7 Questions

Danuta Jeziorska

Founder and CEO of Nucleome Therapeutics

Danuta Jeziorska is a Founder and CEO of Nucleome Therapeutics and an Honorary Senior Scientist at the University of Oxford. She is a member of the Biotech Industry Association’s Genomics Advisory Committee that ensures that the UK starts, scales and builds world-leading genomic businesses. Previously, she founded Innovation Forum Oxford, for which she was recognised as one of the Movers and Shakers in BioBusiness in 2018. She has expertise in decrypting how genes are regulated, a field which she has been working on over the last 16 years, including 8 years at the Molecular Haematology Unit at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford. Before moving to Oxford, she completed a PhD in Systems Biology from the University of Warwick and obtained a BSc degree in Biotechnology from the University of Silesia in Poland. Her work over the years has focused on genomics, epigenetics, transcription, 3D genome analysis, live cell imaging and bioinformatics.

01 How has the founder journey shaped you so far?

My entrepreneurial journey has been a path of self-discovery and growth like no other. Over the years I have transformed from a scientist being curious about how dysregulation of gene expression leads to diseases, to a business leader on a mission to unlock the secrets of the dark genome so that we can find safer and better treatments to help patients. This journey has truly shown me who I am, what I stand for and what I am capable of.

02 What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?

My biggest challenge has been also my biggest motivator. As I was building Nucleome, a venture that I truly believe has the potential to save lives, I never anticipated that my own life would require saving in the process. Fighting cancer whilst establishing a new business (not to mention navigating the impact of a global pandemic), wasn’t easy but allowed me to observe a new dimension to our work. I have been building Nucleome not just from a perspective of a scientist who understood the true potential of the technology and who wanted to make a difference to others, but also a cancer conqueror who has experienced first-hand that precision medicine can save lives. I know what it means to patients, their families and carers and this is a significant driver that fuels me to do my best.

03 What do you wish you had known at the start?

I am saddened by what I wish I had known when I started this journey, because it is not a new story. Sadly, many females in science and business are directly or indirectly given the message that they do not have the same skills or abilities as men in the field. Unfortunately, I was one of those women – I was told that a woman of my age and background couldn’t do this. Like many of my female peers and colleagues, deep down I knew I could, but these words limited me at the start. Now, as part of a constantly growing group of “rock star” women founders and CEOs, backed by OSI at Oxford, I believe it is important to speak out about this and support the path for all women at all stages to show that Indeed They Can.

04 What's the best bit of advice you would give a first time founder?

If I had to limit my advice to one key concept then it would be to embrace a growth mindset. In short, it is to focus on successes and setbacks in your entrepreneurial journey as opportunities to learn and grow from as an individual and a business. To enhance this, seeking feedback and building a network of trusted advisors and peer CEOs, as well as having a coach can help you to learn from others and so does staying focused on hiring the right people to bring in a diversity of knowledge and experience to the mix.

05 What is your key advice on fund raising?

I have two bits of advice on fund raising:

  • Be ambitious on the goals and vision of the company. If you don’t see the potential, no one will.
  • Don’t just focus on the money. Select investors that align on your vision and mission AND that bring helpful expertise and resources to the table.

06 What was the best hire you made?

I believe that it is not single individuals that will make Nucleome successful – ideas ignite companies, but effective teams build them. At the early stage of the venture, when the team is still small, every member is vital to success. At Nucleome, we take this very seriously and have invested in culture and nurturing talent from the start. As a result, I am proud that we have built a team of dynamic, enthusiastic, passionate, and highly motivated scientists (with expertise in bioinformatics, machine learning, genomics and drug discovery), entrepreneurs and innovators with an ambition to transform the lives of patients.

07 What are your tips on managing your day?

I have two approaches to managing my days:

  • Be laser focused on what matters most. Don’t be afraid to prioritise and don’t get sucked in to doing urgent but unimportant tasks.
  • Make time for yourself. Remember to take rest and re-charge your energy levels, building a venture is exciting but it is a marathon not a sprint.

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