Dr. Chris Bahl
World-leading Computational Biologist
Head of Protein Design, Protein Innovation Institute & TED Fellow
Chris Bahl is passionate about proteins. As Head of the Protein Design Laboratory at the Institute for Protein Innovation, he works on creating tools and technologies that accelerate drug discovery. The Institute is a nonprofit founded on advancing protein science to help scientists make breakthroughs happen faster, and new medicines emerge more effectively.
Chris’ work is key as it hinges on creating special peptides (a.k.a. mini-proteins) that his team designs from scratch by using deep scientific know-how and complex computer modeling. He is now generating mini-proteins that could pinpoint and take out coronaviruses like SARS-Cov2 (that causes COVID-19). Chris asserts that these and other potential drugs mark the future of medicine allowing us “to break free from the constraints of human disease.”
Chris fell in love with science in his high school biology and chemistry classes, and has been enraptured ever since. He cites Grace Hopper as a major influence: “She was a computer science pioneer, visionary philosopher, and phenomenal leader and mentor.” Her philosophy often finds its way into Chris’ research, which takes a goal-oriented, “function-first” methodology to drug development.
Outside of the lab, Chris is an avid mountaineer. He tells us, “I love being in the mountains. I enjoy hiking, rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, and backcountry skiing. Mountain objectives that mix these activities together are the best.”
While he wishes he had more time to get out to the mountains, he loves exploring the boundaries of innovation as well: “Almost every day, I get to do what I am excited and passionate about. I feel like I managed to trick someone into paying me to do my hobby. I know that a lot of people talk about how important balance is, but this just isn’t something that I spend a lot of time worrying about.”
When we first connected with Chris, he reached out to let us know that he’d given a TED talk wearing our Kinetic Suit. We recently caught up with him to get more of his story.
How do you take your coffee?
I like black coffee the best.
What music do you listen to?
I mostly listen to jazz, classic rock, metal, and grunge.
What’s your favorite place?
North Cascades National Park in Washington State. I love the glaciers, piercing blue alpine lakes, the wildflowers and edible berries, and most of all, the craggy peaks. The whole place feels wild and untamed. Plus, there are some awesome climbs in the North Cascades.
What’s one place you would love to visit?
I would love to visit New Zealand. There is some really cutting-edge scientific research going on there, and they have incredible mountains. Plus, I’ve never been to the southern hemisphere.
How did you hear about Ministry of Supply?
My wife recommended Ministry of Supply to me.
How does Ministry of Supply clothing make a difference in your life?
Dress clothes always made me feel out of place. I’m kind of scrawny, and most dress clothes tend to be rather voluminous. So, I always looked like I was wearing someone else’s clothes when I dressed up. I feel most at home in outdoor clothing made of performance fabrics. I was delighted and surprised when I discovered Ministry of Supply, which uses performance fabrics to make dress clothes with an athletic fit. It’s amazing when you can find clothes that feel like they’re made just for you.
What are your favorite Ministry of Supply pieces?
An Apollo 3 Dress Shirt paired with a Kinetic Blazer and Pants.