Page 14 - PERIODIC 2017
P. 14

               A        talyst for Success

                                       Rob Simion talks to Periodic

              Rob Simion (Univ 2011) is Co-Founder
              and Chief Technology Officer of
              Enzbond, the first ever student-
              led spinout from the Department
              of Chemistry.   After his BS at the
              University of Tennessee-Knoxville,
              Rob came to Oxford to read for a
              DPhil in the Paton Group.  Between
              writing up and defending his thesis,
              Rob somehow found the time to
              create Enzbond, a new biotechnology
              company that already has an
              impressive client list and interest from
              big pharma companies. He talks to
              Periodic about how he did it.

              Tell us a little about Enzbond and how you had
              the idea.

              Alina Rakhimova (CEO and co-founder of Enzbond and
              former biochemistry DPhil student) and I shared a house   Our technology allows us to examine the potential properties
              on Merton Street, the pink house near the end.  Both being   of enzymes in-silico; this is many times faster than the trial-
              scientists, we would return from our labs in the late hours   and-error methods that have traditionally been used by
              and chat in the kitchen.  Alina used to be part of a tech start-  industry.  Once we had proof of concept, we were able to
              up and has a background in finance and management, and   source investors and clients, and we met with development
              I had ideas about forming a company, so things progressed   teams at companies like AstraZeneca and GSK.  I submitted
              from there.                                       my DPhil thesis a week before these meetings, and in the
                                                                3-4 months between submission and defence of my thesis
              Having studied both chemistry and biochemistry, I always   we found investors.  The defence meeting was  a day or two
              had an interest in enzymology. My DPhil in the Department   before the investment board meeting, so it was a very busy
              of Chemistry with Rob Paton was initially to design small   time!
              molecule catalysts.  I ended up with lots of designs, but
              then the question was which ones would actually be good
              for synthesis?  Could computational methods help?  Rob   Enzbond was officially launched in November 2016.
              generously allowed me room to explore ideas, and with help   How have things developed since then, and what’s
              from Professor Catherine Pears, Alina’s DPhil supervisor, and   next?
              Professor Steve Davies in Chemistry we were able to set up a
              month-long project that led to a successful demonstration of   We have been fortunate enough to find lab and desk space
              our technology.                                   in London, where I now live with my wife Aparajita.  In the

              Periodic       The Magazine of the Department of Chemistry
   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19