Dr. Leen Kawas: A Trailblazing Journey in Biotech Innovation

Dr. Leen Kawas, the Managing General Partner at Propel Bio Partners, has cultivated a remarkable career in the biotechnology industry. Her journey, which began with a childhood dream of curing cancer, has been marked by unexpected turns and groundbreaking achievements. Recently, Dr. Kawas shared valuable insights into her professional philosophy and vision for the future during an appearance on the Recruitomics Consulting Podcast.

Dr. Kawas carefully evaluates potential team members to support the company’s growth as Propel Bio Partners expands. She places a strong emphasis on mindset, seeking individuals who embrace the idea of continuous learning and approach challenges with a fresh perspective. Dr. Kawas recognizes the value of experienced professionals and those just starting their careers, appreciating the unique insights each can bring. Additionally, she stresses the importance of creating a positive work environment where collaboration and a sense of fun are fostered.

Dr. Kawas also addressed the critical role of diversity in clinical trials. She firmly believes that increasing the representation of women and minorities in clinical trial management teams can lead to more successful outcomes and improved patient recruitment. Furthermore, Dr. Kawas advocates for greater diversity among clinical trial participants, arguing that a more representative patient population will better understand how a drug will impact society.

Another key aspect of Dr. Kawas’ philosophy is the importance of patient involvement throughout the drug development process. She has been a vocal proponent of integrating patient feedback and perspectives from the earliest stages of drug discovery rather than solely relying on their participation near the end of the development cycle. This commitment to patient engagement stems from experiences in conducting patient feedback sessions to understand why certain drugs fail.

Looking ahead, Dr. Kawas has ambitious goals for the next decade. She aspires to invest in companies developing technologies that can improve human health on a global scale, with a focus on accessibility. Additionally, she is dedicated to providing internship opportunities for students and recent graduates from diverse backgrounds, recognizing the importance of fostering the next generation of biotechnology professionals. Finally, Dr. Kawas is committed to giving back to future entrepreneurs, acknowledging the invaluable support she received throughout her career journey.

Dr. Leen Kawas’ path to success in the biotechnology industry began with a childhood dream and a pharmacy degree in her native Jordan. After briefly working as a community pharmacist, she realized that a research-focused career would allow her to make a more significant impact. In 2008, she emigrated to the United States and earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology. Dr. Kawas co-founded Athira Pharma Inc. in 2014, serving as its CEO and leading the company through a successful initial public offering in 2020, raising over $400 million. In 2022, she co-founded Propel Bio Partners, where she continues to support start-up and early-stage biotechnology companies with financial and technical resources.

Dr. Leen Kawas has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to innovation, diversity, and patient-centered drug development throughout her remarkable journey. Her insights and inspiration for aspiring biotechnology professionals testify to the transformative power of dedication and perseverance in improving human health.

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