Even when I was a young boy, the third of five sons, growing up in Ghana, I had an interest in medicine and engineering. Maybe that’s no surprise, since my Mom was a nurse and my Dad was an electrical engineer, but what I couldn’t know back then was that balancing these two passions would turn out to shape so much of my life.
One example of this happened towards the end of high school, when I became fascinated with chemistry and I chose to come to the US to earn a degree in chemistry at Grinnell College. The cornfields of Iowa were quite different than my hometown of Accra, but because the people and the atmosphere were so liberal and accepting, I found it easy to thrive. In addition to my coursework, I volunteered at a hospital pharmacy and did an internship in a chemistry lab—again, always trying to figure out the balance.
From Grinnell, I discovered pharmaceutical chemistry and went on to earn a Master’s and a PhD in pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of Kansas. My research there focused on improving the intrinsic properties of drug molecules using prodrug technology, which paved the way for my first job—working on a material characterization and formulation team at Vertex. I found it extremely rewarding to work on issues that had direct impacts on patients, and after close to a decade I transitioned to Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, and then Cyclerion Therapeutics, where I worked on drugs for the treatment of sickle cell disease and other SGC stimulators.
Joining Lyndra in the spring of 2020 seemed like the next logical step, as I continued to seek out ways to challenge myself while also helping people who are suffering with disease. At Lyndra, we are working to transform the way people take medicine, and the formulation is entirely different than anything I’ve worked on before. That’s what drew me in, and it still excites me. It’s energizing to be involved with a project that’s so revolutionary because I am able to learn something new every day.
In addition, the people at Lyndra are amazing. We come from all different walks of life and each one of us contributes to solving the formulation challenge in our own way. At Lyndra, all of the different voices are valued, and everyone is encouraged to do their all. That’s what it’s going to take to develop the world’s first long-lasting oral pill. There’s no way one person, or one discipline, can solve this alone. To be successful, all of us, science and medicine, industry and academics, need to work together.
As one of the leaders of Lyndra’s Diversity and Inclusion team, I know the company is working to spread this message not only throughout the company, but also throughout the community. We are spearheading initiatives, such as mentoring students and local community action projects, to demonstrate our belief that “I contribute. We deliver.” Whether it’s in pharma, or in life, the contribution is individual (and we can’t underestimate that), but it’s only together that we solve problems.