Case Studies

Head of Immuno-oncology Research & Development - Prokarium


Prokarium is an early stage commercialised business which has developed ‘Vaxonella’, an oral vaccine delivery platform which incorporates advanced proprietary genetic and formulation technologies that are designed to optimise live bacterial vector-mediated antigen delivery.

The business was spun-out from Cobra Biologics and had grown in a space of a few years to having a headcount of 14.

The CEO engaged RMG to find a Head of Research & Development to establish a pathway to transfer the scientific principle behind ‘Vaxonella’ into an Immuno-oncology application. The business received PE funding to specifically grow this new arm to their portfolio.

The Role

Reporting to the CEO, the Head of Immuno-oncology needed to be a PhD level oncologist with a track record of progressing an IO concept to at least clinical trial phase, ideally into the clinic. Ideally, this would be someone working in a small-medium sized company as the resources afforded them at the likes of Merck etc would far exceed the budget which they would have at Prokarium. Culturally the individual would be comfortable working in a fast-paced company where good science comes first.

Strategy & Outcome

Prokarium engaged RMG to manage the campaign on a Retained Executive Search (headhunting) basis. This involved RMG identifying individuals with the relevant experience working for Immuno-oncology business and academic research and proactively approaching them to discuss the role and establish their interest.

Within five weeks of being signed off on the recruitment, RMG had delivered a shortlist of six candidates who had all been interviewed in person to Prokarium.

Following a robust three-stage interview process from Prokarium which involved meeting with the Chairman and scientific team for lunch, an offer was made to the successful candidate. They had a PhD in immunology and following a role as a Research Fellow at a prestigious cancer research institute had progressed into a lead research role in a startup IO discovery business and had developed several promising targets to trials in the clinic.

An offer was tabled and accepted and the candidate is working notice.

RMG added value through sourcing a unique candidate who was twice counter offered to remain with their current company. We advised the CEO throughout the tricky negotiations and counselled the candidate through the resignation process which proved challenging.


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