With a knack for engineering and a passion for patients, Dr. Andrew Trister’s career has taken this Jersey boy from radiation oncology to Apple to his current role at the Gates Foundation, where he’s spearheading their efforts to leverage technology to improve the health of people around the world.
Andrew – like E Street drummer Max Weinberg — grew up in the lovely North Jersey town of Maplewood, and like Weinberg’s, Andrew’s family was also originally from Eastern Europe and had left to escape persecution (though Weinberg’s family immigrated to the United States several generations earlier).
Growing up, Andrew shared the complex experience of many children of immigrants; he says he felt “like an American” within the context of his family, where Romanian, not English, was the first language, but a bit like an outsider among his classmates and neighbors.
Inspired by his father (who at one point had started to train as a doctor) and an uncle, who was an engineer, Andrew was drawn to this interface; his interest in becoming a doctor took on a greater sense of urgency following the tragic death of a young cousin from a devastating brain tumor.
Always working at the intersection of disciplines, Andrew pursued both engineering and pre-med subjects in college at the University of Pennsylvania, and stayed at Penn for his MD/PhD. His graduate work encompassed both bioengineering and machine learning (presumably before at least one of those disciplines was cool….) He was increasingly gripped by the idea of using technology to improve patient care.
He continued his training, in radiation oncology, at the University of Washington, where his career was profoundly impacted by relationships with two polymath, intellectually unfettered mentors: Dr. Mark Groudine and Dr. Stephen Friend.
Working with Friend, who was at the time just putting together the open science platform known as Sage Bionetworks (David, incidentally, was a founding advisor of Sage), Andrew became increasingly interested in the possibilities of using wearables to better understand phenotypes, and to advance patient-centric health.
Apple, it turned out, was also developing an interest in this space, and Andrew and Stephen would ultimately join Apple for several years to advance their health-focused initiatives.
More recently, Andrew returned to Seattle for what seems like the perfect role for him: driving digital health technologies for the Gates Foundation – an effort that, as he discusses, has placed him squarely in the epicenter of a range of COVID-19-related efforts. It’s a challenge worthy of his exceptional talents.
We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s episode of Tech Tonics. Manatt Health integrates strategic business consulting, public policy acumen, legal excellence and deep analytics capabilities to better serve the complex needs of clients across America’s healthcare system. Together with its parent company, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the firm’s multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping clients across all industries grow and prosper.