Meet F-Star

Matthew Lakins, Ph.D.

Director, Biology

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

I started at F-star in May 2015, so I’ve just hit my 6 year mark. I work in our UK office but out of my UK home at the moment!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have lived in and around Cambridge for the past 10 years, having moved here for a post-doc position at the MRC Cancer Unit on the Addenbrookes hospital site. Cambridge was a huge draw for me being a real hotspot for academic and non-academic research with opportunities aplenty!

I’ve loved science, and more specifically biology, since school and this unknowingly shaped my career from an early age. I studied molecular genetics at the University of Sussex, before moving to the University of York to work for a few years as a research technician. I hit upon a project, investigating and imaging cancer cells, that made me realise oncology was the way forward for me, and I got my PhD focusing on prostate cancer in 2012. My post-doc lead me in to the realms of immuno-oncology igniting my passion to develop cancer therapeutics and F-star became the perfect fit.

What’s your role at the company?

I am a Senior Principal Scientist in the Preclinical Translational Pharmacology department, using my expertise in immunology and immuno-oncology specifically to lead the science behind 2 of our clinical stage CD137-based bispecific antibodies. I lead a small in vitro pharmacology team responsible for answering questions in the lab around our drug’s mechanism of action, competitive differentiation, and pharmacology.

What are you working on currently?

Having been working tirelessly on one of our now clinical stage projects since inception some 5 and a half years ago, I am now extremely excited to be involved in interpreting some of the data that is coming in from our First in Human clinical trial. I also lead the investigational lab work on this drug and others trying to increase our understanding of their mechanism of action, to work out which biomarkers to be on the look out for in our patients and to explore combination partners for our molecules to get the best out of them.

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

F-star has always been an incredibly fun place to work. Prior to the pandemic, our social calendar was buzzing, and people always threw themselves in to whatever crazy summer event activities or Christmas party themes that were offered up. Although the past year has been tough, I think that bedrock of togetherness has shone throughout and helped us all through remote working recognizing that there will be light at the end of the tunnel soon. The collaborative nature of F-star is second to none. Personally, I sit on most of the teams you could imagine; project, biology, clinical strategy, clinical pharmacology etc. and to be able to work with such a varied group of people, and witness the cross functional activities of those teams, is invaluable. And finally, I think the “we’re in this together” attitude coupled with the determined to get first class medicines to patients is what really drives me and makes the work so enjoyable!

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

For the past year my activities have focused, very locally, on homelife. Making sure my 4-year-old son has had plenty to do during lockdown for example (when he’s not featuring on Teams meetings!). So, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed becoming very adept at painting, playdoh, paw patrol puzzles, being a horse, becoming a Disney expert, and hide and seek! My other interests include gardening, DIY, and playing music. But my big passion is carp fishing. Although that also took a bit of hit recently, I managed to get in a few sessions and didn’t do too badly as you can see from my photo!