TRACEY MULLEN, CEO OF ABVERIS - INTERVIEW WITH WBM TOP 100 INNOVATION CEO
TRACEY MULLEN, CEO OF ABVERIS HAS BEEN SELECTED BY THE JUDGES OF WORLD BIZ MAGAZINE'S ANNUAL AWARDS TO BE A RECIPIENT OF THE TOP 100 CEOS IN INNOVATION AWARD 2021. THIS SELECTION FOLLOWS A STRINGENT PROCESS THAT EVALUATED OVER 40,000 NOMINEES TO SELECT THE EXCLUSIVE LIST OF 100 WINNERS.
"We believe we owe it to our industry to provide cutting-edge technologies for antibody discovery."
Tracey Mullen is a chemical-biological engineer from MIT who began her career as a scientist at a start-up antibody discovery research organization. In this role, she managed 100+ antibody development projects over the course of two years to help accelerate new drugs to the clinic.
In 2013, she joined the Antibody Discovery team at Biogen where she optimized cutting-edge technologies for the discovery and engineering of new therapeutic antibodies, with a focus on some of the industry’s most challenging and elusive targets. In 2018, Tracey joined Abveris as the Director of Antibody Discovery Operations, where she managed technical project design and management before her promotion to Chief Operating Officer in 2019. During her tenure as COO, Tracey co-led the implementation of a next-generation antibody discovery platform that has propelled the company's exponential growth, solidifying Abveris as a premium partner to some of the world's top biopharma organizations.
Tracey is now the Chief Executive Officer of Abveris, where she continues to push the boundaries of antibody discovery through strategic organizational improvement and technical development. When she is off the clock, Tracey can be found on the side of cliffs around the world pursuing her primary passion outside of work: rock climbing.
Abveris is a premier antibody discovery partner, offering end-to-end mAb discovery solutions to biotech and biopharma companies of all sizes. Abveris provides its partners access to multiple technology platforms with optimized workflows for immunizations, screening, characterization, sequencing, purification, and recombinant production.
Abveris is experiencing fast growth, please highlight some achievements in both scientific and commercial aspects?
Over the last 12 months, our organization has exited the “start-up phase” and entered a period of massive growth. This growth can be seen across all areas of the organization:
Science / Innovation
Launched next-generation technology enabling Abveris to identify therapeutic antibodies with unprecedented resolution, precision, and speed (weeks instead of months).
Identified hundreds of lead antibodies to support the clinical development of new therapeutic and diagnostic products for pharma organizations.
Released more than 20 characterized antibodies for COVID-19 applications to support under-resourced scientists in need of tools to fight the pandemic.
Sales / Partnerships
Increased average quarterly sales by 135%
Repeat business from 82% of partners
Started working with 40 new partners
Operations / Personnel
Increased headcount from 20 to 35
Won Business Intelligence Group’s “Best Places to Work” award in 2021
Retained all but 1 employee through the COVID pandemic
How has Abveris gained its reputation for innovation?
At Abveris, innovation is one of our core values. As an antibody discovery partner (and a team of antibody -enthusiasts), we make it our mission to stay at the forefront of the industry through a continued focus on scientific innovation and advancement. We believe we owe it to our industry to provide cutting-edge technologies for antibody discovery; we are continuously evaluating first- or best-in-class platforms.
Our innovation is not limited only to our science — we have taken some unique steps on the business and operational side as well. Some examples are listed below, but these are just a few representations of this overarching organizational mission.
Launched a trial period of a four-day work week, establishing ourselves as the first biotech company on the East Coast (USA) to do so.
Early adoption of bleeding-edge technologies to provide the most accelerated options for antibody discovery (for example, Abveris was the first service provider to offer single B cell antibody discovery workflows enabled by the Berkeley Lights Beacon).
Options for unique, non-traditional business models to give innovative scientists access to drug discovery. We will always find a way to work with partners who require a low upfront cash commitment by incorporating success-based (and/or equity-bearing) partnership options.
What advantages do your partners appreciate most about working with Abveris?
The most significant benefit of working with Abveris is unparalleled quality, in both our service and deliverables. Our partners appreciate that we provide accelerated drug discovery while leveraging industry-leading best-in-class technologies — enabling the highest-quality deliverables possible. Working with a company like Abveris provides our partners with the opportunity to explore alternative technologies with a team of passionate and dedicated antibody experts. We promise a deliverable, not just a service, which is evident throughout the entire process from sales to execution. A few of the outstanding qualities partners have appreciated can be found below, though the complete list is far more extensive.
Accelerated drug discovery – enables fast followers and new-to-market therapies to transition to the clinic sooner.
Unique integration of industry-leading platforms – ensures the best workflow is followed for any given campaign. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach at Abveris.
Experienced project design and execution – Abveris has completed 100+ campaigns against cell surface receptors alone (a traditionally challenging class of therapeutic targets). This enables the team to design projects based on past experience and success, thereby de-risking the discovery process.
Exceptional project management and partner attention – our dedicated project managers are available around the clock to answer questions. Scientific sales and leadership teams – our organization is science-forward, meaning we put scientific integrity first.
Abveris has completed 100+ campaigns against cell surface receptors alone (a traditionally challenging class of therapeutic targets).
What is a major challenge in the biologics industry for partners and how is Abveris solving it?
The biologics drug discovery industry suffers from fragmented and misaligned views on what qualifies as the “best platform” for antibody discovery. As a result, organizations specializing in distinct, solitary platforms are common, all claiming that their technology is the answer to all antibody development problems. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case — there is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to drug discovery for modern therapeutic targets. I believe the answer to this issue involves a unique integration of new and existing technologies leveraged intelligently for each new discovery effort.
At Abveris, we prioritize the continued evaluation of new technologies and collaborations with organizations specializing in alternative technologies — broadening the suite of tools available to our partners for successful antibody discovery. With each new campaign, we learn more about what works (and more importantly, what does not work) for different classes of targets. Going forward, we will continue to prioritize new technology development and implementation to have the right platform for any given drug discovery project, not the same platform for all.
How has COVID-19 influenced your view on leadership?
If the past year has taught us anything, it is how important leaders are to our organizations, our families, our social movements, our countries, and even our own health and safety. We can no longer afford to have bad leaders.
While different industries and organizations require different leadership styles, there are fundamental commonalities across all—empathy, transparency, and drive to name the top three. But an essential quality that sets a good leader apart from a great leader is a deep understanding of her organization and the people she is fortunate enough to lead. A great leader does not take a leadership role; she naturally becomes a leader through equitable action and integrity, and she is lifted into the position by those around her. A leader is only as good as the team she leads.
Final word about Abveris.
We are antibody enthusiasts working to discover biologics that target the most challenging classes of therapeutic targets. We provide industry-leading solutions for therapeutic and reagent antibody developers. We have built a strong reputation on our ability to deliver outstanding science.
For more information, please visit: www.abveris.com