Founding Infinimmune & Developing Breakthrough Tools for Antibody Discovery with Wyatt McDonnell
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In our conversation with Wyatt McDonnell, the Co-Founder and CEO of Infinimmune, we discuss his journey to 10X Genomics, his work there, and the founding of Infinimmune. Wyatt is a world-class inventor & immunologist working across a wide range of projects at 10X from launching BEAM (barcode-enabled antigen mapping), working on the Immune Profiling v2 product, and developing various immune repertoire technologies. After making a significant impact on 10X, Wyatt along with 4 other colleagues that had worked together founded Infinimmune to transform human antibodies into drugs.
A key theme of the conversation is that tool users greatly outnumber tool builders. This creates an opportunity for the latter to build applications before others. Infinimmune is hiring across business, engineering, and biology roles. And is a home for tool builders. Please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in applying your expertise to the next generation of antibody therapeutics.
Wyatt got his first exposure to science from a Breaking Bad consultant that showed him a redox reaction. To Wyatt, it was like “watching alchemy unfold.” He went to Hillsdale, a small college in Michigan where the largest science class had 60 people. This intimacy played a key role in Wyatt’s development and allowed him to speed up his education. He thrived in organic chemistry as a freshman and worked with Frank Steiner, taking 4 of his classes and working in his lab where Wyatt caught the research bug. He had been thinking about medical school but decided to go to Vanderbilt for a PhD program focusing on immunology & precision genomics.
While in graduate school, Wyatt saw 10X Genomics’ Chromium products taking off. People were coming back to use their instruments, something that is pretty rare in scientific research. This motivated him to apply to 10X and end up joining them to build solutions on top of Chromium. Coming on board in the summer of 2019, the first 90 days were spent figuring things out. Wyatt worked on a wide range of projects, and a key reason was his immunology expertise. He had a strong knowledgebase on TCRs, which was pretty rare at 10X at the time, allowing Wyatt to work across divisions. For example, he got to work with David Jaffe, a co-founder of Infinimmune, on the Enclone project. For Wyatt, working at a market leader like 10X was the perfect example to follow when he built his own startup.
After leaving 10X Genomics in the summer of 2022, Wyatt started Infinimmune with people he had worked with at 10X. The company is built with a strong conviction around 3 pillars:
We still don’t understand immunology that well
Adoption of immunology tools has been too slow
The best antibodies come from humans
The platform is centered on analyzing healthy & disease samples to uncover rare, human antibodies. This requires deep analytical expertise, at the raw sequence read level, to maximize the value from sequencing samples. Infinimmume is building the toolkit to discover effective antibodies from patients that might have survived cancer or have protective genes against Alzheimer’s. On this point, for Wyatt, “platforms are only as good as the assets they produce.” Wyatt and the founding team are setting the foundation of the company right now to scale up partnerships and drug development over the next 2 years. Excited to get the update from Wyatt then.
Find it on Spotify: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/axial/episodes/Founding-Infinimmune--Developing-Breakthrough-Tools-for-Antibody-Discovery-with-Wyatt-McDonnell-e2077bv