VP of Process Sciences of Wheeler Bio
“A Fearless Leader”
Over the last twenty years, Christa Short, VP, Wheeler Bio, has acquired a highly specialized technical skillset in the biopharmaceutical industry: cell culture process development. Drug sponsors need access to robust, reproducible, and scalable cell culture processes. Typically, drug sponsors outsource this work to contract manufacturers to achieve this cost-effectively. Throughout her career in the contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) industry, she has had a direct role in developing processes for hundreds of biological drugs for customers worldwide. This breadth of experience gives Christa a unique perspective on perceived bottlenecks and challenges. She has also developed an ability to present complex technical information to customers, as well as an understanding of how to build and sustain technical teams.
In the last five years, Christa has spent significant time developing a customer-facing approach that maintains customer confidence through continual reassurance on technical capabilities. This has enabled her to contribute to the technical, business, and culture sides of companies like Wheeler. “Having experienced both good processes and broken and inefficient systems across my career, I believe that I can help mold and develop not only our technical attributes but also the culture at Wheeler Bio to avoid the pain points I have encountered, while also encouraging those that were collaborative and constructive.”
Christa’s mother taught her to be fearless and instilled that she could pursue any career imaginable. It wasn’t until college that she first encountered gender barriers while pursuing a degree in petroleum engineering. “During my first year as an engineering student, I was one of only a handful of females in the department. I experienced unfair treatment in classes by my professors that made me insecure about my future in the engineering industry. This experience triggered me to switch departments to biochemistry, and greatly altered the trajectory of my professional life,” says Christa. “Throughout my career I have faced gender-related roadblocks, as I believe almost every woman does in a professional domain traditionally or disproportionately occupied by men.” That said, moving through these barriers has molded her into who she is today professionally and helped form the goals and aspirations that drive her professionally.
One of the reasons Christa joined Wheeler Bio on its ground floor was that she shared the vision of economic diversification here in Oklahoma. “I grew up in a small rural community in Oklahoma where STEM resources were limited and careers in oil and gas were the “default” scientific occupations,” she explains. “Luckily, my mother inspired me to expand my way of thinking and helped me find resources that encouraged young girls to participate in and get excited about STEM in unique ways.” Wheeler Bio and Christa work with local universities and technical schools to develop a bioengineering curriculum, including designing degree programs, non-degree certificates, and internships that feed into jobs at Wheeler and other regional bioscience companies. They also plan to extend workshops and hands-on experiences for younger female scientists, helping cultivate a new culture of leadership in the bioscience industry. Christa has been taking the company to new heights as a true leader.
Wheeler was born to democratize access to rapid, high-quality biomanufacturing for venture capital-backed biotechnology companies. These small, emergent biotechs are developing a huge portion of novel drugs in the pipeline today—near 90% of all next-gen medicines—and they rely on outsourced service providers for various development needs between early discovery and eventually reaching the market. Most small biotech companies have the need to both develop their drug-using an outsourced discovery platform through a Contract Research Organization (CRO) and outsource their process development and manufacturing to a Contract Development and Manufacturing Company (CDMO). Unfortunately, knowledge transfer between nodes along the drug development process is painful. It’s often impossible to transfer successfully between CROs and CDMOs without losing momentum because these separate service businesses have competing priorities, incentives, and timeline horizons. “We are building Wheeler to fix the momentum drop. Efficient knowledge transfer requires strong collaboration between scientists and harmonized approaches to drug production and testing. Wheeler is a different type of CDMO with a completely new path for drug developers that is faster, easier, and more predictive,” says Christa. “Our “Portable CMC” offering connects discovery with development, our scientists with our client’s development team, and our success to the client’s success, creating a singular focus and lasting collaborative relationship.” IEWL
VP of Process Sciences of Wheeler Bio
We are a new biomanufacturing company built to accelerate the translation of therapeutic innovation into clinical impact, Our comprehensive discovery-to-IND programs are designed to provide emerging biopharma companies a faster and more predictable path to the clinic.