strive Masiyiwa is in a race against the clock. The Zimbabwean-born businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist is working to shore up medical and food supply chains so African nations can manage a possible surge of coronavirus cases. For Masiyiwa, the stakes could not be higher.

“We all need to help Africa navigate itself through something which is not if it's making and is affecting us,” he tells Mike. “And this is where we really need some global thinking and audacious thinking. Because if we don't think how to help Africa through this, it could be a very difficult next two or three decades and it doesn't have to be so.”


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Ep. 51: Service, with Former Congressman Henry Waxman (5/26/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Henry Waxman
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“Explain things in a credible way so that the public understands why they're being asked to do things. You can't force people – especially Americans – to do things they refuse to do.”

Henry Waxman
Former U.S. Representative (D-Calif.); Chairman, Waxman Strategies

 

When he retired from the U.S. House of Representatives after four decades of service, Henry Waxman was considered one of the most influential and effective legislators of his era. He championed such issues as the environment, clean energy, and government oversight, sponsoring 48 bills that made it into law. The congressman chaired the first hearing on HIV/AIDS in 1982, as well the tobacco industry hearings 12 years later, demonstrating a commitment to public health that continues to this day.

“We need to change our public health system,” he tells Mike. “We need to make sure that everybody's covered. We need to do contact tracing. … We tackled other pandemics in the United States much more successfully and we've got to be able to have a public health system that will allow us to do that.”


 
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Ep. 50: A Special Episode with PCF And FasterCures (5/22/2020)
A Special Episode on Potential Breakthroughs in COVID-19 Research Coming from Cancer Research by the Prostate Cancer Foundation and FasterCures
Listen: iHeartRadio Apple Podcasts Spotify Overcast A video recording of this episode – with helpful graphics – is also available here.

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“In Casablanca, Rick … says, ‘of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.’ Well, of all the 80,000 proteins in the human genome, COVID-19 walked into the Prostate Cancer Foundation cafe.”

Jonathan Simons
President & CEO, Prostate Cancer Foundation

 

A video recording of this episode – with helpful graphics – is also available here.

Jonathan Simons (President and CEO, Prostate Cancer Foundation) and Esther Krofah (Executive Director, FasterCures) join Mike for a special discussion about how breakthroughs in cancer laboratories are advancing our understanding and possible treatment of COVID-19. 

The roundtable discussion features six scientists from academic medical research institutions and the biopharmaceutical industry sharing their insights on the TMPRSS2 gene’s role as the doorway through which the SARS-CoV-2 virus enters the lung. That same genetic doorway also happens to play an important role in several forms of cancer. The promising news is that researchers – including those on this call – have learned how to shut that door in other contexts.


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Ep. 49: Time Equals Lives, with Fastercures’ Esther Krofah (5/22/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Esther Krofar
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“We spend numerous hours a day updating that tracker because what is critical is real-time information that researchers and scientists can respond to. … As I've been speaking to colleagues, ranging from NIH to these large companies, they're using that daily in their prioritization exercises to determine what they can accelerate and what the potential opportunities are.”

Esther Krofar
Executive Director, FasterCures

 

Keeping track of rapid-pace global developments in treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 may seem to be an uphill battle. But since February, Esther Krofah’s team at FasterCures has been producing exactly that: a real-time tool that, as of late May 2020, is monitoring development of more than 200 treatments and 140 vaccines.

Krofah, who assumed her leadership role just months before the coronavirus crisis, continues to build on the organization’s legacy of partnerships with government, industry and patient groups: “We believe time equals lives, and so these organizations, these institutions, have been part of our journey over the last almost three decades. And as we come to a time like this with COVID, we need that foundation of trust. … There's that recognition that individuals, families, patients is what drives us day-in and day-out.”


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Ep. 48: Commencement, with UCLA’s Gene Block (5/21/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Gene Block
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“Normally about 14,000 students live on our campus in our dormitories and that's down to I think less than about 900 students. … The campus has taken on an eerie feeling of really being abandoned.”

Gene Block
Chancellor, University of California Los Angeles

 

Big changes are afoot at UCLA, America’s #1-rated public university. Chancellor Gene Block has already seen an 85% reduction of his on-campus workforce, and with a record of 5,000-plus classes currently being taught online, he anticipates further, more permanent alterations to the way students obtain higher education.

There is one tradition, however, that Chancellor Block believes should remain intact. “Commencement is really important for students. It's a sense of closure. It's also a sense of new beginnings. It really completes one phase of their life and begins another, and we're going to make certain that our students get that experience even if it's somewhat delayed.”


 
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Ep. 47: Unprecedented, with UCLA Health’s John Mazziotta (5/20/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and John Mazziotta
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“One day, for the first time in my 39 years, there were no patients in the emergency department. It was a Sunday morning. Never seen that in my life. … Heart attacks, strokes, mental illness – these people were not coming in. … There are a lot of deaths that are indirectly going to be associated with COVID-19 even though the patients never had the infection.”

John Mazziotta
Vice Chancellor, UCLA Health Sciences; CEO, UCLA Health

 

As the vice chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences and the CEO of UCLA Health, John Mazziotta helms one of the crown jewels of California’s formidable medical research and health care ecosystem. When the crisis erupted, his hospitals prepared to be a major hub for the region’s most challenging cases. Fortunately, that anticipated influx never came; however, for UCLA and for hospitals and patients everywhere, Dr. Mazziotta sees consequences that will reverberate for years.

But his concerns about the collateral damage of COVID-19 are at least partially offset by his prognosis for the future: “I'm actually extremely optimistic about how we come out of this,” he tells Mike. “I don't think there's anything in medicine that will look the same after the pandemic. … I've told that to the faculty, I’ve told that to the staff, and we have to figure out a way to do the new world of medicine more efficiently, more effectively and have the end result be better for patients, trainees and scientists.”


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Ep. 46: Stewardship, with DBS Group’s Piyush Gupta (5/19/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Piyush Gupta
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“Most times your right or your requirement for personal privacy trumps other kinds of needs. But a pandemic is … when it becomes quite clear that sometimes the needs of the collective, the needs of society, trump the needs of the individual.”

Piyush Gupta
CEO & Director, DBS Group

 

As the CEO and Director of DBS Group, a financial services firm operating in 18 countries throughout Asia, Piyush Gupta is known for anticipating and staying ahead of current trends in banking. When the pandemic hit, DBS quickly built upon the digital platform Gupta had already implemented.

Gupta’s effective stewardship of the 52-year-old firm – formed as the nation’s development bank – echoes Singapore’s overall management of the crisis: “Even though we now have about 20,000 cases, the actual number of fatalities are only 20,” he tells Mike. “With good medical treatment and good health systems, you can actually manage the virus relatively well.”


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Ep. 45: Anchored, with Admiral James Stavridis (5/18/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and James Stavridis
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“The U.S. and China, particularly in 2020, are on something of a collision course. … We should confront where we must, we should cooperate where we can, and we should be clear-eyed that we're in for a period of real tension.”

James Stavridis
Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.); former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO

 

A retired 4-star, Admiral James Stavridis has not lost his focus on the future of geopolitics and American national security. Recently, the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO has turned his attention to how a pandemic will alter the world order and how America might navigate the crisis.

“Europe will come out of this at worst neutral [and] China will come out clearly in a stronger position,” he tells Mike. “For the United States, we need to avoid the mistake of leaning too far toward isolationism. … That's going to be crucial for the United States in this 21st century.”


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Ep. 44: The Virus and the Clock, with Moderna’s Tal Zaks (5/15/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Tal Zaks
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“In this fight, where we are today – this is May of 2020 – there's a lot of other companies and a lot of other approaches that are trying to generate vaccines. I wish them all success, and we all need to be successful here. I have only two competitors in this race: the virus and the clock.”

Tal Zaks
Chief Medical Officer, Moderna

 

If developing a COVID-19 vaccine were a race, Tal Zaks and Moderna Therapeutics won the first leg. It took them only 63 days from the time the virus was sequenced until they had a new vaccine in human clinical trials. So impressed was BARDA – the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority – that they awarded Moderna $483 million to begin producing the vaccine should it gain FDA approval.

Their vaccine uses messenger RNA (mRNA) to “reprogram” the kinds of proteins a cell expresses – a potential game-changer. “You can make a completely different kind of drug and a completely different kind of vaccine with it,” Zaks tells Mike. “And with that you can go after targets that traditional medicine has found really hard to target.”

Just days after this podcast was recorded, Moderna made a widely reported announcement of positive interim Phase 1 data for its mRNA vaccine.


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Ep. 43: Turning Point, with CEPI’s Richard Hatchett (5/13/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Richard Hatchett
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“When I was working at ground zero, I saw a level of cooperation and willingness for everybody to sort of check their egos at the door because we knew that we were all facing an external threat. And that's exactly what we're seeing today. We're all in this together.”

Richard Hatchett
CEO, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)

 

For Richard Hatchett, 9/11 changed everything. While serving as an oncology fellow in New York City, he quickly found himself on the front lines tending to the injured. He never looked back, shifting his focus to public health, and toward helping as many people as possible deal with external threats. Today, as CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), he coordinates between multiple sectors to ensure that emerging vaccines are safe, effective, and readily available to all who need them.

“We wanted speed, we wanted vaccines that could scale, and we wanted to be able to ensure global access to those vaccines,” he tells Mike. “And so what we've ended up with is a deliberately diversified portfolio to overcome this pandemic.”


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Ep. 42: Foresight, with WorldQuant Predictive’s James Golden (5/12/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and James Golden
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“We knew that some kind of pandemic has always been inevitable. … What we didn't really predict was the magnitude of the impact, the stress on the healthcare system, shocks to markets and economies. … How do we predict the new normal at speed and at scale?”

James Golden
CEO, WorldQuant Predictive

 

Predicting the future isn’t what it used to be, especially with the inherent variables of a pandemic. For WorldQuant Predictive CEO James Golden, the current crisis means putting his company’s artificial intelligence, machine learning, and quantitative finance approaches to the test as never before.

Everything today, it seems, is grist for his data mill: “EMR data, genomic data, sequencing data – all of those things are extremely valuable and tell us a lot about viral mutation, virulence, what happens with comorbidities. But there are other kinds of data: mobile phone data, transportation data, consumer signals, buying and demand curves. … How do we think about creating actionable intelligence based on real data in the light of so many unknowns?”


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Ep. 41: Play, with Mattel’s Ynon Kreiz (5/11/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Ynon Kreiz
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“Play is never canceled. You can cancel school, you can suspend retail stores or close movie theaters, but you cannot cancel play.”

Ynon Kreiz
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mattel, Inc.

 

For Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz, taking the helm of one the world’s iconic companies two years ago was a privilege and a responsibility. In the age of COVID-19, he views the company’s mission as more important than ever to help children – and their parents – navigate the challenge.

The company has even launched a special line of action figures called Thank You Heroes, which – as Kreiz describes to Mike Milken, “celebrates the individuals that are part of the frontline fight against COVID-19. … We are contributing all net proceeds to a charity called First Responders First.”


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Ep. 40: Can-Do, with MassMutual’s Roger Crandall (5/7/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Roger Crandall
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“You start by taking care of your people. Your people then can take care of their families and loved ones. That's how communities get taken care of. And that's kind of the building blocks that we see as being critical here.”

Roger Crandall
Chairman, President & CEO, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company

 

For MassMutual’s Roger Crandall, leadership in times of a pandemic means more opportunities to help policyholders and employees create virtuous cycles. Under his stewardship, the venerable life insurance company has offered $3 billion of free life insurance to frontline workers – a program he hopes to expand.

Crandall finds optimism in the federal Paycheck Protection Program and similar efforts: “This is American business and American “can-do-ism” at its finest, in my opinion. So, I'm actually very optimistic that this can remind everybody of the ability of the public and private side to work together to get us to a better place.”


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Ep. 39: Trial By Fire, with Credit Suisse’s Thomas Gottstein (5/7/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Thomas Gottstein
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“I was deeply impressed. They managed much bigger volumes than in any normal period, and we were really very proud and still are very proud how our fixed income and equity traders managed these challenges, because it was certainly not an easy environment.”

Thomas Gottstein
CEO, Credit Suisse

 

Thomas Gottstein became CEO of Credit Suisse on February 14, 2020. Within three weeks, the world had changed, and he found himself leading the storied firm through the uncharted waters of a pandemic. Moreover, Credit Suisse took a leading role in developing and executing its nation’s rescue package.

Gottstein, a 20-year veteran of Credit Suisse, understands the occasion to which his industry must rise: “Since the financial crisis, there were a lot of negative comments about the role of banks. … This crisis has helped us to emphasize the important role banks can play in supporting the broader economy and supporting private individuals, corporates or institutions in times of crisis.”


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Ep. 38: Disparities, with Freda Lewis-Hall (5/6/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Freda Lewis-Hall
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“One of the other things that has come to light with regards to COVID-19 are health disparities … in the infection rates and the hospitalization rates and in the death rates of certain communities.”

Freda Lewis-Hall
Former Executive Vice President & Chief Medical Officer, Pfizer, Inc.

 

As a young African American girl growing up in the early 1960s, Freda Lewis-Hall was accustomed to people telling her that she would never attain her dream of becoming a doctor. Today, she can look back at a 35-year career that included serving as Pfizer’s Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, where she was a passionate advocate for health equity and improved outcomes for all patients.

Trained as a psychiatrist, Dr. Lewis-Hall is particularly concerned about the impact COVID-19 is having on communities who are disproportionately affected with higher mortality rates, and who perform much of what we now consider essential frontline work. “From nursing staff and medical staff, EMTs, people who are working in grocery stores, who are picking up the trash, driving public transportation – these people are at exposed risk. They know it, and they're also dealing with the emotional disadvantage of facing this every day.”


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Ep. 37: Resilience, with Hospitality Icon Stephen J. Cloobeck (5/5/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Stephen J. Cloobeck
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“The consumer is resilient. Vacations are mandatory. I believe the cruise business within a year will be back. I truly believe that. And I believe the [Las Vegas] Strip will be back within that period of time too.”

Stephen J. Cloobeck
Founder, Former Chairman and CEO, Diamond Resorts International

 

As the founder of Diamond Resorts International and the former chairman of Brand USA – the nation’s first public-private partnership to promote tourism – Nevada native Stephen J. Cloobeck has led the hospitality industry through good times and bad.

As he consults with companies and governments about COVID-19, he’s focused on guest safety, transparent communications, and the resilient nature of the human impulse to explore the world. He’s also a realist when it comes to how to properly think about reopening the nation: “If you're looking for a perfect solution, it doesn't exist.”


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Ep. 36: The Pioneer, with The National Cancer Institute’s Steven Rosenberg (5/4/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Steven Rosenberg
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“We're perhaps working now at 10% of where we were working before the COVID infections. It's heartbreaking to think of what cancer patients are going through as they're watching their cancers grow and yet to have to deal with this threat of the virus and problems in getting access to care.”

Steven Rosenberg
Chief, Surgery Branch, National Cancer Institute

 

When Steven Rosenberg joined the National Cancer Institute more than 45 years ago, he was determined to prove that a patient’s own immune system could be used to fight cancer. His interleukin-2 therapy was approved by the FDA for cancer in 1992, leading to many more advances and resulting in thousands of lives extended and saved.

Today, this pioneer of immunotherapy is seeking to better understand how to use those same advances to fight COVID-19. “We're taking information that we've learned from cancer treatment and learning to at least control some of the morbidity that occurs from a viral infection, which comes from the vigorous immune reaction and the release of hormones that causes many of the side effects of COVID.”


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Ep. 35: Access, with Goldman Sachs’ David Solomon (5/1/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and David Solomon
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“This is a demand shutdown in the economy that's affecting all businesses. … If you're a small business, your access to capital in some cases can be limited, [so] that's why getting resources to these small businesses that employ so many is so, so important.”

David Solomon
Chairman and CEO, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc

 

For David Solomon and Goldman Sachs, helping small enterprises navigate the crisis requires access – to expertise, education and to capital. The firm continues its 10,000 Small Businesses program and has pledged more than half a billion dollars to support community lenders.

These days, Solomon’s particularly focused on creating outcomes that are sustainable and equitable: “Whenever you go through a crisis,” he tells Mike, “disadvantages are amplified. We continue to try to find ways that we can make sure that resources, including capital and business allocation, are directed to women-led businesses.”


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Ep. 34: Upside Down, with Vivek Ramaswamy (5/1/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Vivek Ramaswamy
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“Seeing my own family members in New York go through what they're going through has … not only turned our personal life upside down, but also has turned upside down a bit the near-term priorities of our company to help do our part in addressing this pandemic.”

Vivek Ramaswamy
Founder and CEO, Roivant Sciences

 

When Vivek Ramaswamy was only 28, he founded the pharmaceutical company Roivant Sciences. When COVID-19 hit New York City, his wife was a frontline medical worker – and pregnant with their son. The child was born healthy, but his wife and father-in-law soon tested positive for the virus. They are still recovering.

As Ramaswamy manages his company from a home in Ohio, the man who graduated summa cum laude from Harvard muses on life’s hard-earned lessons: “Things don't always go as you expected, but you rise to the occasion in the best way you can.”


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Ep. 33: Public-Private Partners, with DFC’s Adam Boehler (4/30/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Adam Boehler
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“We're testing 200,000 Americans a day. That's an 80x increase, and we've done 5.2 million tests to date. That's not only number one in terms of number of tests that we're at from a country basis, it's number one on a per capita basis.”

Adam Boehler
CEO, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC)

 

As CEO of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, Adam Boehler focuses on using finance to solve challenges in the developing world. These days, he’s also helping his own country navigate the crisis by accelerating testing and strengthening supply chains.

An entrepreneur himself, Boehler’s been especially proud of the private sector’s response: “We get asked all the time, how come we're not throwing Defense Production Act orders all over the place and just commandeering and taking over. It's not necessary when you have our private market taking all the right actions.”


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Ep. 32: Sequencing, with Illumina’s Francis deSouza (4/30/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Francis deSouza
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“The first genome sequence of the virus that was published on January 12th online was done on Illumina machines, and so we have been working on this outbreak [since] well before it became a pandemic.”

Francis deSouza
President and CEO, Illumina

 

Sequencing DNA quickly and cheaply has revolutionized medicine with new cures and therapies that have extended and saved lives. As president and CEO of Illumina, Francis deSouza has been at the forefront of these advances and is leading his company toward new applications that can help fight a pandemic.

He and Mike discuss how to get the world back to work, how many genomes may actually be present in our bodies, and a novel way of safeguarding the world’s data: “DNA has been optimized by nature to be the best storage medium out there and it's only a matter of time before we use it ourselves for the data that we generate.”


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Ep. 31: Backstop, with the Veterans Health Administration’s Richard Stone (4/29/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Dr. Richard Stone
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“As we began to see in January the evolution of this virus … we began reorienting ourselves to our inpatient responsibilities and to the potential that the nation would need us to be its backstop in a healthcare system.”

Richard Stone
Executive in Charge, Veterans Health Administration

 

Dr. Richard Stone’s job title is as clear and direct as the man who occupies it: As the executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, the nation’s largest integrated healthcare system, he carries the awesome responsibility of protecting the health of 9 million veterans and 360,000 employees.

A combat veteran himself, he offers simple advice to address a worrying trend: “Early on in this pandemic, we began to see veterans canceling their mental health visits. … If you know any family member, any friend, who is going through intense social isolation, pick up the phone today.”


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Ep. 30: Values, with Kroger’s Rodney McMullen (4/28/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Rodney McMullen
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“We made the decision to share publicly all the work that we were doing internally in case it could be helpful. … We're trying to pay it forward just like others paid it forward to us.”

Rodney McMullen
Chairman and CEO, The Kroger Co.

 

When Rodney McMullen took a high school job bagging groceries at his local Kroger, he had no way to know he’d go on to lead the company – now one of America’s largest employers. Another surprise in his American Dream story: that his associates would one day be frontline heroes in a global pandemic.

And the company itself is playing a hero role. As so many businesses struggle and lay off workers, Kroger’s hiring 60,000 new employees. “A lot of those people … come out of the food-service industry, come out of working in small medical professions, or for veterinarians. … People that are naturally inclined to serve others. So that's one of the things that's really helped us maintain our values.”


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Ep. 29: Powerhouse, with Siemens USA’s Barbara Humpton (4/28/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Barbara Humpton
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“We often talk about Siemens as being a company that was built to serve society. And that mission really hasn't changed. … We have real expertise in electrification, automation and digitalization. And that's all coming into play right now as the nation wrestles with COVID-19.”

Barbara Humpton
President and CEO, Siemens USA

 

Hospitals. Factories. Data centers. Government facilities. If it’s is an essential service or industry in this country, chances are Siemens USA is helping to power and maintain it. As president and CEO, Barbara Humpton has overseen major changes to how her 50,000 employees stay safe as they #KeepTheLightsOn for everyone else.

Throughout the pandemic, she has not lost sight of what is truly at stake. “We're going to find ways to accommodate, ways to adapt, but the really critical thing is to connect and care because I think the empathy we show one another right now is going to be the most important medicine we can offer.”


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Ep. 28: Triage, with Ray Dalio (4/27/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Ray Dalio
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“A financial bomb has gone off. And then you have to say, okay, who are you going to help first? … Choices have to be made. The real question is whether we can do that together in a bipartisan way, in a skillful way, because there's enough money and credit to go around and this can be done.”

Ray Dalio
Founder, Co-CIO and Co-Chairman, Bridgewater Associates

 

For master investor Ray Dalio, COVID-19 presents a unique opportunity to create greater fairness in our system. The founder of Bridgewater Associates – the largest hedge fund in the world – sees outright threats to the American Dream rising from wage disparities and environmental degradation.

Top among his preferred national reinvestments would be the great equalizer: “You want to enable as many people as is possible to have equal opportunity of education. That's number one. And then establishing a minimum acceptable living standard and poverty level that they can't go below, particularly their children. … I think we could do that.”


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Ep. 27: Reaching Out, with Humana’s Bruce Broussard (4/27/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Bruce Broussard
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“Many of our members are alone and in their homes, and that can become quite an impact on their mental health. Having a phone call and being able to talk to somebody sounds so simple, but has been so impactful.”

Bruce Broussard
President and CEO, Humana

 

As president and CEO of one of America’s largest health insurance companies, Bruce Broussard considers every aspect of care for Humana’s more than 20 million members. These days, he’s especially focused on making sure his 65-and-over members have their basic needs covered: access to food, prescriptions, and basic medical care – and helping them avoid loneliness.

Soon into the crisis, he initiated a 100-CEO roundtable to learn and share, and it’s given him hope: “The general business community has come together in so many different ways. … This ability to create a system that is oriented to a common ground has just been so powerful, so powerful.”


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Ep. 26: Greenlight, with Alibaba’s Joe Tsai (4/24/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Joe Tsai
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“When we reopened, we were very tentative about letting people back into the office. … You have to show your health code, which is attached to the Alipay app. It'll show a green, yellow, or red code; basically it reflects a lot of data — where you've been, who you've been with.”

Joe Tsai
Co-Founder and Executive Vice Chairman, Alibaba Group;
Governor, Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty

 

If you’ve never heard of Alibaba, chances are you aren’t one of the 700 million active annual consumers living in China who rely on the company for e-commerce, online auctions, technology and business services, entertainment, and even grocery shopping. Keeping Alibaba’s 100,000 employees healthy is a priority for co-founder Joe Tsai, and he’s wary of going too fast, too soon.

“China doesn't publish testing data, but our estimate is that there is at least 20-25 million tests that have already been done. … If you open up and you cannot detect, trace and isolate infected patients, then it's going to be a disaster.”


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Ep. 25: Essential Work, with KinderCare’s Tom Wyatt (4/24/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Tom Wyatt
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“[Our teachers] write me, they call me, they are so taken aback by the grateful comments they get, the emotional letters and emails they get from the doctors and nurses and others saying that they could not be doing their work without our support”

Tom Wyatt
CEO, KinderCare Education

 

Putting patients first – in this case, young patients who often require special care and immediate attention – has long been Kurt Newman’s priority at Children’s National. And that conviction has held true through the unprecedented health and economic challenges presented by the coronavirus crisis.

Indeed, Newman recounts the unique way one of his nurses was able to help a young patient: “She had tested positive, went through the illness, returned to work. … She donated her plasma to help take care of one of our patients. And it turned that child around. That's the commitment and courage that these frontline workers have.”


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Ep. 24: The Right Thing, with Children’s National Hospital’s Kurt Newman (4/23/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Kurt Newman
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“We've been around for 150 years and we want to be around for another 150 years. So we'll figure out a way to deal with the finances. Right now we're just focused on doing the right thing for these kids and families.”

Kurt Newman
President and CEO, Children’s National Hospital

 

Putting patients first – in this case, young patients who often require special care and immediate attention – has long been Kurt Newman’s priority at Children’s National. And that conviction has held true through the unprecedented health and economic challenges presented by the coronavirus crisis.

Indeed, Newman recounts the unique way one of his nurses was able to help a young patient: “She had tested positive, went through the illness, returned to work. … She donated her plasma to help take care of one of our patients. And it turned that child around. That's the commitment and courage that these frontline workers have.”


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Ep. 23: Curveball, with Major League Baseball’s Rob Manfred (4/23/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Rob Manfred
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“They may not be perfect with large crowds at Dodger Stadium. It may look a little different. But I really am committed to the idea that it's important as part of our recovery to get the game back on.”

Rob Manfred
Commissioner of Baseball

 

“They may not be perfect with large crowds at Dodger Stadium. It may look a little different. But I really am committed to the idea that it's important as part of our recovery to get the game back on.”

A month after what would have been opening day, the national pastime remains in limbo. For Commissioner Rob Manfred, deciding when to play ball this year means reflecting on the example set by his predecessor after 9/11, when baseball helped bring Americans together. Just like then, he tells Mike, “baseball can be kind of an important milestone in the return to normalcy.”

In the meantime, a spirit of shared sacrifice is helping those throughout the MLB family:  Manfred’s own senior staff took pay cuts so other employees would be taken care of; team owners created a $30 million fund to assist game-day workers; and the Pennsylvania factory that makes MLB uniforms was retooled to produce masks for first-responders.


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Ep. 22: Gaining Ground, with Amgen’s Robert Bradway (4/22/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Robert Bradway
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“This is, of course, unlike anything any of us have experienced before. This synchronous global shutdown caused by what is a pretty tricky virus – a virus that had a head start on all of us. But we're gaining ground fast.”

Robert Bradway
Chairman and CEO, Amgen

 

Under Robert Bradway’s leadership, Amgen is aggressively pursuing SARS-CoV-2 on a number of fronts. Some of their efforts build on past successes, focusing on antibodies and the immune system. Another looks to the small island nation of Iceland for genetic clues about the virus’s mutations and spread.

Bradway holds true to the credo to first do no harm as he thinks about the many other patients who rely on Amgen’s life-saving medicines: “We need to make sure that while we're responding to COVID-19, we're not doing it at the expense of all these other patients, or we're going to create a secondary healthcare crisis that we never intended and that we could have prevented by striking that balance.”


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Ep. 21: Ramping Up, with Novartis’s Vasant Narasimhan (4/22/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Vas Narasimhan
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“Our thinking is, how do we create a protease inhibitor that could work on future coronaviruses, not just the current coronavirus? … Fundamentally, our ability to withstand pandemics is likely going to center around our ability to think of this more as a defense topic than a health topic.”

Vas Narasimhan
CEO, Novartis

 

As the CEO of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, Vas Narasimhan knows what a unique moment in history this is. That’s why he’s spending hundreds of millions of dollars in research and development to attack COVID-19 from a variety of angles. Among these are protease inhibitors, monoclonal antibodies, and “glue degraders” that help dissolve critical proteins in the virus.
 
As one of the world’s largest producers of hydroxychloroquine, they are also watching ongoing testing of that antimalarial drug. If the tests show it to be safe and effective, Novartis is ready to donate 130 million doses to start, and more if needed. For a company that last year produced more than 72 billion doses of medicine for nearly 800 million patients, ramping up to a global scale is a challenge Narasimhan and his company are eager to accept.


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Ep. 20: Sounding the Alarm, with Entrepreneur Jeff Skoll (4/21/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Jeff Skoll
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“About a month ago in the U.S. we had about a thousand confirmed cases; today we have about 600,000. The developing world is very much on that same pathway.”

Jeff Skoll
Founder and Chairman, Skoll Foundation, The Jeff Skoll Group, Participant, and Capricorn Investment Group

 

Jeff Skoll knows pandemics. More than a decade ago he launched an organization whose current name reflects its mission: Ending Pandemics. Skoll, who once served as eBay’s first president, also sounded the alarm (presciently, it now seems) when he produced the 2011 film Contagion, which anticipated the global upheaval caused by a pathogen originating from a wet market half a world away.

From his years studying what could go wrong with a virus like COVID-19, Skoll clearly sees the challenges ahead: “We literally need something like 22 million tests a day, to truly open up the country and be safe,” the soft-spoken Canadian tells Mike. “And cumulatively, I believe that there are no more than 22 million tests that have been done all over the world.”


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Ep. 19: First Things First, with Senator Rick Scott (4/21/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Rick Scott
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“If we do anything to get this economy going again, make it easy for the entrepreneurs in this country.”

Rick Scott
U.S. Senator (R-Fla.); former Governor of Florida

 

As two-term governor of Florida, Rick Scott led his state through crises including hurricanes, mass shootings and the Zika virus. Now, as a U.S. Senator, he’s helping see the nation through COVID-19. While the roles are different, Scott’s philosophy is the same: He spends his days listening and helping people solve their problems.

A champion of small-businesses and entrepreneurship, his focus today is on reopening the nation safely, and he’s identified the immediate challenge: “The biggest thing we've got to chip away at right now, I think, is we’ve got to figure out this testing … because it's going to be hard to get this economy going without it.”


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Ep. 18: Searchlight, with Senator Harry Reid (4/21/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Harry Reid
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“At this stage, we have to recognize that there’s going to be some downtime here. But I think that with the experience we’ve had around the country, especially in New York, it’s something we can handle.”

Harry Reid
Former U.S. Senator (D-Nev.)

 

Senator Harry Reid knows about handling adversity. Born during the Great Depression, he grew up in a shack in Searchlight, Nevada with no indoor toilet, telephone, or hot water. He fought – literally, as an amateur boxer – to earn money to advance himself. As a law student at George Washington University, he moonlighted as a gun-carrying security guard at the U.S. Capitol Building. Reid never forgot his humble beginnings, which may be why he has always championed the underdog.

In this episode, the man from Searchlight talks about his life and accomplishments in the healthcare sector including the doubling of the NIH budget, the creation of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), and most famously, his shepherding and eventual passage of the Affordable Care Act.


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Ep. 17: Data-Driven, With Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (4/20/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Steve Ballmer
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“There is an information-collection problem from the counties, which is where most of the data lives. We've got a team that literally goes through both by hand and using technology. … It's one of the things I'd say we're very proud of is being able to help CDC with some of that.”

Steve Ballmer
Founder, USAFacts; former CEO, Microsoft;
Co-Founder, Ballmer Group; Chairman, Los Angeles Clippers

 

In 1980, Steve Ballmer left Stanford’s MBA program to become Microsoft’s 30th employee. Thirty-four years later, he retired as CEO and promptly channeled his formidable energy into a variety of interests, including USAFacts.org, which makes government data accessible and understandable.

In the current crisis, he is quick to quantify just how important one response will be to many Americans: “In this country, 60% the families earn less than $66,000 a year. So these $1,200 checks plus appropriate increases for presence of children in the home are highly, highly relevant to restarting the economy.”


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Ep. 16: The Translator, With PCF’s Jonathan Simons (4/20/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Jonathan Simons
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“This is why we all went into medicine – for moments like this where we come together.”

Jonathan Simons
President and CEO, Prostate Cancer Foundation

 

For Jonathan Simons and the Prostate Cancer Foundation, global collaboration and team science were a way of life long before the pandemic. The organization’s support of groundbreaking science has changed our understanding of cancer – from organ-specific to mutation-specific – and has thus translated into effective solutions for patients across more than 70 forms of the disease.

The hard-won lessons from the war on cancer, Simons believes, will be crucial to solving COVID-19. And he predicts that what we learn today in this collaborative surge of research will save lives in other diseases long into the future.


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Ep. 15: The Record-Keeper, with Epic’s Judy Faulkner (4/20/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Judy Faulkner
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“We do have a culture of ownership, of working hard, of wanting to be heroes helping heroes. That's one of the things you hear our staff say.”

Judy Faulkner
Founder and CEO, Epic

 

The story is familiar, even mythic: brilliant young student builds out a new technology in her garage and changes the world. But Judy Faulkner never made it to Silicon Valley. The medical software company she founded in a Madison basement four decades ago remains in Wisconsin – while Epic’s importance to the world of healthcare continues to grow.

More than 250 million patient medical records are on the Epic platform, and that data could yield valuable clues in the search for solutions to the pandemic. It’s all part of the employee-owned company’s mission to support the heroes on the front lines.


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Ep. 14: Renaissance Woman, with Sue Desmond-Hellmann (4/17/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Sue Desmond-Hellmann
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“This is such a good example of a multi-lab, multi-investigator scientific collaboration where people are just going as fast as they can together, putting competition to the side.”

Sue Desmond-Hellmann
Former CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; former Chancellor, UCSF; former President of Product Development, Genentech

 

From serving as a frontline physician treating HIV patients in Uganda, to overseeing new therapies for a leading biopharma company, to running a renowned health sciences university, to heading the world’s largest philanthropy – Sue Desmond-Hellmann has seen it all.

It’s little surprise, then, that when she surveys the current pandemic she sees possible solutions across a range of areas. Her conversation with Mike Milken covers broad topics including how to build a durable and effective public health infrastructure as well as deeply specific issues such as whether interleukin-6 inhibitors might be able to prevent the eventual cause of most COVID-19 fatalities – the phenomenon known as cytokine storms.


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Ep. 13: Community, with AARP's Jo Ann Jenkins (4/15/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Jo Ann Jenkins
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“It is that American spirit and willingness to give of oneself to make life better for others that is behind everything that we do at AARP.”

Jo Ann Jenkins
CEO, AARP

 

Since taking the helm of the largest nonprofit for Americans 50 and older, Jo Ann Jenkins has built a culture of community among her staff, 60,000 volunteers, and her organization’s 38 million members. Recently, this has been made easier by the fact that years ago she implemented powerful two-way communication infrastructure for her employees that could be quickly repurposed to include her constituents. Now, AARP hosts massive, weekly tele-townhall calls that help its members navigate today’s unique challenges.

That’s just one way Jo Ann continues to advance her idea of the American spirit. She adds, “In the last two weeks, we've trained over 900 people who have said, I'm willing to pick up the phone and make a call to someone that I don't even know, to just check on them.”


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Ep. 12: A Global View, with EY's Carmine Di Sibio (4/14/2020)
CPodcast with Mike Milken and armine Di Sibio
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“We've stressed to all our people and in particular our partners around the world that now is the time they really needed to be close with their clients, help them in any way they can, whether large clients, small clients and so forth, including doing work pro bono to make sure that they're surviving longer term.”

Carmine Di Sibio
Global Chairman and CEO, EY

 

For EY’s 300,000 global employees – including 25,000 in China – the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted what it means to serve clients as trusted advisors and help them navigate an uncertain world. For Carmine Di Sibio, it’s also meant seeing to the wellbeing of a massive, global and highly mobile workforce.

As EY’s global chairman and CEO, Di Sibio has perhaps one of the most expansive views of how this situation is affecting organizations in every sector and geography. And to understand where we are and where we’re headed, he needs only look inside EY, which he views as “a little microcosm of the world.”


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Ep. 11: Impatient, with Tempus/Groupon's Eric Lefkofsky (4/13/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Eric Lefkofsky
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“Today, if somebody’s positive for COVID-19, it still doesn't tell you what's likely to happen next. And what we're trying to do by combining clinical and molecular data is really be able to predict what's likely to happen to them next.”

Eric Lefkofsky
Founder and CEO, Tempus

 

When Groupon founder Eric Lefkofsky’s wife was diagnosed with cancer, he found the lack of data maddening. Outside of her hospital it was the 21st century, but once he passed through the doors he felt he was being ushered two or three decades into the past.

He launched Tempus to change that. The company analyzes vast pools of genetic data to find and develop therapeutics for conditions ranging from cancers to major depressive disorder. He’s especially frustrated at the lack of progress in the current crisis. “We now have in this country over 400,000 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19,” he tells Mike. “Where is that data? Why don’t we have that data in one central place?”

For Lefkofsky, the promise of personalized medicine means finding and developing the right medicine for the right patient at the right time. Today, any of us may be the next patient, and the clock is ticking.


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Ep. 10: The Public Servant, with former FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg (4/9/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Margaret Hamburg
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“I always said it was a question of when , not if , we would have to combat a global pandemic. But I never really thought I'd be watching it play out in real time.”

Margaret Hamburg
Foreign Secretary, National Academy of Medicine;
former Commissioner, U.S. Food and Drug Administration

 

Margaret “Peggy” Hamburg has devoted her life to elevating the best in public health while anticipating the worst. As New York City Health Commissioner, she curtailed the spread of tuberculosis. She served as senior scientist for the Nuclear Threat Initiative. After the attacks on the World Trade Center, she redoubled her efforts to help create a world safe from chemical and biological weapons. And, as one of the longest-serving FDA commissioners, she modernized food safety regulations and implemented the Tobacco Control Act. Forbes magazine named her one of the world’s most powerful women.

She remains optimistic about the current crisis, noting how quickly scientists were able to sequence the virus and share it with the world. “We have to realize that with a global pandemic, we are truly all in it together.”


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Ep. 9: Shock Treatment, with Google's Eric Schmidt (4/8/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Eric Schmidt
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“We're going to need … some kind of shock treatment for seven, eight, nine days where we shut down everything to stop the spread…. And when I say shut down, I mean shut down.”

Eric Schmidt
Former CEO and Chairman, Google

 

That’s Eric Schmidt’s bold plan to put a stop to the pandemic so we can start to return the nation to some semblance of normalcy. Schmidt, who led Google from a startup to one of the largest and most influential companies in the world, now chairs the Defense Innovation Advisory Board, part of the U.S. Department of Defense.

Post-crisis, Schmidt sees opportunities for positive change. One example: with millions of students ushered into remote learning, Schmidt suggests we “see if we can actually get remote learning better than traditional learning.”

And he offers a simple but powerful reminder of his industry’s role in our lives: “Think about how bad this pandemic would be if you didn't have the internet.”


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Ep. 8: Legacy, with former FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach (4/7/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Andrew von Eschenbach
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“If we think of the game-changers of what is going to get America and the world back functioning normally, the FDA is probably right now the most central and critical of all the federal agencies.”

Andrew von Eschenbach
President, Samaritan Health Initiatives Inc.; former Commissioner, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; former Director, National Cancer Institute

 

Long before Andrew von Eschenbach served as FDA Commissioner, he formed a personal and professional bond with a young philanthropist, Mike Milken, who sought to transform biomedical research and speed cures to the world. Both men had lost their fathers to cancer and together were determined to prevent other families from similar fates. In this episode, they speak candidly and passionately about the job ahead.

If he were back at his old job at FDA, von Eschenbach would favor a multi-pronged approach to deal with the current crisis: capitalize on big data sets and near-instantaneous transfers; translate successful cancer immunotherapies and apply them to viruses; accelerate testing of drugs that have already been FDA-approved; and foster greater international cooperation and global engagement. “We need to move beyond this wounding of ourselves and of our society to create a legacy,” he says, “to make sure that this does not happen again.”


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Ep. 7: Team Science, with MD Anderson's James Allison and Padmanee Sharma (4/7/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken, James Allison and Padmanee Sharma
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“There’s an amazing collaboration of institutions across the country to bring all our knowledge together to try to do this as fast as we can.”

James Allison
Regental Professor and Chair, Department of Immunology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Nobel Laureate

Padmanee Sharma
Scientific Director, Immunotherapy Platform; Professor, Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Immunology,
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

 

That’s 2018 Nobel laureate Jim Allison. He and the renowned oncologist and immunologist Pam Sharma have been dubbed the “cancer-fighting power couple.” They’ve dedicated their careers to harnessing the body’s own power to fight off tumors and pathogens.

They shared their views on what needs to happen to combat the novel coronavirus, and they offer a reminder of the impacts the pandemic is having on all current and future patients with other conditions. Their Houston hospital has established COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 wards, and Allison described the frustration of interrupting other life-saving research: “We’ve just, of necessity, had to suspend that because this is a much more immediate danger.”


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Ep. 6: Mobilization, with George Washington University's Lynn Goldman (4/6/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Lynn Goldman
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“We need to be preparing for the second and third waves. And to me that means revving up testing and contact tracing.”

Lynn Goldman
Dean, Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University

 

When it comes to COVID-19, Lynn Goldman takes a 360-degree view. That’s not surprising given her experience in government (at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and academia (as the Dean of George Washington University’s School of Public Health) – not to mention her career as a pediatrician and environmental epidemiologist.

Goldman discusses how she’s protecting her GWU faculty and students so they can focus on protecting the general public health through every means possible: from suppression and mitigation, to drugs and therapies, to an ultimate vaccine.

She reminds us that the U.S. wrote the book on pandemic response and should now re-learn the lessons we’ve shared with other countries: “In essence, [South Korea] took the methods that we had developed in our CDC [and] souped this up with some high-tech tools.”


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Ep. 5: Breaking the Code, with Nobel Laureate David Baltimore (4/6/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and David Baltimore
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“We don't know what we're going to find as we try to make a vaccine against coronavirus. It may be straightforward. It may be a rife with difficulties that we have not seen before.”

David Baltimore
President Emeritus, Professor of Biology at Caltech;
Nobel Laureate

 

In the midst of a public health crisis, when reliable information is often difficult to come by, David Baltimore can be trusted to offer reasoned and rational thinking. After all, the iconic Nobel laureate and Caltech professor has led groundbreaking research into virology, genetics, and DNA and has been at the forefront of efforts to mitigate HIV and AIDS.

Baltimore outlines the challenges of treating COVID-19, ending with a hopeful prognosis: “There has never been a larger international effort to try to deal with an infection. That alone makes me optimistic.”


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Ep. 4: Moonshot, with Johnson & Johnson's Alex Gorsky (4/5/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Alex Gorsky
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“What we announced that day was that we have identified a lead candidate for COVID-19 vaccine…. This is a bit of a moonshot for us.”

Alex Gorsky
Chairman & CEO, Johnson & Johnson

 

That’s Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky talking about the $1 billion partnership his company formed with BARDA, the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. The company is ramping up so that if the accelerated clinical trials go well and the vaccine is needed, his company will be prepared to produce and ship by early 2021.

Gorsky spoke with Mike Milken about lessons the company learned from its Ebola vaccine, how to keep a global workforce safe and healthy, and how his training at West Point and as a Lieutenant and Captain in the U.S. Army shapes his mission-driven leadership. The company recently approved a policy for its physicians and healthcare providers to take 14-weeks of paid leave to serve on the front lines of the crisis, helping them achieve the intensive-care credo that no patient dies alone.


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Ep. 3: An Unlikely Patient, with Allogene's Arie Belldegrun (4/3/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Arie Belldegrun
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“On day eight, I had a…low grade temperature of 100.7 and then muscle ache and fatigue. That night … I requested to be tested and had a positive testing for COVID-19.”

Arie Belldegrun
Executive Chairman and Co-Founder, Allogene Therapeutics

 

Following a conference in Boston, Arie Belldegrun – entrepreneur and biomedical pioneer – developed symptoms of COVID-19. His wife did not. Both would later test positive. Such disparities highlight one of the many challenges with the novel coronavirus.

In this case, though, the virus may have picked the wrong battle: Belldegrun is one of the few people in history who have created successful therapies to defeat cancer. In his conversation with Mike, he shares his perspectives about how we will win the COVID-19 fight – through suppression and mitigation, to therapies (including immunotherapy, antivirals and antibodies), to vaccine development.

“I have personally no doubt that we will control that disease rapidly … within the next three to probably six months,” he tells Mike. “This is work that otherwise would have taken 10 years.”


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Ep. 2: Grand Rounds, with Providence's Rod Hochman (4/3/2020)
Rod Hochman
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“As soon as that patient hit the doors of our emergency room, our people were gowned and gloved, ready to go…. And we immediately found out that we had the first case of COVID-19 in the United States.”

Rod Hochman
President & CEO, Providence St. Joseph Health;
Chair-Elect, American Hospital Association

 

That was in January, when Rod Hochman’s Providence Health was thrust to the front lines of the pandemic. A seasoned physician, Hochman immediately instituted international “grand rounds,” where thousands of clinicians can share and learn lessons from their first-hand experiences caring for COVID-19 patients.

Hochman shares some of those lessons: on emergency treatments, on protecting his 120,000 caregivers, and on gearing up his 51 hospitals and 1,000 clinics for a surge of cases that, so far, has not materialized.

On that last point: he also discusses the unseen challenges the virus brings to the hospital business model. “We’re having [our orthopedic surgeons] answer the phones. … They're not doing the things that they do best, which is operating.”


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Ep. 1: Big Science, with NIH's Francis Collins (4/3/2020)
Podcast with Mike Milken and Francis Collins
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“We have on our own campus the Vaccine Research Center that is working 24/7 to accelerate the progress with as many different vaccines as possible, but particularly one that is already in phase 1 trials.”

Francis Collins
Director, National Institutes of Health

 

Francis Collins was born for big science. After a successful 13-year effort leading 2,400 scientists in six countries to crack the “DNA instruction book,” the one-time leader of the Human Genome Project now is now directing the largest biomedical research agency in the world to tackle COVID-19.

He tells Mike that massive, coordinated networks of clinical trials will be essential to finding a cure and should include every patient who has tested positive for the virus. Once a highly promising vaccine is found, Collins would accelerate production so it can rapidly deployed.

Collins’ leadership ushered in a new era of precision medicine, leading to countless breakthroughs that save, extend and improve lives. The world is counting on his leadership to find just one more.