How easy is it to be a female scientist? How easy is it to be a female founder and CEO? How easy is it to find work/life balance when you wear both of these hats and are building a family, too? In this episode, you will be hearing from Margaret Magdesian, founder and CEO of Ananda Devices, about her academic path, about how she transitioned to the biotech startup space, and about her answers to these important questions.

Margaret Magdesian is a scientist-entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience in biopharmaceutical research. In collaboration with researchers from McGill University, she has developed a great technology to rapidly grow human nervous-system-on-a-chip. Seeing the potential of this technology to accelerate drug development, in 2015 she raised funds with investors and launched the company Ananda Devices. The company has since won over 25 grants and awards in science and innovation including the 2016 Top 10 Quebec Discovery of the Year, the 2018 Top 7 SheEO in Canada, 2018 Canadian Export Challenge and 2019 Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • The differences between research in academia and in the startup context
  • The importance of understanding your risks when embarking on a project, be it academic or entrepreneurial
  • How university-based awards and programs can boost you in your startup project stemming from academic research
  • The culture differences between academia and industry
  • The value and social impact women can bring to the entrepreneurial arena
  • The importance of being able to articulate your research in lay terms and adapt your communications to each different audience

This episode’s pearls of wisdom:

“When we finish a PhD, we know how to get information. When someone talks to you about a new genetic approach, you know how to go to PubMed and go deep down. So what we really learn from a PhD is how to get information. I’m very disciplined – I looked for books about financial budgets, scaling up, how to hire people, I read one about introverts and leadership, so several books that really relate to me.”

“What drives me every morning to go to work is the big goal, a sense of mission – why am I doing this? Sometimes it seems overwhelming because there’s so much to do… But it’s ok, I have a mission. Just grab some paper and step by step – what I ‘m going to do first, second, third. And this is how you organize things and then move along, you know? And it’s so nice everyday that you tick a box. You see the mission coming, and it’s so much more exciting than depressing.”

Margaret’s links: LinkedIn –; Website –; SheEO –; TEDx talk –; McGill Dobson Cup –

You might also like the following episodes:

Chris Kent – Biotech Startup CEO:

James Bowers – Communication consulting:

Kirsten Sanford – Science communication:

Margaret Magdesian – Biotech Startup CEO:

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