A short while back, Michael Fiebig from Absolute Antibody was kind enough to tell us about himself and his career in a lunch lecture. In his lecture, he talked about how he had started out in academia, doing research in various departments of the University of Oxford. After applying for numerous postdoc positions but getting no results, he was invited out for coffee by an acquaintance of him who offered him the opportunity to work in a start-up company called Absolute Antibody.
He had always been reluctant to do something different like this because he had believed that the skills he had honed throughout his academic career would not be transferable and that leaving academia meant leaving science, but after accepting the offer he was proven otherwise. The RNA-sequencing techniques and bio-informatics skills and programmes that he had practiced and made during his academic years proved to be great assets that are still being used to this day in his work at Absolute Antibodies.
Michael explained the different techniques that can be used to obtain antibodies and pointed out for each of them their advantages and disadvantages. He discussed the different types of antibodies and how he uses RNA-sequencing and recombination to design monoclonal antibodies that are specific for a target of interest. Now, after years of sequencing and designing, an ever-growing catalogue of different antibodies can be purchased through Absolute Antibody. This small start-up has branched out to encompass several countries and has manifold more employees than it had when Michael had just started his new journey, undoubtedly in part thanks to him.
During this lecture Michael has shown us that straying from academia does not mean leaving behind science. Even in corporations, your skills from university are still valuable. But most of all, the enthusiasm he has for his job and his field is inspiring and being able to listen to his lecture was a pleasure.