7 Millennial Influencers in the Biotech Industry
There are several things you may notice when glancing at this list of the top biotech leaders from the millennial generation. One, many of them are women. Two, they work for private companies, not universities, and to take that one step further, they also founded these companies themselves. These are major accomplishments and strides which show how the industry is vastly evolving and changing. When referencing the previous lists of top baby boomer and Generation X leaders in the biotech field, men and university researchers took home most of the accolades for the advancements. Therefore, it’s fascinating to see things moving in an entirely new direction thanks to the work of these seven millennial biotech influencers.
Natsai Audrey Chieza – Faber Futures
Natsai Audrey Chieza founded Faber Futures, a London, England-based company that specializes in synthetic biodesign. She holds advanced degrees from the University of Edinburgh, as well as Central Saint Martins, where she studied, respectively, architectural design and future materials design. After spending several years working in the fashion and textile industries, Chieza made the leap into biotech. In 2017, Faber Futures, a research and design lab, opened its doors. While Chieza is well known for her accomplishments in the field, her TEDtalks are what really opened people’s eyes to the amazing things Faber Futures is doing for the industry.
Leen Kawas – Athira Pharma
The current president and CEO of Athira Pharma, Leen Kawas, recently received accolades for being placed on the list of French-American Foundation's 2019 class of Young Leaders. Athira Pharma specializes in developing medications for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Leen has a Ph.D. in molecular cancer pharmacology from Washington State University. While there, she noticed that while there are a lot of women in biotech, there weren’t many leading the way. She set about to change this and has made waves for achieving a lot at a young age.
Afton Vechery and Carly Leahy – Modern Fertility
Afton Vechery and Carly Leahy have proven that sometimes harnessing existing technology in a brand new way quickly becomes the impetus to inventing a breakthrough and important biotech device. Modern Fertility is a company that makes a tool used to test hormone levels in the blood to determine whether or not a woman is ovulating. While many women use apps to track their cycles when they’re trying to conceive, the test created by Modern Fertility is much more accurate and reliable. Both women, Vechery and Leahy, clearly know how to spearhead a cause and make a difference in their field.
Ian McDermott – Cell Free Tech
Ian McDermott is currently the chief science officer of Cell Free Tech. McDermott previously worked for the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, where he specialized in engineering proteins. One of the missions of Ireland-based Cell Free Tech is to develop ultra-compact DNA storage systems that can hold Exabytes (a billion gigabytes) of data. With it, scientists can more easily decode DNA using new machines designed to separate it out into proteins, molecules, and enzymes. The technology will be able to handle this in mere hours, instead of the days that it currently takes machines to do this same task.
Dakota Hamill and Jake Cotter – Prospective Research
Dakota Hamill and Jake Cotter, the CEO and COO respectively of Prospective Research, have plans to change the future of antibiotics. They work in the biotech segment of the aquaculture industry, adjusting the ways in which millions of microbes in the guts of farmed fish and shellfish react. Their technology can change how those microbes act, turning them into antibiotics without having to introduce traditional medications into the sea creature’s systems. Although their current plans are only for these sea creatures, can you imagine what this technology may do to the future of how humans take antibiotics?
Without question, these amazing millennial influencers are changing and shaping the face of the biotech industry, even today, and will continue to do so. Their dedication and innovation bring exciting promise as we look to new biotech advancements that are merely on the horizon.