The Closest Thing to Paradise

Episode #11 | A Conversation with Krishnan Chittur … Yep, My Dad

Like any project or idea, TLQ has been evolving from Day One. Yes, I wanted to talk about “leadership” on the podcast. But “leadership” can mean almost anything. I also wanted to address military transition, having gone through the ups and downs of that process the past 12 months. I wanted to talk about education … and training … and selfishly, to ask cool people the most interesting (and difficult) questions I could come up with.

I’m an avid podcast listener, so the medium has come naturally to me. Beyond that, starting a show was a way for me to satisfy an otherwise boundless curiosity. Most of the hosts in my feed quip often about how their show has been a great excuse to simply talk with interesting people and learn new stuff. No strings attached. Like a dream come true.

So we’re now several months into the show’s life, diving into a lot more than military stuff and how to work with a team. Not that those ideas aren’t important. But there’s a lot more out there to learn and we’re limited on time. This week’s episode is a lot more personal and an opportunity for me to learn about my own background and reasons for being. I talked with Krishnan Chittur, Professor Emeritus of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Chief Technology Officer at GeneCapture, Inc. And my dad. As GeneCapture’s CTO, he’s at the forefront of research into revolutionary technology that dramatically shortens how long it takes to detect pathogens in someone’s blood. We’re talking from days to minutes in some cases. The idea was born from his watching both his first wife (my mother) and daughter treated in different hospitals, at different times, but both by well-intentioned staff reduced to little more than guess-makers. There has to be a better way, he said.

Such is one of the core tenets to leadership (see what I’m doing here?), the willingness to ask tough questions in order to challenge what we assume to be correct or true. We have spent decades living with a healthcare system predicated on mitigating the race toward death and reliant on tit-for-tat treatment methods that includes arcane diagnostic techniques. Tech like GeneCapture’s could take our society from where we are to a place where every provider, if not every home, is outfitted with a cheap device that will diagnose your ailment and could one day provide you a tailored treatment plan and medication schedule based not on a textbook response but on your individually sequenced genome. It’s fascinating work. And I’m in no way qualified to talk about it. So give the episode a listen and let me know what you think!

Other than GeneCapture’s work and my dad’s history as an immigrant-turned-tenured academic, we talk about my mother and her history. The story is still filled with rich details I don’t know; but it feeds my ‘why’ is many ways. It was an enlightening conversation for me; I hope it is for you too.

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