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20 May, 2019 - 09:00 By Tony Quested

Mogrify hires big and becomes anchor tenant at TusPark bio hub

Mogrify leadership team

Turbocharged cell therapies startup Mogrify has hit the afterburners with the appointment of 15 significant new staff and the decision to become anchor tenant at the new, Chinese-financed Bio-Innovation Centre at Cambridge Science Park.

Mogrify is exploiting transformational technology that can convert any mature cell type into any other mature cell type without going through a pluripotent stem cell – or even a progenitor cell-state. 

The thrusting young UK business has unveiled 15 new staff, including Dr Karin Schmitt as chief business officer and Joe Foster as chief operating officer.

In a parallel move it has relocated to TusPark’s recently completed Bio-Innovation Centre at the Science Park, taking 12,000 sq ft of laboratory and office space.

CEO Dr Darrin Disley says these new hires and facilities will help Mogrify accelerate a scalable infrastructure to generate IP around its novel cell conversion to power the development and manufacture of new cell therapies across multiple therapeutic areas.

The high flyer’s new team members include cell scientists, bioinformaticians and executives, bringing current headcount currently to 20.

Dr Karin Schmitt will lead Mogrify’s commercial operations and its R & D function in her role as chief business officer. She has over 25 years’ experience with a sustained track record of successful leadership roles within the life sciences, biotech and therapeutic industries at Exelixis, Inc., Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Horizon Discovery Group plc and PredictImmune. 

Dr Schmitt has brought over 20 innovative products to market internationally across a wide scientific spectrum, with recent emphasis on clinical products and has additional experience in legal, commercial and regulatory pathways. She obtained her PhD in molecular biology at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles followed by three years of post-doctoral research in genetics at the University of Cambridge.

Joe Foster’s role as chief operating officer will consist of managing the corporate operations as well as driving Mogrify’s IP management function. He began his career at Horizon Discovery working within the corporate development team gaining experience in business planning, licensing, technology evaluation and M & A analysis, before becoming Dr Jonathan Milner's (co-founder of Abcam plc) portfolio manager where he built and managed a complex portfolio of more than 40 early-stage life science companies. 

Foster holds a degree in Molecular & Cellular Biology from the University of Bath and an MPhil in Business Management from the University of Cambridge.

CEO Dr Disley said: “We are growing a world-class scientific and executive team that will enable Mogrify to become a global leader in the development of novel cell conversion IP that underpins the development of lifesaving cell therapies. 

“The new Bio-Innovation Centre at the Cambridge Science Park offers outstanding facilities, service and networks to its tenants and we’re thrilled to be joining them at this exciting time.”

Kevin Lin, president, TusPark UK, added: “Mogrify’s direct cellular conversion technology has the potential to transform cell therapy and we’re delighted to have their expert team join us at our new state-of-the-art research facilities at the centre of the Cambridge cluster.”

The Mogrify platform takes a systematic big data approach to identify, from next-generation sequencing and gene-regulatory networks, the transcription factors (in vitro) or small molecules (in vivo), needed to convert a cell. By bypassing the stem cell-stage of cell transformation, Mogrify simultaneously addresses challenges associated with efficacy, safety and scalability.

Uniquely positioned to address a cell therapy market estimated to be $35 billion by 2023, Mogrify is commercialising its technology via IP licensing, product development and drug development. The company has raised $3.7 million seed funding from Ahren Innovation Capital, 24Haymarket and Dr Disley.

TusPark is a leading global ecosystem in technology and service and is proving increasingly influential in Cambridge. It manages over 300 incubators, science parks and science cities worldwide and invests in seven sectors including life sciences. It has incubated over 6,000 enterprises. 

Tuspark has assets under management of more than £20 billion and over 800 portfolios including nine publicly listed companies.

Tuspark Cambridge is a landmark £200m joint venture with Trinity College which includes 350,000 sq ft of office/lab space that is developed over five new buildings, including the Bio-Innovation Centre. 

In addition to the science parks, TusPark UK has also made equity investments into a few Cambridge life science startups as well as Cambridge Innovation Capital. It has partnered with Innovate UK on helping British startups soft-land and accelerate in China and will continue to work with UK and Chinese governments, businesses, associations, universities, and institutions on cross-border collaborations.

• PHOTOGRAPH – Powering up: CEO Darrin Disley (left) with colleagues in the reinforced senior management team, from left: Dr Rodrigo Santos, director of Cell Technologies; Professor Julian Gough (co-founder and CSO); Dr Karin Schmitt (chief business officer); Joe Foster (chief operating officer); Pierre-Louis Joffrin (corporate development executive). Picture by Phil Mynott.

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