Emer O'Shea - Founder of Khonsu Therapeutics
In this week’s Alumni Spotlight we chat to scientist-turned-entrepreneur, Emer O’Shea, founder of Khonsu Therapeutics. A previous participant in the RebelBio accelerator programme, the Neuroscience graduate and her team are currently developing a biologic protein which will help patients suffering from chronic inflammation. The company is initially focusing on perfecting a drug for veterinary use but the main goal is to deliver game-changing therapeutic options for use in diseases such as arthritis and eczema. Read our interview with Emer below:
Course studied at UCC and year of graduation
Undergraduate (BSc) 2008-2012 in Neuroscience. Postgraduate (MSc) 2012-2013 in Molecular Cell Biology with Bioinnovation.
Best memory of University College Cork
I have a few notable occasions, but my favourite memory is my graduation from my undergraduate degree in October 2012. The Neuroscience class was quite small compared to most courses in UCC with only 16 of us, but shared our graduation day with several of the Biological and Chemical Science courses. It was a day shared with a lot of friends and family, but as I was a month into my Masters program I knew my time at UCC wasn’t over!
How has your time at UCC helped you to get to where you are now?
Without a doubt, I am in my current role as a direct result of the Master Program. I was lucky to be in the first year of the program, the first of its kind, merging life science disciplines with modules from the College of Business and Law. Two disciplines that would not commonly come together, but giving us the skills and knowledge base to think differently about scientific research and how it can be applied, or commercialised. To enter the Neuroscience program, I did 2 years of general life science in the Biological and Chemical science course, which meant modules in everything from Anatomy to Zoology, and everything in between, including Physics and Maths. I still use the skills and knowledge from each of those modules today, and this approach helped shaped how I process and use critical thinking every day.
What is your advice to current UCC students?
Reflecting back on my time at UCC- you learn more than just course content. There are so many opportunities to get involved in while at UCC that are going on around you. I didn’t just stick to ‘science’ stuff, but you have a diverse range of activities and talks on in UCC that can help expand your mind to opportunities, networks, ideas and interesting people. But, more importantly, to enjoy it. The UCC campus is so beautiful and there are exceptional facilities available to students, love every moment!
What person/people at UCC had the most positive influence on you?
There are a couple of lecturers from my time at UCC that I am still very fortunate to have contact with today. I think that’s a true reflection of the care and interest these lecturers have in their students’ education. A notable mention to Dr. Kellie Dean of the School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology who has been such a positive influence on my career to date, and who always will spare time for her students. And then I have former classmates, lab partners, housemates, and people who I stumbled upon that remain in my life!
Were you involved in any Clubs or Societies?
Too many to remember-I think I ended up at some sort of event for each club or society while at UCC! I was heavily involved in the ULink Peer Support in my last 2 years of UCC, a support service that was set up to support incoming first year students and link them with a Peer support leader who is a current UCC student in the same programme. It was run by Claire Dunne in my time at UCC, and she built an amazing network for the students.