Robert Allen

Pre-DHC expertise:

Leadership of global cross-functional development teams, programme management and development strategy in biopharmaceutical and biotechnology organisations.

If you were to describe Dark Horse in one word, it would be...?

Teamwork. Due to the variety and depth of expertise and our ability to work in tandem, there are no aspects of the C&GT development process that we can’t tackle. In fact, if you had a pure play cell therapy, gene edited cell therapy, or a pure play gene therapy candidate asset, you’d have to look long and hard to find a more competent team to get you through (assuming clinical data stood up, etc..) to a commercializable product.

What does Dark Horse look for in new hires?

I am tempted to make a horse-related joke about our stable of talent, but the people we watch for are less like horses and more like unicorns. We look for a special blend of deep technical expertise coupled with grit, incredible willingness and collegiality, and an ability to envision solutions rather than defaulting to saying “no,” or “can’t.” Our own brand of magic, of being a world-class team, is reliant on acknowledging that together we are greater than the sum of our parts.

How did you come to work for DHC?

One part serendipity, one part by making the most of what opportunity provided. An outreach from a recruiter introduced me to Katy, who I went on to report to at a former company. Later, I met Anthony at a conference and, between the two of them, there was a feeling of mutual respect upon which we were all able to build. I was very fortunate to join the practice during a seminal period in DHC’s development and I can’t imagine joining a more interesting organization in a more interesting field at a more critical time.

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to be a veterinary surgeon…until I became more aware of the field of pharmacology and the properties of small and large molecules. What surprised (and shocked) me was the extent of—and issues associated with—off-target toxicity. When I learned more about Cell & Gene therapies, lo and behold, here’s something offering curative potential or durable clinical benefit with an exquisitely selective efficacy and associated safety profile. That’s one of the main reasons I came to love advanced therapies.

Do you have any hobbies of note?

In our free time my family breed, train, and show horses; a hobby I inherited from my parents. When I consider the similarities between this and my chosen profession, I see a great deal in common. They’re both a means of competition. Both require a mixture of tenacity, planning and experience which, when combined with focus toward a goal and the deployment of expertise, lead to an end result. Even though I’d say I’m a fairly skilled trainer of horses, our two French bulldogs are another story altogether. Those fellows are entirely untrainable!

Principal Rob Allen with his own "dark horse"

Pictured here with my favourite, “Drogeda She’s a Lady,” who conveniently happens to be a ‘Dark Horse’ in her own right.

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