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Christalyn  Rhodes

Christalyn Rhodes

Scientist, Inventor & Entrepreneur

Christalyn Rhodes

Scientist, Inventor & Entrepreneur


Dr. Christalyn Rhodes is a scientist, inventor and entrepreneur. She is a pioneering biotech innovator and strategist responsible for the innovation strategies at 3 VC funded biotech startups. She originated a range of companies including those that design therapeutics that address diseases that carry a high economic burden as well as those that develop new funding strategies to address disparities in healthcare cost. She designed the technology and authored 5 pivotal patents that changed the trajectory of previously failing companies and projects amounting to a savings of more than $50 million dollars.

Dr. Rhodes is currently the Scientific Advisor- Accelerated leadership for Eli Lilly where she identifies opportunities, manages deals and innovates nuanced approaches to developing medicine and delivering healthcare. She served as the operations lead for the Eli Lilly’s de-centralized clinical trials for COVID in key southern states.

Previously, Christalyn worked as a venture capital associate for Flagship Pioneering where she co-founded a biotechnological platform company to create novel therapeutics in the space of personalized genomic medicine.

Dr. Rhodes received a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Harvard University and a BA from the University of North Texas. She has been a visiting researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. In conjunction with the outreach department of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Dr. Rhodes organized science demonstrations for local schools and field trips to Harvard’s SEAS labs. Dr. Rhodes is a regular speaker and mentor for the Harvard Medical School Biomedical Science Career Program and Morehouse School of Medicine working to recruit and retain women and minority candidates in biological sciences.

Speaker Videos

Accidental Entrepreneur

Harvard Horizons Symposium: Cold Migration

Speech Topics

Health Equity - Patients Are People: How Science & Economics Can Help Us Move From Health Disparities to Health Equity

The pandemic foregrounded conversations regarding the need for significant shifts in how we consider social, economic, and health equity. As a scientist working in the field, Dr. Rhodes observed first-hand how COVID-19 disproportionally worsened disadvantaged communities' economies and health outcomes. Among the worst affected, two major concerns emerged: equity in access to treatment and confidence in the equity of treatment or drug. While scientific innovation in the field of pharmacovigilance proves to be the pill we need to address the latter, the former requires a major shift in our thinking about the economics of fair and equitable health.

The 2-Quintillion Nails Problem: Decision Strategies Under the "Big Tent" of Healthcare Data

If you build a hammer, everything looks like a nail, or so we are told as scientists, but what happens when you are presented with more than 2.5 quintillion nails. What can or should you build or discover? 2.5 quintillion is the approximate number of bytes of data we generate daily. Thus, the 2.5 quintillion nails problem is what we face in health data analytics every day. Data identification and electronic warehousing of data in healthcare has grown at an astronomical rate. In fact, over 90% of all of the world's data ever collected was collected in the last 2 years, much of it is specifically related to healthcare, yet few medical advances have followed. A recent Accenture survey found that only 32% of health-data focused companies reported realizing tangible and measurable value from data. Why has the practice and business of data generation and identification simply outpaced data utility in healthcare? In this talk, Dr. Rhodes discuss the the 3 main challenges that health data analytics companies and researchers face and potential solutions to move us from data to decision analytics in healthcare.

Good Money: Leveraging Capital Markets for Social Good

As protests for social equity and human rights evolve from demonstrations for acknowledgment and awareness to actionable solutions, there is a noticeable absence of instruments that quantitatively measure change and the effects of those changes as well as a growing desire to pitch it all and start over. Moreso, there is a growing public perception that the only way to achieve acceptable egalitarianism is to dismantle our current financial structures and re-build a more socially aware system built upon the premise that capitalism is wholly antithetical to social and health equity. As a Black American scientist and innovator, Dr. Rhodes have discovered that the assumed trade-off between profitability and social responsibility, while widely believed, is nevertheless an inaccurate fallacy. We can indeed leverage our capital markets to galvanize change across social justice issues ranging from identity-based inequalities to health equity.

Innovation: How Corporate Humility Helps to Overcome Innovation Plateaus

Our economy has shifted, and the on-demand culture's manifesto emphasizes personal health and personal choice, and self-governance. These individuals explorers have also proven to be the most innovative and earliest adopters driving new concepts from breakthrough ideas to execution. Corporations choosing to balance corporate pride and humility to embrace this new culture of intrapreneurship discover unexpected returns in profit and people satisfaction as they embark on purpose-driven work.

We Need Loud-Mouthed, Confident Women in the Boardroom: Equity in Women’s Health & How I Permanently Overcame Imposter Syndrome

In 1993, the NIH began to demand that women and minorities be included in clinical trials. 1993! Before the 90s, few studies were conducted on women and today few drug development research studies take place in female lab animals, yet women are the primary consumers of medicines. Some egregious examples include a menopause/heart disease study in which 8,000+ men were enrolled but no women, as well as NIH-funded studies studying obesity with breast and uterine cancers which enrolled NO WOMEN! These data and some key other factors led Dr. Rhodes to develop a strategy to defeat imposter syndrome permanently granting her the confidence to strategically open her loudmouth in the boardroom as a ferocious advocate of equity in women’s health.