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News & Press: Member News

Member Spotlight: Bruce Thompson

Tuesday, January 21, 2020   (3 Comments)
Posted by: Luke Van Meter
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The Member Spotlight Q&A is part of an ongoing CASSS series, in which we invite members to meet other members of the CASSS Community.

The Member Spotlight is an ongoing Q&A series focused on getting to know the CASSS community. Today’s spotlight shines
on Bruce Thompson, Vice President of Process Science at Lyell.

Q. What was your motivation to volunteer with CASSS?
CASSS has a very strong reputation for excellence in the industry. The focus on the interface with our domestic and international regulatory bodies is a tremendous opportunity for the community at large to benefit from the collective experience(s). I was initially asked to help plan a summer CMC event focused on Cell and Gene Therapy, but enjoyed the event so much, I signed on to stay and volunteer a bit longer.

Q. What do you do to relax? Do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy the outdoors. Having moved to Seattle in the last few years has given me ample opportunity for hiking, refining my fly fishing abilities and generally spending time in beautiful Pacific Northwest environment. I also enjoy spending time with my wife, two kids, and our Labradoodle.

Q. What's your favorite type of food or special dish you cook? Why?
I’m going to go the other way, and provide an unfortunate co-location answer. Moving to the Pacific Northwest has put in a prime location for seafood, however, that’s not one of my likes.

Q. What is your favorite movie, tv show, music or book?
Lately, I’ve been reading a number of biographies and autobiographies about entrepreneurs who started highly creative technology-based companies. I recently read Creativity, Inc., by Ed Catmull. Being in a startup cell and gene therapy (CGT) company, I really enjoyed his perspective on balancing the need for culture, creativity and a fierce sense of ownership with the business needs of being a company as Pixar matured and became a dominant force in the animated picture entertainment industry. I think there are some great parallels with the CGT space in it’s current state.

Q. What famous person (dead or alive) would you choose to have dinner with? Why?
Given that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are known to often have lunch or dinner together, I would opt to join them at one of their meetings. I think that it would be fascinating to discuss with them how they prioritize what is important to them in their daily and professional lives. Given (I presume) that they have very little in the way of daily impediments and nearly unlimited financial resources, see a vast amount of new technology and cutting edge science, I would imagine that has honed their ability to determine with clarity how to choose what is most important. I would welcome an opportunity to learn about prioritization on a level playing field, and make a maximal impact.

Q. What’s your favorite travel experience?
Hawaii. I have traveled there a number of times, and I always enjoy the sense of beauty, culture and history that has evolved within the islands. Planning a trip there in the spring with my family.

Q. What would people be surprised to know about you?
I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. My wife and I challenged ourselves to complete a 3 year study while I was a graduate student.

Q. How did you get inspired to go into science/biotech/pharma industry?
I worked as an undergraduate in a cancer research lab while I was at the University of Louisville. At the time, I was pre-med (like many science-minded folks at that age), but enjoyed my time in the lab so much that I went to graduate school instead. After my postdoctoral training which involved some mechanistic work on therapeutic antibodies, I was able join Ned Mozier’s fantastic bioassay group and learned a tremendous amount of end-to-end biologics drug development over ~10 years at Pfizer.

Q. If you did anything other than your current occupation, what would it be?
Likely a fishing guide in the Bahamas. Much like many young biologists, I fancied a degree in Marine Biology and spending time in an idyllic environment studying coral reefs. Or perhaps a chef (on a sailboat in the Bahamas – see a trend here?)


Bruce Thompson, Lyell Immunopharma, Inc. says...
Posted Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Thank you Claudia and Lakshmi for the kind comments. I hope you're both doing well and enjoying continued successes. Wishing you the best. Bruce
Claudia Posadas says...
Posted Tuesday, January 28, 2020
I had the opportunity to work with Bruce at Pfizer in the bioassay group. During his time at Pfizer he was a dedicated and enthusiastic scientist. I enjoyed working with him and learn from him. He was a great mentor and I always enjoyed talking to him about science, I wish in the near future our paths cross again. Thank you for sharing your personal stories, I never thought you would be a black belt in Taw Kwon Do! Claudia Posadas
Lakshmi Khandke, PATH says...
Posted Thursday, January 23, 2020
Dear Bruce It was so nice to read about your personal life stories - Hope you are doing well. Lakshmi Khandke

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