In Conversation with Dr. Joan Fallon of Curemark
Describe your business in a few words?
Curemark is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company and we focus on developing novel therapies to treat serious diseases for which there are limited treatment options. Our pipeline includes a phase III clinical-stage research program for Autism, as well as programs focused on Parkinson’s Disease, schizophrenia, and addiction.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I was in clinical practice for 25 years, during which I paid close attention to the rise in autism in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. No one had a treatment or really understood the condition. Even today, we neither understand autism’s causative roots nor have effective treatments for its core symptoms. The diversity of symptoms from one child to the next is striking, since the common thinking is “once you’ve seen one child with autism, you’ve seen every child with autism.”
I do some of my best thinking on planes. On one trip, I was thinking about why all the kids with autism all present slightly differently. Most conditions, syndromes and diseases have very similar presentations and trajectories. Autism does not. I decided not to dwell on why there are differences, but focus on commonalities and patterns.
I found that the majority of the kids I saw ate the same basic diet. Parents call it the “white” or “tan” diet. It’s filled with neutral-colored foods, and is very self selective. It is a diet of high carbohydrates. This line of thinking led me to look for a physiological reason for this finding, which formed the basis of starting Curemark.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
Before becoming an entrepreneur, I had my own private pediatric practice for 25 years.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I had a private practice for 25 years, and did teaching and lecturing around the world. Once I made my discovery around autism I knew I needed to start Curemark. The struggles of the children with autism and their families compelled me to step away from a private practice that I loved to begin Curemark. For everyone at Curemark, it’s always been all about the kids. No entrepreneur is successful without a fabulous team and at Curemark we have a stellar one.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
A hunger to learn and the ability for self reflection is critical to me in hiring. I want to know if an individual is going to rely on their experiences and operate from there or if they are going to take new learnings and new experiences into their work.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
I am looking forward to getting our drug approved for children with autism both in the US and around the globe. Every day we are closer. I look forward to sharing my learnings and insights about autism and about my entrepreneurial journey with others.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
Even under the best circumstances, things always take longer than you expect. You should always be prepared to pivot when needed and to make sure that you understand and acknowledge the landscape around you.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I have attended Major League Baseball umpire school.