Marin Biologic Laboratories CEO and President Tania Weiss Ph.D.
Always an entrepreneur, Tania opened her first business in high school, she gave lessons in baton twirling to help train aspiring band majorettes.
CEO and President Tania Weiss Ph.D. founded Marin Biologic Laboratories in 1995 to apply her enthusiasm for good scientific process to benefit her clients.
Since she is good at balance and twirling, and a good CRO is all about balance and finesse, her laboratory attracts a diverse clientele.
Tania completed all her degree work from undergrad to doctoral at the University of Michigan. She finished her post doc work at the University of Chicago and Stanford University. But it was while she was at Stanford that she fell in love.
“I love California in general and Marin County in particular. It made sense to open a laboratory here, not only because of the growing pharmaceutical industry but because California nurtures entrepreneurship. As I moved from working in cell differentiation to pharmaceuticals, the Bay Area was a good fit.”
After years in academia and while she was on the research faculty at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) that she came to the reasonable conclusion that starting her own company was eminently practical. “You just can’t live through grants alone. That’s a difficulty all academic scientists share, we must write grants to pay our way and with funding at <17%, grants just don’t offer a stable income.”
In addition to that realty, Dr. Weiss took advantage of opportunity.
“I was consulting for ten companies, on scientific projects, marketing, setting up an immunology service laboratory and report writing. I met a loan officer who believed in women entrepreneurs and in supporting us. With the help of that loan and with my consulting background, I could make the move from academia to private industry and stay in California too.”
“Our very first project was purifying an antibody. Today, we offer quite an array of services that cross multiple scientific fields, since projects are typically not exclusive to one area. We’ve grown over the last 22 years, we purchased the building for our lab six years ago and completed a total renovation to meet our requirements.”
“We sell the science rather than the physical lab. Because our scientists have diverse backgrounds in cell and molecular biology, immunology, biochemistry, microbiology, we are not only flexible, but can offer diverse and innovate approaches to our client’s projects from basic research to performing PK and clinical trials to drug release projects. Since assays are critical to drug development most of our clients request assay development and validation, in order to analyze their samples. This enables our scientists to be intimately familiar with the assays. Working in a CRO keeps us cutting edge with many diverse aspects of science.”
After years of experience here are a few simple truths:
- Work with engineers to make sure the lab infrastructure can support growth, including numerous outlets at every bench to generator capacity.
- Evaluate the work flow, make your space efficient so your scientists can be efficient.
- Treat your people well and learn to live with their strengths and weaknesses by creating the job that fits them rather than trying to fit them into a mold. Manage individuals and to enable them to contribute to the team.
- If you are developing a drug, be ready for a lot of trial and error – approximately, 1 in 5,000 drugs in development make it to market. It may be yours, but it may not, be prepared!
- Join groups and communities.
- If you haven’t yet, sign up for a speaking course. It is always important that you are understood, and you need to be aware of how your information is received.
“Running a CRO has expanded our services and allowed us to evolve and offer our clients the latest technologies. We hire scientists who can literally think outside of the box. We are creative with how we approach the science and we pay attention to details that often lead to better outcomes for our clients. And we are very good at the art of cell culture. I have always found science fascinating – the problems are always diverse, every project is different and our clients are always different in their needs and communication style. It is challenging to run a CRO. That’s what keeps me excited, and what keeps me coming back to the lab!”
Tania hasn’t sacrificed her music. She currently plays trumpet and euphonium in two bands, the Corte Madera Town Band (of which she is currently president) and the Sewer Band (the Las Gallinas Sanitary District Non-Marching Band). She also serves on the board for the Mayflower Chorus in San Rafael where her son sings. The chorus recently traveled to Cuba where it performed with Cuban National Chorus.
She does not participate in either band by twirling a baton. That was done in high school.