Higher Education CoP - Project Management in a Biotech Startup Setting: a Year in Review

Higher Education CoP - Project Management in a Biotech Startup Setting: a Year in Review


In a quickly growing start-up environment, project management tools are essential for success and need to be developed early. Within a year, the research & development (R&D) team at Variant Bio tripled from five employees to fifteen. When Alyson joined Variant Bio as R&D employee number five, she was given full creative liberty to establish tracking systems to organize genome-wide association studies (GWAS)-backed associations, triage new genetic targets, and note cross-functional team communication. These tools currently are used across teams, by leadership, and contribute to a competitive R&D pipeline. After the development of these tracking systems and tools, the data needs to be maintained and managed on a weekly, if not daily basis. Expanding beyond data organization and tracking, a fast-paced drug discovery role requires project management skills to facilitate internal and external collaborations, lead projects in the lab, generate data by ambitious timelines, manage clinical research organizations and external data generation, and communicate scientific results to leadership. The early establishment of these project management tools have contributed to the success of individuals, teams, and the company over the past year.

Learning Objectives

Participants will

  • understand the role project management plays in a biotech startup setting
  • understand how project management skills and implementation of good project management practices contribute to a competitive research & development pipeline



Alyson Barnes, PhD

Alyson Barnes is a Functional Genomics Scientist at Variant Bio, a human genetics biotech start-up in Seattle, WA, with over ten years of biomedical science research spanning industry, academic, and government settings. Her research experience includes determining the mechanism of action of small molecule anti-Ebola therapeutics, analyzing the antibody repertoire of participants in an anti-Ebola vaccine trial, characterizing the molecular mechanism of a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) associated with Chlamydia-induced cytokines, early discovery therapeutics research, and genome-wide clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) screening. In her current position at Variant Bio, Alyson uses project management as the project lead on two pre-clinical targets, to organize GWAS-backed associations, contribute to a competitive research & development pipeline, and to facilitate internal and external communications and collaborations. In her day-to-day work life, she uses a variety of project management tools such as Jira, Confluence, and SmartSheets. Alyson received her PhD in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology from Duke University and bachelors degrees in biology and philosophy from the University of Virginia. During her time at Duke, she also interned under Kris Herring as Associate Programming Director for the Duke Project Management Community of Practice with Abraham Nguyen.

Event Details

Event Date 05-16-2023 12:00 pm
Event End Date 05-16-2023 1:00 pm
Cut off date 05-16-2023 12:45 pm
Registered 1
Individual Price Free
No. of Business Acumen PDUs 0.5
No. of Power Skills PDUs 0.5
Location Virtual Meeting

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