Kelsey Moody on leadership: Be coachable and hire people who can teach you

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Kelsey Moody was a medical student at Upstate Medical University when he landed a $540,000 research grant and set up his own pharmaceutical research company.

“After we had cleared our first million dollars in funding for the company, I had to choose: Did I want to finish my medical doctorate or did I want to gamble on the company? I chose the company, and it’s continued to take off since then. I think I made the right choice.”

He pauses, points to a wall of photos, and laughs: “Every year, we kind of celebrate that I haven’t killed the company yet. That’s what these pictures are. We do a company retreat every year at my parents’ camp on Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh.”

Moody is CEO of Ichor Therapeutics Inc. He founded the company in May 2013 in his apartment on Bryant Avenue in Tipperary Hill. In 2014, he moved it to LaFayette.

Ichor now employs 19 people, including technicians and scientists, from bachelor level to Ph.D. level.

Give me the elevator speech for Ichor.  

Ichor is a company of companies. We have several of our own pre-clinical programs working on drug development for a number of age-associated diseases. We also perform contract research projects for third-party clients, which helps to cover the bills for our own research.

It’s a mix between our own intramural programs and contract work.

So, you conduct research to create drugs to bring to market yourself while also making or experimenting with drugs for other pharmaceutical companies.  

Right. Once you have the infrastructure in place, which we do, you can really scale that and take on lots of diverse projects.

Bearing in mind that we only started about four years ago, we’ve been doubling in size annually. I’ve bought a new building to expand the company every 18 months. We’re on task to purchase another building and expand again in 2018.

We’re expecting our contract work to more than double. We’ve done around $5 million dollars in capital for our various programs.

We have programs ranging from regenerative medicine to oncology, macular degeneration, a type of age-related eye disease, and, probably one of the hot new areas that’s becoming big, cellular senescence. Cells that get old in your body and contribute in a significant way to a variety of age-associated diseases just by lingering around.

There’s been interesting research coming out in the last two or three years that shows that if you can selectively destroy these cells it might be effective for chronic age-related diseases.