The biopharma industry discovers new treatment opportunities every day, fighting to help discover new cures and pathways to relief. Having so many treatment options available, however, can become cumbersome for doctors. Every person is unique; what works for one patient might not work for another. However, 3D Signatures, with its expertise in precision medicine, might have the solution.
Based on the findings of Dr. Sabine Mai, a Manitoba-based researcher, 3D Signatures is able to zoom in on an individual’s chromosomes and, in analyzing the arrangement of its telomeres, develop a greater understanding of a patient’s cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. How aggressive is it? How will it respond to different kinds of treatment? By answering these questions, the technology allows for personalized diagnostic and prognostic tests and therapies that can save patient lives, not to mention an abundance of time and money that otherwise would have been spent on ineffective treatments.
“There is no other company currently doing what 3D Signatures is doing,” says Jason Flowerday, 3D Signatures’ newly appointed CEO. He’s referring not just to the technology, but also to the proprietary analytical software the company has developed alongside Mai. “Our Teloview software measures and scores a number of very specific criteria in how telomeres are organized in 3-D,” he says. “The technology that 3D Signatures has developed and the programs that we are aiming to move into the marketplace are incredibly disruptive as far as being a new class of biomarker and being the first in this class of 3-D telomere analysis.”
That’s a lot of weight for a new CEO to carry, but Flowerday’s experience is vast and, for someone in the pharmaceutical industry, surprisingly diverse. He grew up in Sudbury and Ottawa in Ontario, and then he studied pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Toronto. His initial goal was to study medicine, but that didn’t necessarily work out. “Like everyone else who has that same goal, I discovered it was unbelievably challenging,” Flowerday says with a chuckle. That led him to life sciences juggernaut Bayer, where the recent graduate cycled through a variety of sales and marketing roles in pursuit of a leadership position.
“Bayer was and continues to be an excellent organization in terms of identifying talent early on,” he says. “If you put your hand up and demonstrate your capabilities and track record, the opportunities generally present themselves.”
While at Bayer, Flowerday also had the opportunity to participate in a management intern program. “I had a particularly strong mentor at the time that really distinguished himself as far as being a quiet and confident leader, not having to be the cheerleader of the bunch,” he says. “That was a particular insight that left a mark on me.”
“If you put your hand up and demonstrate your capabilities and track record, the opportunities generally present themselves.”
A business degree from Queen’s University and a passion to be his own boss emboldened Flowerday to do something that not a lot of people do in the healthcare environment.” Along with an industry veteran, Flowerday formed RxMedia Healthcare Communications. “I think there was a certain naïveté to my thinking at the outset,” he admits, but the pharmaceutical e-learning company enjoyed year-over-year growth. After six years, he did it again, teaming with a longtime friend to build Orphan Canada Inc., a company that sought to commercialize therapies for genetic and rare diseases. Again, Flowerday’s leadership led to new opportunities and success when Orphan Canada was sold to Knight Therapeutics.
Flowerday says the secret to his success is speed and initiative. “We saw gaps in the marketplace that traditional players couldn’t fill,” he says. “We were able to move quickly and to mobilize the resources and capital to be successful. Bigger, slower competitors didn’t have the dynamism to move as quickly as RxMedia and Orphan Canada.”
Flowerday’s youth and drive were key to his success, but they also presented challenges. “I was fortunate to achieve a number of milestones early in my career and wound up managing people with substantially more experience than I had,” he recalls. His approach to naysayers was to ensure he was presenting a transparent and honest version of himself that didn’t have a hidden agenda. He cites the lessons he learned at Bayer: “Lead from the heart, quietly and with humility.”
Flowerday brings all of these lessons and experiences with him to 3D Signatures, another company that appears to have the forward-thinking dynamism that’s long fueled his pursuits. He thinks that 3D Signatures’ technology has the potential to disrupt the diagnostics and biopharma marketplace, allowing for new avenues of personalized medicine. It’s an exciting place to be, and not one he would have imagined in the earliest days of his career.
“I always had the aspiration of one day becoming a business leader, but it’s difficult to know through which sequence of steps that would happen. Sometimes there’s surprise, and sometimes the steps are planned and intentional,” he says. “But I would say that I never expected to have such a diverse career, having touched so many related but disparate industries within life sciences. It’s kind of unorthodox, where I’ve been and what I’ve done, but I’ve loved it all.”
Listening to Flowerday, it’s clear that an unorthodox approach is sometimes the most satisfying. Life is about finding yourself through a variety of diverse experiences, he argues, but so is business. “I’ve been attracted to different challenges and opportunities that seem to present something that nobody else is doing,” he says. He’s not kidding, either. Just look at his résumé.