Meet F-Star

Ryan Fiehler, Ph.D.

Director, Discovery

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

I work from the Cambridge UK site, and I have been with F-star a little over 8 years.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri in the U.S. which automatically makes me a fan of the local baseball team the St. Louis Cardinals (Go Cards!). I developed my love of nature from an early age in St. Louis where I would often bring home various lizards, snakes, turtles, fish and crawdads (Google it). As a result I gravitated to the science classes in school and especially biology. After high school I went to Illinois Wesleyan University where I majored in Biology and decided I wanted to be a scientist as my profession. From there I did a PhD at Washington University in molecular genetics, where I also met my wife, BONUS! Since she is Turkish, when we finished our degrees we decided to move to Europe and both of us obtained post-docs in Cambridge. I worked for CRUK investigating skin stem cells and cancer which led me to F-star in 2013. Along the way we had two beautiful children who are now bringing home their own frogs, ladybirds, caterpillars, fish, worms, etc.

What’s your role at the company?

I am co-lead of the Discovery Department, where we design and build the next drugs to enter the F-star pipeline. We are a growing team that incorporates the principles of directed evolution to produce our bispecific antibodies called mAb2. Most of the work focuses on testing large numbers of molecules to find the ones that have the specific qualities that we are after, i.e. stimulating immune cells. It is a challenging, but rewarding role, especially knowing that a drug you are working on today may go into a person in a few years to improve their life.

What are you working on currently?

We are very busy in the Discovery department and have multiple projects running simultaneously. It is a race to see which mAb2 will win out and become the next F-star clinical asset.

How would you describe the F-star culture?

F-star is a fantastic place to work. Everyone is highly motivated and believes in the products we are making because we can see up close how good they are. There is also spirit of comradery where everyone pitches in to get the job done, as that is what matters most.

Who had the greatest influence on you in your career?

I have had many great scientific mentors over the years, from my 8th grade biology teacher to my PhD advisor, but the greatest influence in my career was my former line manager here at F-star Mihriban Tuna. As this was my first job outside of academia, she really instilled in me the qualities needed to succeed, such as perseverance and fearlessness to try something new.

What do you enjoy most about your work at F-star?

I truly enjoy coming to work every day. I get to work with a great bunch of people in a job that provides real meaning and purpose and is never boring. It is impossible to pick out one thing that I enjoy most.

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

My children take up most of my free time going to football and gymnastics practices, and I love every minute of it. When I do find a bit of time for myself, I enjoy running, playing tennis and tending to the garden. I am also learning Turkish, mostly so my wife and kids can’t talk about me behind my back J. My son has also introduced me to premier league football (soccer), and we are apparently fans of a team called Tottenham hotspurs.