Denise Bevers, Co-Founder, President, and Chief Operating Officer of Kindred Biosciences is an experienced pharmaceutical executive with a distinguished career in clinical operations, medical affairs, and scientific communications. With over 20 years of pharmaceutical and research experience, she has successfully managed dozens of product launches and development programs from Phase I through Phase IV. Bevers previously held leadership positions at Elan Pharmaceuticals, Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, Quintiles, and SkyePharma. Prior to co-founding KindredBio, she was President and Founding Partner of SD Scientific, a full-service medical affairs and communications company.
KindredBio is a leading veterinary biotech company in the world that develops breakthrough medicines for our best friends: cats, dogs, and horses.
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How was the idea of KindredBio born?
KindredBio was born from the understanding that our pets need access to the same caliber of medicines to which we have access as humans. When my partner, Dr. Richard Chin, and I were working in human drug development, we decided we wanted to develop cutting-edge products for cats, dogs, and horses. We formed KindredBio to develop these drugs, specific for each species, and have them approved for use by the FDA and/or other relevant regulatory agencies, for veterinary use.
How do you help pets?
At KindredBio, we identify drugs and biologics that work in humans, and we develop veterinary versions for cats, dogs, and horses. We lovingly say that we will not test any products on animals that have not been tested in humans first! By adapting the research and development from existing human products, we both increase the chance of success and decrease costs and timelines. We can develop these product candidates for an average of $5 to $8 million in 3-6 years. This is a phenomenal feat if you consider that human drugs may cost over $1 billion and take over a decade to develop. At KindredBio, we have approximately 20 product candidates in our pipeline and hope to make a tremendous difference in the lives of pets and pet owners by providing products to veterinarians.
What has been you biggest professional challenge so far and how did you overcome it?
After nearly 25 years working in human drug development, it was a big leap to start a company focused in veterinary medicine. As I have done throughout my career, the number one step was to surround myself with the most talented people in the industry. We hired the top veterinarians, protein engineers, and drug developers in the business. As a result, we developed an incredible pipeline and ended up taking the company public (Nasdaq: KIN) in just 14 months after founding. It was one of the fastest IPOs in biotech history. We are proof that, with the most talented and motivated team members, anything is possible!
What is the most important role of technology in biotechnology?
As a virtual company with remote employees across the US, we need to collaborate at all levels of the business daily. Our IT team believes the technology should be transparent so whether we’re in virtual conferences, sharing information or collaborating on documents, or crunching data for research – our teams should be working as seamlessly as if we were all working in the same physical location. The good news for companies like us is that the tools we have today, which were unattainable 5 or 10 years ago, are cost-effective and work quite well.
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What has been the biggest technological breakthrough for your company?
Our real technological breakthrough has been the development of specific monoclonal antibodies and recombinant proteins for cats, dogs, and horses. We are walking in lock-step with biotech innovation, such as immunotherapy, on the human side. We have hired world-renown protein engineers and have the some of the most sophisticated manufacturing in all of biotech. We are developing first-in-class, cutting-edge product candidates for cats, dogs, and horses. We can manufacture very sophisticated products at a much lower cost, which for us was the key to starting the company. Before we start to develop any product, we need to know that we can manufacture it at a cost that the pet owner can afford. And that really was what drove us to be able to start the company, the incredible advancement in biotechnology and manufacturing technology. Our goal is to truly revolutionize veterinary medicine.
You have held leadership positions at numerous professional organizations, what advice could you offer other professionals in STEM fields to help them become good leaders?
One of the important messages that I like to communicate to young women (and men) is that you can have a career in STEM without being a bench scientist, engineer, or mathematician. I am a great example of that. While I have a BS in biology, I am not a scientist, yet I have managed to surround myself, throughout my career, with the best scientists in the world. I get so much gratification from a career in STEM. For leaders, I particularly encourage them to work on their communication skills. For technical talent, it is critical to be able to discuss the technology to many stakeholders, from non-technical employees, to management, and likely even to investors. The ability to tailor communication is a cornerstone to great leadership.
Innovation is the essence of KindredBio. Can you give us an example how you innovate with medicine for pets?
In 2018, we received FDA approval for our first product which is a transdermal ointment for cats. Until recently, a human drug was used off label. The owner was dispensed a little white pill and he or she had to cut it, typically into eights, and then pill that cat. Which, if you’ve ever had the pleasure of doing so, is really not fun. We worked very closely with our scientists to make a product that penetrates the skin of the ear. So, you rub some in the ear, and the transdermal ointment penetrates the skin and works as well as if you were taking a pill. And that’s how we use innovation to create value for the pet owner and veterinarian.
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