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Associate Spotlight: Daniel Luo, Ph.D.

When venture capital, scientific innovations, and entrepreneurship collide at opportune moments, the resulting impacts could create value for every party involved as well as transformational effects on society at large. Daniel (Jie) Luo, Ph.D. and the Lead Ph.D. Associate at Duke Capital Partners, holds this vision and has been honing his investment philosophy during his time at Duke Capital Partners. A cancer biologist by training, Daniel joined our team three years ago and has since worked on countless diligence efforts, many of which eventually became our successful portfolio companies. In this month’s spotlight interview, Daniel talks to us about his venture capital journey at Duke Capital Partners, his thoughts on biotech investment, and his career passion.  

daniel luo black and white headshot
Daniel Luo is a Duke Capital Partner Lead PhD Associate.

How did you initially get involved in Duke Capital Partners? How has your experience at Duke Capital Partners evolved over the years? 

When I was finishing my Ph.D. in Toxicology, I spent a year as a biotech entrepreneur, trying to discover drugs for Parkinson’s disease while traveling to conferences and speaking with venture capitalists. This tough experience not only kicked my rear end, it also piqued my interest in venture capital. When I came back home to Durham, NC to do a postdoc in brain cancers at Duke, I met Kurt who immediately saw how my experiences could contribute to Duke Capital Partners. During my first year at Duke Capital Partners, my focus was initially on learning how VC works; now a couple years later, I think I’m more interested in using this knowledge to help entrepreneurs find the funding they need to succeed. 

How has your expertise in life science research played into your work at Duke Capital Partners? 

As a Ph.D. in the field of biomedical sciences, I’m trained to quickly learn how a technology works and envision how it could solve an unmet medical need. I’d like to think that our team’s propensity to dig into a company’s technology has allowed Duke Capital Partners members to be more confident in their investment decisions. 

What are some of the most memorable deals you’ve worked on at Duke Capital Partners? What aspects made them stand out? 

I think all the deals that we do here are very exciting in different aspects. I think that if we’re not excited about a deal, it probably won’t come through. I’m equally excited about high-visibility deals, such as the Xilis Series A, where we co-invest with heavy-weights such as Google Ventures (GV) or Mubadala, versus other deals where we come in early, establishing a close relationship with the founders over time, seeing their business and themselves mature, and invest in multiple follow-on rounds. What I learned to appreciate over the years is how Duke Capital Partners adapts to deals with vastly different deal dynamics and is able to provide value to both entrepreneurs and investors in the wider Duke community depending on their needs.  

What are your current short term and long term career goals?

I’d like to continue to learn how to provide value to entrepreneurs and investors. I truly believe that if I can be a flywheel between entrepreneurs with life-saving technology and investors who would like to make an impact in human health, I can ultimately create value for everyone involved.