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Behind the Science with Dr. Frank Horling, BioAgilytix’s New General Manager, Europe

BioAgilytix’s Hamburg, Germany lab is renowned for many reasons, from being involved in some of the very first cases of immunogenicity testing to being one of the largest facilities dedicated to large molecule bioanalysis in Europe today. Its centrally located position makes it easily accessible to all the major European pharma and biotech innovation hubs, and it has become the lab of choice for European sponsors seeking local access to world-leading large molecule expertise: including Dr. Frank Horling, who was a customer of BioAgilytix himself before joining our team in May.

That’s right, Dr. Horling worked with BioAgilytix previously to becoming General Manager, Europe at our Hamburg laboratory and we wanted to hear his perspectives on what it was like to be a BioAgilytix customer as well as what motivated him to join our team in Europe. We sat down for a discussion where he had this to share:

Tell us a little about your background in the industry.
I’ve spent close to 20 years in the biotech, big pharma, and CRO industries, and from that experience I have gained unique perspective from both the customer and service provider sides of the business. I’ve always had a specific scientific interest in assessing the immunogenicity of biotherapeutics because their ability to trigger unwanted immune responses is one of the major challenges we face in developing these drugs. In my previous roles at large pharma companies I built a GLP lab and led scientific teams in immunogenicity assessments for drug candidates across all phases of development and for multiple therapeutic areas. I gained a lot of experience in regulatory interactions from IND submissions to market authorization applications and GLP audits, and contributed to multiple product approvals such as ADYNOVATE, an antihemophilic factor (recombinant) PEGylated therapy for hemophilia A.

You were formerly a customer of BioAgilytix. How did you come to work with our Europe lab and what was the experience like?
Yes, I have worked with the team at BioAgilytix’s European lab for many years. Originally I was looking for a bioanalytical partner with strong expertise in monoclonal antibody therapeutics and their lab came highly recommended. I had also known Dr. Arno Kromminga, the lab’s founder, as an immunogenicity expert from my interactions with him at forums like EIP. When I went and visited the lab, I immediately became very interested in partnering with them. I was deeply impressed by their scientific competence and high standards of bioanalytical service. Now, almost a decade later, I continue to be impressed by the scientific and operative excellence of their people.

What drove you to join the BioAgilytix team in Europe? What were the qualities and/or opportunities that excited you most?
BioAgilytix’s scientists are true experts in large molecule bioanalysis and known as key opinion leaders in bioanalytical strategies. The opportunity to be part of such a prestigious team was exciting. I was also keen to join a growing organization with aspirations to solidify its position as a global leader, and to have the chance to help them further develop the expertise within BioAgilytix’s team. BioAgilytix has also made a significant investment in the European lab, establishing a new state-of-the-art facility for it in 2017 which is really impressive. We continue to bring in new equipment and platforms aligned with customers’ needs, and it is great to have that backing to ensure the lab is resourced for success.

What sets BioAgilytix’s European lab apart in the market?
This lab is among the biggest large molecule bioanalytical labs in Europe and one of the largest of its kind in Germany. It is very unique to have so much specialized talent and resources for bioanalysis under one roof. What’s more, it is part of BioAgilytix’s family of labs – one of three which also include our Durham, NC and Boston, MA campuses in the USA – and we are able to leverage our collective strengths to solve nearly any complex bioanalytical challenges customers might bring us. Finally, the European lab was founded by Dr. Kromminga on the principles of world-class science and customer service as top priorities. This philosophy is shared not just by the Europe team but across BioAgilytix as a whole, and as a past customer I can say with confidence that they deliver on these commitments.

What are your biggest priorities for the Europe lab in the coming months?
My first priority is to learn the secret behind what has made BioAgilytix’s Europe lab so excellent for so long. Having been both a customer and competitor to them in my career, I want to take time to truly understand what they are doing differently to set themselves apart, so that we can continue to build on that strong foundation. I’ll also be looking to identify what we need to take us to the next level in terms of analytical platforms, automation and process improvements, and talent development to advance and expand the scientific and leadership skills of our team. I’m focused on innovative ways to better serve our growing and highly satisfied customer base with a world-class team – so we can be recognized unquestionably as the leading large molecule laboratory in Europe.

What opportunities do you see coming for BioAgilytix in Europe as well as worldwide?
The pharmaceutical and biotech industry is constantly changing and evolving. Twenty years ago, large molecule bioanalysis for a simple antibody was a real specialty, but today complexities abound. Recently we’ve seen an explosion in the various new antibody constructs and ADCs, and more recently in gene and cell therapy treatments. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic I think we’ll see a much stronger emphasis on vaccine testing.

Throughout these shifts BioAgilytix has evolved to keep up with the change and remain a world-class provider. We will continue to serve the market as leaders in large molecule testing for clinical trials but will also position ourselves to be ready for the next big revolution in biopharma development.

We thank Dr. Horling for sharing his insights and are thrilled that he has joined our team. He will surely be an asset to our customers in Europe and to our client base worldwide. If you’d like to discuss with him how our European lab can support your large molecule project, please reach out to us here.

Dr. Frank Horling of BioAgilytix Europe