Just a few years ago, Patrick Kearney found himself in a place that is painfully familiar to many chemists. When his position as a senior director of medicinal chemistry at a San Francisco Bay Area biotechnology company was eliminated in 2011, he entered a challenging job market feeling as though his career had stalled. Eager to find another career path, Kearney made a decision to pursue a longtime dream of starting his own contract research organization (CRO). He was acting on a promising business idea that had come to him during one of his job interviews.
As he sought resources to help him take that leap of faith, Kearney learned about the American Chemical Society’s Entrepreneurial Initiative, a program to support ACS members who would like to pursue starting and operating their own businesses. At the time, it was a new two-year pilot program, and he wasted no time in applying to be a part of it.
Kearney’s application was successful, and he is now taking advantage of a renewed program. The ACS Board of Directors has approved a plan to “revamp and optimize” the Entrepreneurial Initiative for another two-year run, says David E. Harwell, assistant director of ACS industry member programs and coordinator for the initiative. The application period for the next group of participants, he adds, will open on April 2.
The program recognizes the tremendous hurdles involved in starting a business, Harwell adds. As would be expected, most of the companies involved in the program “have a long row to hoe and are struggling, but a few seem to be rocketing right through.”
Kearney is working toward being one of the success stories coming out of the ACS program. He founded HD Sciences, a Kansas City, Mo., medicinal chemistry CRO that aims to accelerate the identification and optimization of lead compounds for drug discovery. Next month, he is set to begin proof-of-concept research in the lab of his collaborator, Paul R. Hanson, a chemistry professor at the University of Kansas, Lawrence.Fascinating to see how things go for ideas like this -- my sincere best wishes to Dr. Kearney. To find out more about the ACS Entrepreneurial Initiative, click here.
UPDATE: Thanks to Polychem, I see that Dr. Kearney has a blog. I like what I see: optimistic, yet realistic. Again, my very best wishes to him.