Meet the team: Andrew O’Connor

If you read our latest announcement, you may be aware that ResBiotic is developing microbiome-based products for lung health, starting with a medical food that we expect to launch by 2022. You also probably saw that founder and Chief Scientific Officer C Vivek Lal MD FAAP has assembled a leadership team with deep experience in this field.

Over the coming weeks, and as our team grows, we’re excited to introduce the humans behind the innovation. First up, our Chief Operating Officer Andrew O’Connor.

 

 

Andrew is probably the leader who wears the most hats on ResBiotic’s team. An experienced engineer and strategic leader, his dedication to developing technology for the life sciences fuels his attention to detail and work through the challenges of bringing a microbiome-based medical food to market. It also shows up in exceptionally informed water cooler conversations that can be as educational as they are energizing. 

For this post, we sat down with Andrew to capture his thoughts on larger industry trends, his personal journey to ResBiotic, and his experience moving his family back to Birmingham, Alabama:

You’ve worked on both the engineering side and venture side of innovative life sciences startups. Outside of ResBiotic, what do you think are some of the most exciting trends or discoveries in human health science today?

I’m obviously biased, but I think the trends we’re seeing with regards to targeting the microbiome are so exciting.  For a long time, microbiome-based technology targeted associations with disease – some symptom would be associated with a microbiome imbalance, but we weren’t able to pinpoint something physical from the imbalance that causes the symptom.  That’s starting to change now, with companies like ResBiotic able to point to cellular pathways that are leading to the desired effect.

 

I also think the things companies are doing with CRISPR are going to change diagnostics forever.  The platform is incredible and is now being used in smaller and smaller devices to detect specific antigens.  Think about being able to test yourself for this season’s flu, COVID, and this season’s cold virus all from one multiplexed sample when you wake up feeling under the weather – the data from which can be used to inform and power public health responses.  The future is bright for diagnostic tech.

 

You have the somewhat unique experience of doing a dual-degree MS/MBA at Harvard. What drew you to this program and what do you feel has been most valuable in the context of your role at ResBiotic?

Well I only applied to MBA programs in the Boston area, as my wife was doing her PhD at Harvard at the time.  I wanted to shoot for the best, so I only applied to MIT Sloan and Harvard Business School.  I wanted to stay connected to my technical background to be able to lead technical and product teams, and both schools had a dual-degree program.  I didn’t get into MIT, so the choice of where to go was easy! 

The MS/MBA program at Harvard is amazing. I was able to get the full HBS Section experience and meet lots of talented, amazing people, and I was able to connect deeply to my MS/MBA cohort all while learning valuable venture-building skills – skills that have helped immensely in these early stages at ResBiotic.  We are a true startup in every sense, and my early responsibilities are centered on the company getting its foundation beneath it with regards to supply chain, strategy, product development, and business partnerships, and I’ve used every bit of both degrees to this end.

 

What are your favorite things about life here in Birmingham, Alabama? What made you decide to call this home?

I wasn’t born in Birmingham, but I consider it home.  I went to high school here, my family is here, and my closest friends still live here, so it has been home to me my entire adult life.  It felt amazing to move back, and we did so earlier than we initially intended due to the COVID pandemic. 

I love not only the proximity to family and friends, but also the food, the people, the cost of living (a total 180 degrees from Boston), and the chance to make a lasting impact in this area that I call home.  I’m a strong believer in the potential of Birmingham, and it’s this shared energy across the entrepreneurial community here that is one of my favorite aspects of working in Birmingham.  Plus my kids love being around their cousins and grandparents for more than just the holidays, and we love that too!

 

Want to connect with Andrew? Find him on LinkedIn

Published by ResBiotic

After years of research, we can now modulate how the microbiota influence lung diseases. The commercialization of this work from University of Alabama at Birmingham, led by ResBiotic founder and Chief Scientific Officer C. Vivek Lal MD FAAP, has the potential to be life changing for respiratory disease patients. ResBiotic is developing first-in-class products that alleviate the neutrophilic inflammation associated with dysbiosis to improve respiratory health.

May 6, 2021

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