Chinook Therapeutics

Developing life-saving medicine? Just another day at the office. 

When you have a good day at work, you celebrate with your colleagues. And if you’re lucky, with a celebratory beer or two. At Chinook Therapeutics, where the sole focus at work is developing life-saving medications for people living with kidney disease, even a small win means a great day at the office and is a reason to celebrate. Just ask Renata Oballa, the VP of Research Operations, what it’s like at Chinook and she’ll tell you, “it’s ambitious work and is not for the faint of heart.” Which makes celebrating every achievement even more important.

In the US alone, there are over 37 million people suffering from chronic kidney disease but only a few effective treatments—dialysis or transplant surgery. What Chinook is trying to do is come up with another solution. Their aim is to develop precision therapies that will preserve kidney function that will hopefully one day be better options for patients who otherwise would be tied to a dialysis machine for the rest of their life or have to undergo major surgery.

As you might expect, the process to cure kidney disease is not an easy or fast one. Currently, it takes about 15 years for a treatment to go from development to being ready to go to market. And that’s if your treatment makes it that far. Because the truth is, for every successful drug that gets through that entire process, a hundred will fail. With odds like that it can be hard to stay motivated, which is why Chinook makes it a point to celebrate every milestone. Whether it’s a new compound or a treatment that’s moving on to its Phase 3 Trials, any win (big or small) is a reason to throw a little party. They’ll even celebrate when a treatment fails because, for Chinook, that just means they are one step closer to a solution that will work for their patients.

Chinook is growing with no signs of stopping and considering their goal to become the leading biopharmaceutical company in kidney medicines, setting up in the new, rapidly expanding South Flatz neighbourhood makes a lot of sense. Back in 2019, when Chinook first moved to the area there were only a few other companies around. Today, Chinook’s building has become something of a biotech hub—as Renata jokes, you can go right to your neighbours and ask to borrow some solvent like it’s a cup of sugar. The area also boasts a growing array of nearby lunch options and is soon-to-be even more connected to greater Vancouver with the completion of the new SkyTrain line—all things that will help position Chinook as a leader in its field and attract top talent from around the world.

There’s no doubt about it, the work that Chinook Therapeutics is doing will change the lives of so many. And they’re having fun while doing it. Because even though Chinook takes their mission to help those suffering from kidney disease very seriously, they’re just like any other workplace that wants their employees to enjoy where they work.