After winding down Quench Bio with a bold dose of honesty, Sam Truex finds 'perfect fit' at Atlas Venture
When Sam Truex turned out the lights at Quench Bio, she issued a heartfelt post outlining the reasons behind why the former inflammatory disease player closed its doors. That bold honesty was appreciated somewhere as Truex will now jump aboard a familiar team at Atlas Venture to give startups the best possible chance at success.
Atlas has tapped Truex as its newest venture partner, the firm announced on Monday. Today is her first official day on the team. And her first assignment? Leading a stealthy Atlas-backed startup that employs most of the team from Quench.
“We built a team at Quench Bio that I was quite proud of building together with the other leaders, and that team has wanted to stay together for the most part,” she said, adding that she’ll lead the platform company until they find a long-term CEO.
Quench said it was winding down operations in early March, after a couple failed attempts at targeting the gene Gasdermin D to treat inflammatory diseases. The Cambridge, MA-based biotech said the gene proved “undruggable” with their technology, and auctioned off its research to keep other Gasdermin programs moving forward.
Truex told Endpoints News that she fully intends to take the helm at another biotech — but for now, she’ll help Atlas get other companies off the ground while choosing the one that’s a good fit for her.
“What I’m hoping to do next is work in a company where the therapies that we’re working on are already in or near the clinic,” she said. “I would like to get back to a focus that’s more heavily on patients and closer to delivering therapies to patients.”
While this marks the first time Truex has been employed by Atlas, she’s worked with the VC firm in various capacities since 2014, when she became CBO of autoimmune-focused Padlock Therapeutics. Before that, she spent roughly eight years each at Genzyme and Biogen.
Michael Gilman, who founded and helmed Padlock, said he was “thrilled to convince Sam to come onboard.” Two years later, she led the company through a $600 million buyout by Bristol Myers Squibb, which was attracted by the biotech’s protein/peptidyl arginine deiminase (PAD) inhibitor discovery program.
“Sam is smart, strategic, focused, and has a tremendous capacity for work. Most importantly, she’s morally grounded, with a strong sense of right and wrong and deep passion for the causes she believes in,” Gilman told Endpoints in an email. He’s now in Waltham, MA, leading Arrakis Therapeutics’ pursuit of small molecule medicines that directly target RNA.
Truex went on to serve as COO and head of corporate development at Synlogic, before starting at Quench Bio in 2018. The Dartmouth grad said there were other opportunities she could have taken after Quench, but none seemed like the “perfect fit.”
“So I thought: Why not work with the people I know and already respect to start something that will be the perfect fit?” she said.
Bruce Booth, an Atlas partner who’s worked with Truex at both Padlock and Quench, called the new hire a “great leader and experienced serial entrepreneur.”
“Having worked with her across multiple startups, she’s proven herself to be an accomplished executive who leads with integrity,” Booth said. “She also inspires all of us with her commitment to giving back to the community. It’s a real privilege to have her join Atlas to help us build the next generation of startups.”