A shared passion for making a difference

John Mumm, former Senior Director at ARMO BioSciences, talks about his incredible journey to improve cancer treatments and about sharing his vision.

Early in my life, my grandma and other close family members were all diagnosed with cancer and underwent radiation treatment. I found it distressing to watch some of the side effects from the treatment. It struck me it was more than just the cancer they were battling, it was the treatment itself. Their appearances and the memories of those early days of treatment have always stayed with me and later became the driving force as I realised my growing passion for the life sciences.

Pathway to science

My family history led me down the path to science and I’ve never looked back. Focusing on biology, I studied the immune system and auto-immunity. I began researching cells, learning the techniques of interrogating the immune system and the human body. For the first time, I felt maybe I could do something to improve cancer treatments for the patient.

All in the data

As part of my research, I discovered something very interesting in the data surrounding a particular immune suppressant. I’ll never forget the day, it was 23rd December 2000 and every day since I’ve been working to develop that specific compound. Starting out I took the data and research to many of the leading researchers who had examined the module previously. My hope was to learn from them and develop the current research and although I was met with scepticism I took these initial setbacks on the chin, I persevered because I knew the data offered a bright future for the treatment of cancer.

I then went on to found ARMO Biosciences, along with my partners, where we continued to develop my early work. I’m proud to say the company is now at the stage of conducting phase II clinical trials and have treated 310 patients to date through the development of multiple cures.

From the very beginning it was all about the data and its accuracy to determine certain levels of toxicity and the effects it had on the cancer. I understand first-hand the profound need in people’s lives to have low levels of toxicity in cancer treatments and access to a treatment that reduces the side effects and to some extent, increase quality of life during that difficult time.

Invaluable team

Having a great supporting team has been at the core of my work and making sure we had the right combination of abilities and personalities proved paramount. Given the high risk of failure in the biotech industry it’s essential to have a team that is passionate and driven and shares the same vision. Interpersonal skills were key to ensure we continued to move forward, particularly as a small team built on loyalty and passion.

From the outset Real Life Sciences understood and shared my vision and from my experience have worked hard to secure not only the best talent, but individuals who could share the incredible journey ARMO BioSciences is currently on.

Read John's full story