Barbara Handelin, PhD
Some people are naturally “closers”; others are “openers”. Barbara is the latter. For example, originally she was to become an actor, but majored in genetics to leave the option of applying to medical school. When a mentor advised against the doctor idea because “you will be bored to tears by ‘practicing’ instead of thinking”, she went to medical school to get her PhD. Thinking turned out to be less compelling than applying science, revealed first during her thesis interview with Audacity partner, David Housman, as they contemplated how much one could improve thoroughbred horse breeding with some simple gene studies. Subsequent decades of seeing opportunities for potential promising medicines shut down because they couldn’t meet financial objectives, revealed a perfect challenge for an opener. Audacity was born. We encourage Barbara to stick to opening minds “out there”, while some of us “closers” get the business of making medicines at Audacity accomplished. Barbara’s BA, Genetics (UC Berkeley, School of Forestry) and PhD, Medical Genetics (Oregon Health Sciences University, with “remote” thesis work in aforementioned Housman lab at MIT), provided the good fortune to help establish some early/first applications. These included a genetic testing lab (Integrated Genetics), gene therapy company (Genovo), biological modeling (Kenna Technologies), rare disease drug development nonprofit (BioPontis Alliance for Rare Diseases) and to help worry about the ethics in genetic medicine along the way on various committees/commissions/nonprofits.