“ Stay calm – get good advisors – set your priorities, including surrounding yourself with your loved ones – and keep the faith.
Dr. Jonathan Lim is another mAss Kicker using research to fight tumors and cancer. Dr. Lim co-founded Ignyta as Chairman in August 2011, and he joined us as a full-time employee in July 2012 as President and Chief Executive Officer. Under his leadership: the company went public in 2013; has raised over $350 million from financings and corporate transactions with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Lilly; and is focused on building a precision medicine company aspiring to eradicate residual disease in precisely defined cancer patient populations by 2030. In February 2016, Dr. Lim joined the Board and currently serves as Chairman of Bonti, Inc., a startup developing next generation neurotoxins for patients with unmet needs in post-surgical care and aesthetic medicine. He is also a member of the Board of Visitors of the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego, a position he has held since December 2015, and an Advisory Council member of Stanford Bio-X, an initiative by Stanford University to foster interdisciplinary medical research. In March 2011, Dr. Lim co-founded and most recently served as Chairman and CEO of Eclipse Therapeutics, a Biogen Idec spinout. Eclipse was successfully sold to Bionomics Ltd (ASX:BNO) in a transaction that closed in September 2012, and Dr. Lim subsequently served as a member of the Board of Directors of Bionomics for three years, until November 2015. From May 2003 to December 2010, Dr. Lim was President, Chief Executive Officer, and a Director of Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: HALO). Dr. Lim’s prior experience also includes management consulting at McKinsey & Company, NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard Medical School and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and two years of general surgery residency at New York Hospital-Cornell and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He has B.S. and M.S. degrees from Stanford, an M.D. from McGill, and an M.P.H. from Harvard. We are very honored to feature him this week on our website.
mK: Thanks for doing this Dr. Lim! What is your relationship to cancer?
JL: I’ve lost many – too many – family members and friends to cancer. My current professional role as CEO of Ignyta, a biotechnology company exclusively focused on precision medicine in cancer, puts me in a position to help drive the development of novel therapeutic and diagnostic strategies to combat this terrible disease.
mK: Why is research so important? What exactly do you do?
JL: Currently available therapies are insufficient to fight cancer – we need novel treatments that provide broader alternatives and better outcomes for patients. Research and development of new therapies is essential to advance our collective ability to fight cancer.
And this, in fact, is what we do at Ignyta: we work tirelessly on behalf of cancer patients to offer potentially life-saving, precisely targeted therapeutics (Rx) guided by companion diagnostic (Dx) tests that identify patients who are the best candidates to benefit from those therapeutics. Our integrated Rx/Dx strategy allows us to uncover the molecular drivers of cancer and quickly advance treatments to address them. This unique approach embraces even those patients with the rarest cancers, who have the highest unmet need and who may otherwise not have access to effective treatment options.
We are blazing a new future for cancer patients with our pipeline of first-in-class and best-in-class precision medicines – with the ultimate goal of not just shrinking tumors, but eradicating cancer relapse and recurrence in precisely defined patient populations.
mK: Cool! Preventing relapse would alleviate many fears! We’ll definitely keep an eye on the clinical trials Ignyta is working on! What motivates you?
JL: Making a difference in other people’s lives – whether they are patients, other physicians, employees, investors, friends, family members….Based on the adverse impact cancer has had on my loved ones and those around me, I am personally motivated to work on novel approaches to fighting this disease.
mK: Who is your personal hero or are your heroes?
JL: Growing up, my mom and dad were my personal heroes – they still are, and I will always be grateful to them for the important life lessons and values they have instilled in me.
mK: What is the most interesting thing you have done?
JL: I have traveled a lot both for business and for pleasure. Some of my most interesting travel experiences have been the surgical missions I’ve completed – two in the Philippines and two in Mexico. The exotic locations, coupled with some of the most extraordinary patient conditions I’ve ever seen and successfully treated, such as massive goiters (enlarged thyroid glands) that you just don’t see here in the United States, have been interesting, educational and fulfilling experiences for me.
mK: Based on what you’ve observed, what is the toughest challenge a survivor faces?
JL: I can’t fathom how difficult it would be to battle and overcome cancer; I can only imagine that staying optimistic would be the toughest part. Some of my greatest heroes have been the patients whom I’ve encountered either in the professional or the personal realm, who have been afflicted by serious conditions, and have exhibited incredible bravery, stoicism and resiliency in the face of adversity. The uncertainty of not knowing whether the disease will come back, I’m sure weighs heavily on them – but they somehow find a way to put it out of their minds and move on with their lives. This cannot be easy.
mK: OK, let’s get to know you better… What is your guilty pleasure?
JL: My weaknesses, in no particular order, are Twizzlers (not Red Vines), Tim Horton’s honey cruller donuts, Cold Stone Creamery banana walnut ice cream and Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwiches in Montreal.
mK:Hee hee… Will have to try one of those sandwiches in Montreal… What do you like to do in your spare time?
JL: Hang out with my family, play tennis, or tinker with music – at various times, it’s been violin, fiddle, electric violin, piano, ukulele, mandolin, or guitar, with highly variable degrees of competence.
mK: Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?
JL: Stay calm – get good advisors – set your priorities, including surrounding yourself with your loved ones – and keep the faith.
mK: Tell us something about yourself that people probably didn’t know… anything.
JL: 9 years ago, I delivered my third child because I knew he was going to be my last baby – and things have turned out well so far…
mK: Any parting words for all the mAss Kickers?
JL: Keep up the fight! – I truly respect the positive attitude and energy this group brings to the fight against cancer. We at Ignyta are honored to be a part of the movement and are doing everything we can to help.
Dr. Jonathan Lim: musician, tennis player, twizzler/ice cream/Canadian meat sandwich addict, surgical missionary, world traveler, very accomplished physician/researcher, and experienced mAss Kicker! Thanks Dr. Lim for taking the time to get to know you! Ignyta is doing some great things! We are very impressed with Ignyta’s vision to “not just shrink tumors but to eradicate residual disease – the source of cancer relapse and recurrence – in precisely defined patient populations by 2030.” There needs to be an easily accessible bridge between “thrivership” and research. Check out the Ignyta website and the STARTRK-2 trial site to see more information about the clinical trial for Entrectinib and fighting the NTRK gene fusion. Stay up to date on the innovative things they are doing in the struggle against tumors/cancer!