Careers in Discovery is your window into the world of Pharma & Biotech. Featuring interviews each week with leaders in Drug Discovery and R&D, you'll learn about the careers of these influential figures, the work they are doing, how they got to where they are and what advice they'd give their younger selves.
Brought to you by Singular Talent (http://www.singulartalent.io).
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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.
"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
"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
"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
"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
“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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"For me, drug hunting is almost the perfect job. I like chemistry, using it to interact with biological systems is really challenging, and ultimately you're trying to make something that benefits patients, which is incredibly worthwhile."
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
"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.
"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, 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.
"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 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 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, 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
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
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."
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.
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.