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Kevin Chen

CEO, Co-Founder
Hyasynth
Kevin Chen
Kevin Chen
Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway
School Subject

About me

I was born/grew up in: Ottawa, Ontario

I now live in: Montreal, Quebec

I completed my training/education at: Queen's University, B.Sc. Biochemistry Specialization (Hons.)

What I do at work

My main role is to find ways to manufacture important ingredients for healthcare. The endocannabinoid system and the compounds that affect it, have great potential to treat many different diseases. This could help people live healthier and happier lives. Right now, we are doing that by creating strains of yeast to produce these compounds. This frees us from having to rely on cannabis agriculture. My role on this team is mainly to raise funds for the next stage of our company's development. I make presentations to investors. I explain our research and show them how they can help.  My day-to-day work includes meeting with our executive team. We address any challenges, make decisions and get progress updates. Aside from that, I'm send emails, prepare presentations and have meetings with investors (which are virtual for now).

My career path is

I started out by being interested in biochemistry and biotechnology from high school biology class. It all started when I learned about DNA as a "blueprint" for living things. I also liked robotics and playing with Lego growing up so maybe living things are just the ultimate robotic systems to me. Anyways, I got to participate in the iGEM (international genetically engineered machine) competition during my undergrad. This really opened my eyes to building the vision and impact of synthetic biology. As a team we got to test out our own ideas. After that, I got to work for another startup in synbio. This opened up the world of entrepreneurship to me. I started graduate school but dropped out once I got into the world's first-ever accelerator program for synbio companies. It is now called Rebelbio or Indiebio. Check my LinkedIn profile for more detail on my career path.

I am motivated by

I love science and technology. I was originally on my way to becoming a professor. Then I realized that starting companies is a much faster and more effective way of advancing science and inventing things that are going to improve the lives of people around the world. I'm always excited about new ideas and future inventions, because if they work, they will change everything. I also love the involvement and impact on society that we are going to have. Our project needs involvement from regulators, investors, consumers, manufacturers, and healthcare professionals. As a result, I get to learn about how all these people are going to come together to make our project a success. That's super exciting too! Creating the vision and plans that are going to change the world, and then actually making those things happen is really exciting to me.

How I affect people’s lives

The products we are making are going to have huge impacts on human health. One of the amazing things is how many treatments are going to come from the endocannabinoid system in the near future. I also care a lot about the staff that I work with at Hyasynth. My success in fundraising keeps the company operational.

Outside of work I

I love the outdoors, and circus arts, specifically juggling. I've been juggling as a hobby since high school. The community of artists, and hobbyists who also do circus are some of my best friends. It's not an art form you get exposed to through regular schooling. However, it's actually in the midst of a sort of golden age now, as circus/juggling performances have become extremely technical and sophisticated. I'm also a fan of makerspaces or other community spaces that make tools for fabrication (woodworking, metalworking, 3D printing, or even biotechnology) accessible to the general public. Lastly, I love volunteering as a mentor for other startups and for the iGEM competition. I'm always eager the share what I've learned, and help the next generation of scientists/entrepreneurs.

My advice to others

I think I worried too much about getting good grades, or sticking with the current system of education or "career path". While you are young, you can explore. The world is changing all the time! You can spend time learning about a new field (such as synbio, or cryptocurrency) just for fun, and maybe it'll lead you somewhere interesting. Maybe in a few years, that field will grow and you'll have a few extra years of experience over lots of people (even your teachers). It's always fun to explore and you'll always meet some amazing people along the way. Most people are happy to meet with younger folks too. Just remember to enjoy those adventures, and don't take things too seriously.

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Art
  • Drama
  • Math
  • Science
  • Technology
  • Computer Science
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Brought people together
  • Enjoyed doing things on my own
  • Liked helping people
  • Organized activities for my friends
  • Wanted to be in charge
  • Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
  • Engaged in volunteer activities
  • Played video games
  • Was really creative
  • Wasn’t sure what I wanted to do
  • Liked to take things apart to see how they worked
  • Liked Juggling

Explore Career Profiles

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    Dr. Harpreet Kochhar

    President

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    Isabel Hilgendag

    MSc Student (Biology)

    I look for heavy metals, such as mercury, in Arctic marine animals, to ensure they are safe to eat.
  • Manpreet Kaur in her lab

    Manpreet Kaur (She/Her)

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    I work on research projects to discover drugs to treat infectious diseases.
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    Ryan Mitchell

    Hatchery Supervisor

    My job is to supervise the daily workflow at our salmon hatchery.
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    Daryl Lawes

    Environment Manager

    I am responsible for all aspects of environmental protection, performance, and regulatory compliance for Seaspan Shipyards.
  • Corie HOuldsworth headshot

    Corie Houldsworth

    Inspector

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    Terra MacDonald (she/her)

    Veterinarian and Fish Health Manager

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    Isha Berry

    Epidemiologist

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    Claire Poulin

    Zebrafish Researcher/Pre-Med Student

    I am researching how Zebrafish respond to lower oxygen levels in their environment.
  • Jasmin Chahal headshot

    Jasmin Chahal

    Assistant Professor

    I teach in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at McGill University.
  • Lynn Henderson with German Sheppard dog

    Lynn Henderson (she/her)

    Veterinarian, Clinician, and College Professor

    I am a small animal veterinarian serving animal health in a variety of capacities.
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    Anastasiia Prysyazhnyuk

    Science and Innovation Lead, Health Beyond Initiative

    I explore ways in which science and technology can provide solutions to healthcare problems in space and on Earth.
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    Hayleigh Conway (she/her)

    Geomatics Technician

    I make maps that help answer questions about the health of the environment in the Western Arctic.
  • Megan Katz headshot

    Megan Katz

    Prosthetic Technician

    Megan is a prosthetic technician who makes and repairs artificial limbs.
  • Dr. Jackie Dawson doing field research on Beechy Island, Nunavut.

    Jackie Dawson (she/her/they)

    Professor and Canada Research Chair

    I work with large teams of academics, Inuit knowledge holders, and decision makers to understand the risks and solutions to environmental change.
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    Katie Harris (she/her)

    Medical Student/Prospective Aerospace Medicine Specialist

    I am working towards a career as an aerospace medicine specialist - a doctor who works with astronauts and keeps them healthy for long missions!
  • Chris Derksen en train de faire ses recherches sur le terrain en Arctique.

    Chris Derksen (he/his)

    Climate Scientist

    I use satellite data and climate models to understand how climate change is impacting snow and ice across Canada.
  • Shari Forbes à l'extérieur du centre de décomposition humaine

    Shari Forbes (she/her/elle)

    Forensic Scientist

    I conduct research to understand how the human body decomposes in our unique Canadian environment.
  • Viviana Ramirez-Luna dehors en hiver

    Viviana Ramirez-Luna (she/her)

    Environmental Entrepreneur

    I founded (and run) a consulting company to help businesses, communities, and organizations reduce the waste they produce
  • Andrew Brereton travaillant à l'ordinateur

    Andrew E. Brereton

    Computational Scientist

    I write code that teaches computers how to design new drugs.