Simon Bailey

Flex Weekend, 2011

1st Class Honors BSc Chemistry, UK - MSc, PhD Organic Chemistry

My company, Darkwood Pharma, developed during my time at Rady. It is a drug discovery company, focusing on developing novel therapies for fibrosis, with a particular emphasis on liver fibrosis due to advanced non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

I’ve spent my entire career working in drug discovery, leading diabetes and oncology medicinal chemistry departments at a large pharmaceutical company then as head of research for a mid-sized biotech. I’ve been very fortunate to have led teams that have discovered many drug candidates, including two that have been approved for use in lung cancer. So, if I ever started a company, it was going to be a drug discovery company.

Going to the Rady School allowed me to connect with and learn much more about the local San Diego biotech/entrepreneur ecosystem, than I ever had the opportunity to do during the 20 years I spent working for a large pharma company. This included collaboration with venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and small biotech companies. I gained an appreciation of how that world works. Also, San Diego is an active environment for innovation, and we need people creating companies here, not in Boston or the Bay Area. The Rady School is a great way to make connections and get involved to continue to build the San Diego innovation community.

Some of my favorite parts about going to Rady were the Lab to Market or Capstone program, networking opportunities, and student clubs.  Probably the most enjoyable class for me was the Venture Fund class run by Lada Rasochova, where entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to the class, then we worked with the most promising teams to work up a pitch to get funding from the Venture Fund. That was a great experience all around.  Lab to Market was also a good experience because my team worked with some academic founders from Scripps Institute of Oceanography to build a business plan for their marine natural product drug discovery company. So we went through the entire business plan evolution, including presenting (and winning) a pitch competition. I am grateful for my time at Rady, and it greatly impacted my life and my knowledge of business.

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