WIB members are making strides in their roles, their communities, and industries. We asked Iris to share her impact with us, and here is what she told us:
What does impact mean to you?
My preferred form of IMPACT is the one that leaves behind a trail of significant improvement. It can result in course correction or, alternatively, in a solidified conviction in the original path — either way, the result has to be preceded by an evidence-based process involving analysis, conclusions, and measurable outcomes. It is often tightly coupled with emotional, cultural, or other less tangible attributes that are ultimately needed to cement the lasting effects — and therefore magnitude — of the IMPACT.
To me, it is about fighting (or hopefully curing) diseases that plague humanity through multi-disciplinary collaboration and courageous ingenuity. Role modeling this worldview is also a fundamental component of my philosophy in raising a family of four happy, driven, and virtuous children — perhaps my ultimate IMPACT in this world…
Can you tell us what your current role is?
I am the Chief Therapeutics Officer at Eleven Therapeutics. We are on a mission to develop the next generation of nucleic acid therapeutics by harnessing the power of combinatorial chemistry, synthetic biology, and A.I., transforming drug R&D into a programmable process. I oversee the therapeutic pipeline, from Discovery onwards, and lead associated partnering and IP efforts of the company.
Thinking about impact, can you describe 2–3 projects or initiatives you were involved in that mark a major achievement for you in your role?
– Ushering a therapeutics division into a platform-driven company (Tech Bio) has been a rewarding challenge, involving the establishment of a strategic grid for prioritization of asset programs; internalization of disciplines such as CMC; and tailoring a network of CROs and KOLs to prosecute against nominated programs — to name a few. The impact: promising therapeutic assets; increased conviction of investors and partners in our platform; and a clear vision and strategy that employees (existing and newly hired) deeply relate to.
– In order to showcase the value proposition of our novel platform, my team invests a significant amount of time and effort in designing and executing “Platform Proof-of-Principle” studies, both in vitro and in vivo, aimed to demonstrate the platform’s attributes. Since the platform is our core differentiator in the industry, it is critical that we characterize its output’s efficacy, safety, and durability in vivo as soon as feasible
How has your membership in WIB helped you in your professional growth?
Thanks to a dear friend, I joined WIB immediately upon setting foot in Boston five years ago. I had taken my first Chief Science Officer role at the time and wanted to acquire a local network of executive leaders that would openly and transparently serve as friends, sage advisors, and networking collaborators. I achieved all of these through both WIB and EWIB (Executive Women In Bio). The courses I took through EWIB further enhanced my knowledge and skill set and allowed me to identify a coach, as well as to serve as a mentor to rising stars. I find that exceedingly, my go-to group of trusted colleagues is a contingency of EWIB, and I am proud to be part of such a powerful — and empowering — organization.
How do you plan to further your impact in the future?
My career aspirations are lofty because I believe in the mission and sense of duty to do everything in my power to solve human suffering from curable diseases. In an era when so many modalities are in existence, deeming the term “undruggable” defunct, I look to train and expand industry efforts to develop better and faster therapeutic solutions. I expect that collaboration between different players in the ecosystem will become crucial, as will the ability to intersect medicine, biology, chemistry, A.I., and clinico-genomic real-world evidence (RWE). Championing the “space in between” and mentoring leaders to operate effectively within it is a passion of mine. I trust EWIB will be a key partner in this journey.