Safi Bahcall

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Safi Bahcall
Born1968 (age 51–52)
Alma materHarvard, Stanford, U.C. Berkeley
OccupationPhysicist, Business Executive, Author
AwardsPhi Beta Kappa, NSF Fellowship, National Merit Scholarship, Miller Research Fellowship, E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year

Safi R. Bahcall (born 1968) is an American physicist, technologist, business executive, and author.

Early life and academic research[edit]

Safi Bahcall was raised in Princeton, New Jersey, the son of the physicist John Bahcall and astrophysicist Neta Bahcall. From age 13 through 16 he enrolled in physics and mathematics classes at Princeton University. Bahcall received his B.A. from Harvard University in 1988 in theoretical physics, where he graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He received a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University in 1995, where he worked with physicist Leonard Susskind and Nobel laureate Robert Laughlin. He was supported by academic awards including a National Science Foundation Fellowship, a John Harvard Scholarship, and a National Merit Scholarship. In 1995, he was awarded a Miller Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at U.C. Berkeley to continue his research in condensed matter theory.

His published work focused on superconductivity, random matrix theory, the quantum hall effect, and particle astrophysics.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Business executive[edit]

In 1998, Bahcall joined McKinsey & Company, where he advised investment banks and pharmaceutical companies on strategy, technology, and operations. In 2001, he left McKinsey & Company and co-founded, with Dr. Lan Bo Chen of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Boston-based biotech company Synta Pharmaceuticals, which specialized in new drugs to treat cancer and chronic inflammatory diseases. Bahcall led its 2007 IPO on Nasdaq and served as Synta’s President & CEO for 13 years. In 2016, Synta Pharmaceuticals merged with Madrigal Pharmaceuticals.[7]

In 2008, Bahcall was named Ernst & Young New England Biotechnology/Pharmaceutical Entrepreneur of the Year,[8] In 2010, he and his work were featured in a Malcolm Gladwell profile in The New Yorker magazine.[9] He was interviewed by Malcolm Gladwell for the 2012 New Yorker festival, discussing the role of serendipity in science.[10] In 2011, he worked with President Obama's council of science advisors (PCAST) on the future of US science and technology research.[11]

Bahcall has presented at approximately 130 banking conferences, investor events, and medical meetings around the world, as well as academic institutions including Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, Princeton University, UC Berkeley, California Institute of Technology, Cornell University, Bell Labs, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, Rockefeller Center, and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.


Bahcall’s book Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries was released by St. Martin’s Press in the Spring of 2019.[12] It has been cited in Washington Post's 10 Leadership Books to Watch For in 2019, Inc's 10 Books You Need to Read in 2019, Business Insider's 14 Books Everyone Will Be Reading in 2019, and Adam Grant's New Leadership Books to Look For in 2019. In February 2019, Bahcall published a Wall Street Journal op-ed in response to congressional hearings on the role of federal research in scientific innovation.[13]


  1. ^ S. R. Bahcall, “Random Matrix Model for Superconductors in a Magnetic Field”, Physical Review Letters 77, 5276 (1996).
  2. ^ S. R. Bahcall, “Boundary Effects and the Order Parameter Symmetry of High-Tc Superconductors”, Physical Review Letters 76, 3634 (1996).
  3. ^ S. R. Bahcall, “Microscopic Description of the Vortex State Near the Upper Critical Field”,  Physical Review Letters 75, 1376 (1995).
  4. ^ S. R. Bahcall, L. Susskind, “Fluid Dynamics, Chern-Simons Theory, and the Quantum Hall Effect”, International Journal of Modern Physics B 5, 2735 (1991).
  5. ^ S. R. Bahcall, A. Gould, “Can Cosmic Neutrinos Be Detected by Bremsstrahlung From a Metal?”, Physical Review D 43, 940 (1991).
  6. ^ S. R. Bahcall, B. W. Lynn, S. B. Selipsky, “New Models for Neutron Stars”, Astrophysical Journal, 362,  251 (1990).
  7. ^ "Synta and Madrigal Announce Merger Agreement to Create Leading Cardiovascular-Metabolic Diseases and NASH Company".
  8. ^ "Synta Pharmaceuticals Corp.'s CEO Safi Bahcall Named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year(R) 2008 Award Winner in New England | Madrigal Pharmaceuticals, Inc". Madrigal Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  9. ^ "The Treatment". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  10. ^ The New Yorker (2014-07-22), Dr. Safi Bahcall & Malcolm Gladwell on great scientific discoveries - The New Yorker Live, retrieved 2018-08-27
  11. ^ "Transformation and Opportunity: The Future of the U.S. Research Enterprise" (PDF).
  12. ^ "Loonshots | Safi Bahcall | Macmillan". US Macmillan. Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  13. ^ "If It Innovates, Tax It, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Suggests".