Careers in Discovery
By Tom Froggatt
Careers in Discovery Feb 10, 2021
Jonathan Steckbeck, Peptilogics
"Drug discovery is one of the biggest miracles we can accomplish. You're taking something that didn't exist before, then putting it into the most complex system we know of, hoping that it does one specific thing and not a bunch of other bad things. The fact that it ever works is a miracle."
Jonathan Steckbeck is the CEO of Peptilogics, a Biotech company combining peptide biology and machine learning to recreate the future of peptide biologics.
Jonathan talked us through his career so far, how business and science are fundamentally related, why every decision is made on a continuum, and the challenge of letting go of control as a CEO.
Steve Trim, Venomtech
"Get experience, talk to people who are doing it, go to networking sessions and interact with business owners - we've all got a story to tell and most are happy to share advice."
Steve Trim is the founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Venomtech, a truly unique company that helps Biotech researchers to work with venom-based assays.
Steve talked to us on Careers in Discovery about his journey building a remarkable company, how he learned to be an entrepreneur and business leader and his experience contributing to the Human Genome Project.
Tomas Dias, Mursla
"Embrace being uncomfortable. It's easy to say, I know, but go out there and don't be afraid. It will be challenging, it will make you anxious but if you don't try, [what you want] won't happen."
Tomas Dias is the Chief Technology Officer at Mursla, a Biotech company using extracellular vesicles to develop next-generation liquid biopsy tests in service of their mission to offer life-saving clinical insights to patients and their medical teams.
Tomas talked to us about his path through his career so far, why reliability is underrated and the importance of hard work, as well as how a tennis injury made a clear career choice for him.
Samantha Dale Strasser, Pepper Bio
"As a PhD, you're very focused on the question and the process of how you get things done. Our focus [as a Biotech company] is on what impact we want to have, where we're going and the key questions that our partners are trying to answer."
Samantha Dale Strasser is the Chief Scientific Officer of Pepper Bio, the world's first transomic analysis company.
Samantha joined us in a fascinating discussion about her career to date and her experiences of building Pepper, developing cures with confidence and the differences between working in academic research and a startup Biotech.
Nara Daubeney, Phaim
"It comes down to [the question], 'Why are you here?'. We looked at this project and thought, if we do this and it works, then we have a therapy that could prevent people from progressing down the inevitable slide into insulin dependence, with all the long term impacts that implies. And that would be a really worthwhile course to take."
Nara Daubeney is the COO of Phaim, a Biotech company using antigenic immune modulation to treat diabetes and other conditions.
Nara joined us to talk about her transition from a successful medical career into the world of start-up Biotech, taking the immune system back to school and why the "fire in your belly" should be your guide.
"Don't think that just because you've done a Biology or Chemistry degree, this is your path forever....I didn't become an entrepreneur until the age of 42. Your [career] path isn't fixed."
Richard Weaver is a consultant to Biotech companies on their drug development programmes, specialising in DMPK. Before becoming a consultant, Rich was the founder of XenoGesis, a CRO he successfully sold to Sygnature Discovery in 2020.
Rich talked to us about his career as a scientist and an entrepreneur, his formula for building a CRO and the advantages of organic growth.
Nuno Madeira do Ó, Reflection Therapeutics
"Anybody can be a pair of hands, follow a protocol and do what they're told. If you want more than that, if you want to be a pair of hands with a brain, then you have to think differently."
Nuno Madeira do Ó is the CEO of Reflection Therapeutics, a Biotech company harnessing the potential of Tregs to treat inflammatory diseases.
Nuno shared the story of his career so far, and among other things we discussed pivoting a Biotech into a new disease area, transitioning from research into commercial roles and how a children's cartoon inspired a career in Life Sciences.
Leigh Brody, AlbionVC
"We are in such an exciting time in Life Sciences...if you have an idea, go for it, because there's a lot of VC money out there...and the appetite to invest early has improved, so it's the right time to speak to investors about potential ideas."
Leigh Brody is an entrepreneur, executive and now venture investor at AlbionVC, where she oversees the UCL Technology Fund.
Leigh joined us to talk about her career, the difference between a good idea and an investable one and why you must ALWAYS patent your ideas.
Samuel Woodhouse, CoSyne Therapeutics
"Join a young company. If you're employee number 10, you're 10% of the business as opposed to 1% in a 100 person company. You will learn way more just by osmosis....if you're curious and ask questions."
Samuel Woodhouse is the VP of Operations at CoSyne Therapeutics, a technology-driven drug discovery company on a mission to reinvent Pharma from the ground up.
Samuel joined us to talk about his career in genomics and start up Biotechs, why academia wasn't for him and why developing people is much more powerful than giving them a payrise.
Roland Burli, Cerevance
"In the first few years [of your career], what's really important is to establish yourself. You learn a certain skillset in academia...the next thing is to really apply that in the context of a drug discovery project....if you develop a proven track record as a good scientist, good things will happen."
Roland Burli is the Vice President of Drug Discovery at Cerevance, where he and his team are using a unique platform to develop new treatments for brain diseases.
Roland joined us to discuss his varied career to date, from landing in LA with just a backpack to working for some of the industry's biggest names.
Sree Vadlamudi, Iktos
"[If you receive negative feedback] analyse it in a constructive way, then take away the good points that will help you to move forward. Outside of that, just move on."
Sree Vadlamudi is the Vice President of Business Development for the EU and Rest of World at Iktos, a company using AI to expedite drug discovery.
We talked to Sree about his career move from research into BD and how he approaches prospecting, outreach and relationship building in Biotech.
Valentino Parravicini, Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies
"Scientists work on things they can't see and that probably will never work - but they keep going. Resilience is so important in this career."
Valentino Parravicini is the Chief Scientific Officer of Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies, a company harnessing the power of the endocannabinoid system to treat severe, chronic pain.
Valentino joined us to talk about his career in academia, Pharma and Biotech, the 5,000 year history of cannabinoids as medicines, and why EVERY piece of information is important in science.
Yaniv Erlich, Eleven Therapeutics
"Academic freedom is a little like french fries - they're not really French, and it's not really freedom."
Yaniv Erlich is the CEO of Eleven Therapeutics, a global Biotech startup turning RNA drug development into a programmable process.
Yaniv talked to us about his journey from academia to the military and into Biotech, meeting Bill Gates and the importance of maintaining your optimism.
Marcelo Bravo, OxVax
"I think of raising money as making a sale...instead of selling a house, I'm selling you my dream. First, you have to target the people you will sell to, then you create awareness and establish rapport, without selling....it's an ongoing process that can take years."
Marcelo Bravo is the CEO of OxVax, a Biotech company building a next generation dendritic cell cancer vaccine platform to take a new approach to some of the biggest challenges in oncology.
Marcelo joined us to discuss his journey from Chemical Engineer to Biotech CEO, how the pandemic changed fundraising and the power of asking questions with an untrained eye.
Farid Khan, PharmaKure
"Not everything is driven by innovation. It's actually timing that proves to be more important than anything else."
Farid Khan is the CEO and founder of PharmaKure, a Biotech company taking a novel approach to treating complex neurological diseases.
Farid talked us through his fascinating entrepreneurial career, along with the opportunity presented by repurposing drugs and the learning curve involved in starting and building a Biotech business.
Clare Jones, Talisman Therapeutics
"I've always learned the most when things were the most difficult, and I try to remind myself of that when I'm in the middle of something that feels really challenging. They're the most satisfying situations when you solve them."
Clare Jones is the Chief Scientific Officer of Talisman Therapeutics, a Biotech company committed to revolutionising the discovery of disease-modifying treatments for neurodegenerative diseases using stem cell technologies.
Clare talked with us about her career in Biotech, taking jobs where you both bring something and learn something, and the importance of clear, ongoing communication.
Jonny Finlay, LockBody Therapeutics
"If you can't prioritise, rationalise and simplify, then the low-hanging fruit is probably all you're going to get to...the only way to understand your way [to the difficult things] is by removing as much noise from the system as possible."
Jonny Finlay is the CEO and founder of LockBody Therapeutics, a Centessa company, where he and his team are developing a new kind of antibody to fight cancer.
Jonny talked to us about his career, the principle of radical simplicity and the relative advantages of big Pharma and startup Biotech.
Ali Tavassoli, Curve Therapeutics
"It's so refreshing to have the science come first. Universities and their funding models have changed over the past ten years - there's a lot more admin and red tape...science almost takes a bit of a back seat. Ideas that are high risk don't always get backed, [but in Biotech] things get done."
Ali Tavassoli is the Chief Scientific Officer at Curve Therapeutics, a company developing a revolutionary intracellular screening platform to power drug discovery for challenging targets.
Ali joined us to talk about his career, balancing academic work with building a Biotech company, resisting the pressure to publish when tackling major scientific challenges, and why following the science is crucial in building your life's work.
Darren Pitt, VisusNano
Darren Pitt is the Chief Scientific Officer of VisusNano, a company developing a novel drug-device combinationto treat issues surrounding cataract surgery, one of the most widely performed procedures in the world.
We talked to Darren about what these problems are and what he's learned in a varied career so far.
Lisa Patel, Istesso
"It's not success that drives the cohesion of a team, it's facing a challenge together and having a shared commitment to solving that challenge that really builds the relationships. Once you see how a person faces difficulty you can understand them much better - that understanding builds trust and a sense that you're in it together. That then drives success."
Lisa Patel is the CEO of Istesso, a company striding into the unknown frontiers of immunometabolism to discovery new treatments for autoimmune conditions.
Lisa joined us to talk about her career so far, what it's really like moving from big Pharma into a startup, and the dynamics of high-performance teams.
Bakul Gupta, ImmTune Therapies
"I'm still learning....it's a steep learning curve, especially since my training is all in science. When you become a CEO, it's not just about the science or good data, but about selling your vision, being inspirational and telling the story of why you're doing what you're doing."
Bakul Gupta is the CEO of ImmTune Therapies, a Biotech company pioneering in vivo generation of cell and gene therapies.
Bakul joined us to talk about her career to date, tackling the affordability problem of advanced medicines, the challenges of business development during a pandemic and why who you sit next to might just change the course of your career.
Pedro Correia de Sampaio, Neobe Therapeutics
"The pandemic hit and I found myself stuck back in my childhood room in Lisbon, and I thought, why not [start a company]? Then I realised that it had legs, I was really enjoying it and I could see it being successful, so I fully immersed myself in it."
Pedro Correia de Sampaio is the CEO of Neobe Therapeutics, a company engineering biologics to treat immunologically cold tumours.
Pedro talked to us about his work, his time working in one of the world's leading cancer centres, why you shouldn't start fundraising too early and not being afraid of sharing your ideas with the world.
Ian Pike, Proteome Sciences
"It's one thing having an idea, but you've got to be able to make it and you've got to be able to sell it."
Just one extract from a wealth of sound advice offered by Ian Pike, Chief Scientific Officer at Proteome Sciences, on the Careers in Discovery podcast.
Ian also talked to us about how CROs have become a crucial part of drug discovery, the importance of serendipity, his one career regret and being willing to pivot in your vision for your working life.
James Lapworth, NanoSyrinx
"It's important to have a plan [for your career], it's important to know where you want to be, but it's almost more important to be able to break from that when something interesting comes along....focus on what you'll learn from each opportunity and how that takes you closer to where you want to go."
As Chief Business Officer at NanoSyrinx, James Lapworth plays a key role in developing a truly novel solution to the "delivery problem" faced by Biotech research around the world.
James joined us to talk about how he built a career in the commercial side of drug R&D, the advantages of nanosyringes and the role of a Chief Business Officer in a start up Biotech.
Yulia Lampi, coding.bio
"If you find that you're dissatisfied, pivot. If the place you're at isn't meeting your expectations, perseverance isn't going to help you."
Yulia Lampi is the Chief Scientific Officer of coding.bio, a company born in the pandemic who are using AI to advance cell therapies for cancer.
Yulia joined us to talk about cellular machines and why they could hold the key to targeting solid tumours, building a company around her life (rather than the other way round) and acheiving balance as a scientist.
Victoria Marsh Durban, Cellesce
"You don't need to know everything about a job to be able to do it....imposter syndrome is a massive issue. You may not know every answer, but you're not expected to, and nobody does."
Victoria Marsh Durban is the CEO of Cellesce, a Cardiff-based Biotech championing the industrialisation of organoids.
Vicky talked to us about her journey from academic researcher to CEO, learning to run a business without any formal training and how going on maternity leave propelled her into a career in industry.
Rabia Khan, Ladder Therapeutics
"There's not a single experience that you can have working for someone else that will teach you how to build a company. People will say this to you, but you really have to internalise it and when you're ready, you will go do it."
Returning to Careers in Discovery is Rabia Khan, now CEO of Ladder Therapeutics, a Biotech company focused on the novel problem of mapping the druggable transcriptome.
Rabia caught us up on the last two years, sharing what she's learned about becoming a Biotech CEO, why you're never quite "ready" to start a business and the importance of building the company you want to work for.
Joanna Holbrook, Cambridge Epigenetix
"I think of genetics as your inherited risk of disease, and epigenetics as codifying your environmental risk. We know they work together and that they determine who will respond to which treatment, along with how well treatments are likely to work."
Joanna Holbrook is the Chief Scientific Officer at Cambridge Epigenetix, a company pushing the boundaries of DNA sequencing to enable precision medicine.
Jo joined us to talk about her international career, how 6 letter sequencing is creating new scientific frontiers, the secret of communicating with non-scientists and why good science is necessary, but not sufficient.
Claire Thompson, Agility Life Sciences
"Meet people who do the role you're interested in, and ask them what they hate about their job - you'll find out a lot! Ask them what they like too, and you'll find it really insightful."
Claire Thompson is the CEO of Agility Life Sciences, an award-winning formulation development CDMO on a significant growth curve.
Claire talked to us about her key learns from her career so far, including the importance of coaching, not "chasing every ball" and why what other people think of you is none of your business.
Ian Waddell, Cumulus Oncology
"If you're using rational persuasion - as most scientists do by default - and it's not working, and you feel like you're banging your head against a brick wall, it's not the brick wall that's stupid....it's not so much the influencing skills themselves that are important, because they can be learned, but understanding that it's up to you to change your approach when needed."
Ian Waddell is the Chief Scientific Officer of Cumulus Oncology, Europe's first oncology drug development accelerator.
A prominent figure in drug discovery, Ian joined us to discuss his career, the real advantages and challenges of working in a CRO and why sometimes, even if you're happy, moving on is the right thing to do.
Simon Ward, Medicines Discovery Institute @ Cardiff University
"I would definitely encourage people to move from academia to industry, and vice versa. There are so many opportunities that involve interfacing between the two....they are different environments, clearly, each with pros and cons, but the perceived risk of not being able to go back just isn't there anymore."
Simon Ward has taken a varied route through his career in drug discovery and translational research, holding roles in academia, start-up Biotech and big Pharma.
Now Director of the Medicines Discovery Institute at Cardiff University, Simon joined us to talk about the research landscape in Wales, transitioning to leadership as a scientist, why you should prioritise managing your own career, and much more.
Deborah O'Neil, Novabiotics
"Senior researchers have more entrepreneurial skills than they give themselves credit for. You've done something new and different, managed budgets and teams....all of those skills are transferrable."
Deborah O'Neil is the CEO of Novabiotics, a company leading the charge to harness innate immunity to treat infectious diseases.
Deborah joined us to talk about her key learns from over 18 years of building and running a successful Biotech company.
Sheelagh Frame, Ubiquigent
"You should always think, how will this knowledge take me to the next step? If it's not going to make a tangible difference, ask if it's worth doing or if you're better off focusing on something more useful and valuable to the end goal?"
Sheelagh Frame is the Chief Scientific Officer at Ubiquigent, a company at the cutting edge of protein degradation drug discovery.
Sheelagh joined us on Careers in Discovery to talk about DUB modulation, Dundee as a Biotech hub and why seeking out diverse input is crucial in research.
Dmitry Zamoryakhin, Midatech Pharma
"One of the most important things when you're starting your career is to make a decision there and then about whether you like what you're doing or not, and avoid forcing yourself into something that you'll later regret."
Dmitry Zamoryakhin is the Chief Scientific Officer at Midatech Pharma, a Cardiff-based Biotech company using nanotechnology to solve some of the biggest challenges in drug delivery.
Dmitry spent some time talking to us about his career, moving from a major global Pharma to a much smaller company and the potential impact of gold nanoparticles.
Sam Barker, Somaserve
"For me, the turning point was thinking of networking as part of my job, and realising that people wouldn't look down on me for talking to them and finding out what they're doing. It's their job to do the same thing."
Sam Barker is the VP of Business Development at Somaserve, a drug delivery company developing a transformative nanoparticle platform to tackle the problems caused by biological barriers.
Sam joined us to discuss his career to date, what Business Development means in a Biotech startup and transitioning from a research position into a commercial role.
Charlotte Casebourne, Theolytics
"Don't worry too much about knowing everything. Coming through education, we're rewarded for being the person that knows the most, being the smartest person in the room, but in an industry as complex as Biotech, you're never going to know everything that you need to. Surrounding yourself with the best people that you can and learning from them so that you can make the best decisions possible is much more important."
Charlotte Casebourne is the CEO of Theolytics, a Biotech company harnessing oncolytic viruses to treat cancer.
Charlotte joined us to discuss her journey so far, solving the problem of in vivo translation, why it's OK not to know what you want to do with your career and the importance of finding your rhythm.
Steve Allin, Charnwood Molecular
"Being a Chief Executive is like being a conductor of a high-performing orchestra. My job is to employ people who are the best in their field and then give them the resources and freedom to develop & grow."
Steve Allin is the CEO of Charnwood Molecular, a rapidly growing drug discovery CRO with a fascinating history.
Steve joined us to talk about taking private equity investment into an established business, stepping from a successful academic career into running the business full time and the importance of building a culture based on input and development.
Stephen Ward, Cell & Gene Therapy Catapult
"Chance, serendipity...these things play a part in career development, however if you're not interested in what you do you may become very successful, but I'd challenge that you won't be as content as you'd like to be."
Stephen Ward is the Chief Manufacturing Officer at the Cell & Gene Therapy Catapult, part of a unique network of organisations set up to promote and support the Life Sciences industry in the UK.
Stephen talked with us about his career, the booming Cell & Gene Therapy sector in this country and why manufacturing is a great career option for scientists.
Martin Bittner, Arctoris
"Right now in drug discovery, we talk about failure rates of 95%, and that situation's not sustainable for two reasons. One is that a lot of the easy targets have already been worked on, which means we need to think more creatively about drug discovery. At the same time, we're moving very rapidly towards precision medicine, which means we need to discover more drugs. We must redesign the process."
Martin Bittner is the CEO and co-founder of Arctoris, where he and his team have developed the world's first fully automated drug discovery platform.
Martin talked to us about the origins of the company, how robotics and automation encourage scientific reproducibility, and where he found his mentors.
"One of the things that people don't do enough, especially in Biotech, is try to think of the market problem. Rather than going from your bit of technology and trying to fit that into the market, to get explosive growth we need to flip that on its head and think about the market first."
Nirmesh Patel was one of the original founders of Cambridge Cancer Genomics and has recently transitioned into VC with The Venture Collective, while playing a key role in the Cancer Tech Accelerator.
Nirmesh joined us to talk about his journey so far, crossing over into VC, the importance of activation energy and his learns from startup success.
David Bunton, Reprocell
"There's a difference between having an invention, and innovation. You might have the best technology in the world, but someone's got to buy it."
David Bunton is one of the founders of Biopta, now known as Reprocell Europe, a leader in stem cell technology for drug discovery.
David talked to us about his career to date, the latest developments in stem cells, the importance of teaching to his research career and why there's no substitute for getting out and speaking to customers.
Pete Joyce, Grey Wolf Therapeutics
"You spend 95% of your time in R&D dealing with things not working or your idea not being correct. It's critical to be prepared and plan ahead for both success and failure."
Pete Joyce is the CEO of Grey Wolf Therapeutics, an immuno-oncology company taking a novel, tumour-targeting approach to treating cancer.
Pete joined us on Careers in Discovery to talk about his career, the virtual Biotech model, the importance of values and culture and how a stint in Regulatory Affairs influenced his perspective on his research.
Dan Jamieson, Biorelate
"The biggest problem everybody has when starting a company is imposter syndrome, especially for PhD students...there isn't much entrepreneurship in that culture, particularly in the UK, and it's hard to break that mould."
With Biorelate, Dan Jamieson is on a mission to curate truths in drug discovery using AI.
We talked to Dan about his journey with the company, the state of play in AI in drug discovery and the novel scientific insights hiding in plain sight.
Hakim Yadi, Closed Loop Medicine
"My own personal bugbear is that we still refer to digital health. I don't call it digital banking, I didn't watch a digital movie last night - it would be absurd to say that. By having the word 'digital' in front of 'health', we cause a problem for ourselves because we automatically make it something new and different. We should just be talking about healthcare."
As CEO of Closed Loop Medicine, Hakim Yadi is combining software, hardware, drugs and diagnostics to create holistic healthcare pathways.
He told us about his work, as well as how the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the acceptance of digitalisation in healthcare, his experience of moving from research into management consulting and the power of saying "yes".
Suzy Dilly, ValiRx
"If you're going to do something, you have to actually do it. I'm very much a believer in putting 100% into whatever you're trying to do - if you've made a decision, stick to it and if it turns out not to be right, it's an interesting learning experience."
Suzy Dilly is the CEO of ValiRx, a company helping academics to build commercial enterprises around their research.
Having been on that journey herself, Suzy shared her experiences with us, along with her thoughts on bridging the industry - academia gap, the benefits of remote working and the value of staying with your research.
Gergely Toth, Cantabio Pharmaceuticals
"Think about what you want to do, what you're driven by and what your passion is, because whatever you're going to do for a job, you'll be doing it for eight hours a day at least - it might as well be something that you really care about. It's amazing how many people don't think about this early in their career."
Gergely Toth is a scientist, computational drug designer, CEO and founder, who currently runs Cantabio Pharmaceuticals, a company trying to solve the complex problems of neurodegenerative diseases and diabetes.
Gergely spoke with us on Careers in Discovery about his journey through the international Biotech sector, the excitement of the "golden age" of startups in Silicon Valley, the importance of mentorship in building your career and a brand new model of funding for drug research.
Neil Weir, Sitryx
"What's the question you're trying to answer? Keep a focus on that....make it the first point on every slide. If you lose sight of it, then one experiment leads to another and before you know it, you've lost contact with what it was you were trying to establish, develop or improve."
Neil Weir has led a distinguished career in drug discovery, and now, as CEO of Sitryx, is leading the charge into the world of immunometabolism - an area of huge therapeutic potential.
Neil joined us on Careers in Discovery to talk about developing as a leader, changing your lens as your career progresses and creating a strong culture of innovation.
Susan Greenfield, Neuro-Bio
"Don't become a scientist for status, don't do it impress people, don't do it to get rich. Only do it if the work itself is something that you find irresistible, because you'll have to work long hours for little money and no security. You have to have a real passion for it."
Baroness Susan Greenfield is, among other things, a scientist, author, broadcaster, member of the House of Lords and the CEO of Neuro-Bio, a company treading a truly novel path on a mission to cure Alzheimer's.
Susan was our guest on Careers in Discovery as we explored her journey from classicist to scientist to CEO, the unique challenges still faced by female scientists in academia and Biotech, and why resilience & determination are key qualities to develop.
Simon Saxby, Leaf Expression Systems
"Normally when a company develops a vaccine, they're keeping it secret. They want to protect their IP, and when they launch it they want to generate revenues, make a profit and pay back their R&D expenses. This time around, everybody collaborated....there were no secrets. The sum of all those parts is far greater than any of them individually, and that's why we were able to produce a vaccine so quickly."
Simon Saxby is the CEO of Leaf Expression Systems, a company harnessing the power of plants as single-use bioreactors.
Simon's international career has seen him cover a huge amount of ground, from antibody research to biologics manufacturing, and he joined us on Careers in Discovery to discuss his journey so far.
David Moffat, Macrophage Pharma
"Always challenge dogma & assumption...we were told that we'd never make drugs with kinases, but 30 years later there are over 50 kinase inhibitors on the market, they account for probably 30% of R&D spend and generate revenues of over $50bn."
David Moffat is the Chief Technology Officer at Macrophage Pharma, a company harnessing macrophages to treat disease in areas of real need.
David joined us to talk about his career, challenging dogma and why not making a decision is a big mistake in Biotech.
(You can find the article that David discusses in his interview here: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/acs.jmedchem.7b01445)
Matt Segall, Optibrium
Paolo Vicini, Confo Therapeutics
"When you think about it, developing therapeutics is a very complex human endeavor. I sometimes liken it to building a plane - you have all this different expertise that has to come together in the right place, at the right time, for the right compound."
Paolo Vicini is the Chief Development Officer at Confo Therapeutics. His career has taken him around the world and from the early days of computational biology to developing translational research programs to deliver drugs to patients.
Paolo took us on a tour of his career, including:
🌍 His decision to leave academia after getting tenure
🌍 His observations on science as an international discipline
🌍 Why, in the end, it's all about the people
Quin Wills, Ochre Bio
"The things I love about Biotech are that you move incredibly fast, you take calculated risks and it just has to work. It's so authentic, and is one of the most exciting things you can do as a scientist."
Quin Wills is the Chief Scientific Officer of Ochre Bio, a Biotech company applying a novel combination of scientific disciplines to some of the most chronic problems in healthcare.
In an interview packed with insight, we talked about Quin's career, as well as:
🩺 the unacceptable problem that leads to one in six patients dying
🩺 the "silent years" of age related diseases
🩺 why you should do what you love, even if it means starting over
Tim Newton, Reflection Therapeutics
"Good science is incredibly important, but it's just one leg of the chair, and it's very unstable on its own. Without it, nothing happens. But the strength of your team and business plan, as well as how clear the path to market is, are crucial."
Tim Newton is the CEO & founder of Reflection Therapeutics, a Cambridge Biotech using the power of T cells to fight neuroinflammatory conditions.
Tim talked to us about:
🦠 the lightbulb moment that led to him leaving academia
🦠 how to use your network to transition to industry
🦠 some key pieces of advice for new Biotech entrepreneurs
Sarah Cole, TranSINE Therapeutics
"There are always really interesting activities to be undertaken, and part of growing into a leadership role is the realisation that actually, your time is best spent by cherry-picking and doing the essentials well, rather than doing fifty things poorly."
Sarah Cole is the Vice President of R&D and Operations at TranSINE Therapeutics, a growing Biotech start-up developing a novel protein-enhancing therapeutic platform.
Sarah talked with us about her career, along with:
🧬 Choosing what to focus on in a new Biotech company
🧬 Transitioning from a research role into Venture Capital
🧬 Starting your research with the commercial realities in mind
Tauhid Ali, Cambrian Biopharma
"The entrepreneurial mindset is very important in delivering therapies to patients. Small companies have an urgency and speed that bigger companies don't, and an entrepreneurial mindset is the reason."
Tauhid Ali is the Executive Vice President of Translational & Clinical Science for Cambrian Biopharma, a new kind of Biotech company with a real opportunity to disrupt the traditional business models of the sector.
Tauhid joins us on Careers in Discovery to talk about his life in Clinical Science, as well as:
🧫 Geroscience, the wider impact it has and why it could be the next big thing in Biotech
🧫 Working as part of a DisCo
🧫 The need for "patient capital" in drug development
Garry Pairaudeau, Exscientia
"We think about drug discovery as a learning problem...How can we learn our way from a very early hit molecule to an exquisitely designed, safe, efficacious drug candidate that you're prepared to take into the clinic?"
Garry Pairaudeau is the Chief Technology Officer at Exscientia, a company pioneering AI technology in drug discovery.
Garry joined us to talk about his career in Medicinal and Computational Chemistry, the marriage of technology and science, how his early experiences in academia shaped his life in industry and the importance of working with great teams.
Mark Mackey, Cresset
"These days, even stable jobs aren't so stable, so if you have a great idea for a business or an itch to go out and get entrepreneurial, then go for it."
Mark Mackey is one of the founders of Cresset, a computational chemistry company who have built a reputation for high quality computational solutions in drug discovery.
Now the company's Chief Scientific Officer, Mark shared his journey with us through the twists and turns that come with building an organically-grown business, along with his views on the role of computational chemistry in modern drug discovery.
Marcel Gehrung, Cyted
"If you start a company, it comes with responsibility and accountability. That's not always written on the label, but things like becoming a responsible employer and understanding that equity funding is there to help you create value, not just spend money, are great lessons to learn early."
Marcel Gehrung is the CEO of Cyted, an AI-driven company developing digital diagnostic infrastructure to enable the earlier detection of disease.
Marcel talked with us about his career in AI and other entrepreneurial ventures, the reality of implementing new technologies in primary & secondary care environments and starting a company in the lockdown era.
Helen Horton, Touchlight Genetics
"Be broader in your thinking, and try to grow your network with people who don't necessarily do the same things you do which could be useful, certainly early in your career."
Helen Horton is the Chief Research Officer at Touchlight Genetics, a synthetic DNA company developing a range of novel vaccines, including for cancer and covid-19.
We spoke to Helen about her career, along with:
🧬 How thinking ahead improves your research
🧬 Moving jobs (and countries!) at the height of a pandemic
🧬 Why passion is essential for scientists
Terri Gaskell, Rinri Therapeutics
"Don't be bound by what you think you should be doing, and keep looking for opportunities to learn new skills and to meet new people. Networking and personal development are hugely important."
Terri Gaskell is an expert in stem cell research, and she recently joined Rinri Therapeutics as Chief Technology Officer to help develop regenerative therapies for hearing loss.
We talked about her career in cutting edge research, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Biotech sector, how the stem cell field has advanced over the course of her career, and transitioning into industry.
Keith Foster, Sutura Therapeutics
"We don't just want to give kids with rare diseases hope, we want to give them a better life and better treatments."
Keith Foster is the Chief Scientific Officer of Sutura Therapeutics, a company he founded to develop precision gene therapies for rare diseases, starting with Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy.
Sutura is a genuinely patient-focused company, and if you've ever wondered what patient-centricity truly is, Keith's interview is a must-listen.
Alison Clayton, Biogelx
"When you get into a leadership role, it's your responsibility to make people good at their job, to support them and to develop them. You must take that responsibility."
Alison Clayton is the CEO of Biogelx, and she joined the company in May 2020, just as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the UK.
Alison sat down with us on Careers in Discovery to discuss the unique challenges that created for her as a new CEO, as well as her career in Biotech and the things she's learned about leadership along the way.
Dean Edney, Sai Life Sciences
"Reflect and think about your career over the next 3-5 years. If you do and you're proactive, and you work with your organisation, then you'll find your way to where you want to be, whereas if you're passive, you'll end up where the organisation wants you to be."
Dean Edney is the Senior Vice President and Global Head of Process R&D at Sai Life Sciences, a rapidly growing CDMO with real ambition.
Dean joined us on Careers in Discovery to discuss his journey so far, as well as:
🧪Process chemistry and the unique scientific challenges it presents
🧪How a love of learning has driven his career
🧪Moving from a major global Pharma to an up-and-coming organisation
David Gilham, Celyad
"There are always more options than you think. It's very easy to be stuck in a position and assume that there are very few doors open to you....no matter where you are in your career, it's important to realise that you always have options."
David Gilham is a true pioneer of the CAR-T cell therapy field. Now the Chief Scientific Officer of Celyad, David has seen T-cell based technology grow from academic special interest to global concern producing treatments for patients every day.
Along with sharing his career journey, David talked to us about:
🧪 The early days of CAR-T research
🧪 The pros and cons of working in a completely novel field
🧪 What a CSO does in a clinical-stage Biotech
Paul Peter Tak
"Someone asked me to consider the fact that you may help hundreds, maybe thousands of patients as a physician and by training physicians, but if you develop a medicine which has a profound effect in diabetes, cancer or rheumatology, then you can touch the lives of millions of people. I found that to be a compelling argument."
Paul Peter Tak has built an incredibly varied career centred around a mission of bringing transformative medicines to patients.
As a physician, scientist, academic, corporate executive, investor, board member and CEO, he's experienced almost every side of the Biotech sector.
He joined us on Careers in Discovery to talk about his journey, as well as:
🩺 The difference between transformative medicines and those that show significant results
🩺 Creating strong teams to deliver innovation
🩺 The importance of decision making
Carrie Ambler, LightOx
"Anybody of any age can be entrepreneurial. If you've got an idea, and you have the drive to take that idea forward, whether you're 17 or 70 age shouldn't put anyone off."
Carrie Ambler is both the Chief Scientific Officer of LightOx, a company developing novel therapeutics and research tools for oral cancer, and an Associate Professor of Biosciences at Durham University.
Carrie joined us to discuss:
🎓 Balancing her academic and industry careers
🎓 What spinning a company out of research really involves
🎓 Why change is good
Jane Osbourn, Alchemab
"Don't be afraid to just try something. The worst thing you can do in Biotech is not make a decision. There are lots of right decisions, there are some wrong ones, but there's a point at which just doing something and seeing what happens is how you learn and make progress."
Jane Osbourn is a genuine world leader in the discovery and development of antibody therapeutics. Currently Chief Scientific Officer of Alchemab Therapeutics and Chair at Mogrify, Jane has also served as Chair of the BioIndustry Association, is a Director of Cambridge Enterprise and in 2019, she was awarded an OBE for services to science and the drug research industry as well as the Scrip's Lifetime Achievement Award for contribution to biopharma.
Jane joined us on Careers in Discovery to share her journey, her advice and her views on careers, science, Biotech and more.
Maria Chatzou Dunford, Lifebit
"One day it hit me that in every cell of your body you have a full universe, and it's a universe we can manipulate and run experiments in, yet there is so much of it still to explore."
Maria Chatzou Dunford is the CEO and Founder of Lifebit, a company whose software and analytics tools are democratising access to 'omics data.
Through her commitment to enabling cutting edge science and her dedication to personal improvement, Maria has seen great success in her first foray as an entrepreneur.
She joins us on Careers in Discovery to talk about:
💾 Why you should stay true to your passion
💾 Her learns as a founder and CEO
💾 Why her two favourite words are evolution & self-development
💾 The importance of focus
"This is the best time to start a company, because if you start in a difficult situation and build good discipline around raising money, winning customers and staying lean, it can only get better - so do the hard work now."
Abel Ureta-Vidal describes himself as a Spanish-born, French-educated, British-inspired scientist, bioinformatician and entrepreneur.
Currently Chief Data Officer at sofi and Investment Director at CMS Ventures, Abel has a background as a researcher, founder, C-level executive and investor. He has a unique career perspective, and talked to us about:
👨💻 His start-up story
👨💻 Business as a personal learning journey
👨💻 Why you should always meet people
Ros Deegan, OMass Therapeutics
"Being a CEO is about surrounding yourself with great people, and then enabling them to perform their functions really well."
Ros Deegan is the CEO of OMass Therapeutics, a company moving drug discovery into high definition. Ros has developed a transatlantic career focused on the commercial and strategic side of the biotech industry, spanning management consulting, business development, finance and now as a CEO.
She talked to us about:
✈️ The importance of sponsors and mentors
✈️ The difference between the UK and US biotech ecosystems
✈️ Moving from big Pharma to startup Biotech
✈️ How the pandemic has changed the way that OMass operate
Paul Kellam, Kymab & Imperial College London
"Science, regardless of whether it's academic or industrial, is a passionate and intense activity and you really need to enjoy the process behind it. If you do, then the interface between academia and industry can be quite blurred."
Paul Kellam is VP of Infectious Diseases & Vaccines at Kymab, as well as a Professor of Virus Genomics at Imperial College London. As a virologist, he has worked to tackle some of the biggest threats to human health, including HIV, ebola, cancer and of course covid-19.
Paul talked us through his career and we explored:
🦠 How he balances his academic and industrial work
🦠 The unique circumstances that an epidemic creates for scientists
🦠 The ever-changing boundary of what's possible in science
"It's absolutely possible to quite significantly change direction [in your career], even after five or ten years if one's determined enough, so one shouldn't be afraid of doing that."
Barbara Domayne-Hayman has led a varied career in the agrochemical and biotech sectors, currently holding roles in organisations as diverse as Autifony Therapeutics, the Francis Crick Institute, Cambridge Enterprise and LifeArc.
Barbara joined us on the podcast to talk about her career and what she's learned, including:
🈺 The benefits and challenges of a portfolio career
🈺 The data-driven health accelerator she's involved in
🈺 Why she loves early-stage companies and entrepreneurship
Markus Gershater, Synthace
"When you're first starting out, you look at companies that have raised tens of millions and think they've made it. It's not the case, it's just a new set of problems to deal with - and that's a good thing - so it's important not to be in the mindset of heading for a particular destination. Rather, you should be focusing on doing what you're doing to the best of your ability and trusting that opportunities will then arise."
Markus Gershater is a co-founder and the Chief Scientific Officer at Synthace, a computer-aided biology company that helps scientific organisations to make the most of laboratory automation.
Both he and the company have had a fascinating journey, and as we discussed it, Markus shared his insights on:
💻 The evolution of the CSO role as a startup grows
💻 The advantages of human scientists over AI (and vice versa)
💻 Why he hates the term "networking"
💻 The importance of being opportunistic in your career
Joe Dukes, Enara Bio
"If you're going to become effective and truly lead, having a broad view of what it takes to develop a drug in industry really is extremely powerful, critical to your success and will lead you to greater things."
This time on Careers in Discovery, we're with Joe Dukes, VP of Translational Sciences at Enara Bio, which at the time of recording was known as Ervaxx.
Our exploration of Joe's career took us through some fascinating topics, including:
💎 The importance of the big picture
💎 Developing leadership skills as an introvert
💎 Why failure is nothing to be afraid of
Tim Brears, Evonetix
"There's nothing more impressive than the power of technology to change and improve people's lives - computing or the mobile phone for example - and people say that the 21st century is the century of biology. It's hard to disagree with that."
Tim Brears is an experienced commercial and scientific leader, with a track record as CEO of a string of innovative biotech companies. His current organisation, Evonetix, aims to shift the paradigm in DNA-driven research with its desktop DNA writer.
Tim joined us on Careers in Discovery to discuss:
🧬 The role of a CEO
🧬 What you should know about startups
🧬 The importance of choosing your opportunities wisely
🧬 The critical importance of vision and mission
Rabia Khan, Sensyne Health
"We need to go from a discipline-focused education system to a problem solving education system....in companies the tools we use to solve problems aren't discipline-specific."
Rabia Khan has built an exciting career at the intersection between science, technology and business, culminating in her current role as Managing Director, Discovery Sciences at Sensyne Health.
A true multi-disciplinary thinker, Rabia shared her insights on:
💻 Operating in high-growth environments
💻 Following your instincts
💻 The parallels between science and business
💻 Why it's important to have a clear goal, take risks and try new things
Mark Frigerio, Abzena
"Reach out for help and support, because you can't do everything on your own. There are other talented people out there who can help."
This time on Careers in Discovery we're with Mark Frigerio, VP of Design & Development at Abzena. A chemist by training, Mark and his team work with biotech companies to help them develop and deliver biologic drugs across a range of technologies and disease areas.
We made the most of Mark's experience to discuss:
💡 Learning from both successes AND failures
💡 Moving from academia to industry
💡 Getting out of your comfort zone
💡 The importance of EQ and feedback
Alice Brown, GammaDelta Therapeutics
"Some of the most junior scientists can come out with the most amazing questions that really change the way you think about things...if you can create an environment where everyone feels that they can question, it can change the way you approach R&D."
On this week's episode, we're with Alice Brown, VP of Research at GammaDelta Therapeutics. Alice has flown through the biotech ranks and now leads a team of scientists using millions of years of evolution to cure cancer.
We covered a lot of ground in this interview, including:
🦠 "Letting go" as a leader
🦠 The advantages of smaller biotech companies
🦠 Balancing career and family
🦠 How to take opportunity
Niall Martin, Artios Pharma
"If you're good at your job, you should be anticipating all the time: where's this project going to end up in 3 months, 6 months, a year? What are the risks? What do we need to do to overcome them?"
In this episode, we welcome Niall Martin, CEO of Artios Pharma, a company harnessing the power of the body's natural DNA repair capability to fight cancer.
Niall talked to us about his career, including:
🧬 What qualities make a successful CEO
🧬 The importance of working your way up
🧬 Decision-making as a leader
🧬 Why knowing where your career is heading is critical
David Hughes, CN Bio Innovations
"You musn't be dissuaded or knocked back by making mistakes. We all have to make choices, so be prepared to make them, understand the consequences and move on to the next one."
David Hughes is the CEO of CN Bio Innovations, a company pioneering the development of organ-on-chip technologies with the potential to revolutionise drug discovery and preclinical research.
David talked to us on this episode of Careers in Discovery about his career, as well as:
🧫 Bringing an engineering mindset to biological challenges
🧫 Taking risks
🧫 Making the leap from hands-on, technical roles into leadership
🧫 What a typical fundraising round looks like from the inside
Mihri Tuna, Adaptate Biotherapeutics
"To run a good drug development program or to do good academic research, you just need excellent science. However there are different pressures and expectations that come with the two different settings."
Mihri Tuna is the Chief Scientific Officer of Adaptate Biotherapeutics, a company she joined recently after a track record of success in early stage, high growth biotechs.
In this episode, you'll hear Mihri's views on:
🥼 Why good science is fundamental
🥼 How uncertainty and risk can be positive forces in your career
🥼 Why learning from experience is crucial
🥼 The importance of the team around you
Dave Hallett, Exscientia
"True discovery really happens at the interfaces."
Dave Hallett is the Chief Operating Officer of Exscientia, a company at the forefront of applying AI to drug discovery. From starting out as a chemist in big Pharma through commercial and operational roles, Dave's varied career has given him unique insight, which he shares on this episode of Careers in Discovery.
💻 AI in drug discovery, and the impact it has on what's possible
💻 Thinking about the commercial endgame for your scientific research
💻 Finding talented people to surround yourself with
💻 The advantages of taking a year out in guiding your career decisions
Tony de Fougerolles, Evox Therapeutics
"If you're in a research role, and you really understand how a clinical or commercial person thinks, you can bring some of those insights into deciding what drug you want to make and which attributes to focus on."
Tony de Fougerolles is a drug hunter in the classic sense. He's spent his career identifying and advancing transformational technologies that have changed what's possible in biotech.
Now CEO of Evox Therapeutics, Tony joining us on Careers in Discovery to discuss:
💊 The difference between research and drug hunting
💊 The current state of UK & European biotech
💊 How you can have the right technology at the wrong time
💊 Why the people and not the technology in a business ultimately determine its' success
Ross Burn, CatSci
"The first step for any business venture is to make sure you really understand your core value proposition and what the market demands are."
This week on Careers in Discovery, we spoke with Ross Burn, co-founder and CEO of CatSci.
We talked to Ross in depth about the company's journey, including:
🧪 The importance of understanding market demand
🧪 Instilling an innovation culture
🧪 How automation and digitisation are impacting the day-to-day job of scientists
🧪 The thought process behind pivoting a business
🧪 People's misconceptions about entrepreneurship
Richard Butt, Apollo Therapeutics
"We have to be sure that the mechanism we're targeting can be followed through to a disease, and a clinical & medical need. It doesn't matter if the science is really cool if there's ultimately nowhere to translate it to, so it's really important that we stay on top of emerging trends."
Academia and industry have increasingly been joining forces to drive innovation in drug discovery, but they remain separate worlds in many ways.
We spoke to Richard Butt, CEO of Apollo Therapeutics, who have a unique approach to industry-academia collaboration, about:
🎓 The differences between the two sectors
🎓 Why commercial analysis is important, but shouldn't be overdone
🎓 What he looks for in a spin-out technology
🎓 The upward trends in UK biotech
Darrin Disley, Mogrify
"Think about success as a journey, not a series of destinations, and think about it holistically. You need to get a sense of how you're doing that's not defined by others."
Darrin Disley is an ex-professional footballer, scientist, OBE, investor and advisor to more than 40 companies, serial entrepreneur, one of the founders of Horizon Discovery and now CEO of Mogrify, a company intent on changing the face of cell therapy.
In this week's episode, we talked about Darrin's unique journey, and he shared his fascinating insights into:
🧫 Creating enough freedom to become an entrepreneur
🧫 How to raise money on your own terms
🧫 His principles for entrepreneurship, self-development and career development
🧫 The "Four R's" he operates by
🧫 How multi-disciplinary science is coming together to build the future
Chris Kirton, Axol Bioscience
"If you're a scientist and you can look at data; if you can look at a problem and spot the pattern to figure out what the probable solution is, then it's exactly the same thought process, just applied to Operations."
Chris Kirton's career started out like many others in biotech - a PhD in Immunology followed by a couple of post-docs that built on his research.
When he took his first steps into industry, Chris didn't expect to change direction, but after becoming Head of Operations for Envigo, the Wellcome Sanger Institute and Absolute Antibody, he stepped into the role of Chief Operating Officer at Axol Bioscience, a specialist stem cell company facilitating cutting edge research.
We spoke to Chris on Careers in Discovery about:
🚴♂️ Stem cells, and how far the technology has come
🚴♂️ The similarities between Immunology and Operations
🚴♂️ Knowing yourself and focusing on your strengths, then building a team to support you
🚴♂️ How cell and gene therapy are changing the pharmaceutical industry
Ian Wilkinson, Absolute Antibody
"If you've got an idea, speak up about it and don't be afraid to fail."
Welcome back to Careers in Discovery! In our first episode of 2020, we were joined by Ian Wilkinson, Chief Scientific Officer at Absolute Antibody.
Through an interview packed with insight, Ian shared with us:
📣 What it's like to be employee number one at a start-up
📣 How a science-driven company succeeds in industry
📣 Finding your voice
📣 Why you shouldn't take science personally
📣 What's next for antibodies
Jason Mellad, StartCodon
"Scientists are the best entrepreneurs, they just don't realise it. You're constantly begging for money, asking for your research to be published and speaking at conferences - that's sales, marketing and PR right there."
For our last episode of 2019, we're delighted to be joined by Jason Mellad, CEO and Co-Founder of StartCodon, the Cambridge Life Sciences Accelerator.
The son of a scientist and an entrepreneur, Jason went into consulting after his PhD in Medicine, then Tech Transfer and Business Development, before becoming the CEO of Cambridge Epigenetix, where he led a complete pivot and fundraising round to change the fortunes of an already successful company.
Along the way, Jason's learned a huge amount about career development, entrepreneurship, why everyone should get some sales experience, the make up of a successful founder, the fantastic opportunity in UK biotech and more - he shared this all with us on Careers in Discovery.
Chris Williams, Questae Coaching & Consulting
"Don't wait for someone else to manage your career for you, don't be afraid to experiment with it, and be true to yourself."
Chris Williams started her career as a research scientist at one of the world's largest Pharmaceutical companies, but as time went on she found herself increasingly drawn to projects that involved culture and change management.
Now Managing Director of Questae Coaching & Consulting, Chris joined us on Careers in Discovery to talk about her career and how she's approached it, including:
👩🔬 Why the right culture is so important in science
👩🔬 How to take an experimental approach to your career
👩🔬 Putting your head above the parapet and disagreeing, or saying "no"
👩🔬 Taking responsibility for your career
Gary Allenby, Aurelia Bioscience
"One shouldn't underestimate the time it takes to turn a business into a business, how long it takes to actually take a salary out, and how long the road to success can be."
After a career in big Pharma, Gary Allenby and his two co-founders launched Aurelia Bioscience, a highly specialist Bioassay and Screening Service CRO. We took a deep dive into Gary's entrepreneurial journey, making this a must-listen for anyone out there thinking of going it alone.
Gary talked to us about:
🥼 How technology is broadening the horizons of drug research
🥼 Being a "technology butterfly"
🥼 Why the bravest person in a start-up is the second to join, not the initial founder
🥼 What it's really like starting a Contract Research Organisation from scratch
Alun McCarthy, C4X Discovery
"Make the jump before you're forced to. In the end, it'll probably work out."
Alun McCarthy has spent his career at the very cutting edge of genetics research and its application to drug discovery. With an international career spanning multi-national blue chips and brand new startups, Alun is now VP of Novel Target Biology & Genomics at C4X Discovery, a biotech company embracing technology in its pursuit of novel therapies.
As we discussed his career, Alun shared his thoughts on:
🧬 Technology in drug discovery, and how C4X are using virtual reality to design the molecules of the future
🧬 The role of serendipity in shaping careers
🧬 Why small companies are more fun
🧬 Embracing learning, finding mentors and throwing yourself into new things
Caroline Barelle, Elasmogen
"Sometimes those horrible moments in life, when you feel crushed, are actually where the best things come from, and they build you as an individual."
Caroline Barelle, CEO and Chief Scientific Officer at Elasmogen, has spent her career in drug discovery, spanning academia, biotech, big Pharma and back again. This breadth of experience has given her a unique perspective on the industry, and she joined us on Careers in Discovery to share her career journey.
💫 Collaborations and playing to your strengths
💫 The differences between academia, biotech and big Pharma
💫 The importance of the people around you
💫 Why forgiveness is better than permission
Mark Treherne, Cellesce
“To be successful, you need to maintain focus and not be distracted by technology. Use it, but don’t be driven by it.”
Mark Treherne is a highly experienced CEO and Chairman, whose varied career has seen him view the Life Sciences industry from all angles. From academic research to big Pharma, from founding one of the UK’s first contract research organisations to a stint as CEO of the Life Sciences Organisation at UK Trade and Industry, Mark’s breadth of knowledge is truly unique.
Now CEO of Cellesce, a company expanding organoids for cancer research, Mark joined us on Careers in Discovery to talk about:
👁🗨 The early days of contract research
👁🗨 The differences between academia and big Pharma
👁🗨 Collaboration in science
👁🗨 What makes a good CEO
Dan Gooding, Nuformix
"The magic bullet doesn't exist. You are the only person who can make the right decisions about you and your career, so you have to take the responsibility."
Dan Gooding is the CEO of Nuformix, a novel drug development company using co-crystal technology to repurpose existing medicines to treat new conditions.
Following a PhD in Biochemistry, Dan immediately moved into a career at the commercial end of science, and told us his story on the latest episode of Careers in Discovery.
💎 The process behind great sales and business development
💎 Starting and running your own business
💎 The importance of resilience and determination
💎 The value of networking
Emma Sceats, Isogenica
"In the world we live in today, where everybody's lives & careers are very visible on social media and the internet, there is this impression that successful people and companies are only ever on an upward trajectory. I think the reality is that building a company or having an impactful career is just really hard sometimes, and when the going gets tough, it doesn't mean you're doing something wrong - it's just part of the learning process."
Emma Sceats is the CEO of Isogenica, a synthetic antibody company enabling drug discovery programs around the world. Emma sat down with us on the latest episode of Careers in Discovery to discuss:
💡 How a fascination with marine biology (and particularly sharks!) led to a career in life sciences
💡 The importance of developing non-technical skills
💡 Getting out there and talking to people to find out where your passions lie
💡 Why networking is so important for graduates and academics
Daniel Ives, Shift Bioscience
"Age is the biggest risk factor for a wide range of diseases, so if we target age, can we also prevent and even reverse these conditions?"
This is the question which led Daniel Ives to found Shift Bioscience, an innovative biotech company using mitochondria to slow and potentially eliminate the effects of aging.
As a young, mission driven founder, Daniel shared what he's learned in the first two years of his entrepreneurial journey, including:
🕛 How Aubrey de Grey's book "Ending Aging" influenced his career
🕦 The epigenetic aging clock, and the impact of mitochondria on biological age
🕚 Reducing the pace of aging in mice by 40-60%
🕥 The importance of remaining flexible and open-minded
🕙 How to focus on the problem and keep making progress towards it
Steve Gardner, RowAnalytics
"There's no-one talented enough to do the whole thing themselves. This is a team game, and you have to ask for help along the way."
Steve Gardner, CEO & founder of RowAnalytics, joined us on the latest episode of Careers in Discovery. After meeting his co-founder by answering a question posted on LinkedIn, Steve set about applying a powerful algorithm used to tackle a huge range of real-world problems to the challenges of healthcare.
In this insightful interview, Steve talked about:
💥 The state of AI in drug discovery
💥 Why diversity is so important to success when building a company
💥 The future of personalised medicine, and what it means for the Pharmaceutical industry
💥 His learns and insights from his NINE start up companies
Jonny Wray, e-therapeutics
"If you want to become a specialist, be a specialist in a biological question rather than a technology. The biology becomes obsolete much more slowly than the technology does."
Jonny Wray is Head of Discovery Informatics at e-therapeutics, a company whose novel in silico platform is making great strides in treating complex biological conditions. After a career at the frontier of science and technology, Jonny joined us to discuss:
🌟 Complex systems biology and the new understanding of disease behaviour it enables
🌟 How computational approaches are transforming drug discovery
🌟 Why software development practices are so important in bioinformatics
🌟 Finding a question you care passionately about answering
Bill Haynes, Novo Nordisk
"The companies that tend to be the most successful are the ones that leave their scientists alone and allow them to innovate.".
"Just because you've spent five or ten years in academia, it doesn't mean people will pay attention. You have to prove your value."
These are two of many fascinating insights from Bill Haynes, VP & Site Head at the Novo Nordisk Research Centre Oxford. Bill joined us on the latest episode of Careers in Discovery to discuss his distinguished academic career, leading to a full professorship at the University of Iowa, his move into industry with Novartis and then AstraZeneca, and the work he's doing at Novo Nordisk.
Among other things, we delved into:
🌱 How photosynthesis sparked a career in science and drug discovery
🌱 The lessons Bill learned from big Pharma
🌱 What he looks for when hiring scientists from academia
🌱 The role of genetics in decreasing waste in the Pharmaceutical industry
🌱 Thinking big and taking risks
Satnam Surae, Aigenpulse
"Successful people like to talk about their mistakes more than their successes, because that's where you learn."
Satnam Surae is the Chief Product Officer at Aigenpulse, an innovative technology business whose platform enables Life Sciences companies to structure, connect and augment their data.
Satnam shares with us what he's learned from a career at the cutting edge of Life Sciences technology, including:
💎 His experiences as the first employee at a start-up technology company
💎 Why bioinformaticians should learn to be more like software engineers
💎 The importance of data literacy to modern scientists
Adam Stoten, Oxford University Innovation
"You expect the technology to work - it'll cost more and take longer than you think, but it will usually work - but having good management in place is what makes the difference in the success of early stage companies."
Adam Stoten is the Chief Operating Officer of Oxford University Innovation, one of the world's leading technology transfer groups with over 160 successful spinouts under their belts.
Trained as a biologist and immunologist, Adam tells us about his career spanning academic research, the commercial end of Pharma & Biotech and his current position working with companies in industries as diverse as quantum computing and digital entertainment - whilst maintaining a healthy interest in drug discovery.
Adam shares what he's learned along the way, including:
💎 Why finding the right managers is critical to career success
💎 How an understanding of "life on the other side" is invaluable to those in tech transfer and VC
💎 The cultural differences between academia and industry
💎 Engineering serendipity in your career
Phil Jones, BioAscent
This is what drives Phil Jones, Chief Scientific Officer at drug discovery CRO BioAscent, to keep pushing for good science done by good people. We sat down with Phil recently to talk about his career and what he's learned along the way.
🔬 The importance of becoming an expert in your field
🔬 Why having good people around you is vital
🔬 How the role of the chemist is changing, and what's remained the same
🔬 The crucial role of networking and interacting with different kinds of people to expand your knowledge
David Cook, Blueberry Therapeutics
"It's a little like a Formula One car - it's extremely fast, it's very agile, but you've only just got enough fuel to finish the race."
David Cook is the Chief Scientific Officer of Blueberry Therapeutics, a dermatology company using nanotechnology to treat several common conditions.
We talked about how his childhood and particularly his mother nurtured his interest in science, the differences between academia and industry, his experiences at the forefront of the early days of bioinformatics and Blueberry's journey from start-up to clinical stage Biotech.
He also shared with us the lessons he's learned along the way, and why keeping your eyes open in your career is essential.
Ajan Reginald, Celixir
"It's hard to find what you're good at and passionate about, unless you put in the work."
We sat down recently with Ajan Reginald, CEO of Celixir, an innovative biotech company who are reversing pathology of currently untreatable conditions through their cell and gene therapy technologies.
From his early days as a dentist through to management consulting, business development and running the Emerging Technologies group for one of the world's leading Pharmaceutical companies, Ajan developed the skills and knowledge which led to his co-founding Celixir with the Nobel Prize winner, Professor Sir Martin Evans.
Ajan shares his insights on operating in the "new new", where there's no roadmap, the evolution of his role as CEO, making sure you're asking the right questions and why you need to do the work to find your passion.
Kristen Albright, Prokarium
Kristen Albright, Vice President of Business Development & Translational Research at vaccines and immunotherapy company Prokarium, has had a varied career, spanning big Pharma, Biotech, Venture Capital, and working with startups in developing countries.
She spoke with us recently about:
🗣 Knowing when it's time to leave and do something new
🗣 The rise of social responsibility in Pharma and Biotech
🗣 Taking risks and volunteering for things
🗣 The reality of life in venture capital
Check out the episode to hear her thoughts on these topics and more.
Dave Leese, Concept Life Sciences
"With the right attitude, there's no reason you can't adapt and become an expert in anything."
Dave Leese, VP of Chemistry at Concept Life Sciences joined us on the latest episode of Careers in Discovery, in which we discuss:
🔬 how an early interest in the books of PD James sparked a life-long interest in science, and ultimately a career at the cutting edge of drug discovery chemistry
🔬 the relationship between skills learned as a scientist and broader business skills
🔬 the importance of continuous personal and professional development
🔬 being proactive about the direction your career takes
Along with his work at Concept Life Sciences, Dave is heavily involved with SCI, an organisation which promotes links between science and industry for the benefit of society, giving him a unique view on the transition between academia and the commercial world.
Enjoy the show!
Grahame McKenzie, PhoreMost
Grahame McKenzie is the Chief Scientific Officer of PhoreMost, an innovative Cambridge biotech with a mission to "drug the undruggable" using their proprietary protein interference platform.
Grahame joined us to talk about his work and career, including:
✴ Breaking out of the existing druggable space and explore new frontiers
✴ Creating a drug discovery "playbook" for future generations
✴ The importance of developing breadth as well as depth in your skillset
In his own words, Grahame has a deep love of science but his real passion is using it to develop drugs that have a direct impact on patients. Find out more in this week's episode.
Jon Green, AstraZeneca
Jon Green left school with no qualifications and little idea of what his future held - now, he's the VP & Site General Manager of AstraZeneca's Granta Park site and Chairman of the biotech networking body One Nucleus.
Looking back on an illustrious career in drug discovery, he shares with us what he's learnt from his unconventional path, including the key role that passion for what you do plays, the real life impact of working in drug discovery and development and why "walking the floor" is his modus operandi.
Hear Jon's fascinating story on this episode of Careers in Discovery.
Benedict Cross, Horizon Discovery
Benedict Cross, Head of Functional Genomic Screening at Horizon Discovery, joins us this time.
Join us as we discuss, among many other things:
❇ Functional Genomics and the impact of CRISPR on drug discovery
❇ Why knowing what NOT to do can be the most important thing you learn
❇ How the outcry over GMO kick-started Benedict's career in science
❇ Using your network
Prof. Tom Moody, Almac Group
Professor Tom Moody, VP of Technology Development & Commercialisation at Almac Group joins us this week, and provides a fascinating insight into a career at the cutting edge of chemistry.
Doing the impossible as part of your job
How technology is changing the role of the scientist
The importance of continued learning
The differences between academia and industry, and what you need to make the transition
Matt Higgins, Blue Ridge Bioinformatics
This week we're joined by Matt Higgins, CEO of Blue Ridge Bioinformatics, a specialist bioinformatics service provider to Pharma & Biotech companies.
We covered a lot of ground, including:
💡 The impact of bioinformatics in drug discovery
💡 Catching the entrepreneurship bug
💡 Stepping out of your comfort zone
💡 The challenges of proving your credibility as a young founder
"Things that excite me a lot and scare me a little are definitely worth doing."
Zuzanna Brzosko, Sixfold Bioscience
We're joined in this episode by Zuzanna Brzosko, CEO of Sixfold Bioscience, an exciting early stage company developing novel drug delivery technologies for Cell & Gene Therapy.
Zuzanna shares with us what she's learned in her first year as a CEO, the importance of diversity of background but convergence in direction when building a team, and how crucial it is to take action.
Ted Fjällman, Prokarium
We're joined by Ted Fjallman, CEO of Prokarium, a vaccines and immunotherapy company with some fascinating targets.
Ted shares with us his journey from young LEGO builder to the European Space Agency and eventually drug development, the importance of following your passion, his view on the unspoken war in microbial resistance and how science will survive AI.