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Ellee Meyer de Groot (PhD ‘95) | Alumni Spotlight

Ellee Meyer de Groot

 

 

 

Ellee Meyer de Groot 
Ph.D. ’95
Chemical Engineering
Academic advisor: Professor Gerry Fuller


What have you been up to since Stanford?

After graduating in 1995, I spent a few years as a research engineer at a large chemical company in Houston where I developed processes for new block co-polymers which were used in everyday items like car parts and adhesives. A move for my spouse’s medical training then took us to Baltimore and my career shifted to working in pharmaceutical drug development, first with polymer-based drug delivery and then towards more traditional small molecule drugs. I found I loved the sense of mission in the pharma industry and I enjoyed process development in particular. Thus, when we moved back to Texas, I knew I wanted to stay in pharma/biotech.  

I’ve been fortunate to have had a rich and diverse career, developing both small molecule drugs as well as genetically engineered cell therapies. I have loved working for small to midsize companies as it has allowed me to work closely with my colleagues who managed the other aspects of drug development, ranging from human clinical studies to business strategy. That experience led me to begin managing programs and teams more broadly, outside of the manufacturing area. Most recently I led development of an innovative TCR-T cell therapy which is now in first-in-human trials in oncology. 

On the personal front, my husband and I have raised two incredible kids and our “nest” is now empty. Just when we thought we were settled and life was quiet, another move has brought us back to the Bay Area after all these years. We are thrilled to be here again! Who knows what new opportunities life may bring!

What’s your fondest memory about your time at Stanford?

I have so many special memories of my time at Stanford. One of the first things I did when I landed in Palo Alto was buy a bike. I rode it everywhere and loved exploring the hills around Stanford with friends. A particularly memorable bike ride was an off-road ride Gerry and the lab group took together. I took a spill on the ride, but I was with some of my dearest friends who cared for me, so the memory of the fall is pretty dim. On the way home from the ride Gerry told me I could start writing my thesis. That moment has stuck with me!

We had a diverse lab group with members from all over the world who were the perfect combination of scientifically inquisitive, intellectually brilliant and incredibly generous with their time and talents. I remember being just amazed I was working alongside them, knowing how special they were. Gerry supported us and gave us all unique opportunities. As an example, he took most of the lab group to an international rheology conference in Brussels. One of our lab mates (Denis Wirtz, now a Vice Provost of Research at Johns Hopkins) was from Brussels, so the whole lab group slept at his house, hung out with his family, and travelled together after the conference. Such a special experience!

Can you share any advice with our current students or postdocs?

My advice to you is to be open to new paths. Within 4 years of graduating from Stanford, I was doing work which didn’t resemble my PhD research at all. While I loved working in polymer rheology in grad school, I have been blessed to have had a very fulfilling career in biopharma which I never even dreamed of while at Stanford. I’m so thankful for the unexpected opportunities which allowed me to make leaps in my career. Those twists and turns have also kept me learning and growing. So, soak up the rich academic environment at Stanford and add in a bike ride with friends when you can. The moments which will stick with you the most are ones from the relationships you form and the adventures you take!

A lunch at the home of Denis Wirtz’s mother in Brussels in August 1992. Pictured from left are Denis Wirtz, Lynden Archer and Ellee (Meyer) de Groot.
A lunch at the home of Denis Wirtz’s mother in Brussels in August 1992. Pictured from left are Denis Wirtz, Lynden Archer and Ellee (Meyer) de Groot.

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