I was very lucky to have opportunity to work with many brilliant scientists and colleagues during my scientific and business career. I am very grateful to my colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (2001-2003) who introduced me to the world of professional science — Andrew Fire’s talk in 2002 about RNAi changed my perspective on career and defined RNAi (siRNA and microRNA based cancer therapeutics) as research interest for many years ahead. Looking for RNAi job was a challenge – there were very few RNAi companies at that time – Dharmacon in Colorado, and Ambion in Texas. I joined Ambion in 2003 – the RNAi team of extremely bright scientists with many innovative ideas, constant brainstorming and new concept testing every day — years later, several scientists who were part of the RNAi team created their own successful companies focusing on various technologies – from stem cells and oil degrading bacteria to cancer research and clinical trials.
Working at Ambion was unique experience in many other aspects — in 2004 I started UT College of Pharmacy graduate program while still working at Ambion full time — in fact, most of my graduate studies were paid by Ambion. For several years to be a full time employee, full time student, and a father of two – was an intensive challenge with sleep being often optional. RNAi technology was gaining more and more interest in both academia and large pharma industry, that gave me unique opportunity as Ambion’s scientist to present company RNAi technology to a number of large pharma companies, such as Novartis in Boston, Pfizer in Paris, GSK in London — many of these contacts led to research collaborations. I am very grateful to Ambion team and colleagues I worked with, and glad that we are still very good friends with many of them.
In 2009, after graduate school and accumulating years of experience in academia and biotechnology industry – I had a number of new technology development ideas, “personal guarantee” business loan and unlimited work day – probably the best recipe for any entrepreneur. Since 2009, I am still a founder of several startups — few of them gradually developed into high tech industry companies. The first company (Altogen Labs) was founded in 2009 with a single client at the time – Terapio Corporation, a biotechnology company I collaborated with while in graduate school. In 2010 Altogen Labs received GLP certification and employed 8 full time scientists. In 2013 Altogen Labs joined the TVL program at UT Texas Venture Labs, McCombs Business School with the project to commercialize a bioremediation technology we developed for oil contaminated sites. In 2015 Altogen Labs was recognized as on of the best biotech laboratories in Austin, TX. Altogen Labs specializes in preclinical contract research studies, developing and testing new medicines to make sure they are both effective and safe. Preclinical laboratory research is crucial part of establishing any new compound biological activity (f.e. tumor growth suppressor), performing compound safety tests in vitro and in vivo, discovering mechanism of action, and at the end – generating novel research data that are required for regulatory submissions, patent applications, and various types of pilot research studies.