Howard Krein is an informal adviser to the Democratic nominee and part of a $1 million coronavirus-focused investment effort.
At the same time that Joe Biden’s son-in-law, Howard Krein, has been advising Biden’s campaign on its coronavirus response, Krein’s venture capital business has been running a special initiative to invest in health care startups that offer solutions to the pandemic.
In March, as Covid-19 began spreading in the United States, the investment firm, StartUp Health, unveiled a new coronavirus initiative soliciting pitches from entrepreneurs with products that addressed the outbreak.
The next month, reports in Bloomberg and the New York Times listed Krein among those participating in daily calls to brief Biden on health policy during the pandemic, while StartUp Health announced its intention to invest $1 million across 10 startups with coronavirus applications within 30 days.
“StartUp Health is putting the full support of its platform and network behind building a post-Covid world that uses technology and entrepreneurial ingenuity to improve health outcomes,” the firm said at the time.
Krein simultaneously advising the campaign and venturing into Covid investing could pose conflict-of-interest concerns for a Biden administration or simply create the awkward appearance of Krein profiting off his father-in-law’s policies. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the federal government has directed tens of billions of dollars in coronavirus medical spending in areas like testing and vaccine research to private firms. It is poised to spend billions more next year and possibly beyond.
The potential conflicts are not limited to the coronavirus for Krein, 53, a Philadelphia-based head-and-neck surgeon who got into venture investing not long after he began dating Biden’s daughter, Ashley, in 2010.
Since StartUp Health’s 2011 launch, when Krein came on as its chief medical officer, it has invested in more than 300 health care businesses, according to its website, which prominently features the term “moonshot” to describe its investment goals — language that echoes that of Joe Biden’s own signature Cancer Moonshot initiative. In its early years, the firm enjoyed close ties to the Obama administration and described Krein as a White House adviser.