Leen Kawas, Ph.D.: A Pioneering Voice in Biotechnology

Embarking on a professional path is rarely a linear journey. Despite meticulous planning, unpredictable twists and turns can lead to unanticipated opportunities. Such has been the remarkable trajectory of Dr. Leen Kawas, Managing General Partner at Propel Bio Partners. After initially pursuing a career as a pharmacist, Dr. Kawas obtained her doctoral degree and has spearheaded two prosperous biotechnology enterprises.

In an engaging podcast discussion on April 2, 2024, Dr. Leen Kawas shared her invaluable insights on assembling high-performing teams, advocated for increased diversity in clinical trial recruitment, and passionately underscored the crucial role of patient involvement throughout the drug development lifecycle.

Constructing Propel’s Powerhouse Team

As Propel Bio Partners charts an upward growth curve, Dr. Leen Kawas meticulously evaluates candidates to fortify the company’s expanding operations. In her diplomatic candidate assessment process, she prioritizes a growth-oriented mindset, irrespective of career stage.

Dr. Kawas actively seeks individuals who approach challenges with a “beginner’s mindset,” free from preconceived notions that may have contributed to the problem. She values innovative thinkers who embrace a continuous learning philosophy and draw wisdom from all quarters.

Notably, Dr. Leen Kawas is open to onboarding fresh biotech talent, recognizing the unique perspectives they bring to the table – perspectives equally valuable as those of seasoned industry veterans. Furthermore, she understands that a convivial workplace fosters enhanced team synergy, intentionally seeking individuals who infuse a “sense of fun” into their collaborations.

Enhancing Clinical Trial Efficacy

Rigorously structured clinical trials are pivotal to the drug development cycle. Patient cohorts adhere to specific usage protocols and generate data that informs regulatory approvals. Dr. Leen Kawas advocates for increased diversity among the clinical trial management team to bolster trial effectiveness.

“If we want our clinical trials to be more successful as companies, to be more successful, to recruit the right patient population, we need diversity in our management team – not only in the people on the ground,” Dr. Kawas asserts. She firmly believes that a higher representation of female and minority trial managers will foster improved participation from those demographic groups.

Additionally, Dr. Leen Kawas champions greater diversity in clinical trial patient selection, reflecting humanity’s inherent diversity. By including a broader spectrum of participants, drug developers can better gauge a medication’s impact across a significant cross-section of society, ultimately achieving their mission of enhancing human well-being while generating favorable returns on investment.

Elevating the Patient’s Voice

Throughout her distinguished career, Dr. Leen Kawas has been an unwavering advocate for amplifying patient voices in the drug development process. Her conviction is rooted in the belief that patients should play an instrumental role from the earliest stages of drug discovery and development rather than being consulted only toward the end of the cycle.

Years ago, Dr. Kawas and her colleagues conducted patient feedback sessions to understand the factors contributing to drug failures, incorporate patient perspectives into clinical trial design, and improve outcomes. “We wanted to include the patients’ voice[s] in our clinical and design to improve the outcome,” she explains.

A Visionary Outlook

Looking ahead to the next decade, Dr. Leen Kawas envisions Propel Bio Partners investing in companies that develop accessible health technologies with a global impact. She also aspires to provide internship opportunities for students and recent graduates from diverse backgrounds, fostering the next generation of biotechnology leaders.

Moreover, Dr. Kawas is committed to “giving back to future entrepreneurs,” acknowledging the invaluable guidance she received from esteemed business and technology luminaries throughout her trailblazing career. By paying it forward, she hopes to inspire and empower the innovators poised to shape the future of biotechnology.