Dr Caroline Barelle: Defining Proficiency with Fervent Leadership

Most Powerful Women in Business 2023

The world has witnessed rapid technology progress in every sector and the pharmaceutical industry is no exception. The demands for safe and effective drugs, and technological solutions to increase clinical success rate are getting higher everyday, and thus, new discovery and development processes are needed. Understanding this need and sworn to its attainment, Dr Caroline Barelle, CEO of Elasmogen Ltd, a highly qualified and proficient in Pharma and biotech, is working to bring effective medical solutions for all.

Caroline has worked in the life sciences sector for many years initially in an academic setting and laterally in the biotech and pharma arena. She believes that one becomes a leader as soon as he/she impacts others by providing support and insight which in Caroline’s case, in the early years, was as a post-doctoral fellow in a research lab. After ten years of academic research, she transitioned into the biotech sector which she absolutely loved and then into a team leader position in big pharma where she was leading a team of scientists in drug discovery and development. Opportunity struck when the pharma company restructured, closing her team’s site and leaving a number of incredibly talented scientists looking elsewhere. This was the catalyst for founding a new biotech company based on the technology they had developed as a team. That was over six years ago now and they are still going.

In such a complex and changing world as drug development, the team around is everything. Elasmogen’s science team is exceptional, innovative and committed and is the engine for the company. As a drug discovery company, ultimately Elasmogen’s endpoint customers are patients and the company never loses sight of what it is trying to achieve which is bringing new effective medicines into the clinic for unmet medical conditions. In reality, given the significant cost and substantial risk of new medicine development, the company’s strategy is to develop novelty and improved efficacy over existing drugs as well as creating completely new drugs and to partner with large pharma to take these drugs into the clinic.

According to Caroline, their field of drug development is biologics – drugs that originate within the body such as antibodies which can be engineered to detect and destroy diseased tissue. It is a hot area with substantial competition. Elasmogen’s technology lends itself to tackle many different diseases and as a small company, it simply does not have the bandwidth to do everything so its strategy is to collaborate with companies and academia who bring both expertise and other technologies. This way both can combine together to find solutions to treat complex diseases.

Caroline strives to be transparent (given the unstable nature of biotech companies), inclusive and mindful of individual needs to create an environment where open conversation and debate is encouraged and where everyone shares a common goal which is ultimately the continued success of the company. Working in the life sciences industry, she has had the privilege of working with people from all cultures and backgrounds throughout her career. It is by nature a diverse sector and this adds incredible value to all aspects of scientific research whether it be in the public or private domain. The team is small but it has a rich diversity of nationalities which benefits the company and which the company will continue to foster.

Throughout Caroline’s career, she has always tried to be as supportive as she can to others to provide them with the opportunity for self-development and to progress in whatever direction they wish to take. For anyone in a leadership role, there is a responsibility to ensure that one creates opportunity and training as required and go that extra mile to use connections and network to help others to reach their potential. She takes honesty, integrity, resilience and compassion as the most crucial traits which every leader must possess.

Caroline’s future objective for her company is “To continue to build this company, to expand both the scientific and management team, to increase its portfolio of collaborations and bring our first product into the clinic.”

About the Leader

With postgraduate qualifications in both business and science, Caroline has a strong commercial, bio partnering and biologics drug discovery/development background. For over 4 years she has successfully led teams at Wyeth Inc and subsequently Pfizer Inc in Global Biotherapeutic Technologies progressing from early platform technologies to late stage clinical development. Prior to this she was Alliance and Programs Manager at Haptogen Ltd and a key part of the acquisition team that successfully exited the business to Wyeth Inc.

Caroline has been awarded a prestigious Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowship and is a doctoral graduate from the University of Aberdeen in Biochemistry and holds an MBA from Robert Gordon’s University.

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