When Crystal Shih Byers left her job at Novartis in 2020, she was excited to make the leap into a smaller startup.
Byers had spent almost nine years at Novartis, most recently helping lead a group that worked on gene therapy. But pharmaceutical companies are large and complex, and she craved more immediate impact. “I was looking for a place where I could be in the room,” she says. She wanted more autonomy, and to feel like her work would reach patients sooner.
At the time, biotech startups were rolling in cash and seeking to capture some of the magic that had fueled Moderna’s meteoric rise. They handed out lots of logo-embossed swag. “Investors were putting a lot of money into stupid science,” Byers says. “There were a lot of companies that lasted for a lot longer than I thought they would on very little data.”