Alexander Titus, PhD

AI, Biotech, & National Security

Alexander Titus, PhD

Hi there. I’m Titus, the ring leader of this endeavor to study how artificial intelligence is changing the way we think about the life sciences, and how those changes may or may not cause security concerns. I get to work with amazing people every day in a variety of different settings, but the one thing that holds true across the board is that everyone is passionate about rigorous science and public benefit of their work.

I have an eclectic background spanning industry, government, and academia. I also have a healthy amount of fun thrown into the mix, because why go through life too serious, eh?

What am I doing today?

I’m wearing a few hats at the moment. I’m the founder and principal investigator (PI) of the In Vivo Group (IVG), the intrepid band of heros that make up most of the work you’ll read about on this site. I’m also an appointed Commissioner on the National Security Commission for Emerging Biotechnology, or the NSCEB, where I work with eleven (11) other Commissioners and an amazing staff team to think deeply about the future of biotechnology and national security, and then advise congress on what we should do to fully take advantage of the opportunities and reduce the risks as best as possible. I also advise F500 companies, venture-backed start-ups, non-profits, and governments on how to build the next generation of technology in AI, biotech, and emerging critical technologies.

TL;DR, its basically working on cool things with great people.

What I was up to in the past?

In past lives, I have worked across government, industry, and academia as well. I was most recently the VP of Strategy & Computational Sciences at the unicorn biotech, Colossal Biosciences, where I led an amazing team of researchers working on everything from understanding the genotype-to-phenotype relationships in mammals to using AI to enhance elephant conservation. The old adage “you can’t change a tiger’s stripes” isn’t true any more. My team was working on doing just that. I have also been the head of healthcare and life sciences strategy at Google Public Sector, the Chief Strategy Officer at the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute, and the founding Principal Director for Biotechnology at the Department of Defense, where my team developed the DoD’s first enterprise biotech strategy.

Before I was in meetings all day, I was a data scientist and ML engineer at Amazon on the Alexa AI team and at In-Q-Tel, the venture capital firm that works closely with the national security community to find, support, and leverage the latest tech. I also happened to earn my PhD in Quantitative Biomedical Sciences, with a specialization in machine learning + genomics, from Dartmouth in the Christensen Molecular Epidemiology Lab. I built tools and used them to study the hidden relationships in tumor biology, and in particular different subtypes of breast cancer.

How about a little fun?

I mentioned I like to intermix a healthy amount of fun in life. Between undergrad and grad school, I took a year off, twice, to explore the world and do some traveling. The first year I took off, I bought a one-way ticket to Guatemala and spent the year going where the chicken bus took me. Naturally, I ended up living in a mini-camper cruising the east coast of Australia.

The second year I took off, I packed up all my things and my wife and I flew to Prudhoe Bay, AK, a small town on the Arctic Ocean 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle and we rode our bicycles a little over 3,000 miles to San Francisco. It took us about 3.5 months, and when we hit SF, I decided it was time to go to grad school. So while I was applying, we ended up in Detroit living in the Motor City Casino, where I played Blackjack full time and wrote personal statements in the evenings. Needless to say, probability is a passion of mine.

Now, I spend all my free time in the woods. I like to say I’m often lost in thought, and sometimes I’m lost in the woods. Sometimes I’m lost in both, and thats how I like it.