Richard Chipkin recently took on the headliner position at Psychiatric Genomics, a company using genomics to discover new therapeutic agents for psychiatric disorders.
As the company’s CEO, “My mission is to mature the technology, and find partners for our products,” Chipkin says. Under his leadership, PGI researchers use a microarray technology to identify genes that are upregulated or downregulated in patients with psychiatric disorders, and then compare the genetic profile of afflicted patients to those without the disease. They use this information to discover drugs that make the unhealthy patients look like their healthy counterparts.
Although he’s never served as CEO before, he brings to the position more than 20 years of experience at Schering-Plough. Staying at one company for so long is only possible if you can find variety, says Chipkin, who spent his years moving between different divisions, something which helped provide him with the necessary training for his newest appointment. Chipkin spent the first half of his Schering-Plough era in the lab, applying his pharmacology PhD to pre-clinical and clinical testing of new psychiatric drugs, witnessing drug discovery from the “nuts and bolts level.” Eventually, however, when Chipkin needed a change, he migrated to the business side, and finally left the company as the senior director of business development.
Chipkin admits that it’s not easy to be a first-time CEO, especially at a new company. But he is accepting lots of help from the board of directors at Oxford Biosciences Partners, PGI’s lead investor, and from Michael Palfreyman, president and CSO. “It’s going to be a big challenge, obviously, for me to learn the intricacies of this new position,” he acknowledges. “I need the seasoning of learning how to be a CEO in the biotechnology space.”
— Alison McCook