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Associate Spotlight: Damon Burrow

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Lead Life Sciences Associate Damon Burrow is a fifth year PhD student in Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering at Duke University Pratt School of Engineering. Before attending Duke, Damon played college basketball and golf at William Woods University, in Missouri, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology with minors in chemistry and physics. After graduating from William Woods, before attending Duke, Damon also worked as a medical Research Technician at nearby Washington University in St. Louis.

At Duke, Damon is a member of the esteemed Chilkoti Group within Pratt. His research focuses on point-of-care diagnostics, building technologies like the blood glucometer to help patients living with chronic illnesses. Damon is currently in his second year at Duke Capital Partners, having played a vital role in DCP’s screening, sourcing, and due diligence efforts during his tenure. Damon has employed unwavering dedication and strong technical knowledge to lead many diligence teams. His work has directly facilitated DCP’s investments in SiPhox Health, Pryon, and other portfolio companies.

Outside of his time at Duke, Damon has co-founded two companies of his own, Golf EQ and ScholarAI. A passionate operator himself, Damon is an alumnus of the Melissa and Doug Entrepreneurs fellowship. Damon views his work at DCP as a platform to bolster his entrepreneurial abilities from the investor side of the table and to prepare for a career in both entrepreneurship and venture capital.

How has your athletic background impacted your academic and professional experiences?

My background in sports, specifically basketball, taught me leadership, perseverance, and discipline – all of which are instrumental in enabling me to adapt quickly to new challenges, work collaboratively among diverse team members, and remain resilient when solving difficult problems.

What led you to join Duke Capital Partners?

I am passionate about ideas that solve the world’s most important problems. I envisioned venture capital as an avenue to broadly explore cutting-edge solutions to challenges while bolstering my focused PhD research. Duke Capital Partners was a natural path for me to begin my venture capital career, and my time at Duke Capital Partners has been transformative, adding as much to my passion to build companies as my graduate school education and entrepreneurial work.

Has your research at Pratt influenced your work at Duke Capital Partners or vice versa?

My research at Pratt is a constant source of inspiration and insight for my work at Duke Capital Partners. My graduate education has provided me with a knowledge base I regularly draw from when assessing new ventures. Similarly, my work at DCP has provided an added perspective to my research. My time at DCP has introduced me to the ways other scientists and researcher have successfully translated projects into startup companies that help people live happier and healthier lives. This added perspective has propelled my own work, hopefully towards making a larger impact in the diagnostics field.

Can you share a bit of background on ScholarAI and give your thoughts on the company’s future?

ScholarAI is a new startup building trustworthy AI. Specifically, we are building solutions that help AI systems (like GPT-4 that powers ChatGPT) navigate knowledge graphs for important industries like scientific research, medicine, law, and journalism. We have had a tremendous beginning to ScholarAI, accelerating the work of over 250,000 users, but realize there is much more work needed to accomplish the goal of creating AI that people can trust. Our aim is to create a technology platform that enables professional knowledge workers, across industries, to get more work done in less time; ultimately allowing people to focus more time on the things they enjoy working on, while spending less time working on the more monotonous tasks of their jobs.

What are your long-term career ambitions?

I love my work in the lab at Pratt and at Duke Capital Partners. I want to spend the rest of my professional career in the startup ecosystem, building companies that make people’s lives better and helping other founders do the same. My long-term goal is to pursue a dual career as a startup founder and venture capitalist. I am continuously energized by the ability to go incredibly deep in my own work, while contributing slightly to the work of others. I see no better way to strike the balance of depth and width than by combining those two career paths.