When Linda Söderberg began working at BioArctic in 2006, she was responsible for establishing a chemicals station. Since then, she has been part of developing several groundbreaking drug candidates, and the company has grown from five to approximately 65 employees. In her role as Principal Scientist, she now supports all ongoing projects, and states that scientific results are still the driver of the operations.
You have worked for BioArctic almost since the company was founded. How has your job changed over time?
“I came here immediately after my time as a Ph.D student. There were five of us in the company, and everything had to be built from the ground up. I had to place the first order for sodium chloride, and was made responsible for setting up a chemicals station. At the same time, I traveled to Japan to take part in the early collaborations with Eisai. We were completely focused on the research projects, and I had no idea what to actually expect from a workplace. The company developed over these years, and today all the structures are in place: there are distinct roles, sections and forms for performance reviews – things I really appreciate now. But the core is still the same. Despite the company’s size there is still the same curiosity over science, and the results that are generated in the lab are the motor of everything we do.”
What do you do at BioArctic today?
“On paper, I have had the same role since the beginning – I’m a researcher and project manager. But since the company has changed so much over this time, my role has changed as well. In the beginning, I was a project manager over myself but through the years I have led the work of groups whose sizes varied depending on what we were doing. For the last three years, I have been Principal Scientist, which means that I have been working in a more crossover role as regards projects and can provide support where it is most needed. This is a good way to make use of the experience I have accumulated by having been a part of this ever since lecanemab was in the early preclinical research phase.”
You are now entering a new phase in which the company is building a commercial organization ahead of potential approval of lecanemab. What are your thoughts on this?
“Having been a part of developing the antibody from the start, this is naturally a tremendously exciting phase. If lecanemab becomes an approved drug, it will be a goal we have worked both long and hard to reach – producing a new treatment for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. At the same time, my focus is on the next big breakthrough and the development of new groundbreaking antibodies in both Alzheimer’s disease and other severe neurodegenerative disorders. This is what’s stimulating about working at BioArctic: we have been building up our organization this entire time based on how we grow and develop as a company, but we have never lose focus on the science and the opportunities for enabling the next revolution in medicine.”
Do you have any tips for anyone starting at BioArctic today?
“Not really. As long as you’re comfortable working in groups, oriented on results and gladly share them, you’ll do well here. We have a management that really appreciates creativity and new ideas, so you shouldn’t be afraid of presenting new thoughts. If you discover something that can be developed further, you should highlight it. It’s encouraged.”
BioArctic is successful in a field of research where many others have had problems. What is that due to?
“I believe that the long-term partnership we’ve had with Eisai has been a success factor. Even if they are financing and driving the development of lecanemab, we have been highly involved and there has been a continuity and a quality that has benefited the project. And it should be remembered that a key factor behind the success is, quite simply, that lecanemab is an excellent antibody. We saw this fifteen years ago, and all the continued research into the antibody has reinforced this picture.”