Katy Spink

Pre-DHC expertise?

I’ve been in the cell & gene therapy space since 2003. One of the things that attracted me to it was the visionary, front-line aspect of it, and the idea of one day telling my grandkids, “I was there when….” With the optimism of youth, I had no idea it would take almost 15 years before the space would begin to hit its stride. But what that time has given me is more history and wider expertise…the ability to integrate pieces of projects into a cohesive whole and the knowledge of how to strategically advance a project in the most efficient way.

DHC’s working environment?

The diversity of any given day is what really strikes me: one day we’re looking at due diligence on a late stage asset and the next day we are preparing for an FDA meeting for a preclinical program. And in my case, these client details are intermixed with the operational details for Dark Horse itself. I have always liked the element of concrete outcomes from my work, so building Dark Horse — something of value that has value for our clients who are in turn working to save lives — is an incredible honor.

Most gratifying moment(s) on the job?

Our collective knowledge of what’s at stake gives us a huge opportunity when working with clients: we get to help move forward so many products for so many patients in need. When I feel like I’ve really made a difference in moving a program forward in a material way, that’s a good day.

How does your past inform your present?

I can track back to the exact moment when I became interested in biotech. I was an eighth grader in a summer gifted program held on the UC-Irvine campus and one of the classes was on genetics. On the last day they described the emerging field of genetic engineering for us in layman’s terms (this was the late 80s, for context). They described cutting DNA with special scissors and editing it and I was instantly hooked on that possibility.

Typical weekend? (pre-pandemic, that is!)

“Family movie night” on Friday. Early workouts Saturday and Sunday, followed by a virtual marathon of kid sporting events: soccer, softball, dance, or all of the above. If the sports schedule allows, we try to do a nice family dinner on Sunday nights.

History with current colleagues?

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with many of our team at some point in the past, and I was able to use that history to hire on many of my highest-performing past colleagues. Anthony Davies [Dark Horse’s CEO] and I worked together closely for six years at Geron, so I knew coming in to DHC that we were a great team with complimentary skill sets.

Why DHC?

Helping to run Dark Horse has been a dream come true: the opportunity to work in my industry of choice, with dozens of people I greatly admire in a position that utilizes the full depth and breadth of my experience.

What makes you, you?

A friend pointed out recently that my passion for long-distance running is a good metaphor for who I am and what I’m drawn to, both personally and at work: the time-consuming difficult stuff with the opportunity for a wonderful payoff. I raced competitively throughout high school, college, and grad school, and I still run for fun and fitness. The longer the better: my best events were 10K up through marathon.

COO Katy Spink stands with former teammates at her Hall of Fame induction in 2019

1994 Women's Cross-Country Team (including COO Katy Spink) at their Rice University Athletics Hall of Fame induction in 2019

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