Jeffery Aronin, CEO of Chicago-based Paragon Biosciences, LLC, and founder of MATTER, a platform to help support the Chicago biotechnology industry, aims to help move medicine forward. The main focus of Paragon is to create medicines and to invest in pharmaceutical startups that tackle health problems unaddressed by current medications. Over the past 10 years Paragon has helped bring more medicines from its main therapeutically areas to the market than any other drug company. Meeting with similar success, MATTER, has helped to make Chicago a major biotechnology hub, creating companies and relationships that aim to bring more innovation to medicine and to help patients.
Jeffery Aronin’s initial interest in medicine started years ago when he was shadowing a doctor. One of the patients he encountered was a child who was suffering from seizures. Treatment included surgical removal of part of the child’s brain. But there was an new, experimental medication that could help. The family was devastated by the prospect of having their child endure the surgical treatment. So the untried experimental treatment was used, and it worked. The family’s profound happiness at the treatment’s success and the child’s improved health led Aronin to work in pharmaceuticals.
Paragon Sciences has invested over $450 million in drug creation, with an additional $445 million to be invested as of October 2018. Paragon and its portfolio companies have created over 32 novel medicines and new drug applications. Such portfolio companies include Castle Creek Pharma and Harmony Bioscience, among others. Aronin credits the employees for some of Paragon’s success, noting that many have been with the company for years and were chosen because they share Aronin’s vision.
Aronin’s second endeavor, MATTER was created in 2015 and brings together diverse healthcare professionals to help create better medicines and treatments. The organization hosts classes and collaboration spaces in which healthcare workers, pharmaceutical executives, and others can work together to deal with various issues in healthcare and drug development. For example, the large 25,000 square feet space that houses MATTER includes an area called The Shop where inventors and entrepreneurs can meet to create new medical technologies.