Academic exploring industry - a case study


NaMeS students are invited to IPC PAS Seminar within CREATE Lectures "Innovation source" delivered by:

Prof. Jakub Gołąb

Department of Immunology 

Medical University of Warsaw

Tuesday, 25th June, 2019, 10.00


Assembly hall of the IPC PAS


Life consists of many accidental opportunities. It is expected that you choose wisely, but in fact you never know what is the best path. In 2010 I was elected to become a member of the first Research Council of National Science Centre. I joined the board as a successful researcher with lots of ideas and numerous research projects carried out with an expanding group of excellent researchers. During one of the first meetings, for the sake of transparency, we voted that the members of the Research Council will not be allowed to apply for funds from NCN. It meant that I will not be able to get funding for my basic research for the next 4 years!  Fortunately at that time I still had a decent grant from Foundation for Polish Science (TEAM) and an additional funding within MISTRZ programme of the same institution. However, the perspectives for further grants in basic research seemed rather murky. Together with members of my team we decided to apply to NCBiR with a brilliant idea to develop a novel technology for human antibodies production. We have started a small company called HUMON, but despite huge efforts of the team we failed to develop the technology. But in 2011 I received a call from prof. Ryszard Ostaszewski from the Institute of Organic Chemistry, Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, with whom I was developing novel anticancer compounds, that two of his colleagues (Adam Gołębiowski and Staszek Pikul) that worked for many years in the pharma industry in the USA would like to start a drug discovery company in Poland and Ryszard has recommended me as a suitable partner in the biology field. I was very intrigued and soon after I was called by Dr. Jacek Olczak, a third member of the forming group, who was running a typical chemical CRO company in Lodz (Trimen Chemicals). Jacek visited me in my lab and we had a very interesting conversation that convinced me that joining this group of excellent medicinal chemists will be a good choice. After dozens of phone calls, meetings and hundreds of e-mails we have finally started OncoArendi Therapeutics. With a huge organizational effort OncoArendi has become one of the most successful Polish drug discover companies that develops drugs for asthma, chronic inflammatory diseases and cancer. Two years ago I left the company to stay in academia. I was not able to commit my full time for a company. But the experience and lessons learned from this experience led me to join Jacek Jemielity, Joanna Kowalska and Dominika Nowis with a new idea to develop personalized cancer vaccines based on cap-modified mRNA delivery. We have started ExPLoRNA Therapeutics, a spin-off company from Warsaw University that will soon deliver new therapeutics to cancer patients. The presentation will cover these industrial adventures with pros and cons from academic perspective. 

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 711859.