Co-Founder in Residence, Nanoparticle design for Neurofibromatosis gene therapy

ABOUT THE ROLE

At DSV we’re looking for future Founders, entrepreneurially minded individuals with industry-specific technical and commercial domain expertise eager to solve urgent unmet challenges through venture building.

You will join DSV’s venture creation programme as a Founder in Residence and work closely with the DSV team, using our methodology, to spin-out a new company. During the programme, you’ll work on all aspects related to venture creation in this opportunity area, including working out the optimal approach to solve for the desired outcome, building a team and building a viable business case. Once the new venture is incorporated with pre-seed investment from DSV, you and your co-founders will own the majority stake in the business and continue receiving support from the DSV team post-spinout.

The role is full-time and fully remote until venture incorporation and spin-out, after – TBD. 

THE OPPORTUNITY AREA

Neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) is one of the most prevalent human genetic diseases. Affecting ~1:3000 people globally, its global incidence is comparable to that of cystic fibrosis. NF2-related schwannomatosis (SWN), a similar genetic disorder, affects an additional ~1:33,000. The burden of these diseases is large and multi-dimensional, encompassing the characteristic development of nerve sheath tumours, alongside chronic pain, vision loss, hearing loss, musculoskeletal disfigurement and increased risk of other cancers. Neurofibromatosis also brings with it a range of significant cognitive, psychosocial, and socioeconomic challenges.

Partly hindered by a broad, unpredictable mutational landscape, current NF therapy is limited to non-curative drugs or tumour resection surgery, targeting downstream disease manifestations with limited clinical efficacy and often high risk. But what if we could address the root cause of NF? What if we could correct loss of gene function with a mutation-agnostic gene replacement therapy? This represents the holy grail of NF1/2 treatment and is our goal at Deep Science Ventures.

Given the range of distinct NF tumour subtypes and their broad anatomical distribution, we will circulate our drug widely throughout the body whilst ensuring selective activity exactly where it is needed. To achieve this safely and efficiently, we will build tailored delivery systems and are looking for an inspiring co-founder to help us do so. All this with our north star outcome at the forefront: simultaneously preventing and curing NF tumours across the entire NF1 and NF2-SWN patient population. 

OUR APPROACH

We are designing a precise and conditional gene replacement therapy capable of delivering NF1/2 transgenes to multiple cell and tumour types in vivo. Beyond tumour regression, we are developing the technology to cure and prevent disease in the NF patient population. We will be exploring how next-generation nanoparticles can help us achieve this ambitious aim, focusing on novel techniques to enable safe, selective and efficient distribution throughout multiple biological compartments. By solving shared constraints between indications, we also aim to maximise the platform potential of our therapy. 

WHO SHOULD APPLY

Essential (must-have):

  • You have a PhD and/or medical background in gene therapy,  nanomedicine, medicinal chemistry, biomedical engineering, or non-viral delivery systems;
  • Expertise in Lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) or other nanoparticle delivery systems, including nucleic acid payload delivery and  functionalization;
  • Understanding of nanomedicine at the chemical and manufacturing level;
  • You are highly motivated by unsolved challenges in genetic diseases and are driven to transform the way we approach these challenges;
  • You are innovative, creative, and guided by first-principles thinking;
  • You have clear entrepreneurial spirit (demonstrated through impactful innovation) and the desire to create a company developing curative solutions for genetic diseases. 

Preferred (nice-to-have):

  • Drug discovery or (pre-)clinical development expertise;
  • Deep biological insight into Neurofibromatosis pathophysiology and genetics;
  • background in oncology and rare disease; 
  • Robust bioinformatics and data analysis skills;
  • Track record of high quality publications in the field, or thought leadership in the field;
  • High level industry experience in either pharma, biotech, scientific start-ups, life sciences consulting, life sciences VC, or have previously been an inventor/contributor on patents, etc.;
  • Fundraising and commercial expertise, particularly in a VC setting.

OUR OFFER

By joining DSV, you’ll be joining a team of operators who have founded companies and led translation of science at some of the most respected universities, charities, funds and government agencies. 2/3 of the team have founded or led a company at C-suite and 65% have a PhD. Our team dedicate several hours every week to each Founder or founding team to provide tailored guidance, resources and feedback covering every aspect of what it takes to successfully launch a new venture from both the tech and commercial perspectives:

  • We provide optimised, purpose-built, proprietary tools, resources and processes to help create high-impact ventures from scratch, using our venture creation methodology. 
  • We draw on opportunity area specific know-how provided by our network of Partners and Advisors;
  • We provide £250k launch investment (subject to  Investment Committee approval) to incorporate the new venture and develop early proof-of-concept data that’s needed to attract high profile VCs as well as non-dilutive grant funding. We provide guaranteed income of £4,166 per month paid to each Founder-in-Residence as a consultancy fee until the company is launched and the pre-seed investment is secured;
  • You and the Founder-in-Residence, together with any additional co-founders, will own a majority equity stake in the company;
  • We provide continuous support after post spin-out, including fundraising, commercial partnerships, recruitment and team-building (amongst other things); plus
  • There are dozens of Founders currently at DSV across sectors working collaboratively and supporting one another – a unique resource to draw on.

WHO YOU’LL BE JOINING

You will be joining Dr. Liron Elkouby, an accomplished scientific leader with many years of experience in leading gene therapy programs. Liron, a co-founder and former CSO at NOGA Therapeutics, previously held various scientific roles at Spark Therapeutics and Enlivex Therapeutics. Liron’s extensive background in pre-clinical gene therapy development, along with her outstanding professionalism and ambition, makes her a top talent to work with. 

ABOUT DSV

Deep Science Ventures is creating a future in which both humans and the planet can thrive. 

We use our unique venture creation process to create, spin-out and invest into science companies, combining available scientific knowledge and founder-type scientists into high-impact ventures. 

We operate in 4 sectors: Pharmaceuticals, Climate, Agriculture and Computation, tackling the challenges defining those areas by taking a first principles approach and partnering with leading institutions.