Your UBC Experience
- Science Council of BC research scholarships (now Innovate BC)
Your Career Journey and Achievements
After completing my Ph.D. in late 1999 I was offered a position at a biotech consulting firm in the San Francisco Bay Area. This was my first work experience outside the lab but since I was already interested in entrepreneurship it was a great opportunity to learn about biopharmaceutical market research straight out of graduate school. Clients were the likes of Incyte Genomics, Genentech, Merck Serono, and others. Subsequently I worked in business development roles at Diversa (San Diego, CA, acquired by BASF), Corus Pharma (Seattle, WA), Gilead Sciences (Foster City, CA), Alder Biopharmaceuticals (Bothell, WA), and then three years ago founded my own biopharma company, Vitaeris, headquartered in downtown Vancouver in the Marine Building. I am definitely doing what I always dreamed about when I was back in graduate school - starting my own biotech company. However, the path to get here was not what I anticipated and took a lot of patience waiting for the right opportunity and mentors, while balancing the risk to my family to finally become a biotech entrepreneur. In my current job I enjoy being able to make cross-functional decisions and oversee all aspects of a drug development program, working alongside great people who know their functional areas extremely well. However, with this role comes great responsibility since we are conducting a Phase 3 study in hundreds of patients around the world. It's not something I could have done straight out of grad school. However, having gained a scientific education at UBC has allowed me to take on a business-oriented career in the biotech industry with the ability to evaluate data, better assess scientific risk, and communicate with peers in R&D.
Anything about yourself
My daughter is going off to college this fall, which probably made me reflect more on my own college experience and reconnect with the department. Although Vitaeris is based in Vancouver, I still live in the Seattle area and commute back and forth throughout the year.
Advice to current students
While at UBC, try to cherish your time with your colleagues, friends, supervisors, and staff members in the department. I can't believe how fast the past 20 years has gone by since I left UBC and although I definitely had bad days in the lab, surprisingly I have actually forgotten about them and now just remember the good times. So make sure you take the time to create good memories!
Ph.D. & M.Sc. supervisor: Dr. Julian Davies
- University of British Columbia, 1992, B.Sc./Microbiology
- University of British Columbia, 1996, M.Sc./Microbiology