Biotech startup Shiru appoints Dr. Ranjani Varadan as Chief Scientific Officer

  • Formerly Impossible Foods’ VP of R&D and VP of Strategic Ingredients, Varadan assumes new role as Shiru CSO next week.
  • Varadan will accelerate the buildout of the biotech startup’s high-value product pipeline and partner directly with the world’s leading food manufacturers.
  • Varadan is the latest addition to Shiru, which earlier this year launched a partnership with global ingredients company CP Kelco and has brought on advisors and board members from Tesla, Impossible Foods, Firmenich, Zymergen and Aduro, as well as former Tyson CEO Dean Banks.

ALAMEDA, Calif., July 27, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Shiru Inc., a sustainable ingredient innovator for the food industry, welcomes Dr. Ranjani Varadan as its first Chief Scientific Officer.

Varadan was a key scientist and leader for 10 years at Impossible Foods. She was the first scientist hired by Impossible Foods’ Founder and Chairman Dr. Patrick O. Brown, and from 2011-2021 she took on a series of roles with increasing responsibility, including Vice President of Strategic Ingredients and Vice President of Research and Development.

As CSO at Shiru, Varadan will oversee all aspects of R&D, from discovery and screening to ingredient pre-production. She will serve as a key member of Shiru’s executive team and grow the company’s talent base in producing gelation ingredients and structured fats for better-tasting baked goods, alternative meats, and more. Varadan will partner closely with Shiru’s upstream computational and downstream product teams to develop a high-value product pipeline for the world’s leading food manufacturers.

Varadan, whose first day is Aug. 1, will report directly to Shiru Founder and CEO Dr. Jasmin Hume.

“Ranjani played an essential role in Impossible Foods’ trajectory, from its earliest days as a stealth lab to its mainstream, mass-market scaleup. That makes her uniquely qualified to help lead our team as Shiru scales up discovery and production of ingredients for the world’s largest food conglomerates,” said Hume, who started Shiru with funding from leading venture capital firms such as S2G Ventures, Lux Capital, and CPT Capital. “Also, after working closely with her as a trusted adviser, I know she is a team player, 100% mission-aligned with our growing workforce.”

Top talent with an urgent mission

“Shiru has world-class scientists, a growing reputation as a true partner to its corporate customers, and exceptional esprit de corps,” Varadan said. “The team shares my deep passion and sense of urgency to decarbonize our planet by making the food system sustainable. Shiru is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me — and for our planet.”

Varadan left Impossible Foods in 2021 to spend a year teaching chemistry and other classes at her son’s middle school in the San Francisco Bay Area. During that time, she took on a role as science adviser to Shiru, where she got to know the team, technology, and corporate culture. Shiru, which now employs about 40 people, has had virtually zero voluntary turnover since its founding in 2019.

Before Impossible, Varadan was an adjunct professor of chemistry at State University of New York Purchase. She was a postdoctoral associate at New York Structural Biology Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine (2007-2010) and a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University School of Medicine (2005-2006). Varadan received her PhD in biochemistry at the University of Maryland and received her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from India’s Birla Institute of Technology and Science.

Another leap forward for Shiru

Varadan’s appointment comes as Shiru commercializes the first products from its Flourish™ platform, which combines machine learning, precision fermentation, and high-throughput testing to make functional ingredients to replace high-carbon, animal-based products — without sacrificing nutrition or taste.

In March, Shiru announced a new partnership with CP Kelco, a leading nature-based ingredient solutions company, to develop ingredients to improve plant-based meats. In June, Shiru announced that three industry leaders joined as advisors: former Tyson CEO Dean Banks, former Zymergen CTO Aaron Kimball, and former Aduro executive Blaine Templeman.

Last year, Shiru appointed two new independent board members: Mary T. Clarke, Senior Vice President of Innovation at Firmenich, the world’s largest privately-owned flavors and fragrances company; and Rachel Konrad, Chief Brand Officer at The Production Board and previously head of communication at Impossible Foods, Tesla and other companies. Additional board members include Hume, Deena Shakir of Lux Capital (seed financing lead), and Chuck Templeton of S2G Ventures (Series A lead).

About Shiru

Shiru is an ingredient innovator for the food industry on a mission to make our food system sustainable. Shiru discovers and scales naturally occurring proteins as functional ingredients that can replace animal-based products used in food today. Shiru’s Flourish™ discovery platform combines precision fermentation, machine learning, and high-throughput screening to build a pipeline of high-value functional ingredients, with an initial focus on gelation, egg replacement, and structured fats. Founded in 2019, Shiru is based in Alameda, California, and is backed by leading venture capital firms such as S2G Ventures, Lux Capital, and CPT Capital. For more information, visit www.shiru.com.

Shiru Media Contact:
Kevin Costa, Director of Brand & Communications
[email protected]

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