Gene Therapy Innovation in the Heart of the Big Apple
By: Jenna Heyman, Head of Human Resources, Vice President at Apertura Gene Therapy
When presented with the opportunity to join a gene therapy startup backed by Deerfield, I was thrilled at the thought of collaborating with a small, nimble team developing genetic medicines that have the potential to greatly impact patient lives. This was at the nexus of what I had been steadily working toward throughout my career in human resources.
Seven years after my first role at a biopharma company, I remain hooked on the promise of changing lives through science. I’ve had the privilege of helping numerous biotech companies grow from small startups to global organizations by aligning the right team and talent. While I’m not a scientist, my role is equally important. My charge is recruiting employees and helping to grow a company that will change lives. Being part of a mission-driven team working together to impact patients’ lives is a core tenet that makes me excited to come to work every day. At Apertura, we see everything first and foremost through the lens of patients. It’s the common denominator behind everything we do. Our team is a truly special blend of enthusiastic scientists, thought leaders and entrepreneurs who are respectful and collaborative as we work to engineer next-generation gene therapies to treat unaddressed genetic diseases using our machine learning- powered delivery and expression platforms. We are fortunate to call Deerfield’s innovation campus, the Cure., home, in the thriving life sciences hub of New York City.
Jenna Heyman Head of Human Resources, Vice President at Apertura Gene Therapy
Growing a Gene Therapy Startup with a Focus on Culture
As the Head of Human Resources, I am responsible for ensuring we foster an exciting, engaging and fulfilling culture while making Apertura a productive place to work and advance careers (and importantly, have fun while doing so). I create the vision for our workforce and lead our recruitment and talent strategy to achieve key business objectives and, ultimately, help our organization flourish and scale. I love the balance between the startup nature of our work environment while leveraging the strong foundational and operational support Deerfield has established for Apertura. And above all, CEO Joe La Barge brings extensive industry experience that sets the tone for effective leadership.
A question I frequently get asked is, “Why Apertura?” I love answering this question because there are so many reasons why I joined the team and look forward to going to work every day:
Team: We are diverse, determined, respectful and inquisitive, and importantly, we have fun while working hard. We may have differing opinions, but this is what drives us to succeed. Our people are what make our scientific research possible, and we take pride in the group we have assembled to achieve our critical mission of developing life-changing gene therapies.
Science: We are advancing our gene therapy technology platforms to create novel genetic medicines for patients with devastating diseases. To achieve our mission of expanding the promise of gene therapy to a broader set of diseases, we leverage machine learning and cutting-edge vector and genetic engineering. I am always amazed by the work we are doing.
Passion: You will be hard-pressed to find a more passionate group of brilliant and open-mindedprofessionals, who come to work each and every day to bring us closer to a future in which gene therapy improves the lives of more patients living with genetic diseases. This passion is palpable and contagious.
Why I Love Working within the Cure. Ecosystem in NYC
It is exciting to be part of the burgeoning NYC biotech community. Our headquarters are located in the Cure. Building, Deerfield’s Innovation Campus at 345 Park Avenue South, offering world-class lab space and amenities to support growing biopharma companies. We love working within an ecosystem dedicated to improving human healthcare.
Here is a sample of things we do at Apertura to build a collaborative team environment:
Holiday celebrations and pot lucks
Team lunches catered by vendors that we assess for diversity and mission alignment
Core values cup – a rotational award recognition series to celebrate employee contributions & our values
Employee Development Plans, to make career growth and learning a focus
Volunteering and team building opportunities
Help Fulfill Our Mission of Engineering Next-Generation Gene Therapies
Intrigued by our mission, science and culture? We are rapidly expanding our team and are eager to bring on the best and brightest talent who are equally passionate about innovating novel genetic medicines through AAV engineering. The growth I’ve witnessed over the past six months in my role is inspiring, and I look forward to what the future holds for this team. Feel free to reach out to me to inquire about our current openings. We can’t wait to meet you!
Learn more about how Apertura is pioneering next-generation AAV gene therapies with patients in mind through novel capsid and payload engineering and check out open job opportunities at aperturagtx.com.