Listen Now


Pondering the cure for cancer, developing vaccines for genital herpes, seeking that next big scientific breakthrough and mopping a basement floor is a day in the life of this episode’s guest Dr. Jessica Baker Flechtner, Chief Scientific Officer and Biosciences Pioneer at Genocea Biosciences.

Jessica joined innovative biotech startup Genocea in 2007, soon after the company was founded, and played an essential role in progressing the small company through startup phase to going public. At the same time as building a company, Jessica used her 18+ years of experience in immunology, infectious diseases, cancer and vaccine treatment to lead the Genocea efforts to develop T cell-directed vaccines and immunotherapies.

Jessica is also a member of the prestigious 40 women over 40 for her passion project to encourage more young women to embark on careers in STEM – learn more about it here. She joins a number of our previous guests, 40 over 40 founder Whitney Johnson, Pamay Bassey and Celine Schillinger in this extraordinary forum.

This episode is an intriguing soire into the life of a Biosciences startup pioneer and the challenges that come along with it. Learn from Jessica’s journey and rationale for joining an innovative biosciences startup despite her illustrious research career; her key role in bringing a company from the acquisition of venture capital funding through to going public in year and how she and the Genocea team create a culture of discussing failure and celebrating success that helps them maintain their competitive edge in an ever-changing and demanding pharmaceutical industry.

What Was Covered

[3:45] Why did Jessica joined Genocea in 2007?
[7:00] The Co-founder, Darren Higgins, spent 10 years working on making sure the research was correct, before founding Genocea.
[9:10] Genocea is not creating drugs for the human body. Instead, they are trying to engage the human immune system so that it can protect itself.
[9:50] T-cells have been found to help the body fight against cancer and other diseases, but it’s extraordinary complex to find T-cell targets.
[12:15] Jessica explains what she and her team are doing differently for those who have the herpes virus.
[14:55] How did Jessica and her team recruit talent for their, back then, small startup company?
[18:00] How does Jessica encourage innovation, as well as handle failure from her team?
[21:00] When Jessica first joined the company, she had to raise funds for the company. What was that experience like?
[24:40] What were some of the lessons Jessica learned during the early startup days?
[27:10] Jessica explains what a calculated risk looks like in her industry.
[32:35] It’s Jessica and the company’s philosophy to communicate and explain to her team.
[36:10] At the end of the day, it comes down to focusing on one thing, and seeing it through. There are many projects Jessica and her team can take up, but she knows it’s important to focus on one thing.
[42:50] What has Jessica changed her mind about recently?
[45:15] What does Jessica do to remain creative and innovative?
[46:25] What does Jessica attribute her success to, in life?

Connect with Jessica

Jessica on Twitter
Jessica on LinkedIn
Genocea on Twitter
Genocea Website

Subscribe & Review

Did you enjoy the show? Subscribe on iTunes & share your thoughts!

  • Click this link – Innovation Ecosystem
  • Click on the ‘Subscribe’ button below the artwork
  • Go to the ‘Ratings and Reviews’ section
  • Click on ‘Write a Review’

Connect with us!

We would love to continue the discussion on your favourite social media platform!