Jecure Therapeutics

AG Presents is an interview series of scientists in the Life Sciences industry that share insights to what research life is like as a start-up, in a university, or at an institute and how they got there. Here we would love to introduce Milos Lazic of Jecure Therapeutics in San Diego, California, USA.

Q: Could you tell us about your lab?

Jecure Therapeutics is focused on the discovery of novel therapeutics for the treatment of fatty liver disease, NASH, and fibrosis. I was trained as a metabolic researcher (discovery of various causes of diabetes and obesity) in my graduate research at Northwestern University. I further focused on the liver disease and biomarkers of metabolic stress as a postdoctoral scholar at UCSD. I was super excited to have the opportunity to apply all my skills to develop a product/drug in a small VC-funded startup and wear multiple hats as the first employee. I like the nimbleness and flexibility of startup and working closely with a small and established team, right under the supervision of senior directors and founders.

Q: What does your lab hope to achieve?

We are dedicated to discovering novel and impactful therapeutics for the treatment of liver disease. We are aiming to develop new anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic drugs to prevent or reverse liver diseases.

Q: What sets it apart from other labs?

Jecure Therapeutics combines cutting-edge academic biology with deeply experienced pharma/biotech scientists. Thus experience in the field and the excitement of working in a startup is what propels us forward, together with the carefully assembled team. Another key to building a successful startup is fundraising good capital.

Q: What was your journey like to get where you are today?
I came to the USA in 1999 from Serbia. I finished senior year of high school and was able to stay in college in Charleston, South Carolina, on a tennis and academic scholarship. I was always geared and driven towards success with hard work. My motivation is/was to achieve something new that has not been done before. Another piece of the puzzle was curiosity. It was driving me to discover new things related to biology and human health. More than anything, I always had supporting families and friends, and wouldn't succeed without them.

These circumstances guided me towards graduate school at Northwestern and onwards to my postdoc at UCSD. San Diego proved to have a stimulating environment, due to the number of smaller and larger biotech and pharma companies in the area, as well as strong intellectual and biotech community. And who can resist the San Diego lifestyle?

Q: How did you know you wanted to work in the Life Sciences?
I was leaning towards sciences from very early on in elementary school. In college, I excelled in both math and biology. The principal excitement was stemming from the motivation to answer how both nature and human behavior worked. Thus, I got a PhD in neuroscience. I attempted to study human behavior and sleep at some point through my graduate school, but it felt too much as a "soft science" so I returned back into cellular and molecular biology of metabolism. My interests range far beyond sciences though. I love entrepreneurship and daydreaming on how to make a world a better place. I spent 8 months on the road in Europe and South America. I like cultures and people from all over the world. I enjoy learning more on history and economics, as well as learning foreign languages.
Q: Could you explain the best ways you learn?
My favorite way of learning is through examples of others. I like observing and interactively learning in discussions. I like resourcefulness and reaching out to experts when I need help. I like paying attention to the soft skills of people as I want to set myself as a leader in the future. Google comes in very handy also!!
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
I live for travel, great company, friends, exploring the places from the local perspective, great food and wine. I've been playing tennis since I was 5 and still love to play and coach occasionally. Since my arrival to San Diego in 2011, I also picked up beach volleyball and am playing regularly. Always up for a local hike.
Q: What three words would you describe yourself as?
This is by far the toughest question. Reliable, friendly and curious. No explanations necessary...
Q: What advice would you like to share with fellow scientists?
Its never too early to start thinking about career choices and connecting with people. Use your evenings to attend numerous networking events and happy hours in San Diego. Always think outside of the box and make sure you are happy with your choices! Don't settle for the lab you despise.
Here is one of my guiding principles:

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." - William Shakespeare

We hope you enjoyed Milos' piece. If you would like to participate, please leave a comment below, and we will surely get in contact with you soon.

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