When I was a teenager, it was difficult to pursue my interest in science—not because I wasn’t enthusiastic (I was) or lacked the ability (I didn’t), but because in South Africa at the time, girls generally weren’t taught science. It sounds almost unbelievable now, but in order to learn topics more advanced than eighth grade biology, I had to change schools, and even then, the level of instruction for girls was usually sub-par. Still, I stuck with it. I’m a problem solver by nature, so I suppose I was driven by a need to find answers. I wanted to understand why things work the way they do and luckily, I had my dad, who was a mechanical engineer, to help fill in the gaps in the curriculum.
I came to the US for graduate school and after earning my PhD from MIT, launched a career that turned out to be characterized by that same kind of quest, always looking for the next challenge, always seeking out the next answer that could, hopefully, have a positive impact. One of the most recent highlights was my work on Trikafta, a drug that has proven to be a game changer for the treatment of cystic fibrosis, at Vertex. After that success, I considered retiring to be able to spend more time with my horses, but that didn’t last long. Lyndra, quite simply, drew me in.
At Lyndra, there’s the challenge of developing the first-ever ultra-long-acting, sustained release oral therapy. That’s a complex, multi-faceted problem, and even though solving it won’t be easy, we are poised to have a real and dramatic impact on lives around the world. In addition, the company is comprised of dedicated people who have the most extraordinary level of engagement and involvement I’ve ever encountered. When an unusual challenge is put in the hands of exceptional people, the work becomes energizing—and irresistible.
Throughout my life, I’ve been willing to take risks and explore new ideas. Years ago, when I changed schools to pursue a science education, I began learning how important it is to be resilient, and those lessons still ring true today. Every now and then, we still run into issues that seem especially problematic but at Lyndra, we strive to bend, not break. That means there’s usually a period of time when we’re all burrowed in, working on an answer. Then, within 24 hours or so, solutions start emerging. It’s that passion for problem solving and the knowledge that we’re doing it to save lives that inspires me, and the company, to keep pushing forward every day.