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Introducing Richard Sherwin, Antheia’s SVP of Commercialization 

As the newly appointed Senior Vice President of Commercialization, Richard Sherwin is poised to move Antheia into its next phase by building a vibrant commercial market footprint. His collaborative work with Antheia has spanned nearly a year as a fractional, valued member of the team, and as of August 2023, he’s now full time in preparation for what will be a milestone year in Antheia’s history.  

Richard recently sat down to share his thoughts on Antheia’s move toward commercialization, and describe what he sees as the most meaningful approach to building his commercial vision for the company. 

You’ve had an interesting career and seem to have relentless energy toward seeking excellence in everything you do – from hobbies to your work. How would you summarize your career path and background? 

I call it the colorful entertainment version of my career when I describe it. Currently, I’m a commercial executive who has become adept at interpreting the best of science into realistic and practical applications, relevant to the downstream markets. However, I began in an entirely other direction. My first job was as an assistant marketing manager for a pharmaceutical company – a role and an industry that I had never envisioned for myself. However, what I couldn’t have predicted were the challenges and opportunities that it threw at me, which brought me to where I am today.

The core thing that led me to where I am today is simple — it’s people. The interactions, the relationships, and deciding with others to collaboratively create something that is better than before. My children sometimes ask me, Dad, what do you do? I tell them that I try to develop value – harnessing value and steering assets to meaningful end goals, and doing it by working with remarkable people. While sales is a part of my work, I don’t think about it as growing sheer dollars and numbers. Instead, I focus on what will benefit others, and what will make a difference to others, and I figure out how to deliver innovative solutions that can do just that. Which means my career trajectory, from assistant marketing manager to corporate consulting, to leading commercial efforts at Johnson & Johnson, and now, at Antheia, has all been centered around being a trusted and knowledgeable partner. 

Antheia’s core mission is to innovate and transform essential medicine supply chains – how does your role as SVP of Commercialization support this mission, and what are your key responsibilities?

A well-recognized and common failure of development organizations as they become operational, is lack of focus. All too often, the temptation to broaden reach too early or prematurely take on additional product areas results in failure to deliver on the primary goals and targets. I don’t see this at Antheia – when I first started working with them, I was impressed by the focus and diligence throughout the entire team. Although we have a rich and exciting pipeline, the team is incredibly disciplined on the delivery of near-term products. I see my role as the SVP of Commercialization as being the one to ensure that our immediate customers can clearly see this high level of diligence and support that we will be providing them, and to ensure they understand our ability to deliver as a first-time manufacturer of KSMs and APIs produced from biosynthesis. 

Our industry has been aware of this technology for KSMs and APIs for well over a decade, but generating products from that technology has never been done before. Antheia will soon be the only organization to successfully convert this technology into highly complex pharmaceutical products. As I bring all of our commercial developments into alignment with our operations, finance, and R&D teams, I will also be driving this point home for our customers. 

Fortunately I’ve had time to prepare for this endeavor – my in-depth market analysis of KSM and API markets, various revenue models, and business cases, allowed me to generate a roadmap ahead of our relationship building processes. So ultimately, part of my job is demonstrating our successes to our customers to build confidence and trust as we begin to bring our products to market. 

Could you elaborate on the challenges and opportunities you encounter when bridging this gap between research and commercial production, or in Antheia’s case, technology company to product company, in the biomanufacturing industry?

I’m astounded at the insight, planning, and corporate governance at Antheia in ensuring the roadmap from development to commercial is cast iron. Having a world-class science team has given us an incredible foundation to be successful as we transition to a commercial stage. This allows me to stay singularly focused on ensuring our customers are aware of just how robust our path to commercial actually is. We’re also well ahead of the types of challenges and questions our customers and regulators will have and we’re prepared to partner with them and provide support and data throughout the process. My part will also entail ensuring our customers are aware of our regulatory readiness and that they are fully engaged with this process at the outset.

What’s your commercial take on the environmental considerations and sustainability factors of Antheia’s technology?

Regardless of what camp you’re in, temperatures are rising, and populations are increasing, which means that our demand for the same fertile lands and prime growing areas is also increasing — while those resources are absolutely not. Layer in the challenges within the pharma industry of agriculturally derived products, and the very particular requirements of the plants, including specific climate and growing conditions in order to optimize alkaloid content — and it gets much more complicated. It’s all very tenuous, not to mention all of the chemicals needed to protect and extract these elements. All in all, this legacy process is faltering – it’s a significant demand agriculturally and an enormous amount of biomass to grow, store, and transport. 

Fortunately, fermentation brings significant advantages in terms of control, geographic flexibility, reliability, and sustainability. Our fermentation-based production cycle is on the order of weeks, compared to the years-long agricultural cycle. That means we can be a lot more flexible and produce when and where we need to at an infinite capacity. So flexibility, capacity, containment, lack of exposure to environment, and costs are highly differentiated, as well as lead time. That’s going to make a massive impact on the actual supply chain dynamic and reliability and affordability, and even more so for sustainability and our environment. 

What do you hope to achieve at Antheia in the next year, and in the next 5 years? 

In the coming year, my goal is to have supplied validation material to key customers for our first product and have sampled and obtained validation orders for our second product. Within five years, ideally, we will have achieved or be well on our way to achieving market leadership for our first 1-2 products. Over that five year period, we expect to become a market disruptor, and while we’ve speculated on the ways that may unfold, we can’t say for certain how that exact trajectory will look. What I do know is it will be bold, and uncharted, and involve managing risk as we work to produce KSMs and APIs. 

A fun fact about me is that I’m a mountaineer, but I also don’t have a very good head for heights! Climbing mountains with a distaste for heights has given me perspective on how to manage risk. In September, I plan to ascend the Eiger Mittellegi ridge in the Swiss Alps – and there is a sheer drop of at least 1,000 meters on either side, and it requires careful collaboration with your partner and extreme focus on progressing forward to ensure you both safely make the climb. These types of climbs have helped me to keep my psychology agile and have allowed me to challenge the voice that says, “this simply cannot be done.” As I look to our work with Antheia, we also have to work collaboratively, manage our risks, and overcome the challenges we will face. I have no doubt that in the next year, five years, and beyond, we’ll continue to conquer unbelievable feats together as a team. 

What makes Antheia a great place to work?

The short answer is, industry leading technology, backed by robust corporate governance, and an amazing team spirit. A great team connection, like what we have at Antheia, acts as a catalyst for the work and the business, rather than cement slowing you down. 

The long answer is that, if I’m going to do something, it must be about supporting the future, and my children’s future. I believe in what Antheia is doing. But what makes it a great place to work is always the people. The thing that drew me to Antheia initially was meeting Christina. I get along with most people, but there are certain people you truly want to spend more time with, to make them your friend straightaway, in addition to a business partner. I found that in Christina at the outset. 

From my historical knowledge of the space, I also knew what Antheia has achieved is extremely impressive. To be successful in this space, the science must come first – and Antheia has this very rare and enviable position of having world-class science, a very clear vision and roadmap of where they’re going, and how they’ll layer in deliverables to make that happen. The company is also run superbly well, by a talented group of people. They don’t underestimate the challenge ahead of them, and they are razor focused – it is so extremely encouraging and exciting to me. In short, Antheia is a great place to work because of Christina, and the good team alongside her.

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Richard Sherwin

Head of Commercialization

Richard is an industry veteran with more than 30 years of experience in the KSM, API, and intermediate markets. He is responsible for leading the commercialization and revenue generation for Antheia’s robust pipeline of products. Richard brings an exceptional track record of leading international sales teams, driving revenue growth, building strategic partnerships, and delivering innovative products to market, including ANDA and NDA developments. Richard led commercial efforts at some of the leading global pharmaceutical companies and most recently, built his own consultancy business advising a range of clients, including $1B divisions of major multinationals.

Appropriate regulatory submissions will be prepared and submitted to support Antheia’s customers who need to reference and access necessary process-related information.

Yihui Zhu, PhD

Head of Fermentation

Yihui leads the fermentation team at Antheia. With over 25 years of hands-on experience in the field, he brings in-depth knowledge and expertise in microbial metabolism and fermentation process development. He is also skilled in developing comprehensive fermentation data collection, analysis, and visualization systems. Prior to joining Antheia, he served as a fermentation lead at Intrexon and Codexis where he successfully built fermentation labs and teams and led multiple biofuel and biochemical projects to reach stretch milestones and tech transfer. Yihui is passionate about the potential of fermentation and is dedicated to advancing the field through innovative research and development.

Yen-Hsiang Wang, PhD

Head of Strategy, Partnerships, and Finance

Yen-Hsiang leads strategy, partnerships and finance at Antheia. He completed his M.S. and Ph.D. in Bioengineering at Stanford, with extensive research experience in synthetic biology, metabolic engineering and computational modeling. Before joining Antheia, he worked at McKinsey and Tencent with a strong focus in corporate strategy and big data/advanced analytics. At Tencent, he served as Director of Strategy and Business Development for the AI Lab, leading corporate initiatives in healthcare AI/ML applications and commercialization. He also served in AI4H (Artificial Intelligence for Health), a collaboration between WHO and ITU, to establish global standards for AI in healthcare.

Audrey Wang

Head of Financial Planning and Analysis

Audrey leads financial planning and analysis at Antheia. With an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis, Audrey is passionate about leveraging financial analysis, digital technology, and data analytics to guide companies in making optimal investments and strategic business decisions. Audrey has a decade of experience in helping companies solve unique problems and creating long-term impact with unconventional approaches. Before joining Antheia, she was at Vir Biotechnology and Merck where she led various FP&A workstreams, including investment valuation, asset prioritization, and manufacturing sites operation finance support. Audrey completed CFA Level II and passed the U.S. CPA exam in 2011.

Antonij Tjahjadi, CPA

Head of Accounting

Antonij Tjahjadi leads accounting at Antheia and holds active CPA license. He joined Antheia with more than 20 years of experience in corporate accounting, bringing deep expertise in ramping up accounting operations for start-up companies, SEC reporting/technical accounting, and SOX implementation efforts. Before joining Antheia, he held various leading roles in both public and private company settings, including directing accounting functions at Ambys Medicines, where he successfully implemented Netsuite with Point Purchasing integration and set up various accounting policies and processes, and played a key role in the initial public offering of Nutanix, Inc.

Ken Takeoka

Head of Biology

Ken leads the Biology team at Antheia, which incorporates both strain and protein engineering functions. He has more than 16 years of experience in the synthetic biology field, working with leading companies, including Amyris and Novartis. One of his passions is molecular biology tool development and he previously worked to build the foundation for the automated strain engineering pipeline at Amyris. At Novartis, he modernized the molecular biology techniques and established a platform to model mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in a range of organisms.

Suzanne Sato

Head of Downstream Processing

Suzy leads downstream chemistry processes at Antheia. She has 19 years of experience in process development, including route development through synthetic chemistry and scale-up of small molecule APIs for GPCR targets under cGMP for Phase I-III trials. Before joining Antheia, Suzy led a full DSP team at Amyris where she successfully pivoted developments from biofuels hydrocarbon products to pharmaceutical intermediate, flavor, fragrance and nutraceutical products. She led a team that scaled 11 products and took five products to commercial manufacturing.

Farrah Pulce, PMP

Head of Project Management

Farrah leads program and project management at Antheia. She has over 20 years of experience leading program and project management, operations, and engineering for companies across the CPG, aerospace, and automotive industries. Prior to joining Antheia, Farrah implemented and led the sustaining program management team at Impossible Foods. She also led product operations, project management, and cost optimization at Blue Bottle Coffee and Tyson Foods to develop and commercialize new products. As a certified project management professional (PMP), Farrah has a proven record of successful project delivery, improving project management practices, and building collaborative teams.

Jordyn Lee

Head of Communications

Jordyn leads communications and external affairs at Antheia. She brings a decade of multidisciplinary communications experience in helping companies make complex science and technology accessible to broad audiences, all while maintaining technical accuracy and integrity. She has a passion for visionary storytelling and translating impact across the entire communications ecosystem – her work has spanned from public relations to corporate communications to marketing. Jordyn has served as an advisor to a number of different life sciences companies and most recently led corporate communications at Amyris.

Ben Kotopka, PhD

Head of Data Science

As Head of Data Science at Antheia, Ben manages in-house software development and external partnerships for storing and interpreting research data, executing bioinformatics analyses, and streamlining business processes. Prior to Antheia, Ben worked as an academic researcher at the intersection of machine learning, bioinformatics, and synthetic biology. Following this, as an entrepreneur and consultant, he developed and deployed data science solutions for biotechnology applications ranging from metabolomics-driven compound discovery to MRI segmentation.

Guerin Kob

Head of Supply Chain

Guerin is responsible for leading the design, development, management and improvement of Antheia’s end-to-end global supply chain. He has over 15 years of experience leading high-performing supply chain and procurement teams at leading biotechnology and specialty chemical companies, with extensive experience in process development and end-to-end supply chain optimization. Prior to joining Antheia, Guerin served as Senior Director of Global Supply Chain for Sumitomo Chemical’s biotechnology division with Valent Biosciences, where he led the end-to end supply chain including procurement, logistics and distribution, integrated business planning, materials management, customer service, and supply planning functions globally.

Pavel Aronov, PhD

Head of Bioanalytics

Pavel leads the Bioanalytics team at Antheia. He has 20 years of experience in analytical and clinical chemistry, mass spectrometry, chromatography, and metabolomics. Pavel built and led the original Chemistry and Analytics team at Impossible Foods enabling strain development, fermentation, DSP, regulatory, QC, and scale-up of leghemoglobin biomanufacturing. During his academic career at UC Davis and Stanford University Pavel developed a vitamin D assay used by all major clinical diagnostics laboratories and pioneered metabolomics studies to investigate kidney disease and microbiome.

Jesse Ahrendt

Head of Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs

Jesse has more than 25 years of experience in regulatory affairs, quality systems, manufacturing quality, and regulated industries, ranging from early- to late-stage pharmaceuticals, biomanufacturing, consumer care, and medical devices. He has supported global product launches and the underlying quality supply chain components in industries that require strict adherence to internationally accepted quality standards. Before Antheia, he led quality efforts at Zymergen and Sandoz, and supported many global pharmaceutical companies during his time in Biotech Consulting at NSF International, all to bring quality to the forefront in manufacturing, standardize global processes, and support customer regulatory requirements.

Heidi Pucel

Chief People Officer

Heidi is a results-driven human resources executive and HR business partner who leverages decades of experience in empowering, motivating, and inspiring to drive transformation within high-performing and rapidly-growing workforces. A certified executive coach and passionate advocate for people-oriented solutions, Pucel serves as a partner to executive teams to design programs that support employee development, engagement, and recruitment and retention. Pucel most recently served as Chief People Officer for Countsy, where she worked as an interim HR executive for clients in the biotechnology and software industries, such as Ceribell and Tune Therapeutics.

Zack McGahey

Chief Operating Officer

Zack is a leading executive in operations management, specializing in bioprocess engineering and manufacturing management. He has over 20 years of experience leading manufacturing functions for companies across the pharmaceutical, synthetic biology, diagnostics, and automotive industries. Before joining Antheia, Zack was VP of manufacturing and capex project management at Zymergen. He also gained experience managing commercial scale facilities operations for Tesla, where he was responsible for managing 10 million square feet of factory, lab and warehouse space during the Model 3 ramp.

Kristy Hawkins, PhD

Co-Founder & CSO

Kristy has over 20 years of experience in the field of synthetic biology, focusing on yeast metabolic engineering for the production of small molecules. She did the founding work on the benzylisoquinoline alkaloid pathway during her graduate studies and gained valuable industry experience at Amyris and Lygos. Kristy is an expert in tool development, high-throughput screening, and host strain and heterologous pathway engineering.

Christina Smolke, PhD

Co-Founder & CEO

Christina is a pioneer in synthetic biology and metabolic engineering, where she has over 20 years of experience. As Professor of Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering at Stanford University, her laboratory led the breakthrough research to engineer baker’s yeast to produce some of the most complex and valuable medicines known. Under her leadership, Antheia’s synthetic biology platform enables new possibilities for drug discovery and efficient, sustainable, transparent, and on-demand drug manufacturing at scale. Her vision and accomplishments have garnered numerous awards, including the Chan-Zuckerberg Biohub Investigator, NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, Nature’s 10, Novozymes Award for Excellence in Biochemical Engineering, and TR35 Award.

Antheia hosts U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken to showcase the impact of biotechnology innovation

Appropriate regulatory submissions will be prepared and submitted to support Antheia’s customers who need to reference and access necessary process-related information.