A new dawn: a view from the top. 

Scientist in labDr Dawn Driscoll surprised many when she decided to pursue an MBA during her PhD. Not too long ago the idea of pursuing an even balance of knowledge in both business acumen and technical science skills would have been quite the novelty. Dawn’s courageous career moves have most certainly paid off. Now the CEO of Cell Therapies, Dr Driscoll stands as a shining success story for women in STEMM. Recognising Cell Therapies’ role in helping to establish CCRM Australia and in honour of International Women’s Day, we think it quite fitting to share Dawn’s unique journey from student to CEO of Cell therapies.

CEO of Cell Therapies

Cell Therapies, based in Melbourne, Australia is a world-leading, translational and GMP manufacturing centre of excellence for cellular therapies. Working with a highly experienced team, Cell Therapies specialises in the development of GMP processes for therapeutic manufacturing and routine production of cellular therapies for clinical and commercial use. Through supporting every stage of the product life cycle (from initial research to clinical trial manufacturing and commercial supply), Cell Therapies specialises in the process of getting treatments from bench to bedside. With her combination of business smarts and technical knowledge, few could approach this complex process better than Dawn.

Joining Cell therapies in October 2017, Dawn has 20 years of experience behind her and loves being an integral part of Cell Therapies. “I love it — I feel like I’m a kid in a candy store!’ exclaimed Dawn, “I am privileged to work with an amazing team of people, all managing weird, new, scientific challenges. We are pushing the boundaries of known biology and medicine every day, and we don’t have a textbook to work by”. It’s through Cell Therapies, that we here at CCRM Australia have become so well acquainted with Dawn. By being a member of CCRM Australia, Cell Therapies is one of the many companies providing market knowledge and a ready supply of global receptors for technologies and products generated by CCRM and its partners.

From Student to CEO

With an affinity for swimming and science, Dawn’s education trajectory pointed her towards the ocean. After securing a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology, Dawn had to face the fact that she’s tragically prone to seasickness, shifting her focus to a PhD in Cell Biology from the University of Massachusetts. As if a PhD wasn’t enough of a challenge though, Dawn then approached her advisor: “I want to do something where I can work on translating good ideas out of the lab and into products” She said, “So my advisor let me do an MBA”.

Emerging on the other side with an MBA and PhD, Dawn was ahead of the game. Armed with a unique set of skills, she was quickly spotted by Johnson & Johnson, who offered her a job at the company even without a specific position. “They knew they wanted to hire me — but they just weren’t sure where to put me!” admitted Dawn. It was here Dawn found her niche, just between science and business, working in equity investments in early stage platforms, licensing for later stage products and corporate acquisitions. As quickly as that, Dawn went from five years of wearing a lab coat to a business suit, working at a major corporation. Dawn remained at Johnson & Johnson for nearly 10 years, where she worked her way up to senior international roles

Collaboration with CCRM and the Future

The future for Dawn and Cell Therapies is looking bright, having already rushed in a new year — there are big aspirations on the agenda. With plans to help bring the new commercial CAR-T cell therapies for children and adults to Australia, this year will be an exciting challenge, requiring the merging of many different skills. “It brings everything together — everything I have done has been leading up to this” smiled Dawn, “I feel incredibly lucky and humble.”

At CCRM Australia, we’re delighted to work with Dawn and Cell Therapies we look forward to hearing all Dawn will achieve in the coming years and look forward to an even stronger relationship in the future.

For more information on Cell Therapies, click here.