Interview with Bart Newland, Addgene’s Newest Board Member

By Jennifer Tsang

We’re happy to introduce the newest member on Addgene’s Board of Directors, Bart Newland. Newland is General Counsel at Atalanta, an early-stage biotech company that is developing RNAi therapeutics to treat neurodegenerative diseases. He has earned a B.S. in microbiology and subsequently obtained a J.D. from William and Mary Law School.

Check out our recent Q&A with him below!

Bart Newland


Q: How did you move from microbiology to law? How did you get interested in pursuing law?

BN: Life science was always my first love. I went to college for microbiology and then did some independent research my junior year and discovered I really love science, but I really didn't like being in the lab. My dad was a chemist and he actually gave me the idea of going into law. He said, “you know, the patent lawyer at my company seems to really like what she does.” I thought I was either going to go to med school or grad school for microbiology, and I ended up going straight to law school. This was in the early 80s, and biotech was really just taking off. I found out that patent attorneys with a biology background were in demand.

Q: Can you tell me a bit about your job currently? What is your day-to-day like?

BN: I've made the transition now to being general counsel of a small start-up. For the last 20 years, I was a patent counsel and ran a group at two fairly large companies, Genzyme and Biogen. They’re very different jobs. Being general counsel at a small start-up is very interesting. It’s very varied. There’s IP work to do, general corporate work, and negotiating contracts with other companies. It's one of those "every day is something different" type of jobs, which really suits my personality. Another big part of my role is bringing experience and judgement to a wide variety of business decisions that are not “legal” at all.

Q: How does your experience help you as an Addgene board member?

BN: Having seen so much in the business world from the mindset of a lawyer can bring a new perspective to an organization. I'm used to thinking about the downstream results of actions. I’m also pretty adept at thinking about risks and how to manage them without them paralyzing an organization. I think these are things that I can bring to Addgene -- that comfort with saying, “if we do this, then what?” I hope to bring that business experience and judgement to the organization and see how I can help.

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

BN: I love to travel and that's been difficult this past year and a half. My wife and I went to Patagonia in February of 2020 and came back just a week before everything closed down due to COVID-19. I'm also just a voracious reader of science and non-fiction. I just love learning. 

This interview was edited for clarity.

Topics: Addgene News

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