Since the spring, our blog has featured regular posts introducing Perlara team members who weren’t a part of the founding team. From recent hires to a long-time team member, from two senior scientists to two research associates, we’ve covered almost everyone. In our penultimate intro post (until the team grows), read about two women (a hiring priority at Perlara) at different career stages – a Ph.D. and a recent college graduate – who are driven by a shared mission: to give voice to patients and families who have been left behind.

Meet two members of the Perlara team

 

Perlara Team - Kausalya Murthy 500x500pxKausalya Murthy

What led you to Perlara?

After a postdoc and a career break, I was looking to transition into the industry, and came across an old job post for a worm RA position at Perlara. I had worked with C. elegans during my postdoc, so I was intrigued and very surprised to see a company using simple animal models for drug discovery. I was lucky to be introduced to Sangeetha via an ex-colleague, and learned more about Perlara’s strategy. Using small animal models for diseases whose genes are highly homologous to humans for discovering therapeutics for rare diseases seemed very appealing, as well as  economical. A couple of weeks later, when a position in the worm team came up, I jumped at the opportunity to interview so that I could direct my skills towards solving rare diseases.

What are you working on?

Currently, I am mainly working on the worm pipeline for conducting a drug screen on Niemann-Pick Type A disease. Hits identified will be subsequently tested in a secondary screen using the Acid Sphingomyelinase enzymatic assay. I am also validating the yeast and worm hits that emerged from the yeast and worm PMM-2 drug screen using the PMM-2 enzymatic assay. The hits identified will be further validated in fibroblast patient models for the respective diseases.

Why do you like going to work?

There are many reasons to like going to work at Perlara: the science, its mission, the flexibility of the job and, of course, the supportive and fun Perlara team members. Most important of all, I am motivated by the fast pace of focused research, where one’s work on PerlQuests can quickly translate into something beneficial for someone who is racing against time. This is very refreshing compared to academia, where the focus on publishing in high-impact journals, obtaining grants/fellowships, and an obsession with minute details, derails the pace of research.

What do Perlara’s vision, mission and core values mean to you? 

Perlara’s model of collaborating with individual patient advocacy groups, who have a stake in the commercial outcome, and its outreach to the public — by being transparent about its science via The Ark blog and tweets — make the company more approachable to rare patient groups. As a parent who has dealt with the fear of worst outcomes, I admire the resilience and willpower of parents who overcome their grief and fear, and try everything they can to find a cure for their child’s rare disease. Perlara provides them with an accelerated drug discovery platform to hope for a better future for their children, and I am happy to be part of it.


 

Perlara Team - Gaby Colmenares 500x500pxGaby Colmenares

What led you to Perlara?

As a recent college graduate, I was very eager to make my transition from college kid to a “career-building adult”. I knew I wanted to work in a place where I could put my training to good use, and where I could continue to grow. After a grueling job search, I stumbled across Perlara, and I’m so happy that I did. During my interview, the team took the time to really explain the focus on rare diseases and the unique approach to drug discovery that Perlara has to offer. Having worked with some of the model organisms in undergraduate labs and courses, I was excited to see what I could bring to the table, and how I could help make their mission a reality.

What are you working on?

At the moment, I am working on our yeast models for the GNAO1 PerlQuest in collaboration with the Undiagnosed Diseases Network. I am working to identify the growth pattern of our yeast strain with an A339D mutation. I am also working to understand how our strains’ mutations affect their morphology.

Why do you like going to work?

I love going to work for many reasons, but what it really comes down to is that it is an environment where I can not only have fun and enjoy the company of my coworkers, but also learn and grow as a young scientist. We are divided into teams, and we work within these teams to reach specific goals. As a whole though, I love that there is no competition between the teams to get to the finish line first. It feels like we are all running the race together to accomplish our goal of making a difference in people’s lives.

What do Perlara’s vision, mission and core values mean to you?

It is very hard to put into words what Perlara’s core values mean to me. Through personal experience growing up in my community in San Francisco, I have developed a passion for helping people who are not always put first. Now, as a scientist, Perlara has broadened my idea of what it means to help marginalized people. Through our research, we are helping give hope and a voice to patients and families who are usually not heard by large pharmaceutical companies. Our drug discovery platform aims to help them as quickly and efficiently as possible. We are saying that no patient population is too small to be considered worthy of help. Perlara’s transparency, and dedication to communities we work with, is incredibly honorable, and I’m proud to be part of it.

We’ll be introducing more Perlara team members in the coming months. In the meantime, keep your eyes open for their new work discovering cures for rare diseases