Friday Feature: Emily Allen
Our last Friday Feature this Women's History Month is Emily Allen. She joined The Riveter's Fremont location before we opened after hearing about The Riveter at the F-Bomb Breakfast Club. You can find Emily at in Fremont at her dedicated desk working on her biomedical startup, Atyra Bio. This week, we talked to Emily about The Riveter, her journey to Atyra Bio and Women's History Month.
What are a few of your favorite things about The Riveter?
I love that The Riveter is a platform that validates and amplifies women-led business at a local, tangible level. For example, I am at this moment drinking Riveter coffee from a woman-led roastery. Also, my teenage foster daughter was inspired by meeting the entrepreneurs at the recent black women’s business popup at the Capitol Hill Riveter. At Fremont, I also love the big view of the city skyline and Lake Union.
Tell us about yourself!
I’m originally an east coaster who loves Seattle for its relaxed civic mindedness. I became a mom via fostering at age 45. I drive an electric car and ride a folding bike. I am curious and inquisitive and am an enthusiast for positive change. If my brow is furrowed, I’m not mad, I’m probably just trying to grok some complicated science thing.
Tell us about your work and your current career path. What inspired you to start Atyra Bio? What is the most surprising thing you're learned since starting Atyra Bio?
I worked in biomedical research and later in startup product management. I founded Atyra Bio to solve a problem I personally encountered as a thyroid cancer survivor. The treatment mainstay for hypothyroidism, levothyroxine (Synthroid), leaves many patients with exhaustion and brain fog, even when the dose is just right. I have spoken with many women whose lives have been devastatingly downgraded by this.
Because it’s the nation’s most-prescribed drug, I was very surprised that this problem has not yet been solved by medical science. But women’s subjective symptoms tend to be dubbed emotional – and thyroid cancer and hypothyroidism mainly affect women – thus impeding progress. The fact that this is a disregarded women’s issue is a big motivator. These are exciting times, with big open data, like the Allen Brain Institute’s, and online science marketplaces, like the woman-led Science Exchange, newly enabling solutions, and helping me test a promising biomechanistic hypothesis.
What does Women's History Month mean to you? Who are the women, past and present, that inspire you?
Women’s History Month is a great chance to reflect and reclaim our due. Rosalind Franklin co-discovered DNA’s helix structure, and yet recognition overwhelmingly went to Watson and Crick. Grace Hopper co-developed groundbreaking ideas in computer programming in the 1940s, and yet we tend to see programming as somehow belonging to the dudebros. I am inspired by the great work of women science entrepreneurs and innovators. Around 7% of patents have a woman listed as primary inventor. Patents are among the biggest drivers of valuation in biotech. Patricia Beckmann of Life Science Washington co-invented a multi-billion dollar arthritis drug and is a great mentor, helping local biotech startups like Atyra Bio. I am also deeply grateful for Seattlites who do big things empowering other female founders, like Amy Nelson, Megan McNally, and Leslie Feinzaig.