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Friday, May 20, 2022

Integrity Bio Welcomes New Chief Executive

Michael Reilly has succeeded Byeong Chang as Integrity Bio’s new chief executive. Chang is the company’s founder and will continue as chief scientific officer. Reilly served as Vice President of Business Development at Integrity for eight years before taking on his new role. Prior to Integrity, Reilly held executive positions at Baxter BioScience, now Takeda Pharmaceuticals, and Amgen Inc. Integrity Bio is a drug formulation and clinical manufacturing company founded in 2003 with manufacturing in Camarillo and R&D in Thousand Oaks. Its headquarters are in Thousand Oaks. Question: So, what does it mean to be a drug formulation and clinical manufacturing company? Answer: Many biotech and pharmaceutical companies need help transitioning their laboratory product to one that can be used in human clinical trials. Integrity Bio focuses on two primary areas: developing a medicine that is stable so it maintains its efficacy and producing and packaging the drug for initial phase I and phase II clinical trials. While we occasionally work on drugs that are formulated into pills, our sweet spot is biologics. A biologic is a naturally occurring molecule that can be modified to enhance a desired effect. Proteins, antibodies, viruses, and the like are the type of biologics that Integrity Bio typically gets involved with. When compared to other biotech companies in the Valley region, how big is Integrity Bio?  We are now the fourth largest biotech employer in the area behind Amgen, Takeda and Atara. Having started from nothing less than two decades ago, we are quite proud of this achievement. Why has Integrity succeeded? I believe our success hinges on three factors. First, we don’t take a cookie cutter approach to solving our customers’ needs or challenges. We appreciate that each drug, each molecule is uniquely different, requiring a custom solution. Second, the Integrity Bio team is quite experienced. Not only have many employees come from other biotech and pharmaceutical companies, the plethora of projects we work on allows our scientists to gain exposure to many different compounds and experiences. Lastly, our location. It is not surprising that many of our customers are based on the West Coast. The fact that you can take an early flight from Seattle, Denver, San Diego or San Francisco, meet with us and be in back in your bed that evening is very attractive to many of our clients. In addition, clients from further afield often enjoy escaping from weather or routine for business activities in the Mediterranean climate of Southern California. Who wouldn’t? How did you get your start in Valley biotech? I first came to the Thousand Oaks area in 1987 to interview with Amgen, which didn’t yet have a product. I returned in 1998 to join the company where I worked with Byeong Chang developing new drugs for autoimmune diseases. Since then, I’ve stayed in the area, working with Amgen, Baxter BioScience and other startups as the region has grown to be an important biotech hub. Talk to me about your time with Integrity. During my eight years at Integrity Bio, I have worn all sorts of hats for activities outside R&D ranging from business development and marketing, to taking over finance and accounting, to human resources. It’s been a wonderful learning experience as I’ve had to pull from my years of working at other firms such Amgen and Baxter. My science background and drug development experience allows me to connect with the scientists and understand their language as we are discussing proposals and project challenges. Thoughts on moving into your new role? I was very humbled and honored when Byeong asked if I would become CEO. Byeong has done so much to build his organization quite literally from the ground up with his own sweat and money. I’ve learned a lot from him, as he was willing to share insights into the challenges, opportunities and issues he faced as a CEO. In many ways, I’ve been a CEO in training for the last few years and feel like I’m ready. I’m now on the board of directors for SoCal Bio, our Los Angeles and Orange County area biotech association, where I can help advocate for and connect startups throughout the region. What’s next for Integrity? I am very excited about the future of our business and the industries we service. We at Integrity Bio are so fortunate to interact with so many companies that are developing cutting-edge therapies that have the promise to literally change peoples’ lives. Rare diseases. Personalized cell delivery. Targeted drugs. Gene therapy. These are such exciting areas that are just in their infancy. It is exciting to be a player and be involved as the developments occur.

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