Anand Anandkumar of Bugworks

Swatting Superbugs with Anand Anandkumar of Bugworks

Episode 3

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Anti-Microbial Resistance

At the time of this recording the world has recorded over 3 Million infections and 217K deaths related to a pathogen called Coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 and those numbers are still rising. But, what if I tell you that there are distant cousins to SARS CoV-2 which kill over 700,000 people every year? And, what if I tell you that this number is projected to grow to 10 million by 2050?

These scary pathogens are called “Superbugs” and the phenomenon is called Antimicrobial resistance or AMR. These bacteria have developed resistance to antibiotics, which we are using and even abusing since Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin. As a result, antibiotics become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others. If fight against Covid19 is a sprint then the fight against superbugs is a marathon, in which large pharmaceutical giants have no interest. Instead, smaller biopharma companies are picking up the slack. And, Bugworks Research is one such company and probably one of the handful in Asia.

First Impressions

Our guest today is Anand who is the founder & CEO of Bugworks. I first met Anand 2 years ago when he was fundraising for Bugworks. Then I was working for a VC fund and had an opportunity to evaluate Bugworks. From the very first meeting I knew Anand was not your regular startup founder. Anand’s sheer presence was intimidating because he seemed like an authority on this topic. He was a very energetic 50 something founder with a lot of experience and international exposure. I had seen hundreds of pitches and evaluated many more startups but I was clueless about evaluating Bugworks.

But as we sat down and started discussing, the trepidation gave way to intrigue and awe. I was thoroughly impressed with Anand as an explainer in chief. Anand was very patient and he had had a lot of practice by then. He recalls in this interview that he had made at least 200 pitches!

Deep Science

After multiple calls with Anand, a thorough research and numerous FaceTime calls with my dad, who is a medical doctor, I realized the amount of science that had gone into Bugworks. It also made me feel proud because cutting edge and deep science innovations, which can have an immense impact on a global scene, are happening right here in India.

Anand is too humble to brag about the tremendous leaps he and his team have made in a short period with limited resources. Bugworks has won numerous awards and prestigious international grants. CB Insights recently named Bugworks as one of 36 Global Game-Changing startups of 2019. Bugworks is now just months away from human trials that can give the world its first new class of antibiotics in over 4 decades.

In this episode…

I ask about Anand’s experiences in building Bugworks and the journey he has covered so far. We also talked about his childhood, his family, and what motivated him to gravitate towards biomedical space despite his engineering background. Sit back and enjoy this healthy dose of an episode!

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