Women in Science

Women in Science: CEO of AltruBio Judy Chou on intertwining science, innovation, and patient care

By Liza Laws

- Last updated on GMT

© AltruBio
© AltruBio

Related tags Immunology Immune system Antibody unmet medical needs

As well as CEO, Judy Chou is also president, and her role is centered around addressing unmet medical needs in immunological diseases.

She has been fascinated with science particularly physics from an early age and she is passionate about making an impact on patients' lives.  

Could you give us an overview of your work?

As President and chief executive officer of AltruBio, my role is centered around addressing unmet medical needs in immunological diseases. At AltruBio, we specialize in developing novel therapeutics to provide safer and more effective treatments for patients. Our approach is underpinned by a commitment to building a lean and agile team, emphasizing internal and external collaborations. In addition, by fostering innovation within a diverse workforce, we strive to revolutionize immunological disease treatments, enhancing the lives of patients and shaping the future of healthcare.

When did you realize you were interested in science was it as a young child, teen, or older?

As a young student, my fascination with science began in my middle school years when I entered the world of physics. Exploring the fundamental scientific principles that govern the behavior of the universe captivated my curiosity and ignited a passion for understanding the intricacies of the world. This early exposure to physics laid the foundation for my interest in science and eventually led me on the path to a fulfilling career dedicated to advancing scientific knowledge and making a difference in the field of healthcare.

Could you describe your journey bringing us to where you are now?

My journey to AltruBio has been a dynamic mix of scientific passion and a desire to make a meaningful impact on patients' lives. As a teenager, my fascination with physics and its ability to simplify complex phenomena intrigued me, sparking aspirations of becoming a physicist or engineer. However, my strong passion for aiding those in need, especially patients, led me to transition from engineering to medical school. Initially aspiring to be an oncologist, my internship unveiled the stark limitations in available solutions, prompting an interest in basic biomedical research. Thus, after medical school, I completed Ph.D. studies at Yale and post-doctoral training at the Max-Planck Institute in Germany. Subsequently, with my academic research, my journey led me to Harvard Medical School, where I served as research faculty. To close the circle of creating new solutions to treat diseases, when an unexpected opportunity presented, l stepped into the biotech industry. My career development has been across various positions in big and small pharmaceutical/biotech companies, ultimately steering me toward AltruBio. My mission remains rooted in developing novel biological drugs, combining my passion for science and innovation, and dedication to improving patients' lives.

What challenges did you face, as a woman or otherwise, along the way, and what is the most valuable lesson you have learned?

Throughout my journey, I encountered various challenges, some stemming from gender stereotypes and others from being a first-generation immigrant. The assumptions associated with being a woman often placed hurdles in my path, requiring me to prove my capabilities beyond these stereotypes. Additionally, adapting to a new country brought language and cultural challenges. In the face of these obstacles, I learned the importance of staying focused on the impact I could make, regardless of the biases I encountered. Instead of succumbing to frustration, I channeled my energy into trust-building. In situations where biases might have influenced outcomes, I prioritized building trust and finding common ground, allowing my work and dedication to speak louder than preconceived notions. This invaluable lesson taught me that perseverance, coupled with a focus on building long-term relationships, can bridge gaps and create opportunities, even in the face of adversity.

What ignites your passion in your current role?

What truly ignites my passion in my current role is the opportunity to intertwine science, innovation, and patient care. The ability to focus on these aspects not only motivates me but also serves as the driving force behind my dedication. Being a leader in the biotech industry enables me to channel this passion effectively. I find immense fulfillment in motivating others, inspiring them to merge their expertise in biology and engineering, and ultimately creating innovative solutions for patients. One of my most significant achievements is reshaping the very foundations of medical knowledge found in textbooks. Introducing novel therapeutics that challenge existing norms is a legacy I aspire to continue. There is nothing more rewarding than running into patients or their family members whose lives have been changed because of the work I have done. It continues to fuel my commitment, guiding me to devote myself wholeheartedly to my current role at AltruBio.

What is your current work ethos/style?

My current work ethos revolves around fostering agility and collaboration. I firmly believe in initiating projects swiftly, embracing rapid decision-making, and making necessary adjustments on the go. Agility is not just a methodology; it's a mindset crucial for innovation and progress. In addition to the technical aspects, I prioritize cultivating a highly collaborative culture within my company. I place significant emphasis on team interaction and work diligently to build the right working culture with my team. Collaboration breeds creativity and enhances problem-solving, making it essential in the dynamic landscape of our industry. By combining agility with a collaborative environment, we empower our team to tackle challenges efficiently, ensuring AltruBio remains at the forefront of innovation in the field.

Could you share some advice for young women starting to develop an interest in science or wanting to pursue a career like yours?

To the aspiring young women interested in science and pursuing a career in this field, I offer this advice: Believe wholeheartedly in the difference you can make. In the face of challenges, hold on to your conviction about the unique impact you bring to the table. It's not just about your personal journey; it's about the broader culture we are collectively building for the world and for the generations to come. Embrace the importance of diversity and inclusion. By focusing on creating a more inclusive environment, you're not only shaping a better future for yourself but also contributing to a world that is more compassionate, understanding, and equitable than it was yesterday. Stay steadfast in your beliefs and let your passion for science be the driving force that propels you toward creating positive change in the world.

Related topics Patient centricity

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