Ehsan Sarafraz-Yazdi

A brief history of your career since leaving the University of Birmingham

After finishing my MSc in Applied Genetics at University of Birmingham, I joined State University of New York (SUNY) for my PhD in Molecular & Cell Biology. I also obtained an MPH (Master of Public Health) in Heath Policy & Management from SUNY. I then joined the faculty and became an Assistant Professor in the Division of Gynaecologic Oncology at SUNY. My field of research is in Cancer Biomarker and Drug Discovery. In 2015 I Founded NomoCan Pharmaceuticals, an oncology drug development company based in New York City. We have multiple cancer drugs in the pipeline and planning to initiate first-in-human trials in 2020.

Skills and knowledge from your postgraduate degree have you used in your career so far

At University of Birmingham I studied Applied Genetics. This was the first step in developing the necessary skills for my career: the study of Cancer Genetics.

Main work activities in your current role

I am the CEO of NomoCan Pharmaceuticals. I oversee all activities R&D of the company.

Main challenges in your role

As the CEO of a startup company, I have to wear many different hats, and fill many different roles. One of my key challenges is fulfilling the overall goal of the company, which is to take a drug from its pre-clinical and proof-of-concept phase to first-in-human clinical trials. This is a daily challenge as drug development is known to be high risk in nature, but with solid scientific foundation, we try to bring hope for those cancer patients in need of innovative treatments.

Why did this type of work appeal to you?

While I was studying my MSc at University of Birmingham, I lost my beloved mother to cancer. This had a significant impact on my education and career path and it eventually led to me not only studying cancer, but also taking the next step: to bring live-saving drugs closer to the bedside.

Advice for students looking to enter this area of work?

Be passionate about what you want to do, and pursue a goal no matter how big the obstacle on the road. Follow your passion, and the rest will come through.