Name: Carol Gallagher
Current Company: Calistoga Pharmaceuticals
Profile: When Carol Gallagher was recruited to helm Calistoga Pharmaceuticals almost two years ago, she had a long track record on the corporate development and strategic side of the business, playing a key role at a lineup of biotechs that includes Anadys, CancerVax and Biogen Idec. And she got started in the business as a sales and marketing exec for Eli Lilly.
Now all that experience is paying off with an impressive development sprint. Calistoga has its niche thoroughly defined. The biotech is focused on the hot PI3 kinase inhibitor space with a special focus on delta isoform-selective PI3 inhibitors. The science helped earn a spot in FierceBiotech's 2009 class of Fierce 15 companies. And Gallagher followed up with an impressive $40 million venture round just two months ago, bringing its investment total to a cool $100 million. As of June Calistoga had over 100 patients enrolled in a study of its lead therapy for B cell leukemias and lymphomas. And it was laying the foundation for registration trials. Gallagher has kept up a fast pace at Calistoga, and its venture backers have some high hopes for what the future holds.
1. What do you think has contributed to your success in this industry?
I'd say there are three things that have helped me succeed, First, I've been fortunate to work in a number of great companies for great people. Some of it has been luck, but a my career progressed, I sought bosses who were great to work for. A great boss will provide direct feedback, which helps you hone your strengths and play to them. Second, it's important to have a curiosity and thirst for learning new science and skills. It's vital to work very hard and dig in to learn something new. Finally, I have a passion for the game. It's an amazing thing to try to figure out how to improve patients lives every day. If you love what you're doing, you do it well.
2. What advice would you give to women just starting out in biotech?
Have the courage to try new things. Don't be afraid to push yourself into an experience that's a little uncomfortable at first, because that's how you grow. Try to work for great bosses. As much as you can, think about who you work for, and whether those people have successful careers but have also helped the people under them succeed as well. And lastly, while it's important to be an expert in what you do, also step back to see the big picture. Having a broad strategic perspective is important to succeeding in the industry.