Conversations with members of the Harvard and Radcliffe Class of 1992.
Hosted by Will Bachman.

Episode: 26

Olu Ajilore, Co-Founder of KeyWise AI and Professor 

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Show notes

After completing an A.B. in Biology at Harvard, Olu Ajilore earned a Phd in Neuroscience from Stanford and an M.S. in Clinical Research. He was assistant professor at UCLA, and is currently a professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago and co-founder of Keywise AI, software intended to track brain function objectively and offers a continuous remote monitoring system for mental health. You can connect with Olu on Twitter @pshrink.


Key points include:

  • 04:43: What Keywise AI and mood disorders
  • 08:36: Research on psychiatric issues in the elderly
  • 25:11: On methods of behavior change

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92-26.Olu Ajilure


Olu Ajilure, Will Bachman


Will Bachman  00:01

Hello, and welcome to the 90 T report conversations with members of the Harvard and Radcliffe class of 1992. I’m your host will Bachman and I’m here today with Olu Ajilure. Olu, welcome to the show.


Olu Ajilure  00:16

Thanks for having me.


Will Bachman  00:17

So Olu, tell us about your journey since Harvard.


Olu Ajilure  00:21

Sure. So, after Harvard, where I had majored in biology with a concentration in neurobiology, I went to medical school in graduate school, I did a medical scientist training program at Stanford University, where I was for almost nine years, doing an MD PhD degree, I had a chance to do my PhD working in the lab of Robert Sapolsky, studying stress hormones and how they affected the brain. also develop my clinical interests. While I was at Stanford in psychiatry, which led to me doing my residency in psychiatry at UCLA. I had wanted to get back closer to home where I grew up in Pasadena. So I picked residencies in California, and ended up at UCLA where I continued my research interests, shifting more into looking at diabetes and depression using brain imaging, and also continuing to develop my clinical interests in psychiatry, focusing on mood and anxiety disorders, as well as psychiatric disorders in the elderly. I stayed on at UCLA as a postdoctoral research fellow and a clinical instructor for a couple years before becoming an assistant professor there. And then after that, I followed my mentor to the University of Illinois in Chicago, where I’ve been for the last 13 years. Now a professor in the Department of Psychiatry here, again, continuing my research and clinical interests that started actually way back when I was at Harvard. So that’s been my journey, I guess, a couple of other important notable events along the way. Before moving to Chicago, I met my wife and we got married. And we’ve been married for 14 years, I have a six year old daughter graduation. So she keeps us very busy as well.


Will Bachman  02:44

Now at the reunion, you were telling me a bit about your research, and some interesting things around iPhone keyboards and so forth. Tell Tell me a little bit more about that.


Olu Ajilure  02:56

Yeah, so this is a an interesting direction that we’ve gone in over the last several years trying to see if we can use our interactions with smartphones to come up with ways to passively and objectively track how we’re thinking and feeling. And this started with a project. Initiated by my colleague, Dr. Alex Liao, she invented an app called by effect, which replaces the default keyboard of your smartphone with a customized keyboard that allows us to track how you type. So we can look at how fast you’re typing, whether you make mistakes when you type. And it’s actually strongly associated with rates of depression and mania in patients that have mood disorders, like major depression and bipolar disorder. It’s also strongly associated with cognitive domains like psychomotor, processing speed, basically, how quickly you’re able to attain information, as well as how well you can plan and perform what they call set shifting to basically switch gears mentally. So those functions are actually captured by how you type and so we’re using smartphone keyboard data, to see if we can come up with these metrics of thinking and feeling that can have clinical applications as well as research applications.


Will Bachman  04:21

And what might the ultimate idea be? I mean, just from what you said, it sounds like, if you know this really works and is, you know, predictive, you could have the iPhone give you an alert, like, Hey, you should call the suicide prevention line or you should go see it, you know, you get some get some support, right, called as mental health monitors. Yeah,


Olu Ajilure  04:43

absolutely. So our goal is to be able to use this as an early warning detection system, especially for impending mood episodes for those with the lived experience of mood disorders. So exactly that will so if you basically have to have some kind of a read An alert, or a warning or a flag that says, hey, you might be headed towards trouble here you can think about, then intervening before things get into a bad state, because a lot of the time and in psychiatry, our treatments and interventions are reactive. And I think the hope of this technology is that we could be proactive instead, and also give tools to patients for for self management of their conditions, and improve self care.


Will Bachman  05:30

So curious that, you know, some people are just like slow diapers. So their thumbs are kind of clumsy. So is it more looking at for the individual person, how it’s changing over time, it’s not just saying a boy, you type slow. So you know,


Olu Ajilure  05:47

exactly. So everybody serves as their own baseline. So I’m not interested in comparing you to this sort of larger population, I’m interested in comparing you today, to you tomorrow, right? To look at how things are changing within what is the range of normal for you, and seeing if there are deviations from that pattern that may be indicative of a change in your cognitive function or change in your emotional state.


Will Bachman  06:14

Now, there’s, I imagine there’s limitations on what you’re kind of just able to do in your research, I mean, you can give out this keyboard app. But I’m thinking that the, you know, if you had sort of unlimited, like, the, your, the way you’re using the smartphone probably has all sorts of ways, just how much you’re moving around during the day, if you’re getting up and how often you’re checking your phone, when you wake up when you go to bed, like how quickly you’re walking around. So I could imagine that, you know, research that allowed you to kind of have full access to someone’s, you know, use of their phone, which would potentially give even more, you know, you know, defined results, right, or more predictive results.


Olu Ajilure  07:00

Yeah, absolutely. There are all kinds of sensors that we could pick up from the phone, and you described a lot of them, things like gait, how we’re walking, even sleep patterns or circadian rhythm patterns can be captured, because oftentimes, the last thing we put down at night is our phone. And the first thing we pick up is our phone. There’s also incredible information from the GPS sensors in a phone, we could look at, you know whether you have a distinct pattern of activity that has changed. So for example, if you look at my pattern of activity based on location data, you can see that I have a pretty regular pattern of going from work to home work to home every day, but then all of a sudden, you saw a great deviation in that that might be indicative of, you know, something that might be concerning, or it could just be that I’m on vacation. But I think we can take into account all kinds of contextual information beyond just what we’re getting from the from the keyboard.


Will Bachman  08:05

I wanted to ask you about one research interests that you mentioned, as you’re going through your journey, you mentioned that you’ve looked at, you know, psychiatric issues in the elderly, and, you know, our classmates are a lot of us are at the age now where our parents are, you know, maybe while they’re elderly, right? So tell us some of the things that you discovered from that research, some things that might be interesting for us that may be caring for parents now or in the near future, should be aware of


Olu Ajilure  08:36

it? Yeah. So both on the research side, as well as my clinical interest has focused on treating older adults. And in the research side, I’ve done a lot of work in late life depression, which is defined as the presence of major depression and those 60 years of age or older. And it’s often associated with more medical issues like hypertension, diabetes, and it may also be a precursor to cognitive disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease. And so there are a couple of things that we see clinically that are associated with late life depression, often their life stage changes, that might be triggers or stressors, things like retirement, changes in income, loss of a spouse. And as I mentioned, as I mentioned before, a lot of the medical conditions that can occur as we grow older can be a major contributor. And so there’s a lot of really interesting research, looking at late life depression to see okay, what’s different about it, why is it harder to treat, and often in many cases, and it may be related to some of the brain changes that we see in older adults with depression, so we tend to see more bright spots sits on an MRI scan called white matter hyperintensities. And these bright spots are associated with a lot of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular risk factors, like diabetes, which I mentioned before hypertension smoking. And so by looking at where these white matter hyperintensities are in the brain, it actually gives us a window into what might be actually happening in the brains of younger people with depression by looking at what parts of the brain are affected, what circuits are affected. And then people have done really interesting work looking at what might be alternative ways of treating depression beyond medication, that would work better for older adults. And there are some really cool studies again, utilizing technology. So there’s a group out of Utah, Dr. Shizuku, Morimoto, as well as Pat Arian in Seattle and faith gunning at Cornell, they’ve all been doing work in this area of computerized cognitive remediation, showing that that really helps for older adults with depression, often in cases where medication fails. So that’s some of the really cool work that’s being done in geriatric psychiatry research.


Will Bachman  11:17

Wow. You mentioned retirement is one of the risk factors, say more about that does does some, for some people, maybe the loss of purpose that they got from their work, or?


Olu Ajilure  11:27

Exactly, yeah, I’ve had several patients who have had a history of depression when they were very young. And then throughout, you know, late adulthood, mid mid life, until they were retired, they were fine, they didn’t have any depressive episodes. And then once they lose the sort of distraction of work, and the thing that kept them busy, and focused on other things, once that’s lost, then they sort of are back alone with their own thoughts, which often lead to them having a relapse of their depression. So it’s that that loss of purpose, the loss of of being busy, sometimes the idle thoughts that tend to veer towards negativity might be all related to how retirement could trigger a relapse in depression.


Will Bachman  12:19

Man, that’s such a such a slam, you work your whole life to retire, and then boom, yeah.


Olu Ajilure  12:25

And I think you know, but then I’ve seen positive examples, right, where people have set up a sort of a good plan for how they’re going to live their life. In retirement, right, they are going to pick up new skills, they’re going to travel, you know, I have one patient who, you know, basically came up with a whole program for herself of what she was going to do once she retired. And I think that’s helped to keep her, you know, in a stable place, and help her not go back into depression, because she, she, you know, she was proactive about the things she was going to do in retirement.


Will Bachman  13:01

So for those of us with parents still around, what are some things that we should just be keeping in our mind when we, you know, see them interact with them, speak with them to, you know, just sort of potential risk factors that should alert us to, you know, either late life depression in our parents or other potential psychiatric disorders?


Olu Ajilure  13:23

Yeah, I mean, I think, if you see sort of uncharacteristic behavior, those might be some of the the warning signs. Or, for example, if your dad or your mom was always a very gregarious person, and all of a sudden, they’re becoming more isolated, socially withdrawn, that would be concerning. In addition, changing habits, so for example, you know, if your dad always liked to play golf, and all of a sudden, they’re not doing that anymore. That would also be concerning, but I think it’s really important. As our parents get older, to be even, you know, more engaged and connect with them more, I think that’s something I’ve definitely done, especially, you know, related to the pandemic, you know, using technology, like zoom to reconnect with them and see them more often, I think, has been really helpful. So I think those are some of the things that that I would look for.


Will Bachman  14:23

I’ll give a my own two cents on this one, which is, if you you know, one thing I did with my dad, and this was actually pre COVID. But, you know, he had thought about writing some things down about his life, but he was always never really getting around to that. So we set up this thing where we would just meet every Sunday morning on the phone, and he would tell me about one stage in his life, and I would record it. So we did this whole series. It was kind of like basically recording this podcast, and did a whole series of those with him and it was a great way to connect and hear these stories that he had never told me right because we We’re trying to exhaustive. Yeah, that’s one thing you could do with your parents.


Olu Ajilure  15:03

That’s a wonderful idea, because I have bought my dad journals, I think multiple times. And because he has great stories, he has all this wonderful acquired wisdom that he actually loves to share. And I’ve, I’ve encouraged him to write it down. But I liked this idea of of recording conversations. I think he would love that.


Will Bachman  15:24

Yeah. So tell me, um, you know, I somewhat side like not exactly your journey. But I got asked, as you know, not so often do I have access to an expert? There was some recent news about how that kind of calls into question the whole chemical imbalance theory of depression, right? And is it? No, no, it’s not actually a lack of serotonin at all. What’s your take on that research? I don’t quite I can’t, I’m not even necessarily adequately describing it. But


Olu Ajilure  15:56

it got a lot of attention, because I think there was an assumption. And it’s a faulty assumption that that’s what psychiatrists think depression is. I think the idea of depression or psychiatric conditions being related to a chemical imbalance is something that stemmed from research that was, you know, that’s over 40 years old. That is not current at all. If you were to ask most psychiatrists today, what causes depression? They would answer that the causes is multifactorial, and it’s a combination of social, psychological, biological factors that contribute and it’s not due to a chemical imbalance. This stemmed from what was called the mono amine hypothesis, where people said, oh, you know, we give these drugs that boost serotonin, that boosts norepinephrine, that boost dopamine, and people seem to get better. So maybe the depression as a result of low levels of those neurotransmitters, which are all mono amines. But you know, it’s a very simplistic theory that predates you know, what we know from from neuroimaging, what we know from genetics, what we know from a lot of other methods that have been developed over the last 40 years to improve our understanding of depression. It also doesn’t take into account what psychiatrists consider when looking at things like psychosocial stressors related to, you know, maybe employment issues, health related issues, social isolation, all these other factors that can contribute to depressant. So I think it got way too much attention and, and it got over interpreted as Oh, you know, medications don’t work or we shouldn’t be prescribing medications. That’s not true at all. Right? So the analogy is akin to saying, we know that Tylenol reduces fever, but it’s, it’s not an antibiotic, right. So what caused the fever, right? It’s not the same thing as the fever. Right? So What Causes a Fever and some kind of infection? Let’s say it’s a bacterial infection, you give an antibiotic that kills the bacteria, but you would still give tylenol to reduce the fever. And that’s where we are in terms of our understanding of depression, that it’s akin to fever, it could be due to a lot of different causes. But it doesn’t mean SSRIs selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors won’t help.


Will Bachman  18:42

Thank you for that clarification. So this big study, like was not really debunking something that, you know, professionals thought.


Olu Ajilure  18:49

Exactly, exactly. Like,


Will Bachman  18:51

yeah, we know, we know. It’s not just that. Yeah.


Olu Ajilure  18:55

So most, you know, most psychiatrists and seeing that would say, yeah, well done. But he thinks that anymore, or nobody ever really thought that. Right. You know,


Will Bachman  19:04

tell me about one or two of your papers that you’ve published that you’re most proud of?


Olu Ajilure  19:12

Um, it’s a great question, because it’s, I think it’s always changing to what we just did. So there’s, there’s one paper that we published recently, where it was a combination of depression. Have we treated patients with depression and obesity with a combination therapy designed by my colleague, Dr. Joon Ma, which looked at problem solving therapy in combination with a lifestyle management program. And what was really cool about this study is that we have this sort of behavioral intervention to improve people’s mood and help them lose weight. But we had a neuroimaging measure as a sort of intermediate marker of what the intervention was doing. And we were able to show that people who got the intervention compared to the control group showed improvement in brain circuits that are involved in emotional regulation, particularly the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex. So it’s a kind of cool demonstration of how a non pharmacological intervention actually changes brain function and activity to yield improvements in clinical outcomes. And we’re actually following that up with a couple other studies with other types of behavioral interventions that are delivered via an app that works on the Alexa platform, it does problem solving treatment for patients with mild to moderate depression and anxiety. And we’ve shown some similar effects that people who got this intervention compared to those who did it show improvement in brain activity and connectivity that’s associated with improvements in depression and anxiety.


Will Bachman  21:12

Okay, so, so double or triple click on this, like the problem solving, train treatment and the lifestyle management. Let’s say that I’m a patient in this. And I’m not in a control group, I’m getting the getting the training and the interventions, what what am I learning to do? What does the is it an app? Is it? Is it teaching me what skills


Olu Ajilure  21:34

actually in person delivered therapy with a coach? Okay, so the problem solving component basically teaches you skills on how to approach problems, it’s really as simple seven step approach where you learn how to list the problems that you’re trying to solve, you come up with a list of potential solutions, then you rank them in terms of how you feel how feasible they are, or how effective you think they will be, you implement them, and then you come back the next week, and you see how well those solutions work to address your problem. And it’s not so much about the specific problems that you’re trying to treat, but more learning a skill and a method on how to approach problems so that you have sort of a tool that you can use when you’re under stress or having difficulty. So that’s the the problem solving treatment part. And then the lifestyle management part comes from a diabetes prevention program and combines both, you know, diet and exercise tips for weight loss,


Will Bachman  22:45

men on that problem solving sounds like you’re teaching management consulting one on one, I love it. It’s my world, man. What would an example of someone going to the program, like, give me an example of a problem that they would have that they would then apply this approach to? Yeah, it


Olu Ajilure  23:02

might be you know, I’m always getting into arguments with my teenage daughter, or, you know, I’m having difficulty sleeping at night, or I keep procrastinating at work. Right. So those are the kinds of problems and actually one of the cool things that we’re planning to do. And in this study, where we’re using the app delivered problem solving therapy, is because people are talking to the app to talk about their problems and to list their solutions, we can actually use some machine learning techniques to learn more about the kinds of problems people present with, and thereby give more targeted feedback via the app to help people with those problems. So that’s a plan analysis we’re going to do is as part of one of the studies we have ongoing now.


Will Bachman  23:55

That’s awesome. My trick to avoid procrastination is to embrace procrastination, but have multiple projects going on at the same time. So when you don’t feel like working on one or the other, and work on something else that I need to get done. It’s good. Wherever your energy is, but yeah, that way, procrastination is a tough thing to break.


Olu Ajilure  24:15

Yeah, I think I tried to do something similar. It’s more like planned procrastination, where I give myself a time limit. On procrastination, I allow myself to do it. But I can only do it for 15 minutes.


Will Bachman  24:27

That takes that that takes willpower, lifestyle management, diet and exercise. Boy, obesity is such a problem in this country, and now increasingly global. You know, at least some of what I read says that almost nothing works except for maybe that surgery, the bariatric surgery, like it seems like, you know, you can try to exercise and people will lose weight for a while but then eventually they gain it back or they can try to go on a diet. They eventually get it back. It’s like so hard word of a problem. Does anything work? Tell me what what have you learned about, you know, sort of trying to get people to change lifestyle through diet and exercise? It’s really tough. Right?


Olu Ajilure  25:11

Yeah, I mean, behavior change is a whole field unto itself that I’m not too well versed in. But but some of the things that I’ve seen, that people have tried that seemed to work is things like trying to change one habit that might be maladaptive to another habit, which may be more adaptive, right? That might be one of the ways that treatment programs like AAA worked for alcohol use disorders, right, where you were, instead of drinking, going to meetings becomes the new habit. And so the idea is that you can’t just stop a habit, but you it’s easier to replace a habit. That might be one way. Another thing is that there are a lot of sort of institutional and structural structural things that support obesity in this country, in terms of thing, like portion sizes, for meals, or, you know, transportation issues. We were on vacation in Europe, and I think I ate just as much as I would eat here at home, but I lost weight. And I think it was because


Will Bachman  26:25

you’re walking outside, what is the portion sizes? And you’re walking everywhere? Right? Yeah. And


Olu Ajilure  26:30

you’re walking everywhere? Exactly. I’m not driving everywhere. So. So I think there’s those structural issues can’t be ignored as well.


Will Bachman  26:39

Okay. So, so that’s a pretty fascinating project. So you had this combination of, you know, behavioral and then a question I have for you is about the whole issue of the replication crisis and science. And yeah, seems like it’s particularly a tough problem in areas where some of the issues are more intangible, like, you know, in mental health and psychiatry, and in some of the social sciences. Tell me about sort of how you think about that, how you tried to, you know, avoid, you know, the replication crisis and guard against it, and so forth.


Olu Ajilure  27:21

Yeah. So there are a couple of mechanisms that folks have put in place to address this one is pretty registration of studies. So the idea is that before you conduct a study, you you publicize and make available exactly what measures you’re going to be using. What are your primary outcome measures? What are your secondary outcome measures, what your inclusion and exclusion criteria are for this study. So all those things are, are pre specified, and made known to the public so that when you publish your work, you’re not trying to fudge by saying, you know, my primary outcome didn’t turn out, okay. But I’m going to publish my secondary outcome and make it sound like my primary outcome, which, you know, has happened quite a bit in the past. So pre registration is one, transparency is another big one. So not only transparency in how you conduct the study, by transparency with the results, so making data available from your studies, and that’s one of the things that NIH has really worked hard on the National Institutes of Health, any NIH funded study, you have to make your data available. So in our current and AI, we have three studies ongoing now that’s funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health. And we have to do regular data uploads as we’re acquiring the data from our studies. And that study will be and that data will be made publicly available after the completion of the study, and we have a chance to public our, our preliminary results.


Will Bachman  29:00

The is that that pre registration sounds super hard to me. Because I mean, you imagine, you know, the big picture, you can think of these things, but always when you actually get into a project in real life, there’s stuff come up that you didn’t anticipate. So it sounds like you’re, as an academic, you really have to think about anticipating every potential issue ahead of time.


Olu Ajilure  29:25

Yeah, and that’s what we do when we actually apply for funding for these studies. So it’s not as difficult as it may seem, because all of those issues, all of those items, like the inclusion exclusion criteria, our primary outcome, secondary outcomes, etc. We have to put into the grant application before we even get funded. So it’s essentially putting, you know, online or, you know, making publicly available what we said we were going to do when we got the money to do it. So it should not be that hard. Of course, they things do come up. But the idea is that you shouldn’t change the primary outcomes of what you’re what you’re interested in, right. So if I say, my intervention is going to change weight, and it doesn’t, but it affects BMI, I shouldn’t make it sound like BMI was my original outcome. Well, there’s others getting changed. Yeah. Which people which people have done in the past, right? That’s, that’s why it’s been a problem. That’s why people have difficulty replicating the findings. Because, you know, people do this sort of bait and switch and what actually gets published?


Will Bachman  30:33

Do you ever work on replicating someone else’s study? Because seems that that’s kind of fairly low return on investment for an individual researcher? Because you know, if you publish it replicated, says, Yeah, checks out, no one gives you a big round of applause, right?


Olu Ajilure  30:49

Yeah. So essentially, then you want to kind of replicate and extend. Right? So you, you replicate, and then you take it to the next step, or you ask the next question. So in order to get published, it’s harder to publish just a straight replication. But if you are able to replicate earlier findings as part of a larger project, that makes a lot of sense. And I’ve done that, right. So, you know, if a previous group has shown that, you know, x is related to y, I want to show that in my own data as well, but then, you know, talk about how y might be related to something else. That’s interesting.


Will Bachman  31:28

That’s interesting. Okay,


Olu Ajilure  31:29

so you can embed the replication in novel work.


Will Bachman  31:34

Tell me about what it takes for you to get funding for these projects. Like how much of your time is spent on that? How long does it take?


Olu Ajilure  31:44

Yeah, it can be a long slog, I was fortunate when I got to the University of Illinois in Chicago, I got a career development award, which is sort of a starter grant for people interested in biomedical research. And that protected about three quarters of my time to just focus on research, the rest of the time, I could work as a clinician. And after that, the next stage is getting what they call a an oral one, which is sort of the standard five year, you know, funded between like two to $3 million over that five years. And that’s sort of the major grant mechanism that a lot of folks use for their, for their research and to fund their labs. And it took me a long time to get that. I probably spent four years working on getting my first oral one grant, which is way too long. The average age of a, an investigator to get when they get their first oral one is in their mid 40s. Wow. Yeah. And so it can be very difficult. One of the things that helped me improve my grant writing was actually a lot of those failures, right, a lot of the unfunded applications. Because you get feedback on those grants, you get the reviews back. And so from those reviews, I learned what reviewers are looking for what they like what they don’t like. And then I also now serve on grant review committees called study sections for NIH. And I learned a tremendous amount actually being on the other end, reviewing grants. So that improved my own grant writing as well. So I’ve been very successful lately, but it took a long time to get there.


Will Bachman  33:48

One thing I’ve heard is that the whole process of applying for funding, as in, you know, as an academic is it drives people to do an incremental work in their area. But it can some ways discourage things that might be truly breakthroughs. Right? Because you want to be clear. And so if you had the same pot of money available, but it was completely unrestricted, you could do any kind of research you wanted to. Would you change what you’re focused on?


Olu Ajilure  34:28

Actually, no, I think the grants that I have now are working on things that I’m, you know, passionately interested in. So I don’t think I would change it. It’s all about convincing the reviewer, that what you’re doing should be done and can be done. Right? That’s what they focus on is like basically, is it something that’s feasible and are you the person to do it and will it make a difference for our field? All right. In fact, a lot of grants get slammed for being incremental. I remember one of my earlier unfunded applications. That’s what, you know, the reviewer said about my application, they thought, yeah, this is not really moving the needle forward very much. So we’re not interested, right? Reviewers want to see things that are innovative, they want to see things that are cool, but they want to know, you know, can you? Are you the person to do it? Do you have the team to do it? Do you have the resources to do it? And will this really make a difference?


Will Bachman  35:29

Let’s turn to Harvard. One question I’d like to ask everyone is, are there any courses or professors that you had at Harvard, continue to resonate with you?


Olu Ajilure  35:39

Oh, that’s, that’s a great question. And I’m, and I’m going to give kind of an atypical answer, because I took a course it was on developmental neurobiology, taught by Evan Bala ban was an assistant professor in biology. He was doing some really cool work, where he was creating these numeric birds that have like, partly chick, chicken brains and quail brains mixed together. But he had a guest lecturer in one of his, in one of his classes, who was Robert Sapolsky, who became my mentor at Stanford. So that was probably the most impactful lecture I had, because it determined who I would do my PhD with. Because when I got to Stanford,


Will Bachman  36:30

it made that connection for you. Yeah, yeah. That’s a great answer. What? Outside of it? By the way, in the background? I don’t know if listeners have you heard. That’s my, my young niece, who’s maybe a little unhappy right now. She’s out there near the room. That’s podcast Verity for you. No problem. No.





Will Bachman  36:51

That’s right. The outside of outside of class, are there any activities you were involved in? Or people you got to know that? You know, that have continued to be important for you?


Olu Ajilure  37:04

Yeah, I mean, I think some of my most fond memories was running our denser Film Society. And, and, you know, competing, for what films we got to show. And I remember, we were so excited when we got rights to show Terminator two. And I think we sold out the Science Center, we probably made enough money. From that one screening to cover, you know, all the losses that we had showing are our little European art films in the dining hall.


Will Bachman  37:43

Now that, wait a minute, I got this is sort of a world that I did not experience. What would tell me about this competing, show films like there was


Olu Ajilure  37:55

a book right, where all the you know, all the second run films that were coming out, were listed. And we had to with all the other house film societies, we had to basically compete for which films we got to show. And I there was this color based tag system that I can’t remember in detail now. But we were basically like race to tag films that we wanted access to.


Will Bachman  38:20

And was this like, with just just within Harvard? Or was this, you know,


Olu Ajilure  38:24

barber, right. So you’re competing with the other house film societies?


Will Bachman  38:27

I had no idea of this whole world. Okay. Yeah. And you had written where would you race and bring your tags? Was there some Harvard office? I forgot


Olu Ajilure  38:36

where the book was held in some central location? Yeah. Oh, so


Will Bachman  38:40

when the new films came out, you would have to try to have the first person there to pick which ones that you wanted. Exactly. And have to bid on it. Like, you know, we bid


Olu Ajilure  38:50

Yeah. And then I think like you basically it was like a rank system. So that if if a house passed on it, then the house that was sort of second could get it then.


Will Bachman  39:01

Okay. I did not know about this whole thing. I guess I didn’t really have much time when I was in school to watch a lot of movies or, or, you know, I maybe would, like once a year, maybe I don’t know, just now I’m just sort of like just make myself be lame. But that’s how did you were you a film buff? Did you you know, did you pick?


Olu Ajilure  39:20

The big? Yeah, I was a big fan. I would see. I think there was a whole bunch of art films that


Will Bachman  39:26

were at the Brattle. Oh, now the brown right. Yeah. Yeah.


Olu Ajilure  39:29

I think I had like a subs like the subscription or the past to go see all their films. So yeah, I was I was into that.


Will Bachman  39:37

And when did that start? Were you a film buff throughout high school, or is that something that you just got to know people at Harvard morning? College? Wow. Okay. Yeah, continued on. Are you still kind of so many arthouse European kind of? Yeah,


Olu Ajilure  39:51

definitely continued on when I was at UCLA. I was a member of the LA Film Society and so would get like access to premieres and, and their film festival showings and yeah, it was it was a lot of fun.


Will Bachman  40:09

That I mean, when you’re in LA that sounds like the place to be part of the film.


Olu Ajilure  40:13

Yeah, yeah.


Will Bachman  40:14

That is so cool. Well, ulu for folks that wanted to either reconnect with you or just find out more about your research, where would you point them online? We can include Yeah, links or whatever in the show notes there.


Olu Ajilure  40:29

Sure. Probably the best is my Twitter account, which is shrink with a P. So it’s P S, H, R I N. K.


Will Bachman  40:39

All right. Okay. Love it. That will include that. And maybe we’ll include your your link to your faculty bio. KSP. Wanna see? Yeah.


Olu Ajilure  40:49

And then my, my lab website is All right,


Will Bachman  40:55

we got those. Yep. Oh, it has been fantastic speaking with you. listeners. If you go to 92 you can sign up for an email, we’ll let you know about the latest episode. And if you’re so inclined to write the show a five star review on iTunes. It does help people discover the show. Oh, thanks so much for joining. This is a lot of fun. Thanks well.