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Founder and CEO, Limerick BioPharma
South San Francisco, CA
Clinical Assistant Professor
Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford, CA
Wendye Robbins, MD, BS ‘83, has a rather unconventional method
of making major decisions.
She has made a practice out of operating by instinct and making
career moves before fully assessing risk. She sheepishly describes
herself as a bit “ready, fire, aim,” using military terms from her summer
cleaning Israeli military tanks during her undergraduate days.
But Robbins’ ability to take action and worry later has guided her
success. She graduated from Haas with only a desire to see the world.
She applied to medical school on a whim and attended the Medical
College of Pennsylvania, interned at the Hospital of the University of
Pennsylvania, and completed residency at Johns Hopkins University.
Robbins was then recruited to join the UCSF faculty. But after five
years there, she became frustrated by the bureaucracy of medicine.
She envisioned a career as a biotech entrepreneur.
“By then, I could take risks,” Robbins recalls. “My husband fully
supported my interests.”
Robbins started her first company, NeurogesX, based on her
research. “I found great mentors,” she says modestly. “Despite my
inexperience, I raised money.” Indeed, she had raised $67 million by
the time she left the company in 2003. The company went public in
2007, and the FDA approved her original product in 2009.
Robbins joined the Stanford faculty and simultaneously started her
second company, Limerick BioPharma, in 2004. With 18 employees
currently, the company has raised $35 million and has strong board and
scientific support and a growing patent library. Limerick’s lead drug is
designed to reduce destructive side effects associated with transplants.
A second focus is to develop drugs to treat disorders of lipid accumulation,
including excess cholesterol and other inherited diseases.
“I love translating promising science into opportunity for patients,” she says. “Biotechnology involves so many different activities— developing experimental plans, designing development strategy,
building teams, working with the FDA.”
Robbins is particularly grateful for the experiences she gained at Haas in team building and finance as well as the group leadership opportunities. Robbins adds, “I feel so fortunate that Haas gave me the skills and knowledge to launch my unconventional career.”