Thursday, May 30, 2019

Faustian Bargains and Biotech Millions: A Fresh California Yarn

It is a California tale: The search for millions in cash to research and develop cures for terrible afflictions that destroy people's lives. 

But it is not centered in an office building in downtown Oakland, with great views of San Francisco Bay and overlooking Lake Merritt. 

The official plot summary goes like this:
"Desperate to secure funding for her med tech startup, an idealistic scientist and her husband strike an outrageous deal with a mysterious investor."
"There’s a new Netflix series involving biotech, venture capital, and Faustian bargaining. It's called 'What/If' and it’s about the founder of Emigen Molecular Sequencing who, despite her scientific acumen and noble goal of saving cancer patients, cannot seem to convince Silicon Valley’s ocean of vest-clad VCs to invest in her genomics company. ('I’m afraid Big Pharma would drown us in litigation,' says one, inexplicably.)
"That’s when she meets the all-powerful investor Anne Montgomery, played by RenĂ©e Zellweger, who seems to be splitting the difference between 'Basic Instinct' and 'Devil’s Advocate.' Montgomery offers her the money she needs to keep Emigen afloat, but the deal has dark implications for her earnest and unfortunately sideburned husband, who is a pro baseball player-turned-EMT with a night job as a bartender.
"Anyway, by the end of the pilot, there’s an embattled startup, a fractured marriage, and an unsolved assault. Your correspondent (Damian Garde) did not make it to episode two."
As for that Oakland enterprise mentioned earlier, it is the $3 billion California stem cell agency, which is running out of cash and looking for $5 billion more.  

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