Bob Gundel is a scientist. Always drawn towards biology, he says science came easily to him as a kid, and he followed his natural intuition all the way through school, eventually earning both a master’s and PhD in physiology from New York Medical College.
Bob Gundel is also an executive. After starting out his career as a bench scientist in the lab, he moved higher through the ranks and further away from test tubes before eventually arriving at Saint Mary’s Executive MBA Program in 2005. For the last decade he’s held management positions, and for the last four years he’s been the president and CEO of Amorfix Life Sciences.
“We’re a small, early-stage biotech company based in greater Toronto that specializes in the diagnostics and therapeutics for misfolded protein diseases,” Gundel said of Amorfix. Or, more simply put, he’s in charge of a company that is working to diagnose and treat diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis—more commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. It’s early and exciting, but we’re ahead of the curve with our science when compared to the rest of the industry.”
“Everyone knows about Alzheimer’s and everyone knows about cancer,” he added. “It scares everyone, and right now there are no effective treatments (to Alzheimer’s). It affects a huge number of people—and it’s going to have a huge effect on healthcare costs as baby boomers continue to age.”
Gundel describes the transition from scientist to executive as gradual rather than dramatic. Becoming first a group leader in the laboratory, then a supervisor, then a director—the shift in career trajectory was the result of a slow blend rather than a dramatic leap.
“I just became more focused on what the business challenges were and got further away from the lab,” he said. “It was something that I was asked to do by the company, and my role grew from there. I started doing corporate development, strategic thinking and representing the company in public.”
The Saint Mary’s Executive MBA Program was the springboard that got him to the next level. “I just gobbled up the program,” he said. “I enrolled and absolutely loved it. I use what I learned at Saint Mary’s every day.”
“I feel lucky,” he continued. “My day is full, and I spend it trying to explain to people how we’re changing the world. It’s exciting and it’s honorable. It’s a business, but really what we’re trying to do is combat very serious illnesses. We’re on the cutting edge.”
Amorfix Life Sciences was founded in 2004 and was built without venture capital money. The company went public in 2010 and is currently working to partner with a larger pharmaceutical company.