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Michael W Deem


Michael W Deem currently holds the position of General Partner at SmartHealth Catalyzer and steers a burgeoning startup as its CEO. His prior tenure as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Khosla Ventures saw him evaluating potential portfolio companies, fostering startup incubation, and providing guidance to existing portfolio ventures. His main focus areas were life sciences and sustainability. As an accomplished American engineer, scientist, and innovator, Michael’s career is marked by notable achievements and contributions.

From 2002 to 2020, Dr. Deem’s academic journey was intertwined with Rice University. He distinguished himself as the John W. Cox Professor of Bioengineering and Physics & Astronomy. Between 2014 and 2017, he led the Bioengineering Department as its chair and was instrumental in establishing the Graduate Program in Systems, Synthetic, and Physical Biology, a pioneering PhD program in the U.S. that prominently featured ‘Synthetic Biology’ in its nomenclature.

The breadth of Michael’s expertise encompasses life sciences and nanoporous materials. His research group at Rice University has been at the forefront of numerous breakthroughs. His areas of specialization include but are not limited to synthetic biology, evolutionary science, vaccine development, statistical mechanics, and zeolites.

Michael’s academic roots trace back to his roles as an assistant and associate professor at UCLA from 1996 to 2002. His academic foundation was laid at the California Institute of Technology where he earned his BS, followed by a PhD from UC Berkeley, and a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University.

In the professional realm, Michael’s experience is vast and diverse. He has held influential positions in senior management, on Boards, and as an advisor, imparting his extensive knowledge across various industries. His contributions have significantly advanced fields such as life sciences, artificial intelligence, genomics, data science, biotechnology, energy, and cancer research.

Dr. Deem’s scholarly output is substantial, with over 200 published papers and more than 300 invited talks to his name. His innovative prowess is evidenced by his 16 U.S. patents. As a professor at both Rice University and UCLA, he has mentored a multitude of students and imparted knowledge to over 10,000 undergraduates.

His contributions to the fields of bioengineering, physics, and chemical engineering are profound and multifaceted. He is the mind behind DIFFAX and ZEFSA, essential tools in materials science, and the creator of a comprehensive predicted zeolite structures database. His inventions and theories in protein molecular evolution, vaccine effectiveness characterization, and biological evolution are groundbreaking. His insights into environmental pressures, genetic exchange, and immune system evasion mechanisms have reshaped scientific understanding in these areas. His advancements in Monte Carlo simulation methods further underscore his status as a pioneering innovator, a recognition solidified by numerous awards.

Outside the professional sphere, Michael embraces the joys of life with zeal. He is an avid rock climber, an enthusiast of high-performance cars, and a dedicated practitioner of Taekwondo, reflecting his passion for both adventure and discipline.

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