Vincent Kazmer has spent more than two months at a time underwater. But when the computer-science major turned nuclear engineer turned submarine officer finally surfaced from five years of duty, he saw that a Navy career was not for him. He headed to Stanford for his MBA and then spent 10 years with BFGoodrich, doing finance and planning primarily for chemicals.
It’s not leaving the Navy but leaving BFGoodrich that Kazmer, the new CEO of Phase-1 Molecular Toxicology, points out as a major change. “For me, a pivot point in my career was moving from BFGoodrich to US Biochemical; from finance and planning to business development; from specialty chemicals to biochemicals.”
Kazmer sought out higher-growth opportunities. He co-founded Copernicus Gene Systems, spent a little more than a year at Lark Techologies, and served as executive vice president and CFO of NetGenics, his last job before Phase-1. “It was a progression of interest,” he says, looking back on his 20-odd-year career.
At this point, Phase-1 feels right. Kazmer considers the company “a very late-stage startup.” The company has 50 people in two locations, as well as an existing database, software, and customer base. But it’s still growing, the new CEO says. “The more people we talk to about the company, the more demand for its capabilities we uncover.”
Phase-1 is a toxicogenomics firm using gene expression studies to create a database that will presumably enable scientists to find links between genes, drug compounds, and toxicity. Currently, Kazmer says, one-third of all compounds that fail clinical trials do so because of toxicity problems. Phase-1’s goal is to “be able to predict the toxicological side effects for individuals before they’re prescribed a certain drug,” he says. Though the studies are now based on pharma and biotech partnerships, Kazmer says that as the company’s revenue stream and customer base grow, he expects to hire more people and start internal R&D projects as well.
— Meredith Salisbury