Looking Back, Looking Ahead: A Letter from Umoja’s CEO

Looking back over the past year, it is gratifying as CEO to reflect on the extraordinary progress we’ve made at Umoja Biopharma.  

This year has had no shortage of major accomplishments for the company. Topping the list is our recent closing of an oversubscribed $210 million Series B funding round. We view our success in this financing round as affirmation of not only the value intrinsic to Umoja’s technologies and our mission to develop new approaches to treating cancer, but also the team we have built to deliver on that mission. We are continually grateful for the ongoing support of our investors and partners.

A close second in significance has been our growth and maturation as an organization. We made critical hires onto our senior leadership team, including Nushmia Khokhar as Chief Medical Officer, Irena Melnikova as Chief Financial Officer, and David Fontana as Chief Business and Strategy Officer. The knowledge and experience that these individuals bring have massively enhanced our organizational capabilities. Just as important, they have each been able to attract cadres of highly qualified individuals onto their teams, giving Umoja an exceptional depth of talent extending to our youngest associates. Finally, we have achieved an extraordinarily high retention rate of our existing talented employee base – no small feat in the competitive Seattle and Boulder/Denver life science industry hubs. I believe that the capacity to attract and retain the highest quality people reflects on both the impact of our mission and a commitment across the organization to sustaining a positive and empowering culture reflective of our values and aspirations. 

With the growth in our personnel has come concomitant growth in our facilities. This growth kicked off in August with an expansion of our R&D footprint in Seattle through the opening of our 410 W. Harrison site. In Boulder/Denver, we will shortly bring on line critical R&D and process development space at our Walnut facility, and we recently broke ground in Louisville, CO on a 150,000 square foot state of the art manufacturing facility we call UB One. We’re excited to share more details about these sites and the work undertaken in each of them soon.

All of this vital growth and expansion is in service of our ultimate goal to overcome the longstanding hurdles in delivering the transformative potential of engineered cell therapies to more patients. Our R&D teams have continued to individually progress and further integrate our VivoVec, RACR CAR, and TumorTag technology platforms, and to advance our lead clinical programs. We are also excited to report soon on applications of RACR/TumorTag platforms for supporting ex vivo manufactured allogeneic cell therapies, an area we see as complementary to our fully integrated in vivo cell therapy approach.

Working on new approaches to treating cancer is challenging. The mindset we bring to our work is that the obstacles encountered in the past and new obstacles we may encounter in the future represent opportunities for creative solutions to help patients. I am honored to be working alongside my fellow Umojians, unified in purpose to make the most advanced immunotherapies accessible to all patients with cancer. Looking ahead to 2022, I believe the best is truly yet to come.


Andy Scharenberg