Editor’s note: This story is part of our 2022 PharmaVoice 100 feature.
On the surface, Taurus Pharmaceuticals is advancing therapies across multiple categories including eye care, infectious diseases and dermatology. But an undercurrent to that work is Azamian’s desire to solve complex scientific questions and develop therapies that “target the underlying biology of diseases,” a nominator says.
As CEO, president and co-founder of Tarsus Pharmaceuticals, Azamian has leveraged his “willingness to take calculated risks by tackling large disease areas in completely new ways,” a nominator says. In particular, he’s focused on diseases overlooked by others in the industry.
At Tarsus, it all started with a treatment for Demodex blepharitis, a common but often overlooked eyelid margin disease that causes red, itchy eyelids and can trigger inflammation in other parts of the eye. Tarsus estimates that it impacts about 25 million eye care patients in the U.S., but there are no FDA-approved treatments that target its underlying cause: Demodex mite infestation.
“[Azamian] co-founded Tarsus with the idea that developing a treatment for the disease was not only possible, but necessary,” a nominator says.
In April, Tarsus announced positive topline results from a phase 3 trial for its Demodex blepharitis treatment, TP-03. The company plans to file for approval this year. Tarsus meanwhile has other therapies in early-stage development focused on Lyme disease prevention, Rosacea and more.
The success of TP-03 is one of several for Azamian and Tarsus, who launched an IPO last year and has also scored global partnerships. Azamian, a doctor by training, also had a strong track record in entrepreneurial pursuits prior to Tarsus, including the start of two other novel therapeutic companies.
Here, he discusses what he’s learned from the different paths in his career and why they’ve each come with their own risks — and rewards.
PharmaVoice: What leadership skills have you learned in the last two years that you plan to carry forward?
Dr. Bobak Azamian: Hire people smarter than you: Bring in talent with expertise that falls outside of your wheelhouse. Recognize that you can learn from everyone.
Lead but also learn to follow: There is a delicate balance between knowing when to step up and when to step back. Challenge and manage when appropriate but know when to empower and encourage others to cross the finish line independently.
“Hire people smarter than you: Bring in talent with expertise that falls outside of your wheelhouse. Recognize that you can learn from everyone.”
Dr. Bobak Azamian
CEO, president, co-founder Tarsus Pharmaceuticals
Storytelling is an art: Develop an authentic and personal corporate story and tell it in a way that piques interest, drives connection and builds loyalty.
What drew you into the life sciences industry?
I gravitated toward the life sciences industry because I wanted to do something significant. My parents immigrated to the U.S. before I was born and taught me at an early age to set lofty goals and aggressively pursue them. Moving to a new country with no plan and nothing in your pocket is bold and requires a certain amount of risk: a leap of faith. I think these traits were embedded into my DNA and helped me along my journey to become a scientist, a doctor, an entrepreneur and a business leader — each of these paths was challenging but for me, the potential reward outweighed the risk.
What is your blue ocean?
Achieving something extremely remarkable in eye care. Leveraging our unmet need-driven innovation model and bringing more creative, differentiated thinking into the space. We want to build a leading eye care company from scratch that is unique — one that provides doctors with meaningful partnerships and patients with effective, life-changing therapies.
What is your key piece of leadership advice?
Be your best you. Solid leadership is based on authenticity. Be transparent and genuine about who you are, both as a leader and as a human. And demonstrate this through your actions — lead by doing.