Young Professional 2022: Jennifer J. Lee

Jennifer Lee

Jennifer J. Lee

Senior Manager
Adaptive Biotechnologies

Favorite book?
“One Hundred Years of Solitude,” by Gabriel García Márquez.

Favorite sports team, if any.
Arsenal (English Premier League)

Favorite Tri-City restaurant?
I haven’t tried it yet, but I know I’ll love Café Magnolia.

Favorite snack?
(Editor’s note: Google it. It sounds delicious!)

Age: 39

Current city of residence: Richland

How long have you worked there? 5 months

Briefly describe your company:

Adaptive Biotechnologies is a pioneer in immune-driven medicine that aims to improve people’s lives by learning from the wisdom of their adaptive immune systems. Adaptive’s proprietary immune profiling platform reveals and translates insights from our adaptive immune systems with unprecedented scale and precision.

Working with drug developers, clinicians and academic researchers, we apply these insights to develop products that will transform the way diseases such as cancer, autoimmune conditions and infectious diseases are diagnosed and treated.

Education: Please list your degrees and professional certifications.

Bachelor of Science, double major in molecular biophysics and biochemistry and psychology (neuroscience), Yale University, 2004.

Ph.D., biochemistry and molecular biophysics, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), 2009.

Registered U.S. Patent Agent, 2010.

Briefly describe your job and how you got into it:

My role in business development is to create new partnerships and alliances across pharmaceutical, research and clinical applications so that new diagnostics and therapeutics against cancer, infectious disease and autoimmune disorders can be developed and deployed.

As I finished my Ph.D., I realized that I enjoyed enabling scientific research and innovation to a purpose that would allow general public benefit.

This led me to my first job in technology transfer at Caltech, where I protected and spun out technologies from Caltech and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to commercialization.

I enjoyed being at the intersection of science, law and business.

I moved to the Tri-Cities in 2014 where I was a commercialization manager at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. I handled the research portfolios across all four research directorates and developed new partnerships, companies and licensed technologies that endure today.

Since my original background is in biochemistry and I am passionate about eradicating cancer, I recently joined Adaptive Biotechnologies. I am permanently based in Tri-Cities.

How long have you lived in the Tri-Cities? 8 years

How did you earn your first dollar?

I helped a friend in first grade figure out an addition problem.

What professional lessons, if any, have you learned during the pandemic?

As a mother of two school-age children, I learned the importance of setting clear work-life boundaries.

I am an active parent in my children’s schools and would volunteer regularly. At the same time, I am a driven professional whose role is highly dependent upon developing close relationships with industrial partners. It was difficult to balance online schooling with virtual teleconferences.

My family and I communicated our schedules to one another and made sure that we all carved out time for work, school, and having pandemic-safe fun. I communicated the boundaries that I set with my professional partners and they respected me for it, resulting in new professional opportunities that I never would have imagined prior to the pandemic.

What was your dream job as a child?

I had originally wanted to be a veterinarian, as I am an avid animal lover.

We have a dog, cat and fish. I read every animal nonfiction book that I could find and regularly volunteered to babysit for friends’ pets and would be the first to bring in a permission slip for caring for classroom pets during winter break.

Tell us about your community involvement/community service:

I was on the board of the local synagogue (Temple Beth Sholom in Richland) for many years; most recently through 2021 as the recording secretary.

I was a teacher in its religious school since 2015.

I volunteered in my children’s schools (Children’s Garden Montessori, Lewis and Clark Elementary), giving presentations about science, Korean culture and Jewish culture. I served as vice president of the PTA at Lewis and Clark for the 2018-19 school year.

I have been a coach for the Destination Imagination program at Lewis and Clark for the past three years (2019-22).

How do you achieve work-life balance?

I have the support of my husband and children.

I don’t have an extended family nearby, but I have developed very close friendships with people who are basically my chosen family. We always prioritize our family, but also communicate with one another when we have important professional or school commitments coming up.

Thank goodness for technology. Having all our calendars linked really helps. We have a paper calendar in our kitchen too.

List any awards/honors you have received:

During my time at PNNL, I received the following:

  • The Laboratory Director’s Institutional Achievement in Management and Operations Award.
  • Three Federal Laboratory Consortium Awards for Excellence in Technology Transfer.
  • A Department of Energy Best in Class Award for Innovative Lab/Facility Technology Transfer.
  • Three Outstanding Performance Awards from PNNL.

Do you have family? Pets?

I have a husband and two children, ages 10 and 12. We have a rescue dog (from POPP), a rescue cat (from ASAP West Richland) and a betta fish.

What brought you to the Tri-Cities? Did you grow up here?

Professionally, the opportunity at PNNL.

Personally, I was excited to move here for the excellent schools and the potential to be a successful working mother due to the balance that being in a small, yet growing community could provide. I moved from Los Angeles, where the thought of sitting in hours of traffic while trying to juggle my work and children’s activities was mind-boggling.