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How to Adopt a Beginner’s Mindset in Trials with Leen Kawas, Trials with Maya Z

In this episode, Maya meets Dr. Leen Kawas. Dr. Kawas is creating a biotech-focused fund to support life science innovations, utilizing her background as an inventor, scientist, and entrepreneur. She first led and co-founded Athira, a company for late-stage clinical programs. She took it public in 2020, raising over $400 million. Notably, she was the first woman in 20 years in Washington State, and one of only 22 female founders in the US, to take a company public.

Maya and Leen discuss the critical role of patient-centric clinical trial design and the importance of engaging with patients early in the clinical development process to ensure the success of clinical trials. Leen also talks about the challenges and solutions in making clinical trials more effective, including addressing patient diversity, optimizing the patient experience, and the importance of integrating clinical operation insights into clinical research for better outcomes. 

See a breakdown of all the ideas Maya and Leen share:


(01:09) How Leen Kawas got from a Pharmacist to a Biotech Entrepreneur

(02:39) Why a patient-centric approach is crucial for clinical trials

(05:36) Lessons from patient interactions

(19:23) Why site selection and staff retention are essential

(26:33) How to Empower Study Coordinators

(28:17) The way to build strong relationships with sites

(30:21) How to navigate the challenges with CROs

(37:19) How investors evaluate Biotech companies

(40:03) What is the future of clinical trials


Maya Zlatanova, CEO of Trialhub

Leen Kawas, Co-Founder of Propel Bio Partners



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