As the world struggled to live in and through a seeming “forever pandemic,” 2021 was a year that demanded global resilience. The potency of delta followed by fast spread of omicron variants might have led to despair. At IPI, we fought back, digging deep into expertise and mission to find ways to work, rebuild and connect.
For us, 2021 was a time of renewal.
We hired record numbers of new staff from across the world for all parts of the organization: highly skilled scientists to renovate our Antibody Platform; writers to promote our scientific progress; administrators to support our rapid growth on all our teams. We created a culture of diversity, knowledge-sharing and teamwork through retreats, celebrations of heritage and processes meant to bring people together. We learned to do our research in a way that keeps each other safe, while showing our dedication to the scientific community.
At the highest levels, our Board elected a new chair, Samantha Singer. With a background in consulting and executive operations, now CEO of her own startup biotech, Singer brings to IPI insightful leadership and strong operational skills that will be critical in steering us through our transition from an early to growth stage organization.
We redoubled our efforts to create and produce fit-for-purpose antibodies directed against extracellular and secreted protein targets, distributing them to collaborators for validation. Quality control was a theme. Data integration between the teams enabled better understanding of how to optimize the platform for efficiency. Antibody engineering is now emerging as a near-future strategy. Overall, the goal for 2022 is to optimize the technology and platform still further, adding in necessary application development and production processes to begin scaling for full distribution.
To focus its activities on this antibody effort, IPI spun out its Protein Design Laboratory, headed by Christopher Bahl. He launched a startup, called AI Proteins, that uses artificial intelligence and protein design to create synthetic proteins for therapeutic application.
Back in the lab, we embarked on new frontiers in antigen and antibody discovery. We’re intrepidly hunting down an elusive form of an opioid receptor in the hopes of inspiring painkillers without side effects. We’ve also launched another antibody discovery campaign focused on a tough-to-target family of cell signaling proteins.
We reaffirmed our commitment to promoting training and career development. We’re thrilled to send off two of our research associates to top graduate and medical schools
to earn their doctorate and medical degrees.
As we look back upon such a historic year, we’re grateful for the many ways we have found to move forward as one team through volatility with creativity. One of the things I enjoyed most was listening to a recent episode of our newly launched training series, dubbed “IPI 101.” One of the research associates was teaching the group about the history of human embryonic kidney cells, throwing in a spontaneous quiz with cupcakes for the right answer. As she singled out our new director of people and talent to try and answer her largely scientific question — whose incorrect response evoked a “maybe you’d better phone a friend” response—I laughed. We’re all laughing again. It’s time to feel lighter and for the future of protein science to be brighter. I am looking forward to the opportunities ahead.
Learn more about IPI’s current projects here, or reach Meijers at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read IPI’s 2021 annual report here.