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Matt Clark

CEO, X-Chem

Matt Clark is a recognized innovator and leader in the DNA-encoded library (DEL) field. He was part of X-Chem’s founding team where he served as VP Chemistry and SVP Research prior to his appointment as CEO. Under his scientific leadership, the company developed from a niche chemical discovery platform to a drug discovery engine serving the biopharma industry. Before joining X-Chem, Clark was director of chemistry at GlaxoSmithKline, where he led the design and synthesis of early-iteration DELs. He began his professional career at Praecis Pharmaceuticals, where he played a key role in the early development and implementation of technologies that would become the basis for DEL. A thought leader in the DEL space, with numerous patents and key DEL publications to his name, Clark received his BS in biochemistry from the University of California, San Diego, a PhD in chemistry from Cornell University, and has conducted postdoctoral studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

We asked…

What would you say to people who think the small molecule drug development field lacks the same growth opportunities as biopharma and cell & gene?

Small molecule therapies remain the only way to modulate intracellular pathways with a convenient dosing method that the patient can administer in their home. I think that the field is absolutely wide open in terms of opportunities.

What has been the most exciting breakthrough in the pharma industry in recent years?

There is so much innovation occurring, it’s hard to focus on just one. I think the emergence of proximity-inducing therapeutics such as PROTACs is very exciting, and you cannot ignore the rise of AI as a means for taming the vast data flows that our industry generates.

What are your biggest fears for the future of the industry?

I don’t have any. There is still so much science to unlock, and so many diseases that remain unaddressed. I’m confident that our industry will remain vibrant and impactful for the foreseeable future.

What one thing do you think could improve the pharma industry? 

Maybe dial down the emphasis on efficiency just a bit and increase the emphasis on novelty and innovation.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party? 

Rosalind Franklin, RB Woodward, Jimi Hendrix, Martin Luther King Jr, and Isaac Asimov. They’re all people who made a huge impact on our current world. I’d love to hear what they make of it all.

If you weren’t in the pharma industry, what would you be doing instead?

Probably teaching chemistry.

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