Dr. Leen Kawas is a dedicated leader, inventor, and entrepreneur who uses her passion for medical research to create innovative solutions. She co-founded M3 Biotechnology, now Athira Pharma, and later invented its lead therapeutic candidate for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, ATH-1017, in addition to other innovative drug candidates within the company’s pipeline. She served as Athira’s CEO and later as its President, as well as a member of the Board of Directors. She demonstrated an exceptional leadership style that helped the company to expand its financial and technological growth. Under her leadership, the company went public through an initial public offering. As of February 2021, Dr. Kawas was one of only 22 female founders and CEOs to lead a company to an initial public offering (IPO). Dr. Kawas is now Managing General Partner at Propel Bio Partners LLC, an investment firm that helps life science advance groundbreaking technologies.
Career & Awards
Given her exemplary performance and outstanding achievements, Dr. Kawas has won many awards and recognitions, including being named in Endpoints’ 20(+1) under 40 in 2021. She also received the Life Science Washington Institute’s Life Science Entrepreneurial Achievement Award in 2020, was selected as one of the French-American Foundation’s Young Leaders in 2019, was named in Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 in 2016 and was inducted into the 2016 class of EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women. In 2016, Dr. Kawas was a finalist for EY Entrepreneur of the Year and GeekWire Young Entrepreneur of the Year. She was also named one of Seattle’s Most Influential People by Seattle Magazine in 2015 and one of the Women to Watch in Life Sciences by the Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association in 2015. Under her dedicated service and leadership, Athira was named by GeekWire as a finalist for Health Innovation of the Year in 2019 and one of Seattle’s Top 10 Startups in 2016.
As a renowned industry leader and insightful researcher, Dr. Kawas serves as a member of various boards, including the Life Science Washington Board, the Scientific Review Board for the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation and the Alzheimer’s Association’s Washington Chapter Board. She is also part of the Springboard Network. Previously, she served as co-chair of the International Alzheimer’s Association Business Consortium and a member of the Washington Governor’s Life Science Advisory Board.
Dr. Kawas supports and encourages women entrepreneurs to help them excel in their respective businesses. She is a wife and a loving mother of two children and currently resides in Washington.