We are excited to announce that Gerrit Zijlstra has joined the AxelaRx advisor team. Gerrit is a seasoned pharma executive in a leading pharmaceutical company, with previous roles in research & development and medical affairs in North America, Asia and Europe. He is leading teams to advance science across many disease areas and implement innovative therapies in healthcare systems.

Gerrit will be one of the renowned advisors on the AxelaRx team that supports our portfolio companies to deliver their technologies fastest to patients. He brings many years of experience, a profound understanding and insights of what it takes to successfully develop a biotech venture in the challenging Life Sciences market. For you to get familiar, we asked him a couple of questions on how he is determined to make an impact for new novel technologies.

Why did you decide to join the AxelaRx team?

AxelaRx offers opportunities for pioneering startup companies to accelerate in bringing innovation forward faster. Personally, I believe that the ingredients we need most to win tomorrow’s challenges are leadership and innovation. Both are key ingredients offered through AxelaRx’s fantastic team of leaders and advisors. I’m humbled to have been asked to join and am very excited about the opportunity to learn and contribute to fast-track potential solutions for tomorrow, while applying state-of-the-art science.

What excites you most about the Life Sciences industry?

Firstly, this has to be the people you work with, who are all passionate about science and finding opportunities to bring cutting edge science to patients. Secondly, I’m very excited about the unprecedented level of innovation with converging fields in biology, data and technology creating insights and solutions at a faster speed than before. I continue to be amazed how quickly we can bring new innovations forward. For instance, when I was a PhD student, gene therapy and small interference RNA were hopeful promises. Today, peoples’ lives are changed because of these therapies! Finally, it’s the shared impact and responsibility we have to create sustainable solutions for the generations to come.

What is key for any starting biotech venture?

A few words that come to mind are a curious mind, passion and persistence. Everybody has ideas, but not all ideas make it to the clinic. Also I think you almost have to be jack of all trades, as sooner or later you need to expand to have a team and transition rapidly to becoming a leader. Above all, have the courage to jump in at the deep end and enjoy the learning experience! Also remember that you’re never alone – ensure you have a team or network of trusted professionals around you to balance your thoughts and decisions.

Are there any other things you would like to add?

People and culture always come first, and the first person is yourself. Know how to lead yourself, manage your energy and maximize your peak performance will be the key to your success and as a result the success of your team. Be your best self at moments that matter, and use the time in between to prepare, learn and experiment!

Curious how AxelaRx and our experienced advisors, like Gerrit Zijlstra, can help your novel technologies accelerate? Contact us at info@axelarx.com