Biosciences and Dr. Leen Kawas: Life, Science, and How it All Comes Together

Biotechnology has long been one of the most important sectors in the advanced scientific field. From the development of life-saving drugs and treatments to the life-changing approaches that day-to-day remedies can find, biotech is pivotal to our world today and into the future.

Dr. Leen Kawas is the former CEO and co-founder of Athira, a promising biotechnology company that has helped to develop several trial drugs including ATH-1017. Now a member of the team at Propel Bio Partners, Dr. Kawas has taken some time out of her day to share the insights and progress that have made her so successful in the field.

From The Beginning With Dr. Kawas

Dr. Leen Kawas first found herself fascinated in the bioscience field due to a personal experience at a young age when her grandmother experienced the deteriorating condition known as Alzheimer’s. Promising that she would find a career that could lead to solutions to those sorts of issues, Kawas would go on to attain her Doctorate in Molecular Pharmacology from Washington State University.

Upon graduating in 2011, Dr. Kawas would find herself on the verge of accepting an academic position with the University of Pittsburgh. A chance encounter with Joseph Harding, her thesis adviser, would lead Dr. Kawas into the biotech field instead, where she would become Vice President of Research at M3 Biotechnology, now known as Athira. Dr. Kawas worked with the team through its transition in 2021.

During her time at Athira, Dr. Kawas was a leader in developing several drug candidates with promising futures, including the aforementioned ATH-1017. Dr. Kawas said of her work, “It takes a lot of grit and a lot of resilience.”

Taking the Next Steps

After departing from Athira, Dr. Kawas would find herself linking with an investor by the name of Richard Kayne. Kayne had previously worked with Kawas during her time at Athira and he understood the success that Kawas had could translate again and again. Kayne and Kawas would soon begin communicating with one another regarding a new venture, ending up as Propel Bio Partners.

The path to Propel wasn’t as simple as it could have been.

After departing from Athira, Dr. Kawas was immediately contacted by a triumvirate of different biotechnology companies, all asking to take her on as CEO. After weighing her options, Dr. Kawas understood that Richard Kayne and Propel Bio Partners were the best fit for her future.

Propel Bio Partners was established with Dr. Kawas fully on board and ready to change the world. Leen Kawas said of her decision to join Kayne at Propel Bio Partners, “I always wanted to have a bigger impact on our industry as well as the diversity aspect of leadership in our industry. Things have been going really well.”

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