Dirk Smith is an immunologist and biotherapeutics research scientist who has taken several risks over the course of his career to advance his expertise and extend his professional reach.

MEMBER CAPITAL: DIRK SMITH
By Ann Warman

 

Dirk Smith is an immunologist and biotherapeutics research scientist who has taken several risks over the course of his career to advance his expertise and extend his professional reach.

 
 
Graduating from Washington State University in 1988, he majored in microbiology, then went on to graduate school at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) to earn a Masters of Science degree (MSc) in Genetics. His first post-graduate job was at The Fred Hutch in Seattle, researching how cancer cells grow and become resistant to cancer medicines.
 
While at UNH, he met his wife-to-be, Christine, a nursing school graduate from France. The couple fell in love, married, moved to Seattle, and began raising their three children. They settled on Bainbridge in 1999.
 
After six years at The Hutch, Dirk was invited to join an intriguing research project at Immunex that was funded for one year only. For Dirk, this meant leaving a stable job with a steady income for an exciting though temporary endeavor.
 
After much thought, he took the fork in the road. The decision was fortuitous. At Immunex, Dirk won the respect and admiration of his colleagues and was offered a permanent position. Immunex merged with Amgen in 2000 and Dirk continued to work at the Seattle campus in the Inflammation Research department.
 
Dirk was promoted to Scientific Director, and for nearly 15 years he led large molecule therapeutic programs from early discovery to clinical stage testing. He has published extensively, earned six patents, and continues to speak at research conferences around the world.
In 2015, when Amgen closed its Seattle campus to consolidate in San Francisco, Dirk was asked to move with the company. Was San Francisco in his stars?
 
Again, he carefully reflected. What excited him most was the idea of leveraging everything he’d mastered about research and drug development to establish his own consultancy. In 2015, he founded Insight BioConsulting, LLC, based on Bainbridge Island.
 
This past year he co-founded a second venture, Cascadia Drug Development Group, to offer clients a full team of scientists capable of taking a drug from concept through FDA approval.
 
Regarding Rotary, Dirk says, “I joined Rotary to build friendships and find meaningful connection in our community. I highly value the goodwill services Rotary provides, and I am proud to be active in our Rotary mission.”