In every field of human endeavor, there are people who change the game. You know some of their names – Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk. But there are many others who change the world and don’t become celebrities. For example, can you name the person who invented the electric guitar? Or the person who invented traffic lights? You probably can’t, even though both of those innovations have had more impact on the world than anything Elon Musk has created so far.
Here in New Orleans, you are almost certainly going to discover in time that Dr Trivia Frazer falls into this same category of game-changers. In the nexus of science and business, Dr Frazer is known as “The fat-on-a-chip lady.” She’s called that because Dr. Frazer has made a scientific breakthrough that is changing the way medical research is conducted.
Basically, Dr Frazier’s company, Obatala Sciences, is pioneering a technology that grows human fat outside of a human body. This allows new drugs and medications to be tested on human tissue without wasting billions of dollars testing them on mice, only to find out later that the drugs don’t work the same way on humans.
This fat-on-a-chip technology also allows researchers to create human tissue of different types, so that drugs and medications can be tested on a wide demographic of humans from the very outset of research.
It’s hard to over-state what a monumentally big deal this is – both in science and in the business of research and development of medications.
On the other hand, Claire Steiner is not a fan of animal fat. Or milk. Or eggs. Or cheese. Or most non-plant-based foods.
Claire is the founder and owner of a business called Clairly Vegan, a vegan meal-prep service that makes home-cooked vegan meals for delivery or pick up.Claire started the company in the middle of 2020 – which you might remember was the era of the pandemic lockdown. Today the company has a staff of 6 – three chefs and three delivery drivers.
We know that every living being on Earth makes some sort of contribution to our shared existence on this planet. If we had the technology to record it, a true and complete record of life on Earth would include every single action each one of us takes. But we don’t have a way to even process that kind of data collection. And so, to make sense of our world, we write our history based on broad-stroke, big picture descriptions.
Some of these are major headlines that, in the fullness of time, turn out to have been fleeting and insignificant. And then there are the quiet achievements that don’t make headlines at all — victories and triumphs that go unheralded, but which turn out to be life-changing for the people they touch.
Trivia Frazier and Claire Steiner are modestly and without any desire for special recognition, making a huge difference in the lives of many people. Trivia’s contribution to human health is on a potentially worldwide scale. Claire’s contribution is to the health and wellness of one person at a time.
This conversation was recorded over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the Nola Brewing Taproom. Photos by Jill Lafleur. Check out more recent conversation about New Orleans vegan options here.