Tech Tonics: Kari Nadeau, Where Curiosity Meets Compassion


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Stanford professor Kari Nadeau lives the life, some would say the dream, of what Judah Folkman has called the inquisitive physician, integrating her deep knowledge of chemistry, her experience in biotech drug development, and her clinical acumen and deeply-felt compassion for patients to bring the best of medicine and science to children and adults with food allergies.

Kari was born in New Hampshire and raised in New Jersey, at least in part on a houseboat, as her dad worked for the EPA. An inspirational chemistry teacher in high school motivated her interest in this discipline. After majoring in biology at Haverford, she returned to chemistry for the research component of her MD/PhD training, conducting her graduate work in the laboratory of distinguished Harvard chemist Chris Walsh (whose daughter, Allison, a brilliant oncologist at Stanford, we recently featured on Tech Tonics, here). Kari describes Chris as a remarkable mentor, keenly interested in translating science into application, and in appropriately collaborating with industry to achieve this goal.

After initially intending to train in pediatric oncology, Kari found herself drawn to clinical and translational research at Biogen in Boston. A sick relative on her husband’s side prompted the family to move to the Bay Area to be closer to them and further prompted Kari to realize she missed clinical medicine. After retraining as an allergist and immunologist, she continued pursuing translational work at Stanford, where she’s now a global leader in the study of food allergies.

We had a fantastically inspiring conversation, and are so glad she was able to join us on the show!

Tech Tonics is sponsored by Manatt Health, a multi-disciplinary professional services firm that includes a full service law firm and a broad-based strategic business and policy consulting practice to help clients grow and prosper. Manatt Health supports the full range of stakeholders in transforming America’s healthcare system.

Show notes:

David’s Forbes piece on Range, the captivating book he was gushing about at the top of the show (here).

New York Times profile of Kari (“The Allergy Buster”) (here).

Website for the Sean N Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford, which Kari directs.

Recent FDA recommendation to approve the first medicine to ameliorate a food allergy (peanut) – discussed in this NPR piece.

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