Sep 14, 2018 - Bernadine Locsin
Meet Chorom Pak - CEO and Founder of Lynx Biosciences, who originally founded the biotech company in Madison, WI. We’re guessing the move to San Diego was proposed during those harsh Midwest winter months... Read our interview with her below to see why she decided to move her entire company and team here, how the move has impacted their business, and what’s ahead for LynxBio.
Give your company’s 30-second elevator pitch.
Lynx Biosciences is developing a platform to rapidly identify effective treatment options for cancer patients by characterizing patient-individual cancer behavior & disease evolution.
Describe how your role makes an impact at your company.
As the CEO of Lynx Biosciences, I plan, implement, and integrate the strategic direction of the company and manage operations. My team and I strive to develop the highest quality products and services to meet the needs of cancer patients.
What made you move your company to San Diego? How has it impacted the business?
We founded Lynx Biosciences in Madison, WI, where most of our team went to graduate school or held post-doc appointments at the time. In 2017, we decided to relocate LynxBio to an environment that is more conducive to scaling up a biotech company and were evaluating three different biotech clusters. After a random email exchange with Steve Poizner and attending BIO International, the scale was tipped toward SD since we made many valuable connections with investors, collaborators, and strategic partners in the area. In the fall of 2017, we were also invited to join Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s JLABS incubator as well as EvoNexus, and that sealed the deal for the team.
Some of our team members are from CA originally, so everyone was very happy to move out during the coldest month of the Midwest winter. We are humbled and very grateful for the warm welcome we have received from the local community, and LynxBio has tremendously benefited from the proximity to mentors, partners, and investors. We won EvoNexus’ demo day in March, were able to make amazing additions to our team, and ramped up clinical studies and R&D. Both Evo and JLABS have been extremely supportive, and JLABS in particular is the best environment any biotech start-up could wish for!
What’s ahead for your industry in San Diego and beyond?
The success and growth of Illumina and other biotech companies has earned San Diego its reputation as the “genomics capital of the world”. If we look at the developments in that domain over the past ten years, the cost of NGS of the entire genome and for cancer panels has decreased dramatically, but only a very small fraction of patients (<5%) currently benefits from genome-targeted therapy. We see a lot of potential in combining genomic profiling with other, complementary data sets garnered from the patients’ primary cancer cells. This all-embracing, data-driven approach will improve our understanding of the development and progression of cancer and, ultimately, bring us closer to a personalized precision oncology approach.
San Diego unifies all the required building-blocks and key drivers in a high-density cluster and will play a leadership role in that process!
Describe how the unique talent available in SD has affected your business’s success.
San Diego has an incredible R&D ecosystem in the life sciences and STEM fields. UCSD, SDSU, The Scripps Research Institute, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Illumina, Qualcomm, General Atomics, the SD Supercomputer Center, and other (non- and for-profit) organizations make SD the most concentrated R&D market in the U.S. The highly-trained talent flocking to and emerging from these world-renowned institutions is extremely vital to the life sciences economy and start-up scene of Southern California.
In addition, we found San Diego to be a very special place to grow a business in that the entire community is very supportive, accessible, and extremely collaborative. Add geographical constraints into the mix and you end up with a high-density cluster of innovation. LynxBio has already extremely benefitted from this ecosystem in many different areas of our business and we are happy to give back where we can, the same way how others are generously sharing their time, know-how, and resources with us.
Describe how San Diego’s quality of life influences your business.
San Diego consistently ranks among the best cities in the US. It is a wonderful city to live in, but also very easy to get out of. We have year-round sunshine and can walk to a state park and the beach from our lab, so that is a great option either very early in the morning or after work on a Friday. San Diegans work hard, but it is also easier to foster a culture of balance in the workplace since recreational activities are very accessible. That, in combination with shorter commutes than in other hubs, makes for happy employees.
From a business perspective, the mentioned high density of biopharma in the Torrey Pines and Sorrento Valley area makes collaboration easier, and conversations are often held outside. We consider ourselves extremely fortunate.
What’s your favorite part about living in San Diego?
So many great parts that it is impossible to single one out… I’d say the close-knit biotech community, the weather, proximity to the ocean, the food, craft beers, and the fact that it takes less than 10 minutes to get to the international airport.