In the ever-evolving landscape of biotechnology, few individuals have left an indelible mark quite like Dr. Leen Kawas. Her unconventional journey from a budding pharmacist to a pioneering force in drug development and company leadership is a testament to her unwavering determination and commitment to advancing human health.

Leen Kawas’ trailblazing career took root when she boldly pursued a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology after initially working as a community pharmacist. This pivotal move allowed her to delve deeper into biotechnology research, fueled by a desire to profoundly impact patients’ lives.

In 2014, Leen Kawas co-founded Athira Pharma Inc., taking on the role of Chief Executive Officer. Under her visionary leadership, the company made remarkable strides in advancing multiple drug development programs. Her crowning achievement at Athira spearheaded a successful initial public offering in September 2020, raising an impressive $400 million – a feat that solidified her reputation as a strategic mastermind in the industry.

Throughout her tenure at Athira, Leen Kawas was a vocal advocate for increased diversity and patient involvement in clinical trials. She recognized that by embracing a more inclusive approach, the biotechnology sector could unlock new avenues for understanding and developing treatments that cater to the diverse needs of patients worldwide.

After her departure from Athira, Leen Kawas co-founded Propel Bio Partners in 202, alongside renowned investor Richard Kane. As the Managing General Partner, she continues to champion patient-centricity, providing financial and technical support to start-up and early-stage biotechnology companies that share her vision.

One of Leen Kawas’ key priorities at Propel Bio Partners is assembling dynamic, multifaceted teams. She seeks individuals with a “beginner’s mindset” – those who approach challenges with fresh perspectives and a willingness to learn from everyone, regardless of their career stage. Additionally, she values candidates who bring a sense of enthusiasm and camaraderie to the workplace, recognizing that a collaborative and positive environment fosters innovation and success.

Leen Kawas’ commitment to promoting diversity in clinical trial management teams is unwavering. She firmly believes that by including more women and minorities in leadership roles, the industry can enhance patient participation from these demographic groups, ultimately leading to more effective and representative clinical trials.

Looking ahead, Leen Kawas envisions a future where Propel Bio Partners invests in companies that develop groundbreaking technologies that improve human health globally. She also aims to provide internship opportunities for students and recent graduates from diverse backgrounds, nurturing the next generation of biotechnology leaders and ensuring that the industry continues to benefit from fresh perspectives and innovative ideas.

Moreover, Leen Kawas is deeply committed to “giving back to future entrepreneurs,” recognizing the invaluable impact that mentorship and support can have on shaping the trajectories of aspiring biotechnology professionals. Having benefited from industry pioneers’ guidance, she understands the importance of paying it forward and empowering those who follow in her footsteps.

As Leen Kawas continues to blaze a trail in the biotechnology industry, her unwavering dedication to patient-centricity, diversity, and mentorship inspires those aspiring to make a lasting impact on human health. Through her visionary leadership and commitment to transforming the landscape of drug development, she has solidified her legacy as a true pioneer.