Founder Spotlight: Amy Cayne Schwartz C’00

4 min readMar 26, 2024

“Setbacks can be challenging, but I feel grateful to be working with an incredible team to solve problems that have impacted my family and millions of others.”

Meet Amy Cayne Schwartz, the Co-Founder, COO and CBO of Pearl Bio, a company which leverages the power of proprietary technology to unite the precision of biology with the diversity of chemistry to create new biologics. Amy is currently raising a Series A funding round and just announced that Merck has signed up to Pearl Bio’s synthetic biology platform and under the agreement, “Pearl is eligible to receive payments totaling up to $1B across upfront, option and milestone payments in addition to potential royalties on sales of approved products derived from the collaboration.”

In addition to her role at Pearl Bio, Amy is the President and General Counsel of Genome Project-write (GP write), a non profit consortium for the genome writing ecosystem. GP-write is an international research project that is focused on reducing engineering and testing costs of large genomes by 1,000 fold in the next decade. From their website: “The average human lifespan continues to expand as a result of advancements in science, medicine, and public health. The challenge today lies in living extended, healthy lives with minimal burden of disease — and the associated costs to society. GP-write is uniquely positioned to address this challenge.”

Amy studied political science at Penn as an undergrad and also attended the London School of Economics (LSE). She earned a JD at Fordham University School of Law and before her career shift to life sciences, Amy was an attorney at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft and Nixon Peabody.

Starting in the late 2000’s, Pearl Bio’s Co-Founders, Michael Jewett, PhD and Farren Isaacs, PhD were working in George Church’s Lab on various aspects of synthetic biology. They kept making advancements on the technology and in Q3 of 2021, Pearl Bio was launched with Amy as COO and CBO along with George Church, PhD and Jesse Rinehart, PhD as Science Advisors.

Her inspiration and dedication to advance genetics and life sciences research stems from personal and family experiences. Through her work, Amy has realized how much she values being fully integrated into the conversation among leading geneticists, world renowned scientists that are pushing the boundaries of science.

Tell us a bit about your company

Pearl Bio is recoding life to create a new era of programmable biomaterials and smart biologics. Pearl’s proprietary platform enables precise, cost-effective incorporation of genetically-encoded chemistries to produce novel, tailored biotherapeutics.

What inspired you to start your business — what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?

Biologics address a range of unmet medical needs with a global market projected to exceed $500B by 2030. Pearl Bio is combining the precision of biology with the unlimited diversity of chemistry in a novel platform that enables production of new biologics unattainable through any other approach. Pearl’s platform technology will generate a deep internal pipeline and a myriad of partnership opportunities.

What is it about your personal background, experience, or perspective that fuels your passion for this venture?

A history of genetic disease in my family led me to pivot in my career on Wall Street to the field of biotechnology, a field poised to transform medical and environmental health.

What are one or two of the biggest wins or most encouraging experiences you’ve had so far?

The first was exclusively licensing twenty active patents from Yale and Northwestern to establish strong foundational IP with freedom to operate. The second was securing financing by Khosla Ventures.

What has been one or two of your biggest learnings so far?

Thinking critically and strategically about how to apply our technology to solve important, high-value and unmet needs in the rapidly growing protein therapeutic market.

What is an obstacle that you are grappling with as you continue to build this venture?

I would describe launching an early-stage biotech company as moving through a series of obstacles with enthusiasm.

What surprises have you encountered as an entrepreneur? Something out of left field?

The patience and perseverance required to build a first-class team.

How can the WAFFA community help you?

I would value the opportunity to collaborate with members of the WAFFA network who are interested in working synergistically.

What has been the most rewarding thing about starting your own business?

Shaping and applying cutting-edge technologies to solve the defining problems facing society today.

Learn more about Pearl Bio here, and connect with Amy here.


This article is published solely for informational purposes and has no regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any person or entity. The information is not intended to constitute, and should not be construed as, investment advice.




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