There are few sectors more exciting or wildly innovative than that of the bioscience field. Biosciences fuel change in our daily lives, exploring life-changing medical sciences that could impact you and your loved ones directly. Dr. Leen Kawas has spent a significant portion of her career at the forefront of several serious discoveries thanks to her work at Athira and Propel Bio Partners.
More than just another figurehead in the rapidly growing biotech sector, Dr. Leen Kawas has a focused approach that has helped to lift several companies under her guidance. Armed with years of experience and a few personal lessons along the way, Dr. Kawas took some time to explore her achievements, missteps, and guidance for others to follow.
A Career in Bioscience Comes Together
More than just another name in the rapidly expanding and progressing biotech field, Dr. Leen Kawas has already added some serious accomplishments to her resume. Kawas began her journey into the bioscience field after finding personal motivation from her grandmother’s experience with Alzheimer’s. Vowing to look for work in a field that could potentially treat her grandmother, Kawas found herself acquiring her Doctorate in Molecular Pharmacology from Washing State University.
After leaving school behind, Dr. Kawas would work as VP of M3 Biotechnology (now known as Athira) where she would headline the development of a leading drug candidate known as ATH-1017. Kawas said of her efforts along the way, “It takes a lot of grit and a lot of resilience.”
Through her first three years with M3, Dr. Kawas would help the company to raise more than $400 million as she guided it through its IPO into September 2020. During this time, Dr. Kawas was recognized by Business Insider and GeekWire for her efforts.
Beginning a New Chapter in Biosciences
After departing from Athira, Dr. Leen Kawas would engineer a partnership with former Athira investor Richard Kayne. The duo would begin talking almost at the instant that Dr. Kawas left her work with Athira, leading to progress and ultimately the development of Propel Bio Partners in short order.
Kawas said of the conversation that Richard Kayne gave her a true wake-up call as she peppered him with questions regarding his concept for Propel. Kayne told Dr. Kawas, “You are not taking a job. You are taking a partner.”
Armed with this new mindset, Dr. Kawas and Richard Kayne would begin work in short order, eventually leading Dr. Kawas to move across the country to Los Angeles. Dr. Kawas said of her decision to relocate, “The proximity to a lot of investors and a new up-and-coming market for life sciences…”
Despite leaving Athira behind, Dr. Kawas is still fully on board and supporting the talented team and the work that she left behind. Dr. Kawas also said that she would consider returning to a CEO position in the future if the timing was right. Kawas added, “Never say never.”