Meet F-Star

Chris Shepherd

Vice President, Clinical Development

Which Cambridge do you work from and how long have you been with F-star?

I work at the UK office on the Babraham Research Campus and have been with F-star for a little over 2 years.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My friends and family tell me that I don’t know anything at all but if they ask me a question about cancer, I’ll talk for hours about it. Clearly there is no room for any other information! Truthfully, I was so deeply impacted by the death of family members and friends by this terrible disease that I decided to dedicate my career to it.

I grew up in a small village in East Sussex not so far from the seaside, where I studied until I was 18 before heading to the University of York to do my BSc degree. After that I landed in London (like so many others) and after a few years of working in the lab I did a PhD at The Institute of Cancer Research. Some might say I was a slow burner. I say I just did what I loved and always advise others to do the same.

Outside of work I am married to a wonderful man named Sam and we have a beautiful dog named Hugo. Always grateful that I was born in a country where you can be yourself.

What’s your role at the company?

I lead the Clinical Development function. Essentially this means working with all the other functions and highly talented folks at F-star to design our clinical trials and development strategy e.g. what tumour type, what clinical setting, who to collaborate with etc. I also act as Clinical Lead on one of our assets, which involves working closely with our clinical trial Investigators as we move through first-in-human drug testing. It’s a fantastic role and I love the diversity that comes with each day.

I am also Project Leader for FS222, our CD137/PD-L1 bispecific antibody. This is an ‘asset CEO’ role where I am the single point of accountability for the development of the project from both a clinical and non-clinical perspective.

What are you working on currently?

My biggest focus is FS222. We announced externally that we dosed our first subject in Dec 2020 and the trial is on-going. We have some very exciting plans and a great collaboration in place and the whole team is so excited that the project has entered the clinic.

What do you enjoy most about the F-star culture?

I joined biotech because I wanted an environment in which I could be creative, rapidly move ideas forward and have the potential to impact positively on patients’ lives. It has lived up to my expectations! We move quickly – if we want to write a protocol in a week then we do it, if we want to set up a collaboration, we do it. We closely monitor the potential value of the work that we want to do but there are no multiple layers of management and approval committees at F-star. Further, our management team trusts and empowers us to make the right decisions, and this results in a really positive and motivating experience for the staff.

What activities do you enjoy when you’re not working?

I have always been a Francophile. I had many summer holidays camping in France with my family, and it became my dream to own a house in France. So, towards the end of 2020, in part urged on by Brexit, I took the plunge and purchased a place in Southwest France where I can spend Summers. We have two Gites for rental and a couple of camping spots and I look forward to welcoming guests here very soon!