August 29, 2018

INSPIRED

Everyone has a story to tell. And the team at Lyndra is no different. We’re a diverse group of passionate, dedicated individuals who come together every day—trying to make the impossible possible. Whether it’s a formative experience in the Peace Corps, or a childhood spent in Mexico, our stories are what drive our passion for the important work we do at Lyndra.

That’s why we created Inspired—to showcase the diverse experiences of our teammates, and to demonstrate that our stories make us greater than the sum of our parts.

Rose Kanasty

I grew up outside Detroit. My parents were math and science teachers, so I suppose that explains why my three brothers and I all ended up in science and engineering careers. After studying chemical engineering at Michigan State University, I assumed I’d get a job in the auto industry—but first, I joined the Peace Corps. I spent two years in Guinea and Burkina Faso, West Africa as a volunteer math and science teacher. I quickly found myself in front of a crowded classroom of over a hundred seventh graders eager to learn math with only paper, pencils, and a chalkboard. It was an eye-opening, empowering-yet-humbling experience, and the culture’s resourcefulness, resilience, and sense of community left a lasting imprint on me.

When I returned to the States, I moved to Boston for grad school. I studied chemical engineering at MIT and did researched focused on synthesizing novel drug delivery materials. It was through one of my research advisors, Bob Langer, that I got to know the founders of Lyndra. I learned about the drug delivery technology they were working on to aid malaria eradication efforts in sub Saharan Africa. The global health impact of the project caught my interest, and I recognized the potential of the technology to help patients in a variety of settings. As I got to know the new company’s leaders and their vision, I could see that they would create a team and a culture that would make me proud, so I joined Lyndra when I completed my PhD. I was the first scientist hired.

Lyndra’s culture really encourages openness in offering ideas and voicing opinions. I feel like my thoughts and concerns are valued, whether I’m speaking to whoever happens to be at the lunch table or directly to the CEO. This creates an environment where individuals can contribute far more than their titles may suggest. As a scientist it is exciting to brainstorm concepts with really smart people, and as a person in is validating to see that your opinions are heard.

Our team members come from all over the country and all over the world, and they bring fascinating stories and diverse perspectives. I’m amazed by everyone who has moved here from abroad and who has navigated the US immigration system to bring their talent to us.

And the team is more tightly knit than other teams I’ve worked on. People of varied backgrounds are united by common goals, and we work very closely. In other teams I could be anonymous, but people here know me well and show that they care about my life. When my wife and I got married this summer, the team surprised me with gifts and cake.

Sonia Holar

I grew up just outside of DC, and went to MIT to get my B.S. in chemical-biological engineering. I have always been interested in medicine, but it was at MIT that I realized I wanted to marry that interest with my passion for engineering. When I heard about Lyndra, it seemed like a great opportunity—my work here is just the kind I enjoy, and it offers the potential to make a real impact.

I arrived just as the company was really starting to expand, so despite being new, I was encouraged to take on a lot of responsibility. I worked on many different projects at once. While daunting at first, this pushed me to work hard and challenge myself. It also gave me a better understanding of the “big picture.”

Because the company is still relatively small, I have been able to interact with people from all teams on various projects. I am on the engineering team, but work closely with the formulation and analytical teams. It’s great to be able to get feedback or suggestions from people with different areas of expertise when trying to solve a problem, and I also learn a lot about the work they are doing – how an analytical method works, or why we add certain components to our product. I feel like I understand how all the teams are working together.

Our management team, and specifically Amy, our CEO—have focused a lot of energy on making Lyndra a great place to work, by creating a non-hierarchical system, and encouraging us to take part in things like “Lyndra learns,” for example, where someone from the company will teach everyone something that is from their area of expertise or that they think we may find useful. Based on friends’ and relatives’ experiences, I know that our workplace structure is not what everyone is used to, but I think it encourages everyone to continue learning and branching out to try working in new areas.

I am also grateful for Lyndra’s approach to work-life balance. Everyone is very dedicated to their work at Lyndra, but we’re also encouraged to lead full, rich lives. At MIT it wasn’t this way at all—I found my studies to be pretty much 24/7. I imagined work at a startup would be similar, but Lyndra totally changed my perspective on startup culture. Of course, there are always those times when a deadline is approaching and we have to work extra hard—nothing worth doing is easy. But overall, I’ve found I work better when I have time to decompress, and Lynda affords me that time.

Tammy Tai

I grew up in the Bay Area—diverse, progressive, and (even back then) focused heavily on the tech industry. My parents were immigrants from Taiwan who eventually became U.S. citizens.

When it came time to go to college, I headed across the country to Boston to study at MIT. It was a perfect fit. The focus on science, engineering, and innovation at MIT complemented my interest in STEM. Plus, they had a strong Division III swimming program–I’d been competitively swimming since I was nine years old.

I majored in biological engineering and did research in the Langer Lab. For two years, I worked on Gio and Andrew’s long-acting gastric retentive dosage form project—a precursor to Lyndra. I was fascinated with the technology and its many positive implications for medicine. But I also found I was fascinated with the biotech industry in general. After graduating, I joined the science team at Lyndra to continue working on the dosage form.

Though I started my job with some familiarity with Lyndra’s technology, there was so much I didn’t know. Working alongside so many brilliant scientists and engineers was intimidating at first, but the science team welcomed me with open arms. Their patient guidance helped me settle into my new job. I felt like an asset from the very start. Though I was still learning from my colleagues, I also felt like I had something to contribute. Lyndra is filled with so many accomplished and talented people who come from all sorts of backgrounds. I’m particularly proud to work at a company run by a female CEO with so many capable and intelligent colleagues who are women.

It was the nuts-and-bolts behind the technology that drew me into research as an undergrad, but it was the potential global impact of Lyndra’s mission that made me want to continue working on it after graduation. Throughout my life, I’ve been taught to never stop learning and to never be satisfied with the status quo. Right now, the status quo in healthcare has a lot of gaps and areas in need of improvement—patient adherence and accessibility among them. The idea that our technology could one day change the world of medicine is what keeps us going.

Lyndra reminds me a lot of my days as a competitive swimmer. Swimming is both a team and individual sport. The success of a team hinges on the individual performances of each of its members and, without the support of a team behind each swimmer, it’s nearly impossible to have the drive and motivation to keep going. The same could be applied to Lyndra. Everyone has immense individual responsibility, but the team is very cohesive and driven towards the same goal. The readiness to support one another and the combined determination of everyone brings our technology closer and closer to reality every day.

Jeanne Tran

I was born in South Vietnam. I can still remember the luscious greenery of my grandma’s place—the fresh fruits, the warm sun, the soft breeze, and the chirping of cicadas during the noon-time nap. But even though my surroundings growing up were quiet, I was a fast-paced kid. I’m told that ever since I took my first steps, I would just start running. I guess even as a child I knew: why walk when you can run?

When I was six, my family left Vietnam to pursue a new life in America. We moved to Dorchester, MA—a dense, lively neighborhood in South Boston, and a far cry from the bucolic scenery of Vietnam. Everything was loud – people in the streets, sirens on fire trucks, large fireworks every 4th of July. And everything was bigger, and faster here in America, the cars, the buildings, the subway trains.

I think those early years in America left their mark on me. The grandeur of it all inspired me to dream big, to become a part of something larger than myself, and to keep up with ever-evolving technologies.

Maybe that’s why I was so drawn toward an interest in prosthetics and tissue engineering. During my time as an undergrad—I studied biomedical engineering at Boston University—I developed a particular interest in Nanotechnology: my senior project was microfluidics; my first job out of college was polymeric nanoparticle encapsulation, now Lyndra’s extended drug release polymer matrix. The transition to Lyndra’s Formulation Development Team was a natural one for me—so much of my background had prepared me for the role. Except at Lyndra, my work would be for a solid drug delivery system.

As a person with a curiosity for how things work, Lyndra was a perfect fit. It’s a remarkable place to work. Here, you’re not relegated to your role—it’s all cross-functional. Your ideas are welcome, you get asked about your work. And you can try out new methods and techniques all the time. It’s all very exciting, and all very fast-paced. Just like me.

Jess Ballinger

I come from a town of 700 people just east of St. Louis. True middle America. Picture the cornfields of southern Illinois: a hardworking, blue collar town—those are my roots. I come from a retired military family, barely making ends meet, often on welfare, but always—always—committed to doing whatever it took to help others.

I am the first in my family to go to college, and finished a Bachelor’s of Science in Biochemistry at the University of Illinois in only 3 years. As an undergrad, I was fortunate to be both a teaching assistant in the biochemistry labs and a research assistant in a lab focused on studying multiple sclerosis. Both of those experiences led me to the biotechnology industry, a place where I could continue working in a lab environment, continue learning new things, and help change people’s lives for the better.  

I’ve been in the industry ever since. When Amy, our CEO, asked me to help build this company, I couldn’t wait to join the team. I knew I was about to be a part of something special. This was an opportunity to build a unique company with a unique mission: to change how people take medicine.

At Lyndra, everyone is necessary. Everyone is expected to work hard, to step outside their comfort zones, and ultimately, to make a difference. Building a team where people from different backgrounds can come together to do what they do best—that’s not just corporate-speak at Lyndra. It’s critical to what we do.

For instance, coming from a career where I was often the only woman at the table, it’s wonderful to be in a community that is mostly female. Everyone can bring their best self to work every day without being asked to change. Lyndra is the first team I have been a part of where being your authentic self is 100% expected. In fact, it’s the only way to succeed.

I am fortunate to have had a life and career full of hardship, success, change, diversity, mentorship, empowerment and advocacy.  I believe it’s with focus, grit, determination, and the appreciation we have for each other we will succeed in our mission to provide better medicine.

Tyler Grant

I’ve always been interested in medicine and technology, so biomedical engineering was a perfect fit. I completed my PhD in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Oxford and joined the Langer Lab at MIT to conduct a Postdoctoral Fellowship in drug delivery. During my time in the Langer Lab I met Gio Traverso and Andrew Bellinger, now co-founders of Lyndra, and we collaborated on a novel long-acting oral dosage form aimed at eliminating malaria. The technology was extremely successful and ultimately led to the founding of the biotechnology company now known as Lyndra.

I believe that the application of traditional engineering techniques to modern health-care challenges has the potential to greatly advance the treatment of disease, and to change the world. I have dedicated my career to this cause.

I decided to join Lyndra not because of the enormous potential of the technology, but because of the fearless team that rallied together to solve a complex challenge – patient adherence. Development of this technology requires an open-minded, innovative, and collaborative environment—and Lynda has fostered that kind of environment from the beginning. I greatly appreciate the openness of the team and non-bureaucratic environment of the organization. The inter-disciplinary problem solving that occurs on a daily basis is inspiring and not only leads to great strides forward, but promotes lifetime learning. 

Following my undergraduate I was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and encouraged to ‘fight the world’s fight.” Fortunately, Lyndra has given me a platform to continue fighting.

Susan Low

Why did I come to Lyndra? At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to.  I was concerned that working with polymers again instead of doing something completely different could be a missed opportunity for me.  But the people and their enthusiasm and intelligence about what they were working on completely changed my mind.  In the end, although I had other opportunities, the Lyndra people won me over.

One of my highest priorities in any position is to add value.  I feel that I do that at Lyndra. I’m not one of the most outspoken people but my voice is still heard and valued.  And more than that, it’s actually sought out.  That is very powerful in making everyone in the team feel necessary. Being less of an extrovert than some, I think my success in the team organization is encouraging to some of the newer and possibly less experienced employees that you can be a quiet individual but still be heard and contribute.

Learning about my colleagues has impressed me with their diverse backgrounds and stories which have somehow all brought us to this common place and mission.  I have realized there are multiple ways to come together for a common goal. I think Lyndra is unique in its mission to value individuals and their voices, not that it is the only company that strives to do this, but in my experience, Lyndra is one of the few groups that actually live it.

Juan Jaramillo Montezco

I was born in Mexico to a family of “luchadores” (that means “fighters” in Spanish). I say that because my family has always strived and worked hard to deliver the next generation to a better future. My father wanted to be an engineer, but due to location and resources, his family sent him to a Normal School (where you learn how to be a teacher). When I was little, he made it clear to me: more than anything, he wanted to help me extend myself beyond what he was able to do.

I received my B.S. in Chemical Engineering from MIT in 2016. Since I was little, I’ve dreamed of a career in science and chemistry. In high school, I told my parents, jokingly, I wanted to do chemistry because that was the only way I could be a magician.

But it wasn’t until I went to MIT and became involved in organizations like Camp Kesem—I ran a beautiful camp for children whose parents have been affected by cancer—that I realized how rewarding it was to merge a career with service.

To be honest, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to volunteer as much after graduating. But the team at Lyndra has been really accommodating. In fact, I have been able to take weeks off to volunteer in organizations like Next Step—an empowering organization for youth with life-threatening diseases—and even Kesem.

At Lyndra, I feel that sense of purpose that I feel at Kesem and Next Step. Our company cares about the patient experience, and that’s what’s quite unique about us. We understand that the people we serve have a complex life outside of their diseases, so we want to make ourselves responsible for making their experience a little better.

In my mind, Lyndra is a team of luchadores: you can respect and praise your beginnings, yet strive to challenge the norm and make the world better for the next generation. When I come to Lyndra every day, I think: the daily pill is great and can cure millions and alleviate problems. Still, why can’t it be better?

Saumya Moorthy

I grew up in a small town in India, and I am the first member of my family to come to the United States for higher studies. Coming to America was a dream come true but it was also a big responsibility—I knew I had to make my parents proud. After graduating from St. John’s University, I started my career in drug development. When I got an opportunity at Lyndra, I was very excited to contribute to a technology that has the potential to benefit millions, and truly change the world.

It’s hard to describe how transformational Lyndra has been in my life. Lyndra is like a family to me. When I had my first baby, everyone came together to surprise me with a baby shower, and to welcome “Lyndra’s first baby” into the family. Thoughtful gestures like that have made Lyndra a home away from home, both for me and for my husband. Though we are far away from our families, we feel that we have a strong support system here in the United States.

Lyndra’s mission is to transform the way we take medicine itself. Being part of that noble mission is challenging, but also very empowering. Our CEO, Amy Schulman’s mantra is “fearlessness”. And it is clearly visible and felt across the team in our day-to-day activities: while we’re sharing our ideas, or communicating and reaching out to others. We all work as a team and there is no bias of position or education or titles. I feel just as important and responsible for our company as anyone on the team. Each one of us is heard and considered, our opinions and suggestions matter and are always welcomed. Working in such kind of environment makes me give my best at work. Every day I strive to work hard and help make our company move forward.

Deblina Biswass

I grew up in India in a steel town–really it was more of a steel city, home to one of the largest steel plants in the country. My father was an engineer who worked at the plant. I think it was my father’s influence that made me want to go into science. From a young age, he encouraged me to constantly question the world around me, and to use the scientific method to approach problems. So it was no surprise, then, that after a childhood full of inquiry, I wanted to become a scientist.

My M.S. was in Biological sciences with focus on Molecular Biology but I felt like I needed to do more translational science, so decided to get my Ph.D in Pharmaceutical Sciences. After my Ph.D, I knew I wanted a job which would not only challenge my intellect, but also allow me to contribute to something meaningful. Lyndra was a perfect fit.

When I started at Lyndra, I knew that I would be working on the cutting edge of science–working towards something new that had the potential to really improve people’s lives. But I did not know that Lyndra would also provide me with a network of mentors and friends far beyond what I could have expected. I feel like I get to learn so much from my co-workers by simply paying attention and listening to them. The learning curve is definitely steep–there’s always something new to learn. It’s a scientist’s dream, really.

For a young scientist, I can’t imagine a better environment than Lyndra. I have met the most amazing mentors here. They’re not just passionate and talented scientists–they’re great human beings, too. At Lyndra, it feels like everyone is rooting for you. You cannot really ask for more. Can you?

Nupura Bhise

From my days as a school student in India I demonstrated an aptitude for science, and at 17, I came to the United States for undergraduate studies. My older sister, already in the States pursuing her doctorate, introduced me to the fascinating world of science and research. Six years of graduate school at Hopkins were followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. My mentors and peers helped me grow as a scientist—I gained confidence in my ability to analyze problems, synthesize solutions and make an impact.

But just as my academic training was coming to an end, my real life training in patient care was just beginning. When my mother was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, I decided to take a career break and return to India to care for her. Being her caregiver for about a year and a half was challenging. But it was also an immensely fulfilling and powerful experience.

It was during this time that I was introduced to Lyndra’s co-founders. They gave me an opportunity to consult for Lyndra, writing grants remotely, from India. I enjoyed my once-weekly dose’ of stimulating scientific discussions on Skype with Lyndra’s CSO and scientists, and as my relationship with Lyndra evolved, I got to know Lyndra’s team and platform technology better. Managing my mother’s treatment and medication helped me appreciate the potential impact that Lyndra’s technology could have. I realized that we could fundamentally change the way patients take medicine.

Lyndra is unique in many ways. As a woman scientist, it’s empowering to see that we have so many inspirational women at all levels of the company. Our team has a great balance of passionate, young scientists and well accomplished, experienced mentors to direct our team. Lyndra’s culture fosters open communication, inclusiveness and fearlessness. It allows us to freely share our thoughts and concerns. It encourages trying out innovative approaches. I feel empowered to undertake challenging responsibilities and contribute to decision-making. I feel nurtured and valued for my uniqueness.