Neel S. Madhukar, PhD ’17

Neel S Madhukar


As a child in Oxford, Tennessee, Neel S. Madhukar dreamed of becoming a physician. But he became intrigued by drug development after discovering a drug in pre-clinical trials that had the potential to help patients with liver cancer, the disease that claimed his grandfather’s life.
“After diving into oncology and drug development, my interest in research blossomed,” Madhukar said.

In 2013, Neel began his studies toward a PhD in Computational Biology at Weill Cornell Graduate School. Working under Dr. Olivier Elemento, director of the Englander Institute for Precision Medicine and an associate professor of physiology and biophysics and an associate professor of computational genomics in computational biomedicine, Madhukar’s research focused on integrating diverse data types into a machine-learning framework to answer questions in early stages of drug development and discovery.

After graduation. Neel co-founded One Three Biotech, a biotechnology startup that develops artificial intelligence platforms to accelerate drug development.

Why did you select Weill Cornell Medicine for your graduate training?

I loved Weill Cornell’s flexibility. For example, there are no required core classes, so I was able to select classes ranging from programming to general cell biology. I also appreciated that members of my cohort came from diverse backgrounds – some with little computational biology background. It was also nice being in New York City, because of the biotechnology opportunities available here.


What is your current position? Also, please describe a typical day at work.

I am the CEO and co-founder of One Three Biotech. A typical day consists of lots of meetings and emails. We discuss the goals for the company and planning for the future – for example, what are the long-term impacts of the decisions we are making?I also manage part-time scientists, interns and consultants. The starting phases of a company is kind of like setting up and running a lab.


“Innovation” and “entrepreneurship” are big buzzwords. What does this mean for students today and for the future of medical science graduate education?

Innovation is a given. But how do you take innovation to the next level? The answer is entrepreneurship. I value Weill Cornell Medicine’s commitment to bringing biotech and entrepreneurship into the fabric of our community. I encourage students today to learn about the differences between starting a biotech company versus a life science company. It’s not the same formula.


What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love playing chess in the park. I also enjoy karaoke in Koreatown.


Do you have any parting words to share with today’s WCGS graduate students?

Go and seek those outside of your field to engage in multi-disciplinary collaboration. You’ll be surprised by how much you learn. Also, seek collaboration outside of the scientific community (biotech, pharma), as this exposure is tremendously enlightening. Finally, graduate school is the opportune time to go for the pie in the sky. You never know where you may land.