Amello says working in healthcare gives him the opportunity to affect people's lives in a profound way.
As a young man, Jason Amello wanted to be a musician, because he likes how music can reach and positively affect so many people. Instead, he pursued a career in healthcare, which he says gives him a similar opportunity to impact people's lives but in a much more profound way. "I still play music in my personal time, which gives me the best of both worlds," he says.
The 30-year industry veteran has recently stepped into the new role of chief financial officer at Candel Therapeutics. Amello has served in several finance leadership positions, most recently at Saniona AB, a rare disease biotech company. Prior to Saniona, he held finance roles at Akebia Therapeutics, Alaunos Therapeutics, and served 11 years at Genzyme.
HealthLeaders asked Amello to outline his strategy and expectations for his new role.
HealthLeaders: What is the biggest challenge you face in your first 90 days of your new role?
Jason Amello: We at Candel are fortunate to have a strong pipeline of viral immunotherapy product candidates in early-, mid-, and late-stage development across several solid tumor indications. As a result, each of those programs require different strategies, and therefore, have different resource and capital requirements. My goal is to ensure the company's collective resources are aligned and deployed to each program in the most optimal and efficient manner.
HL: How has your experience in both large and small pharma prepared you for this role?
Amello: I was with Genzyme Corporation from 2000–2011 and despite how large and diversified Genzyme became, due to Henri Termeer's leadership and vision, it never lost its entrepreneurial spirit and culture. Teamwork and innovation were paramount, and people were given a broad range of freedom to contribute and add value. As a result, I was able to experience the building and growth of a fully integrated biotech business, spanning early research, drug development, business development, M&A, commercialization of multiple products, and life-cycle management. That has prepared me well for leadership in small pharma. I will use this experience to support Candel in its mission to develop transformational medicines for patients with cancer.
HL: What is the secret of your success? What keeps you motivated?
Amello: Well, I wouldn't call it a secret. There is no substitute for hard work, tenacity, passion and, it goes without saying, amazing teamwork … all that, coupled with the determination to deliver therapies to patients who critically need them. It is both the successes and failures of the past that provide the learnings and pathway for more effective therapies today and tomorrow, and that is what keeps me motivated. We are never done.
HL: What is a current issue the industry is dealing with and how will you address it?
Amello: The capital markets for the biotech industry have seen a significant pull back over the last year, and it has become increasingly difficult for many companies to access the capital needed to develop those technologies in accordance with their current development plans. My goal is to ensure Candel's collective resources are aligned and deployed in the most optimal and efficient manner so that we can execute our strategy and deliver on our milestones.
Editor's note: This story has been updated on October 21, 2022.
“There is no substitute for hard work, tenacity, passion and, it goes without saying, amazing teamwork … all that, coupled with the determination to deliver therapies to patients who critically need them.”
Jason Amello, CFO, Candel Therapeutics
Robin Robinson is a contributing writer for HealthLeaders.
Amello has stepped into the new role of CFO at Candel Therapeutics, after working in several finance leadership positions, most recently at Saniona AB.
Before Saniona, he held finance roles at Akebia Therapeutics, Alaunos Therapeutics, and served 11 years at Genzyme.
Amello says capital markets for the biotech industry have seen a significant pull back, and it has become difficult for companies to access the capital needed to develop technologies.