Our client:  

OxStem is a regenerative medicine drug discovery company developing small molecule therapeutics targeting innate regeneration and repair of endogenous stem and progenitor cells in situ. This unique approach to regenerative medicine will:

  • Deliver small molecule therapeutics that augment repair mechanisms that already exist within the body
  • Exploit a deep understanding of the chemical underpinnings of stem and progenitor cell function and differentiation
  • Generate a collection of drug candidates to awaken endogenous cells to repair tissues affected by disease or injury

OxStem is positioned to transform the field of therapeutics for what are typically age-related conditions, such as dementia, heart failure, retinal diseases, oncology and diabetes. The company has an internationally respected top tier scientific team with a strong track record in both translational bioscience and commercialising world-class scientific innovation.


The challenge:

Reporting to the CEO, the successful candidate would support and work closely with the scientific founders, along with the COO and the International Scientific Advisory Board. The successful candidate would need to develop and deliver the research strategy to support progression of potential therapeutic candidates from early stage discovery research to candidate selection, and ideally to early stage clinical development, in the disease areas of interest to OxStem. Managing the virtual research model and the close relationship with Oxford University while building an in-house R&D capability required a person with controlled ego and considerable subject matter expertise.

Success would be measured through how well the various disease area strategies are executed and aligned to the overall R&D objectives while supporting Corporate Development to define the external strategy and execute on licensing & partnership alliances within specific disease areas. The position would, over time, lead and manage Program Directors for the various disease areas, including teams.


How our approach made a difference:

Our search for candidates was UK and EU-focused with additional reach into the US to ensure that we included all the best possible candidate profiles and personalities. The reputations of the founding scientists made this opportunity a strong pull for high calibre candidates. The ideal CSO profile included subject expertise in at least one of the major therapy areas as well as experience taking stem cells into clinic.

The main challenge was that the CSO would initially be managing a virtual team consisting of a small number of employees, alongside a much larger number of consultants, the structure of which needed to be re-shaped. Also, much of the science was still dependent on the University of Oxford, from which OxStem spun out, rather than being controlled within the company.

The whole process was completed within the target timeframe and a high- quality candidate based in China who was willing to relocate back to Europe was appointed.

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