‘Rising star’ CEO recounts path from pre-med to breakthrough meds; Dendreon taps Big Pharma vet Jason O’Neill as CEO

Freshman year was a transformative one for Aetna Wun Trombley.

Aetna Wun Trombley

Having enrolled at the University of California, San Diego thinking she would become a pediatrician some day, she got intrigued by the chemistry research projects she was introduced to in her first undergraduate chemistry course. She joined the lab of the lecturer, paving the way for her to drop pre-med and eventually complete a PhD at MIT.

But there was also a reason why the research — which focused on inorganic chemistry more in the material space — ultimately wasn’t satisfying enough. After her first year in college, her father quite abruptly passed away from liver cancer.

“The most difficult thing for me to understand — and I think it’s still true today — was that there were no good treatments for someone like him,” Trombley,