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Dr Mihriban Tuna, Executive MBA 2019 participant, has joined biotechnology start-up Adaptate Biotherapeutics as Chief Scientific Officer (CSO).

Dr Mihriban Tuna (MBA 2019).
Dr Mihriban Tuna (MBA 2019)

Dr Mihriban Tuna (EMBA 2019) has joined a new biotechnology start-up, after eleven years leading drug discovery at F-star Biotechnology.

Specialising in the development of antibody-based therapies that aim to trigger an immune response against cancer, Adaptate Biotherapeutics has attracted investment from Abingworth and Takeda.

As an experienced leader of drug discovery teams and technology development in previous roles for F-star Biotechnology and GSK, Dr Tuna is helping shape company strategy and culture at the pivotal early stages. Her responsibilities include preparing and overseeing the scientific direction of drug development programmes, managing collaborations and communicating with scientific advisors and the board of directors. She manages a team of six scientists.

“Taking on responsibilities as the CSO of a start-up that’s progressing some very novel and differentiating concepts into clinical development is going to be challenging,” admits Dr Tuna, “but it’s also extremely motivating and rewarding.”

“Good decision making and shaping the direction of a biotech start-up is fundamentally rooted in doing excellent science,” says Dr Tuna, a member of Darwin College. “But of equal importance is having a great team, being aware of the competitor landscape, awareness and understanding of the macroenvironment and seeking the input of opinion leaders.”

Joining a Scientific Advisory Board

Along with her role at Adaptate Biotherapeutics, Dr Tuna has also been appointed to the Scientific Advisory Board of AI drug discovery company Turbine. Praising Turbine’s unique, artificial intelligence-enabled approach, Dr Tuna says joining the Board is an honour.

“I met Szabolcs Nagy, Turbine’s CEO, at a networking event in Cambridge. It has been great to see the Turbine team evolve their thinking and grow the company, they recently completed a Seed round and formed the Scientific Advisory Board which I am very happy and honoured to be part of.”

Starting the EMBA programme could not have come at a better point in my career

Dr Tuna graduated from Middle East Technical University with a BSc in Biology, before completing an MSc and DPhil in Biochemistry at the University of Sussex.

“I grew up in the Balkans, first Bulgaria and then Turkey, and have spent more than 20 years living and working in the UK. During my PhD at Sussex, I had an excellent supervisor who enabled me to see opportunities in applying basic research in industry which is when I decided to focus on a career in drug discovery and development.”

Now an established technical specialist in her field, Dr Tuna is expanding her leadership experience through her new role and by investing in her education through the Cambridge Executive MBA.

“Starting the EMBA programme could not have come at a better point in my career. I’m learning and internalising so much in areas like financial evaluations, business strategy, management science and practice,” she says.

“It has been great to meet and collaborate with professionals from many different industries and backgrounds in the cohort. It’s a truly diverse group of people and I’ve learned a lot from my fellow participants.”

What advice would Dr Tuna give to science professionals considering an Executive MBA?

“The Cambridge EMBA programme is a great choice for scientists who would like to step out of their comfort zone and expand their horizons.”

“They will learn the basics of how to run a business, as well as a building a good understanding of key concepts around financial reporting and evaluations, corporate finance, management science and practice in general.”