To that end, be open to and seek to learn more about all different kinds of disciplines, so the technology has as many building blocks as possible to build an effective solution. DeepDrug draws on a myriad of different scientific and medical facts input by our experts and then identifies a solution that can be embraced as “truth” by every person on the team.
Recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But, of course, many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making an Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Galliano, Chief Technology Officer of Skymount Medical. Chris combines invention, innovation, and humanitarian ethics with technical acumen to create sustainable positive change.
One of most notable examples was the successful implementation of Operation Unified Assistance, which provided immediate aid following the Great Tsunami in Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Mr. Galliano and his team were the first on the ground and executed the humanitarian assistance package within 48 hours, for which he was awarded the Humanitarian Medal.
At Skymount Medical, Chris oversees all efforts behind DeepDrug, an artificial intelligence (AI) platform for discovering new drug therapies. DeepDrug is unique in the field of artificial intelligence: it is a multidiscipline platform that can reduce decades of research into months, which is more efficient and cost-effective than current methods.
Fusing the disciplines of virology, computer science, pharmacology, and advanced engineering, DeepDrug takes all known natural or synthetic molecules and processes recombinants, scoring the results at a speed that takes decades with current bench science. The DeepDrug AI engine is agnostic as to the nature of molecules and therefore can combine them in unique and innovative ways, drastically enhancing the speed of human creativity and drug discovery.
As a result, DeepDrug is behind the creation of an oral COVID-19 therapeutic, SM-19, which is proven 97% effective in cell and animal testing and FDA-approved for other purposes. SM-19 will be starting human trials in the United States and Europe.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?
I’m from Louisiana and grew up in the New Orleans area. My family is from the Acadiana region of Louisiana. We are known to the world for our “Cajun” culture. The people of Acadiana have historically been known for creativity, unique innovation, and resilience. These values are reflected by our DeepDrug team at Louisiana State University.
These core characteristics were passed down to me by my grandfather, Dr. Vernon Galliano. My grandfather was very influential in my life and in the lives of many people in Louisiana. The youngest and the first ethnic Cajun Catholic President in the Louisiana State University System, he brought higher education to the people of Acadiana. This position went hand-in-hand with his vision to advance Southern Louisiana through cutting edge technology, education, and global networking.
To this day, due to my grandfather’s efforts, there are exchanges with French and French/Canadian Universities. The post-World War II environment was discriminatory against French speaking Cajuns and the language languished. Vernon Galliano, seeing the potential loss of a unique culture, established a program across the state of Louisiana, which allowed native French-speaking students to be educated tuition-free.
My Grandfather was also a guiding force behind my military service. He was a US Navy Navigator (Grumman S2F) and flew numerous missions; one of the most notable being during the Cuban missile crisis. Naturally, I grew up with a service orientation and the belief that if we put our mind to it, we can do anything to make the world a better place.
I joined the Navy after college when I was 22 and became a ship pilot and Navy Communications and Information Systems and Technology officer. In that role, I had the opportunity to live in a lot of different parts of America and all over the world. I did tours for Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Unified Assistance — the American military’s humanitarian response to the 2004 Indian Earthquake and Tsunami.
After that relief work, Hurricane Katrina took hold of New Orleans, so I came back to help rebuild the Navy base in my hometown. This involved building the Navy’s first cloud implementation for the Navy/Marine Corps internet, while working with a multidisciplinary team of computer scientists and professors at the University of New Orleans and LSU. This led to Skymount Medical’s collaboration with LSU in the research capacity that we enjoy today.
Another interesting piece of familial history concerns my grandmother Josephine Galliano. When WWII erupted, she moved to Norman, Oklahoma to build wartime bombers, where she earned the nickname of the feminist icon “Rosie the Riveter” for her dedication to the war effort and rosy cheeks and red hair. “Rosie” also was pivotal in establishing the Krewe Thalia and the Krewe of Ghana, the first African American Mardi Gras Krewe. Her quiet and determined care for the disadvantaged people of Louisiana was also reflected in her charity work. Grandpa and Grandma Galliano provided the foundation in ethics and purpose, which I try to live by today.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
There are so many. Driving the innovation efforts at Skymount Medical has certainly been a highlight. Being a part of the post-hurricane Katrina recovery effort and rebuilding houses and starting several small businesses to help revive the Freret and Lower Garden District neighborhoods is another — it was a labor of love. Post-Katrina New Orleans and its renaissance was a special moment in time and something I will never forget.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I would say that Dr. Supratik Mukhopadhyay, Skymount’s lead researcher from Louisiana State University, who I’ve been working with since 2015, has been hugely inspirational and influential in my life. “Dr. S” knew from the very outset that developing a therapeutic for COVID-19 was just as important as developing a vaccine. He strongly felt it was going to be difficult to make a vaccine that would maintain its efficacy over time — and he was right! His determination to help end the pandemic has been nothing short of heroic and deserving of a Nobel Prize consideration. Dr. S essentially gave us our North Star.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I would say — try to open your ears, your mind, and your heart to learn something new every day. Sometimes your brain logs an idea, but your heart doesn’t embrace it, or the other way around — so it doesn’t stick. Anything worth learning needs to be embraced wholeheartedly with body, soul, and spirit if it’s to have maximum impact in your life.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Visionary: To be an innovator with technology, you must have vision, and that vision usually requires marrying a myriad of different spheres of knowledge and disciplines. You can’t think of knowledge in a narrow or stifled way. To manifest groundbreaking technologies and find the right team, which shares vision and purpose, you must first seek to understand. The DeepDrug AI platform gives us major advancements in understanding, allowing our team to leapfrog existing technology and have the type of impact required to resolve global health crises.
Collaborative: You need to be open to new ideas, embrace them, and incorporate them to build a composite strategy. At Skymount, we’ve formed a team of world class researchers across the continent to ensure rapid delivery of a COVID-19 therapeutic treatment. Only with the support of our research partners, consortium partners and government partners can we fast track a therapeutic treatment to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, reducing its symptoms to that of a common cold. Collaboration and teamwork are vital to our success.
Commitment: Lastly, beyond having a mission, it’s essential to set goals that you’re committed to and outline intermediate steps to reach those goals. We are a very driven, mission-focused, and process-oriented team and that’s what allows us to be successful.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive impact on our wellness. To begin, which particular problems are you aiming to solve?
Skymount Medical’s goals are one in the same with Louisiana State University’s computer science research department — to enable the rapid discovery of pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals through artificial intelligence.
There are worldwide consequences to this pandemic to the global pediatric population: this is a major concern. Long COVID is another major concern: there are long term impacts that we have yet to model, and sadly, the overall life expectancy will decline year over year until we field a comprehensive plan to shut COVID down.
Skymount Medical and Louisiana State University aim to solve this through the rapid development of drugs and nutraceuticals through our artificial intelligence platform, DeepDrug, leveraging science and innovation to creatively stall the virus.
How do you think your technology can address this?
A virus is an intruder, or an unwelcome guest, invading your body. This virus remains airborne for up to 12 hours and is constantly evolving and mutating. This is why people are getting infected multiple times, even when they’re vaccinated. The DeepDrug platform has aided in developing several breakthrough technologies including the first AI recommended dietary supplement, Inhibinol, new treatments for COVID positive patients, and treatments for patients in ICU.
We are also excited about an over-the-counter nasal spray that is under development. These innovations are all complementary to the vaccine strategy. We hope all these inventions will aid in getting us back to a sense of normalcy.
Our DeepDrug technology also enabled us to develop a nutraceutical to support healthy immune system function. We studied over 100 nutraceuticals and identified four strong candidates that interrupt the varying stages of the virus life cycle. We have amazing results in cell culture from several independent and renowned BSL-3 research labs in the United States and Canada. Inhibinol is a combination of those four nutraceuticals and essential immune supporting vitamins and minerals. It is a dietary supplement, available through Inibinol.com that can be taken up to twice daily. It was created by remarkable research and is one of the world’s first AI-recommended dietary supplements.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
Seeing the initial global panic and lack of understanding about COVID-19 is what really drove us to action. Our gut instincts told us that vaccines alone could not stop the pandemic, and we’re seeing that today.
It takes a balance of supplementation, social distancing, early detection, and rapid testing, and we need to focus on fielding community capabilities to test, prevent and prescribe. Every minute counts. It should be mandated that treatments be made available by the postal service within 24 hours of a positive test. We are therefore building a phone app, which will help locate and direct COVID therapeutics closest to the patient. This is a revolutionary concept and one we expect to pilot in several countries before the end of the year.
We also assembled a team of the world’s top doctors, mathematicians, pharmacologists, chemists, scientists, and researchers and used DeepDrug to rapidly develop an oral COVID-19 treatment.
How do you think this might change the world?
I’m confident that within the next ten years, DeepDrug will help us eradicate not only COVID, but also global neglected diseases such as Leishmaniasis, Zika, Ebola, black fungus, up to five types of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and an illness that is near and dear to my heart because my father has it — Multiple Sclerosis. This will help improve global health.
It’s essential that those using this technology align with our values of total global health and our goal of addressing globally neglected diseases. We’ll be fine if we consistently live and teach others to live according to our unwavering code of ethics.
Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”?
- At Skymount, we know and live according to a unified code of ethics, and vet everyone involved in the technology creation process to ensure their values align.
- Focus on the end result and have a plan with concrete steps to reach that goal.
- Have enough of a contextual understanding of the problem to attempt to solve it. If you only have a superficial understanding of the problem, you’ll come up with a superficial solution.
- To that end, be open to and seek to learn more about all different kinds of disciplines, so the technology has as many building blocks as possible to build an effective solution. DeepDrug draws on a myriad of different scientific and medical facts input by our experts and then identifies a solution that can be embraced as “truth” by every person on the team.
- Set expectations from the outset and surround yourself with talented people who you think will approach roadblocks and setbacks the same way as you.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
I would tell them to think about the generations both before and after them and the world that they deserve — including clean water, clean air, and a sense of justice.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
We would like SM-19, our COVID-19 therapeutic, to be used in countries around the world, so I would very much like to have an audience with President Biden, Prime Minister Modi, Prime Minister Johnson, President Zelensky and Prime Minister Trudeau. Particularly in the case of President Biden, I feel we have a lot to talk about and he needs some new ideas.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Due to our operational security, I don’t use social media very much, although I know that at some point, I should. For the time being, the best thing to do is to follow Skymount Medical @SkymountMedical.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.