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Editor’s Note: This is the first in a multi-part blog series that takes us along with Rondo Therapeutics co-founder and President Nathan Trinklein as he ascends Mt. Kilminjaro to raise funds for cancer research. 

Nathan Trinklein joins fellow biotech leaders in a crucial climb to support Fred Hutch

In his 1936 semi-autobiographical short story The Snows of Kilimanjaro, mega adventurer and great American novelist Ernest Hemmingway opens with this foreboding scene near Mt. Kilimanjaro’s peak: “Close to the western summit, there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.”1  

All things being equal, Nathan Trinklein, co-founder and President of Silicon Valley-based Rondo Therapeutics, would just as soon not find out what the predators of Mt. Kilimanjaro consider to be prey as he himself ascends the Tanzanian mountain’s 19,000+ foot crest in February 2023.

“My biggest concern is probably getting eaten by lions, hyenas, or any of the other large native animals,” Trinklein explains, before shifting the conversation to a perspective Hemmingway would wholly appreciate. “Joking aside, I’m genuinely excited about seeing the different types of plants and animals at all the different elevations we’ll experience on Kilimanjaro. I’ve never been to Africa, so it’s going to be amazing to see the different ecosystems we’ll encounter as we make our climb, from a tropical forest to alpine and everything in-between.”

The “we” Trinklein refers to is Team Kilimanjaro, a group of nearly two dozen life science industry leaders who are climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro as part of a fundraising effort for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (aka “Fred Hutch”). The team’s climbers are committed to raising $50,000 each for Fred Hutch, which unites comprehensive care and advanced research to provide the latest cancer treatment options and serves as the State of Washington’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center.

“I didn’t know too many of the other team members prior to the trip, but I’ve gotten to know more of them during the fundraising effort,” Trinklein says. “The climb will be a fun time to get to know a lot of interesting people doing a variety of interesting things in biotech. They are, not surprisingly, an adventurous group of people, so it will also be fun to exchange travel stories and get ideas for other adventures.”

 Like his teammates, Trinklein is naturally dialed into hiking and climbing, having ascended Aconcagua and Chimborazo in the Andes Mountains and various peaks in the Cascades and Sierra Nevadas, including Mt. Rainier, Mt. Whitney, and Mt. Shasta.”Climbing a big mountain takes a basic level of fitness for sure, but I find the mental challenge the most difficult,” he explains. “The most successful mountaineers are often the most patient. You’ve gotta be willing to take it slow. I’m not the most patient person in the world, so it’s a good challenge for me to slow down and find a good book to read on the mountain that doesn’t take too much brain power, since we’ll be at high elevation!”

 As he reads, climbs and gets to know his fellow adventurers, Trinklein will be most grateful for the opportunity to engage in two things he’s passionate about: a deep love of the outdoors and the universal fight against cancer.

“Cancer is a terrible disease that very sadly affects all of us directly or indirectly at some point in our lives.  I’ve been working in oncology for most of my career, and I am constantly reminded of how difficult of a challenge it is to treat cancer,” he says. “Supporting cancer research at the Hutch for me is a source of hope – hope for people that must deal with cancer directly, and a source of hope for the rest of us that would like to spend more time with the people that we care about.

“Cancer research is expensive, but the problems are eventually solvable. The more we can support research institutions like the Hutch, the sooner we’ll have new ways to cure disease.”

The Antibody Solutions team is proud to support Nathan Trinklein/Team Kilimanjaro and their important efforts to fund cancer research. Click here to learn more about how you can contribute to the cause.

1 The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories. Ernest Hemmingway. Scribner Classics. 2020.

Debra Valsamis

Written by Debra Valsamis

Debra joined the Antibody Solutions team in 2013 and currently serves as a Business Development Manager where her responsibilities include being a B2B liaison, helping introduce clients to working with Antibody Solutions, and various marketing functions.