Kris Vaddi has spent enough time in classrooms and laboratories to understand the power of discovery. More importantly, he knows that it cannot be created from a textbook or a lesson plan.
“Discovery is an art,” Vaddi says. “It’s not something that’s taught.”
As Vaddi’s latest business venture, Prelude Therapeutics, finds its way forward, he hopes to be in the middle of a variety of exciting breakthroughs. As a former member of DuPont Pharmaceuticals and a founding father of Wilmington-based Incyte, Vaddi has developed a reputation for cultivating ideas and helping to bring them to market.
At Prelude, Vaddi hopes to replicate the successes he had in other laboratory settings by creating novel therapies that are able to treat particularly virulent cancers and other rare diseases. The 10-person company, started earlier this year with seed money from “two of the world’s top venture capitalists who fund biotechs,” according to Vaddi, has set up shop at the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus and has already built collaborative relationships with some of the nation’s top hospitals.
The process of taking a therapy from concept to marketplace appeals to Vaddi, but his true passion comes from the early stages of development.
“If I am asked what is the most rewarding thing I did during my 14 years at Incyte, it was going to the laboratory every day, looking at the data, looking at the ideas and brainstorming ideas to move them forward.”
Vaddi plans to have Prelude become a thriving private concern with as many as 50 employees, before taking it public down the road. The collaborative relationships he has built throughout his career will allow Prelude to create new molecules and compounds that he can share with researchers at places like Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.
As the two sides assess various models involving the compounds, they can create a path toward a specific therapy designed to attack hard- to-treat cancers. From there, Prelude can work on clinical trials and the approval process.
“It will all be very interactive,” Vaddi says.
Vaddi’s work with other parties will include the University of Delaware, which hosts the STAR Campus. Prelude wants to be engaged with the community around it as it works to create new therapies and solutions for some of the toughest opponents patients can face.
“We are very happy to be [at STAR],” Vaddi says. “Part of what I do is mentor students, and I look forward to doing that here.”
This article appeared in the premiere issue of Delaware Innovation Magazine, an overview of the state’s cutting edge industries and the people leading them. See the whole issue here.