Aspen Biosciences


Mark Fortner

Aspen Biosciences

Connecting people, processes, and technologies to solve your drug discovery challenges

What led up to starting Aspen Biosciences?

I was working for Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) in the Netherlands when my mom and grandmother were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. That’s when I became interested in Biotech. Searching for information about pancreatic cancer while waiting at the hospital, I realized how little we know about the disease. After moving to the US, I worked for Lexicon Genetics (now Lexicon Pharmaceuticals) in The Woodlands, Texas. I learned about gene expression, genotyping and using knockout mice for drug discovery. I worked for Pfizer and Takeda in San Diego then decided to start Aspen Biosciences in 2009. 

Where did the name Aspen Biosciences come from?

There is a large aspen forest in Utah called Pando (latin for “I spread”). Every tree is a clone of another tree, and they are all interconnected via their root system, and communicate biochemically — a sort of biological internet.  It’s a visual reminder of what we do —  connecting companies to each other and connecting scientists and their data. 

Tell me about your company.

We aren’t a startup, but we feel like one because we work in an agile fashion. We have 50 employees and are hiring more. Our company focuses on implementing systems for companies (ELN/LIMS) and systems integration. Customers teach us how they do drug discovery and we implement systems that accelerate the process for them. Our Pipeline application helps plan, execute and manage their drug discovery research. It shows projects, targets, assays, people, and resources (like inventory). Scientists can use it to plan the assays for a project, and to keep people informed as things progress. Another product is the Pharm2Market platform which is a SAAS solution with hundreds of biotech and pharma companies in San Diego, San Francisco and Boston. It is designed to help find new customers and help better understand current customers by providing information on drug pipelines, targets, pathways, therapeutic areas, contacts, news and financing. 

Do you have any company news or updates to share?

We recently launched Pharm2Market 2.0, with added features making it easier to find the right customers in the right markets. With the addition of the Mid-Atlantic region, users now have access to 1300 biotech, investor and resource companies. We are offering all SDEE members a 10% discount on the first month’s subscription.

You have been an SDEE member for several years, how has it helped your company?

My initial reason for joining SDEE was for networking. However, it’s also become a great source of inspiration for new products and services. There are so many great ideas exchanged at the happy hours. The original idea for Pharm2Market was inspired by conversations at SDEE happy hours. Talking with other startup company members, I realized there was a need to connect companies to each other, to help identify resources and partners to help accelerate research. 

One of the other challenges with local drug discovery startups is just creating awareness about the research they’re doing. SDEE helps me better understand some of the challenges of local companies and identify ways that we can help.

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