Fate Therapeutics Trims 40 Employees, Bets on Biotech Drugs  
7/7/2011 7:59:59 AM

Fate Therapeutics, the high-profile stem cell startup in San Diego, has made some limited job cuts in recent months and changed strategy to focus on biotech drugs—instead of conventional small molecules—to coax stem cells into becoming a useful therapies. The company, founded by leading scientists at Harvard University, Stanford University, and the University of Washington, has reduced its staff to about 25 people as it eliminated jobs of a “handful” of small molecule chemists, according to executive chairman John Mendlein. That’s down from about 40 employees a year ago, according to a Fate spokeswoman at the time, although Mendlein says the company headcount was only about 31 at its highest, because some people have been indirectly supported through company-sponsored research grants. Fate’s internal cuts, which came in February, were partially offset by hiring some new people with skills in making biologic molecules, Mendlein says. By dropping the small molecule work, Fate shelved two drug development programs that sought to alter a cell-growth pathway known as hedgehog. The strategic changes all came around the time when CEO Paul Grayson left the company.