"Supporting Lives with Pioneering Drugs"
Engrail Therapeutics has a precision neuroscience focus to develop new treatments for psychiatric and neurological disorders. As Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Kimberly Vanover’s role is paramount to the company’s success. She leads the team by drawing on decades of scientific, clinical development, and regulatory experience. While her scientific drive and rigor are critical to Engrail’s programs' success, underscoring the pipeline’s quality, she must lead with creativity and mental skill to navigate challenging developmental situations. Kim has an open, honest, and straightforward engagement style that includes diverse viewpoints. This sets the tone for robust debate and informed decision-making. An optimist at heart, she drives programs forward with a plan-for-success mentality. Her passion for science, clarity around development strategy, and vision for a product profile have transformed Engrail into a high-performing development organization pursuing the unified goal of making patient lives better.
At Engrail Therapeutics, Kim regularly meets with female scientists to provide mentorship. Moreover, She is a Fellow in one of the leading professional organizations of brain scientists and the Chair of its Liaison Committee. In this role, she fosters research, education, and advocacy for mental illness and treatment. She has been working to increase diversity, including increasing participation by women in mental health research.
On a personal level, Kim supports women-owned businesses as much as possible. “I make a particular effort to do the research and put my purchasing dollars into women-owned small businesses, particularly Black, Brown, Indigenous, Melanated People (BBIMP)-owned businesses,” she says.
We are a neuroscience company forging a new direction to reduce the enormous burden of diseases that impact the nervous system. At our core, we unite biological insights with clinically meaningful solutions to build and catalyze a diversified portfolio of transformative medicines. Harnessing our rigorous scientific approach to identify the most promising therapies, we leverage our flexible transaction model to advance assets with validated mechanisms and efficiently move them through development to commercialization.
Kim starts encouraging her team by asking the Why question. “My father was a construction superintendent. He told me that if you want to have your team dig a ditch, that they will dig harder and faster if they know why they are digging. Rather than say, ‘I need you to dig a ditch 5 feet deep and 3 feet wide, starting here and I’ll tell you when to stop.’ Tell them, ‘We are building a house. A family will live here. They need to have plumbing that will start here; this will be the kitchen, and go to here and the sooner you get the ditch finished, the sooner we can put in the pipes, and the sooner the family can move in.’ My father’s jobs were completed quickly, he was promoted, and eventually ran his own company.”
In drug development, Kim and her team's ‘why’ is the individual who may benefit from their drug therapy. “No matter how challenging my day may seem, it is nothing compared to the challenges of individuals living with serious mental illness or neurological disorders. I work to overcome the hurdles and progress the programs, knowing that the treatments I help develop may improve the lives of others. This is what I try to instill in my team.”
The company’s core approach to drug development at Engrail is to leverage the clinical and regulatory probability of success for programs that have a deep neurobiological validation together with attractive commercial potential for addressing unmet needs for the treatment of psychiatric and neurological disorders.
Their biggest achievement thus far was bringing in their very first drug in development, which they call ENX-101. This drug was originally discovered years back but, for various reasons, didn’t progress in development at the pace it could have. “We acquired the rights to this drug and immediately invested millions of dollars and time to generate data to get it back in clinical development. You could say we rescued it. Most importantly, we are developing it now as rapidly as possible so that it can benefit patients.”
Engrail was founded with the intent of becoming a leading neuroscience company. To that end, they are working hard to advance their drugs through the development process to ultimately help millions of patients suffering from epilepsy, anxiety, depression, and other diseases. Founded recently in 2019, they are currently in high-growth mode and Kim believes that will continue for several more years. “Our team is incredibly diverse at 50:50 male:female and representing multiple cultures and countries. Seventy percent of the team has a doctoral degree and more than eighty-five percent have a strong background in the neurosciences,” explains Kim. “I think that the mix we have of great drugs in development, our growth mindset, and talented team will ultimately lead us to our long-term aspiration.” WL
We are forging a new direction to reduce the enormous burden of diseases that impact the nervous system. At our core, we unite biological insights with clinically meaningful solutions to build and catalyze a diversified portfolio of transformative medicines. Harnessing our rigorous scientific approach to identify the most promising therapies, we leverage our flexible transaction model to advance assets with validated mechanisms and efficiently move them through development to commercialization. Our dedicated team is restless about ensuring our therapies ultimately reach patients with life-limiting diseases.