The best ideas often emerge from the lowest moments in one’s life. For former Goldman Sachs Asia managing director Simone Song, that was when she was lying flat on a hospital bed in 2015, waiting for a colon tumour biopsy. In what turned out to be a life-changing resolution, she vowed to dedicate the rest of her life to fighting major diseases, if she could be cancer-free.

To be sure, Medical research and biotechnology are not exactly foreign territory for Song. Both of her parents were biotechnology pioneers in China, with her father being a member of the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences, the highest scientific body in the People’s Republic. Her mother invented China’s first biotechnology drug with global intellectual rights. Both of them also had an entrepreneurial bent, starting companies to bring their research to market.

Despite growing up in such a scholarly environment — her cousin even did a PhD under her mother before going to Harvard for post-doctoral studies — Song instead decided to enter investment banking, taking charge of Goldman Sachs’ investment banking business in greater China for healthcare. But surviving the removal of 15cm of her intestines convinced her to join the family trade. No longer a banker, she would instead be a soldier fighting on the frontlines against disease.

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