Orian Kendall Price

Orian playing his guitar in front of Whitney Hall, CSU Chico, ca 1999-2000.

There are people in your life that will change you, sometimes in ways that you never thought possible. Not teachers, per se, but people you encounter that are capable of opening up your mind to the possibilities in life, and in turn it changes your whole life view. One influential character in my own life was Orian Price.

I received news that Orian passed away in October of 2016, due to medical complications from a wing-suit accident (or something along those lines). Orian was the guy that we joked “wouldn’t make it past 40”, and unfortunately this half-baked prophecy came true. Predicting this tragedy years earlier didn’t make it any less heartbreaking when I heard the news.

On our VW adventure, somewhere between Chico and Newcastle.

I met Orian in 1999 in the dorms at Chico State. We were both on the third floor, and he lived two doors down the hall. He was a little odd, and it was clear very early that he did not play by the same rules as everyone else. He was smart, but combative. He was funny, but liked to make you feel uncomfortable. He was adventurous, but was compelled to constantly test his limits. He was an inspiration, but also a wild-card.

Late night boxing in the parking lot of Gateway Apartments, ca 2000-2001.

The two-headed nature of Orian was exciting, and he definitely kept you on your toes. It was an adventure just being friends with the guy. Just thinking that I earned his respect and met his high bar for friendship still brings a smile to my face.

The summer of 2001, a terrible year for hair. Joe was shipping out to the Army, I had my long hair, and Orian was going through a Brylcreem or straightener phase. Photo taken in Orian/Joe/Dave/Morgan’s apartment in Gateway.

It had been years since my last encounter with Orian, but his influence on my life is unmistakable. I think of him when I see Vans shoes or a Sector9 longboard, when I hear Ozma, see a VW bus, when I tear apart a computer, or whenever I think about my years at Chico. Not every day, but definitely every week.

Some of my best memories of Orian:

  • Driving his VW bus home from the dorms in 2000, so we could replace his oil cooler in my parent’s driveway before he drove down to Orange County.
  • Going shopping for groceries or things, and we would yell “Mom” to regroup with the other guys.
  • Going with him to my first punk concert, The Vandals, at the rose garden at Chico. Then seeing Ozma open for Weezer at the Crest in Sacramento with him.
  • Orian teaching me how to play Weezer on my guitar.
  • Orian gargling tequilla out of a coffee mug in my kitchen in the Gateway Apartments.
  • Orian pointing out that my salad was not healthy due to the dressing I put on it. So I followed his lead and stopped putting dressing on my salads. Hell, I still prefer a dry salad because of him.
  • Orian bringing a 3L plastic bottle of some “monkey tequilla” that he bought in Mexico, and then slipping some into a cowboy’s beer bong when I lived in Davis.
  • Orian bought a carton of Marlboro Red “Cowboy Killer’s” and taught himself to smoke, just so he could feel addiction.
  • Orian would yell at smokers, “Cancer cures smoking”.
  • I was up late with Orian and a couple of friends, and we decided it was a great idea to see the sunrise on the top of Mount Lassen. We pulled it off, and I still vividly remember the picturesque landscape (and the bitter cold!).
  • Abalone diving with Orian in Sonoma County, then shenanigans with the guts and a certain neighbor’s BBQ.
  • The days when Orian would just take off on his KLR650, and come back late at night after spending the day in the Black Desert of Nevada. No cell phone service, didn’t tell anyone. Just went.
  • Skateboarding down Nord Avenue, drunk, in the middle of the night.
  • Orian answered my phone when an ex-girlfriend of mine was calling to pester me, and Orian said to her, “You make my ears hurt.”
  • My sister thought Orian and I were heathens for not attending church, so she coordinated her pastor to talk with us. He bought us pizza, and the three of us debated the existence of god over a pepperoni pizza in the old Normal Street Woodstock’s. Needless to say, none of our minds were not changed that night.
  • Making prank calls with the digital voice assistant in the beta version of Windows 2000 from Joe’s dad.

Details about his accident were scant, but there was an outpouring from his local hang gliding community on  the Sylmar Hang Glider Association forum.  His passing was over a year ago, but I still feel compelled to write up something and try to share my memories of him. His memory is still very much alive in me, and I am certain that he influenced many others in his adventures through life.

I wish that I could live my life with half as much passion and disregard for the rules as Orian did.  He lived outside of the box, and I am grateful to have experienced his perspective and tenaciousness in my most formative years. For this, I will miss him greatly. Thanks for the memories Orian.


I need to dig through my old box of prints, but these are a few of the pictures I posted to Facebook after learning of his passing.

The VW adventure, summer 2000. The empty mini-keg of Beck’s prominently displayed in on the dash.
Orian and Morgen in Wagner’s apartment, Davis CA, Picnic Day 2003. The date of the Monkey Tequilla incident.
Moving out of the dorms, Summer 2000.
Orian standing on his bus. Probably just because. ca 2000-2001, Gateway Apartments.

Crohn’s and Colitis

I recently went to an event hosted by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (CCF)’s Northern California chapter. The event was an educational symposium for patients and families with IBD, and I was impressed with the CCF organization as well as the amazing community of patients and caregivers. I want to thank Kayla Kraich for all of her hard work organizing such a nice and welcoming event.

I went to the CCF event to learn more about IBD, and specifically biologic treatments for IBD, their benefits, as well as their limitations. Our startup is developing a new small-molecule treatment of IBD, so I would like to stay on top of the standard of care and see what else is going on in the field.

I grabbed a cup of coffee, sat down, and waited for the talks to start. The people sitting around me all looked like happy and healthy adults leading vibrant lives. The guy in front of me looked about my age, well dressed, clean-cut, and maybe a touch sciencey. I thought, hey, maybe he is another researcher? The first talk focused on biologics for IBD, when they are indicated, pros and cons, etc. At the end of the talk the MD invited up a panel of patients to talk about their experience with biologics. The man in front of me stood up and joined the patient panel. When he shared his story of battling IBD since he was 15, it was eye-opening. I have heard that IBD is one of the most disruptive diseases that can be largely hidden from the outside world.

At the first break, the woman sitting next to me introduced herself. Right after her name, she launched into her history with ulcerative colitis, her multiple surgeries, and how she ultimately tamed her disease with a balance of diet and medications. At the end of her quick life story, she then said, “what about you Brandon?”

I have to admit that I felt like a poser. I don’t have IBD. I haven’t had multiple surgeries. I haven’t seen numerous doctors, received infusions of antibodies, worried about infections from a suppressed immune system. I haven’t struggled to knock down GI flares with steroids, and then dealing with their crazy side effects. Nor have I endured the never-ending visits to the bathroom (a metric for ulcerative colitis activity is the number of daily bowel movements, with the highest tier being anything over 10 times a day).

I told her that I’m just a researcher, but we are working on IBD and have a new drug that we are rapidly advancing to the clinic. She put me at ease with her genuine appreciation for my research, and although I felt insignificant and like I didn’t belong, she welcomed me to the event and wished me the best of luck in our work.

At this point, I may have drank a couple cups of coffee trying to remain alert and sharp during the morning talks, so I made my first trip to the men’s room.

What I encountered in the men’s room was subtle at first, but after recounting the experience and putting it into context with the diseases of the colon, it started to make sense. On my first trip to the men’s room I noticed a number of people coming and going, but the notable interaction was with someone who introduced himself while walking from the urinal to the sinks. The man was very extroverted, and the tone and content of the conversation could have taken place in any setting. Only this time, it was in the men’s room. And that level of forward communication in the men’s room seemed a little odd to me.

Back to the talks, the next speaker gave a nice overview of IBD (the MD and I overlapped as undergrads at UC Davis- go Ags!). After this second talk, my bladder was losing the battle to the coffee and water I was drinking, so I made my second trip to the men’s room. This trip, there was another very genuine introduction and discussion that started in the bathroom. I chatted, and eventually made my way back to the conference room, and didn’t think much of it.

After the talks I headed home, and during the drive I reflected on the great talks and on my interactions with the amazing members of the CCF community. And of course those very genuine interactions that I had in the men’s room…

And then it hit me.

For a patient population that uses the restroom so much, the CCF community is very, very comfortable in the bathroom. Especially at an event filled with fellow patients, doctors, and caregivers, and when it is hard to tell who has what disease, everyone wearing a CCF nametag must seem like an ally. I laughed out loud when I put it together. And then the realization actually felt heavy on my face and my chest. There was a lifelong struggle that was underneath the interactions with the people in the bathroom. I have now attended two CCF events, at which the first item of business was telling everyone the location of the bathrooms. My gastrointestinal health is something I have always taken for granted, but I am now looking at it with a new perspective.

The more that I learn about Crohn’s and Colitis, it just kills me to think of what IBD sufferers are going through. As we are so preoccupied with the pharmacology and interactions of our drug compounds in lab, we don’t often think about of these complications that IBD patients suffer daily. I am extremely grateful for how welcoming and open the CCF community has been with me. It leaves me feeling hungry for our upcoming clinical trials, and it reaffirms that IBD is a worthy cause that I am grateful to be working on.