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"Can Financial Engineering Cure Cancer?" A TedxCambridge Tak by Andrew Lo

October 23rd, 2015

Andrew Lo presents a "Can Financial Engineering Cure Cancer?" at TEDxCambridge. 

We are making breakthroughs almost weekly in our understanding of cancer and other deadly diseases, both in how to treat and – in some cases – how to cure them. So why is funding for early stage biomedical research and development declining just when we need it most? One answer is that the financial risk of drug development has increased, and investors don’t like risk. What if we could reduce the risk and increase the reward through financial engineering? By applying tools like portfolio theory, securitization, and derivative securities to construct “megafunds” that invest in many biomedical projects, we can tap into the power of global financial markets to raise billions of dollars. If structured properly, investors can earn attractive returns with tolerable levels of risk, and many more patients can get the drugs they desperately need. Finance doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game; we can do well by doing good if we have sufficient scale.

Andrew Lo is the Harris & Harris Group Professor of Finance at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the director of MIT's Laboratory for Financial Engineering. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1984, and taught at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School as the W.P. Carey Assistant Professor of Finance from 1984 to 1987, and as the W.P. Carey Associate Professor of Finance from 1987 to 1988.

His research interests include the empirical validation and implementation of financial asset pricing models; the pricing of options and other derivative securities; financial engineering and risk management; trading technology and market microstructure; statistics, econometrics, and stochastic processes; computer algorithms and numerical methods; financial visualization; nonlinear models of stock and bond returns; hedge-fund risk and return dynamics and risk transparency; and, most recently, evolutionary and neurobiological models of individual risk preferences and financial markets.

He has published numerous articles in finance and economics journals, and is a co-author of The Econometrics of Financial Markets and A Non-Random Walk Down Wall Street, and author of Hedge Funds: An Analytic Perspective. He is currently an associate editor of the Financial Analysts Journal, the Journal of Portfolio Management, the Journal of Computational Finance, and Statistica Sinica. His awards include the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, the Paul A. Samuelson Award, the American Association for Individual Investors Award, the Graham and Dodd Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the CFA Institute's James R. Vertin Award, and awards for teaching excellence from both Wharton and MIT. He is a former governor of the Boston Stock Exchange, and currently a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a member of the NASD's Economic Advisory Board, and founder and chief scientific officer of AlphaSimplex Group, LLC, a quantitative investment management company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Dr. Lo was named IAQF/SunGard Financial Engineer of the Year in 2001.