The 20(+1) under 40: Inside the next generation of biotech leaders

Ben Oakes’ dive inside the human mind colors his leadership role at gene editing startup Scribe Therapeutics.

As an undergrad, Ben Oakes wanted to learn how the mind worked — so he chose to major in philosophy and neurobiology, a try-it-all approach that would eventually suit him well in the lab.

It was a double shot on goal that Oakes, a New Jersey native with big ideas about the nature of consciousness, thought would help answer some of his own big questions and give him the sense of purpose he craved. But the philosophical push — and a disheartening stint shadowing at an opioid-riddled rural ER during his undergrad — didn’t hit the right nerve for Oakes, who longed to get his hands dirty in his pursuit of making a difference in medicine.

He got that chance at a small lab at Princeton in 2011 doing the messy work of engineering an open-source database for zinc finger nucleases for gene editing, a laborious process that served as Oakes’ road to Damascus.




Scribe Therapeutics



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