Of Microbes And Men


This post is by Aoife Brennan from LifeSciVC


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This blog was written by Aoife Brennan, CEO of Synlogic Therapeutics, as part of the From The Trenches feature of LifeSciVC.

I am the CEO of Synlogic, a synthetic biology company, where the focus of our work is the development of medicines using engineered bacteria.

I love the science of what we do; it is challenging, innovative and has the potential to make a really big impact for patients. I am also challenged by issues related to organizational development; a topic of frequent discussion among CEOs.

Over the past few months, I have started to see parallels between lessons we have learned in the lab and discussions that would occur in the corner office, if I had an office. I will frequently sit in discussions poring over the most recent batch of data with the scientists when an issue that seems unrelated suddenly becomes clearer. I try to keep my

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SPR994:  A Long Shot, With Lots Of Twists And Turns To Phase III


This post is by Ankit Mahadevia from LifeSciVC


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This blog was written by Ankit Mahadevia, CEO and founder of Spero Therapeutics, as part of the From The Trenches feature of LifeSciVC. 

At Spero we are privileged to be enrolling our pivotal study for SPR994, our oral antibiotic with the bacteria-killing power of an IV to treat patients with serious urinary tract infections.  A frightening sign of our deteriorating antibiotic arsenal is the three million patients in the US alone whose infections do not respond to oral antibiotics used in past decades; if these patients are hospitalized they can cost an average of $4,000 more to treat than if an effective oral agent were available.  In this era of a value conscious health care system, there are few interventions that are more cost-effective than getting patients out of the hospital or keeping them out. SPR994 could provide the tool to make this happen.

We tell the Continue reading “SPR994:  A Long Shot, With Lots Of Twists And Turns To Phase III”

Targeted Protein Degradation Comes of Age


This post is by Nello Mainolfi from LifeSciVC


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This blog was written by Nello Mainolfi, CSO and co-founder of Kymera Therapeutics, as part of the From The Trenches feature of LifeSciVC.

Translation of well validated biology into therapeutics remains one of the biggest challenges of modern drug development, in many cases due to lack of appropriate technologies to drug well credentialed biological targets. Examples in this category include driver oncogenes such as MYC, b-catenin and STAT3; catalytically active scaffolding kinases such as IRAK4 and RIPK’s or proteins whose accumulation is associated with well-established pathology such as alpha-synuclein in Parkinsons’s Disease or Tau in dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Over the past decade, several new drug discovery technologies have been proven successful in overcoming some of the challenges of traditional small molecules therapeutics. One of the most successful modalities, therapeutic antibodies have allowed us to target cell surface and circulating proteins, very specifically, with high degree of affinity and most

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A Decade of Discovery


This post is by Jeb Keiper from LifeSciVC


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This blog was written by Jeb Keiper, CEO of Nimbus Therapeutics LLC, as part of the From The Trenches feature of LifeSciVC.

It is with great excitement that we at Nimbus are ringing in our 10th birthday this month. It’s been a momentous decade of ups and downs, many of them chronicled in dozens of posts here on LifeSciVC. At 10 years and still going, we’re proud to have reached a milestone that only about 10% of startups achieve.

We are using this 10th birthday as a time to look back on how well Nimbus has carried out its founding principles and to look ahead – as we define our vision for how the next decade of Nimbus should look. So, first, to revisit where we came from…

“Project Troubled Water”

The idea for Nimbus started kicking around in 2008 after Bruce Booth of Atlas Venture met Ramy

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Maybe It’s Innate


This post is by Samantha Truex from LifeSciVC


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This blog was written by Samantha Truex, Atlas EIR and CEO of Quench Bio, as part of the From The Trenches feature of LifeSciVC.

Recently I read the article What’s Wrong With Me? that I saw re-posted on Twitter.  It’s a 2013 New Yorker article chronicling one woman’s journey through years of multi-symptom autoimmune/autoinflammatory disease with undiagnosed and untreated maladies.  It’s a long read, but one that I could not leave unfinished as I thought about my multiple friends who followed similar paths for years, each trying to understand what caused her symptoms.  Amongst my close friends are one with multiple sclerosis, one with ulcerative colitis, one with lupus and two with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  Their diseases are given these titles that imply crisp definitions, but these are heterogenous diseases with overlapping symptoms, so they are difficult to diagnose and treat.  I’ll come back to

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Why Reputation Is More Important Than Ever For Biotech Companies … And What You Can Do About It


This post is by Deanna Petersen from LifeSciVC


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This blog was co-written by Deanna Petersen, Chief Business Officer of AVROBIO, and Paul Newman, head of Corporate Communications, as part of the From The Trenches feature of LifeSciVC.

“It takes twenty years to build a reputation, and five minutes to ruin it,” Warren Buffett said, and added “If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” In biotech, a strong reputation is difficult to build, is even harder to establish quickly, and can be easily tarnished. So, what’s the landscape and what should we do about it?

Reputation has always been significant.  Today, reputation is increasingly important because trust in institutions and companies is being eroded in the U.S. and around the world.

On top of the general rise in emphasis on company reputation, the building and management of reputation is especially challenging for biotech companies because:

  1. Volatility is par for the course in the biotech

    Continue reading “Why Reputation Is More Important Than Ever For Biotech Companies … And What You Can Do About It”

Sheer Heart Attack: What Happens When Your Partner Gets Acquired in The Middle of Negotiations


This post is by Tariq Kassum from LifeSciVC


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This blog was written by Tariq Kassum, COO of Obsidian Therapeutics, as part of the From The Trenches feature of LifeSciVC.

Every morning before I go to work, I review my calendar for the day. This gets me into the right frame of mind and helps me set my priorities. On Thursday, January 3, 2019, I reviewed my schedule and saw that I had a clear calendar: dermatologist appointment, management team meeting, and nothing else.

My schedule was light because I had cleared my calendar a few days before. I knew what was coming and I needed free time to work. We were in the last steps of completing a major research collaboration with Celgene covering two of Obsidian’s lead programs for use in CAR-T therapies. We were finalizing the agreements and were aiming to announce the deal at JPMorgan in a few days.

On that Thursday, I was awaiting

Continue reading “Sheer Heart Attack: What Happens When Your Partner Gets Acquired in The Middle of Negotiations”

Cats And The Future Of Machine Learning In Drug Discovery


This post is by Jonathan Montagu from LifeSciVC


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This blog was written by Jonathan Montagu, CEO and founder of HotSpot Therapeutics, as part of the From The Trenches feature of LifeSciVC.

The predictions around the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) have been broad reaching but it’s clear that not everyone is convinced (here and here) and the trajectory of the current AI hype cycle feels downwards.

In this blog, I want to make the case that artificial intelligence (AI) will make a significant difference in drug discovery over the long run but it’s important to see AI like other big industry shifts such as the genomics revolution of the early 2000’s.  Incremental changes over time lead to big and even transformational impacts. Today there are structural constraints in descriptors, data and algorithms that are limiting the role of AI but in the longer term innovation in these areas will enable real impact.  Overall,

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If You Build It, Will They Come? Addressing The Value Equation


This post is by Ankit Mahadevia from LifeSciVC


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This blog was written by Ankit Mahadevia, CEO and founder of Spero Therapeutics, as part of the From The Trenches feature of LifeSciVC.

Over my experience building several therapeutics companies, I’ve sometimes observed a Field of Dreams approach to therapeutics: if we build it, they (patients, health system, payors) will come.  Last month’s hearing in Congress on pharmaceutical access, and the overall debate on how to pay for new therapies drives home that adoption of a therapy doesn’t always naturally follow an approval. Articulating the value of each therapy we deliver to the health care system is a critical complement to all of the clinical data we generate to maximize the likelihood that our innovations get to patients who need them.  @LifeSciVC also drives this home in his excellent year in review.  

When’s the right time to think about value?

For those of us developing emerging therapies

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Keep Calm and Carry On: How to Survive an FDA Inspection


This post is by Aoife Brennan from LifeSciVC


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This blog was written by Aoife Brennan, CEO of Synlogic, as part of the From The Trenches feature of LifeSciVC.

It was apparently random, although I secretly suspect it was karmic punishment for my lack of imagination in writing the 2019 quality goal. It has been ‘Maintain the quality management system and documentation in inspection-ready form’ for the past 3 years. While we take quality and regulation seriously, our assumption, like that of many early-phase companies, had been that an actual FDA inspection was several years off. I had previously been involved in pre-approval inspections and the questions regarding early studies were always the most difficult to piece together; the team who ran the study had moved on or the asset was in-licenced. For this reason, we had invested in making sure we had a good filing structure from the start and were maintaining the appropriate documentation. It now appeared

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Leave A Ladder Down


This post is by Ros Deegan from LifeSciVC


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This post was written by Ros Deegan, President and CBO of Bicycle Therapeutics, as part of the From The Trenches feature of LifeSciVC.  

In May 2007, I trekked to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. Situated at an altitude of over 17,000 feet, Base Camp is the starting point for an ascent of the world’s highest mountain. The first feature on the climbing route is also the deadliest: the Khumbu Icefall. The Icefall is a frozen waterfall that cascades for more than two miles in length – and 2000 feet in height – from a spectacular hanging valley known as the Western Cwm to a point just a few minutes’ walk from the tents at Base Camp. At half a mile wide, you can’t go around the Icefall: you have to go through it.

The Khumbu Icefall is an especially formidable barrier to aspiring summiteers because of its imperceptible yet relentless downward

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All A-Board


This post is by Samantha Truex from LifeSciVC


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This blog is written by Samantha Truex, Atlas EIR and CEO of a stealth-stage biotech, as part of the From The Trenches feature of LifeSciVC.

In a 2014 analysis  of biotech boards and a reprise analysis in 2016, Bruce Booth worked with life science recruiter Catalyst Advisors on this board talent blog. They estimated the demand for talent at >600 biotech Board Director spots needing to be filled in the few years following October 2016.

A critical question posed by Bruce and Catalyst Advisors was, from where will the talent come?   This issue is not unique to biotech.  According to Spencer Stuart’s 2018 board report on S&P 500 boards,  428 new directors were appointed to S&P 500 boards during the 2018 proxy year, the most since 2004.  So the search for talent to fill board seats is vast.

In the original post, Bruce stated, “When I’ve brought this

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Predicting The Next Dominoes to Fall in 2019


This post is by Michael Gladstone from LifeSciVC


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This post was written by Michael Gladstone, Principal at Atlas Venture, as part of the From The Trenches feature of LifeSciVC.

Today I will continue my time-honored January tradition of an optimistic blog post providing some bold predictions for the year ahead.

I will focus on areas where we are finally on the cusp of long-awaited breakthroughs. Of course, this is an incomplete sampling of ongoing innovation, and I mean no offense to anyone’s work that I have left out. And I promise to avoid obvious, evergreen predictions, like “The amyloid beta hypothesis will continue to stir debate!”

KRAS inhibition will produce clinical responses.

KRAS is a holy grail oncology target. It is the most frequently mutated driver oncogene and has long been considered “impossible” to drug. But “impossible” only means, “Even Tom Brady hasn’t done it yet.”

Several companies are advancing direct inhibitors of the KRAS

Continue reading “Predicting The Next Dominoes to Fall in 2019”

Leadership At All Levels In Biotech


This post is by Deanna Petersen from LifeSciVC


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This blog was written by Deanna Petersen, CBO of AVROBIO, as part of the From The Trenches feature of LifeSciVC

Biotech is an industry that calls for leaders. It requires people who are willing to take risks, conquer new science, and have endurance for the many years it takes to develop a new medicine. In addition, professionals who thrive in biotech have the know-how, confidence and guts to tackle business goals that are covered in uncertainty and complexity. These are ‘hard core’ leadership traits, and they are highly valued in biotech companies at all levels of job responsibilities.

In my many years working in biotech, I have seen professionals at all levels and in all functions use their leadership abilities to open doors to new career opportunities and rise in their organizations. I’ve also come to appreciate colleagues and collaborators in my current and past work life who display leadership.

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The World Cup of Conferences


This post is by Jason Gardner from LifeSciVC


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This blog was written by Jason Gardner, CEO of Magenta Therapeutics and Liverpool soccer fan, as part of the From The Trenches feature of LifeSciVC.

Nine presentations, three press releases, forty-two satellite meetings. One conference.

Most biotech companies have that pinnacle conference – their soccer World Cup — that represents the venue to showcase the latest new work with the scientific community. For Magenta, that conference is ASH, the American Society of Hematology annual meeting, which is the largest gathering in the world for hematology, oncology and cell therapy with close to 30,000 physicians, scientists, investors, analysts, patients and beyond (here). This year’s event just wrapped up this week and it seemed like an opportune moment to reflect on how we trained for the tournament and how we kept score.

A quick throwback: We launched Magenta to transform bone marrow transplant, gene therapies and CART medicines, at ASH

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Generations: Talent Dispersion in Biotechnology


This post is by Tariq Kassum from LifeSciVC


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This blog was written by Tariq Kassum, COO of Obsidian Therapeutics, as part of the From The Trenches feature of LifeSciVC.

The evening of April 26, 2009, I walked from my hotel room to the nearest bar. The bar was called the Asgard, and it was on an unfamiliar road called Sidney Street, in a place I barely knew called Cambridge, Massachusetts. I wanted some comfort food before my big job interview at Millennium Pharmaceuticals the next day. I ordered a beer and burger, but as I took my first sip, a little voice in the back of my head reminded me that expensing a beer was probably not the best idea when traveling for an interview. I paid for the drink myself and stuffed the receipt into my jeans pocket.

I was seeking to leave Wall Street, where I was a hedge fund analyst, because I was tired of

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Fleece vs Future: How Small Companies Can Help Build Biotech Talent


This post is by Aoife Brennan from LifeSciVC


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This blog was written by Aoife Brennan, CEO of Synlogic, as part of the From The Trenches features of LifeSciVC.

A lot has been written about the biotech talent war in the Boston area including the availability of talent as the major limitation to venture creation and the increasingly lavish perks designed to attract and retain experienced staff. As the leader of an organization attempting to grow within this ecosystem, I am acutely aware of the challenges. I also have an additional vantage point however due to an affiliation with several academic programs and mentoring organizations. I frequently meet with talented and ambitious men and women who are frustrated by attempts to get a foot in the door or to explore career opportunities beyond their current role. I believe that small and mid-size companies can and should do more to contribute to the development of a broad and diverse talent

Continue reading “Fleece vs Future: How Small Companies Can Help Build Biotech Talent”

Fleece vs Future: How Small Companies Can Help Build Biotech Talent


This post is by Aoife Brennan from LifeSciVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




This blog was written by Aoife Brennan, CEO of Synlogic, as part of the From The Trenches features of LifeSciVC.

A lot has been written about the biotech talent war in the Boston area including the availability of talent as the major limitation to venture creation and the increasingly lavish perks designed to attract and retain experienced staff. As the leader of an organization attempting to grow within this ecosystem, I am acutely aware of the challenges. I also have an additional vantage point however due to an affiliation with several academic programs and mentoring organizations. I frequently meet with talented and ambitious men and women who are frustrated by attempts to get a foot in the door or to explore career opportunities beyond their current role. I believe that small and mid-size companies can and should do more to contribute to the development of a broad and diverse talent

Continue reading “Fleece vs Future: How Small Companies Can Help Build Biotech Talent”

How’s My Baby?


This post is by Samantha Truex from LifeSciVC


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This blog was written by Samantha Truex, CEO of Quench Bio and Atlas Entrepreneur-in-Residence, as part of the From The Trenches feature of LifeSciVC.

In early September, I saw my two teenagers off to new destinations where they will live away from home.  My son entered college and my daughter moved to Spain to live with a host family as part of a high school foreign study program.  While I celebrate their independence, I also find it hard to let them go.  I spent so many hours of so many days with them that life feels a bit empty now that they are gone.  I find myself wanting to check in with my daughter’s host parents to see how she’s doing and how they are feeling about her.  Yet I know I’ve got to let her go and grow, so I try not to check

Continue reading “How’s My Baby?”

How’s My Baby?


This post is by Samantha Truex from LifeSciVC


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




This blog was written by Samantha Truex, CEO of Quench Bio and Atlas Entrepreneur-in-Residence, as part of the From The Trenches feature of LifeSciVC.

In early September, I saw my two teenagers off to new destinations where they will live away from home.  My son entered college and my daughter moved to Spain to live with a host family as part of a high school foreign study program.  While I celebrate their independence, I also find it hard to let them go.  I spent so many hours of so many days with them that life feels a bit empty now that they are gone.  I find myself wanting to check in with my daughter’s host parents to see how she’s doing and how they are feeling about her.  Yet I know I’ve got to let her go and grow, so I try not to check

Continue reading “How’s My Baby?”