Bio: Lee A. Jones, CEO and co-founder of Rebiotix Inc.
Lee Jones, CEO and co-founder of Rebiotix Inc., is an experienced medical technology executive and serial entrepreneur. With deep experience in the medical devices industry and in managing and advising academic scientists on commercialization efforts, Rebiotix marks her first foray into biotechnology. She is leading a fast-paced effort to develop a new way of treating disease through Microbiota Restoration Therapy (MRT). The company’s first MRT is a biologic drug targeted at recurrent Clostridium difficile infection.
Founder, President, CEO
- Privately held biotechnology company founded in 2011
- Developing a new category of drugs to harness the human microbiome to treat disease; involves transplantation of live human-derived microbes; first target is recurrent Clostridium difficile infection
- Led pioneering work with the US Food and Drug Administration to develop a new classification for the product – RBX2660 – completed Phase 2 clinical testing
- Guided company through product development and production, regulatory, clinical, and intellectual property concerns involved in commercialization
- Spearheaded venture capital fundraising effort to support business
President and CEO of Inlet Medical, Inc., Eden Prairie, MN
- Privately held medical devices company that developed and marketed products for minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery
- Jones joined unprofitable struggling concern; managed resources and raised venture funds until company become profitable; sold to CooperSurgical in 2006.
Previous Work in Medical Devices:
Medtronic, Inc., Minneapolis, MN
- Executive and technical positions of increasing responsibility at world’s largest medical devices company
- As Director and General Manager of the Medtronic InterStim division, headed successful commercialization of InterStim surgically implanted neurostimulation device for urinary incontinence
- Included 3-year assignment in Maastricht, the Netherlands directing business development across Europe
- Product approved for sale in several countries worldwide
Previous Work in Academia:
Chief Administrative Officer of the Schulze Diabetes Institute of the University of Minnesota
- Led an organization of 50+ scientists in an effort to develop and commercialize a cure for type 1 diabetes
- Reorganized work teams to increase productivity
- Implemented systems needed to translate research into product for human clinical use including project management, engineering, quality, and product standardization
- Instituted financial tracking and forecasting models
- Developed and implemented intellectual property strategy
CEO-in-Residence at the University of Minnesota Venture Center
- Assisted researchers in the identification of the commercialization potential of university-developed intellectual property
- Guided development of business plans where appropriate
- Led an interdepartmental team to create a map of medical device research at the University of Minnesota along with a companion survey to identify trends in the medical device industry. Enabled the Office of Technology Commercialization to better connect research at the university to the commercial sector.
- BS chemical engineering, University of Minnesota
- Executive Management Program, Carlson School of Business, University of Minnesota.
Former Board Participation:
- Uroplasty, Inc., Minnetonka, MN – Board member of a publicly traded medical device company focused on selling voiding dysfunction solutions to physicians in their office
- Electromed,Inc., New Praque, MN – Publicly traded medical technology dedicated to designing, manufacturing and marketing innovative airway clearance technologies
- Algos Preclinical Services Inc, St. Paul, MN – Pre-clinical medical research company
- Bioheart, Inc., Sunrise, FL – Publicly traded medical technology company treating heart failure
- Aveus, St. Paul, MN – Strategic and operations consulting firm for businesses in the midst of change
- Impres Medical, Inc., Minnetonka, MN – Development-stage medical device company founded to solve the problem of excessive menstrual bleeding in women
- Women’s Health Leadership Trust, Eagan, MN – Organization devoted to the promotion of women in health care leadership positions
- Member of the Sofia Fund, Minneapolis, MN – Investment fund committed to helping businesses that are either owned, led, or operated by or for women.
Q. Why did you to leave the corporate world and become an entrepreneur?
A. I think I was always an entrepreneur. I fit into small, fast moving corporate cultures better than large bureaucratic ones and prefer to set my own corporate culture.
Q. What have been some of the biggest challenges in being a CEO?
A. Having to be responsible for all the decisions that get made that affect the company whether or not I am involved with them can be challenging. Also, as a CEO, you have to try to see three steps ahead to avoid embarrassing failure. Communication can also be difficult. You have to make sure that everyone understands our organizational goals so that we can move quickly.
Q. How has your background in medical devices influenced your work in biotechnology?
A. I know the general business requirements for bringing a therapeutic product to the market. Because I know the steps, translating that into biotechnology has been easier than if I had no background in medical products.
Q. What are some of the surprises and unexpected events you have encountered?
A. Working in biotechnology required learning a new vocabulary, developing a whole new business network, and learning about new types of deal structures. It has taken more work to “learn the business” than I expected.
Q. What kind of advice would you give other women seeking leadership positions in biotechnology fields?
A. Network. Be clear about your goals. Ask for what you want.