St Paul’s Community / Pauline Profiles

Toby's journey from academic to entrepreneur.

After a year working around the world, Call studied Biological Sciences at Magdalen College, Oxford, followed by a masters in Synthetic Biology at UCL, and then a PhD in biophotovoltaics at Girton College, Cambridge. He also attended the International Space University with NASA in 2015, and captained the Cambridge team at the Varsity polo match in 2017. Toby co-founded Chronomics at the end of 2017, blending AI, next generation sequencing, and the latest in epigenetics research. 

What guidance would you give to your younger self on the day you left St Paul’s?
Always ask for help, people are the most valuable resource. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Take a sales course, learn to sell yourself. I haven’t done it yet but I will! 

Why did you choose to your current career? 
I wanted the freedom and creative drive of academia but with more efficiency, and the idea of commuting to a corporate desk fills me with terror. The most immediately apparent upside was being able to work as a team, rather than in the solitary confinement of a PhD. Although sometimes the challenges are crushing, anything is possible with a solid team. 

Entrepreneurship comes with its inherent looming risks, but also the opportunity to make a real difference in the world. With half of the developed world predicted to suffer from a chronic illness by 2025 (WHO), we really believe the technology we’re bringing to market has the potential to transformpersonalised proactive healthcare. 

A PhD is a fantastic apprenticeship in problem solving and the grit required to see it through is an invaluable lesson for life. But the breadth and speed of learning in a start up can’t be matched. A normal day could involve diving into technical dissections of epigenetics, translating our value proposition using analogies alone, negotiating with suppliers around the world, building financial models, writing video scripts, and best of all, not knowing what the next day will bring. 

Chronomics

The concept of Chronomics came together late 2017 in Cambridge where Toby and the other three founders met. Using the latest in AI, next generation sequencing, and epigenetics research, they are unlocking the predictive power of the epigenome. 

‘We are bringing DNA testing out of the relative dark ages, where predictions of health and wellbeing are extrapolated from predispositions that have not changed since birth. In reality, life events, our environment, and even our lifestyle choices have a huge impact on long term health outcomes. Our modern lifestyles have led to a ticking time bomb where half of the developed world is predicted to suffer from a chronic illness already by 2025. Added to this, over 80% of non-infectious diseases have at least a strong epigenetic component, and currently there is no way of tracking how the way our genes are being controlled is changing. We found ourselves uniquely placed with the expertise and connections across the two major hubs of epigenetics prediction research in Cambridge and UCLA. After completing a Silicon Valley VC backed accelerator, Rebel Bio, the result is the first direct to consumer epigenetics test.’

To find out more about Chronomics visit www.chronomics.co.uk