Having grown accustomed to charting the careers of our finance leader guests from their early professional days up through their entry into the CFO office, we did not change course for Elaine Sun, an accomplished investment banker turned finance leader who last month stepped into her third successive finance chief position at Mammoth Biosciences of Brisbane, California.
For Sun, the third time is undoubtedly the charm, for it would be difficult to imagine a more compelling start-up for a CFO of any pedigree to have joined than Mammoth, the celebrated unicorn cofounded by Jennifer Doudna, the University of California professor who shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for pioneering work on CRISPR-Cas9, a method of editing DNA.Read More
No matter what the tenor of Mammoth’s future achievements may be, the intersection of Sun’s professional life with Doudna’s will likely come to dominate Sun’s professional narrative as the finance leader summons her past finance experience to build and scale a financial function capable of helping Mammoth to fully realize the commercial application of Doudna’s work.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, when Sun floats a recommendation for The Code Breaker, the book written by Walter Isaacson that charts the path to Doudna’s scientific breakthrough. Still, her reference reminds us that another exciting chapter is currently being written—the one where science and finance meet. –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Mammoth Biosciences … what sets it apart in the market when it comes to these types of future treatments and offerings?
Sun: Mammoth Biosciences is based in the Bay Area—Brisbane, California. We were cofounded by Jennifer Doudna, Nobel laureate for her fundamental work in CRISPR gene editing. The other cofounders were Trevor Martin, Janice Chen, and Lucas Harrington.
It is a very exciting company. I could not be more thrilled to be partnering with them and coming on board as COO and CFO of the company.Read More
Anyone who’s followed the biotech industry knows that there have been these different technologies that have enabled new therapies. CRISPR gene editing is this next frontier.
As someone who’s been in the life sciences industry for a long time and seen technology wax and wane, I think that this is very exciting in enabling therapeutics as well as, potentially, curative therapies.
On the diagnostic side, our vision is to leverage this CRISPR enzyme to be able to develop next-generation diagnostics with the accuracy of molecular diagnostics but in the palm of your hand at the point of care or even ultimately in the home.
This is an area that has captured the imagination of investors, and there’s been a lot of interest in this space. The early folks that have been advancing the field in CRISPR have been focused on CRISPR-Cas9. These tools or systems have certain applications that are ex vivo, or outside of the body.
We believe that our ultra-small CRISPR systems could better enable in vivo therapies. We’re also leveraging them for our diagnostic applications.
There is the potential to leverage CRISPR technology even in areas outside of diagnostics and therapeutics. The company has talked about potential locations for industrial or biomanufacturing or ag biotech applications.
One of the things that got me so excited about Mammoth was this commitment to advancing the field, to continuing to discover new CRISPR systems beyond CRISPR-Cas9. The intellectual property position that we have is extremely strong, and we have this multidimensionality to our business model, potentially with diagnostics, therapeutics, and more.
“You’re playing a long game. Careers unfold over decades. Focus on where you can have the most impact. Surround yourself with people who inspire you, and you will inspire others. Don’t be afraid of challenges because overcoming challenges creates new opportunities for growth—both for your company and yourself.” –Elaine Sun, CFO, Mammoth Biosciences
Mammoth Biosciences | www.mammoth.bio.com | Brisbane, CA