Virtual Rare Disease Start-up Gains Science-Minded CEO


A completely virtual start-up focused on new gene and enzyme replacement therapies for lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs) was in need of a Chief Executive Officer. The founder, a successful entrepreneur with a proven track record in the life sciences, had strict requirements for the rare disease company’s executive leader. In order to get the job done right with their small team, they retained Ashton Tweed to conduct the search.



The ideal candidate would have earlier stage development experience, a strong business development and partnering background, and previous LSD involvement. It was also stressed that the CEO have a mind equally balanced between the business and science aspects of the company, and both an undergraduate degree in the Sciences or Business and an advanced degree were required by the client.

gene therapyAshton Tweed kicked off their comprehensive search process in order to find the correct person to lead the client’s C-Suite. The recruiting team specifically targeted executives with extensive contacts in the LSD space – including companies like Sanofi, Takeda, GlaxoSmithKline, and Alexion – to aid in the company’s future business development efforts. They also focused on leaders with over 20 years of pharmaceutical experience in both the corporate and start-up sectors.

The team contacted about 100 professionals, quickly narrowing down the list to seven highly qualified candidates that were presented to the client. The founder interviewed each of them and was thrilled to select a candidate that checked all their boxes. Not only did the hired CEO have over 20 years of pharmaceutical experience, including LSDs, but he came with a large network of business development connections and had a strong background in both business and science.



This search was completed in less than 90 days and the candidate started working immediately upon accepting the offer. The new CEO was even able to join the founder at an important and pressing meeting abroad shortly after. The client was extremely satisfied with Ashton Tweed’s precise search process and is already planning to partner with them again as they continue to build out their virtual company.


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