Via Kristy Dorsey
Janet Downie spent her childhood years supporting her father on the farm in Ardnamurchan, hailing from the westernmost point of the island of Great Britain. As a child, she watched her father dissect the dead lambs during the lambing season and taught her how to know what was wrong with the animals.
During that time, she decided one day to be a veterinarian, having been around animals all her life. Eventually, at Napier University, she studied biological sciences, a course that led her to her current position as managing director of the rapidly growing gene therapy company RoslinCT.
At Edinburgh BioQuarter, the company is planning to open a new, additional facility that will more than double its ability to generate cell and gene therapies. This will push the business to the commercial level and generate over 50 new jobs.
“The challenge we have is that we can’t grow fast enough. This field is exploding, and there’s a lot of money flowing into companies around the world that are developing cell and gene therapies.”The challenge we have is that we can’t grow fast enough. This field is exploding, and there is a lot of money flowing into cell and gene therapy companies around the world.
The medical business in Aberdeen will be sold in a multi-million pound transaction
The customers of RoslinCT include leading biotech and life science companies in the U.S. And Europe, whose names Ms. Downie is reluctant to reveal for reasons of confidentiality. Items provide therapies for illnesses such as stroke, blood disorders and macular degeneration that are being tested.
For RoslinCT, the new facility, she says, marks the start of a “new era”
“Makers of cell and gene therapies that have the potential to deliver breakthrough treatments to patients around the world are making tremendous progress and seeing significant growth,” she says. “Investors around the world are certainly taking notice of this sector, and we remain very ambitious and focused on delivering future significant growth.”
RoslinCT itself has drawn some interest from investors, but it remains owned by the University of Edinburgh and the Roslin Foundation for the time being.
In 2015, the firm, which currently employs 80 individuals, was spun off from Roslin Cells. Roslin Cells are once part of the world-famous Roslin Institute, where one of Scotland’s leading biotechnology firms, PPL Therapeutics, ultimately contributed to the IPO of the cloning of Dolly the sheep.
The Scottish biomedical corporation owned by the U.S.
Ms. Downie entered Inveresk Research after graduating from Napier in 1994, where she served as a contract researcher for preclinical safety testing for six years.
From there, she went to PPL, which was transferring its lead AAT treatment for cystic fibrosis to clinical trials in Stage III at the time. PPL, however, failed to achieve commercialization and was forced to sell and close its properties in 2003. Ms. Downie then moved to Charles River Laboratories, where she worked for three years before seeing a newspaper ad looking for a Roslin Cells quality control manager.
Roslin Cells at the time consisted of a three-person team and a laboratory that generated pluripotent stem cells that could grow into any sort of cell in the body. Demand for these cell types, however, was still relatively poor, so before the market caught up, the company had to rely on grant-funded work. “I almost don’t want to limit ourselves,”We almost don’t want to restrict ourselves,”because we know there’s a pipeline in terms of demand.”because we know there’s a demand pipeline.
What countries are your favorite countries to fly to for business or pleasure, and why?
Company – Bellagio, Como Lake. Many years ago, we were part of an academic partnership and the annual meetings were held there. I genuinely enjoyed Gozo, Malta, in my spare time.
What was your dream career when you were a child? Why has it appealed to you?
I grew up on a farm and wanted to be a veterinarian all the time. I love the beasts and being with them.
What was the greatest market breakthrough?
Begin RoslinCT and being able to specialize in therapies for cells and genes. Over the years, I have been very lucky and have won contracts that have helped the business to expand.
What has been the toughest business moment?
There were quite a few! It was difficult to see the company struggling financially about five years ago, before I took over as CEO.
Who do you most admire and why?
Father of mine. He is polite, a great problem solver and a great problem solver.