Main passions: surfing, Hawaii, drug development
Role model: Ezekiel Lau, Hawaiian surfer
Sedentary hobby: Playing in the fantasy surfing league
We all know and refer to him as Mr. Don’t Worry Be Happy, Mr. San Diego Surfer, and Mr. Sunshine. This is because Garett Soapes, an EpicentRx Staff Research Assistant, radiates happiness at work every day – especially when the surf’s up. Garett’s superpower is that he always sees the glass as half full even when it is empty, which is a pretty literal description since he works long hours in a lab full of equipment like beakers, some of which are full, and some of which are empty. An invaluable and truly valued assistant to Chris Larson, MD, PhD, Vice President of Viral Therapy at EpicentRx, Senior Scientist Ana Sanchez, and Elena Prokopenko, Head of Quality, Garett’s smile and warmth are more contagious than the EpicentRx adenovirus he works with—which, truth be told, isn’t really so contagious having been modified to infect tumor cells and not normal ones. Nevertheless, if it were possible to bottle up and freely distribute whatever cocktail of happy brain chemicals make Garett Soapes the most genuinely optimistic and friendly person we’ve ever met, well, we wager that the world would be a much, much better place.
Technically, Garett was born and raised in Chino, California. He went to school first at Cal State Pomona then transferred to Cal State San Marcos where he majored in biotechnology, and now works in San Diego as the 6’ 1”, 27-year-old “young gun” at EpicentRx (his words).
Spiritually, however, Garett hails from the Aloha State, Hawaii, where his mother’s side of the family originates. Hapa to the core, a Hawaiian word for part-Hawaiian, Garett makes a yearly pilgrimage to Hawaii where he engages in his true passion, surfing, reports back on the economic hardship that many perpetually face in Hawaii and that deeply affects him, and “talks story” with his relatives, which for all the non-Hawaiians means that he shoots the breeze with them. Another true passion of his, which rivals that of surfing and Hawaii, and which led him to EpicentRx, is anticancer drug development, since several of family members including his grandmother and grandfather are cancer survivors. Garett’s passion for the use of oncolytic viruses, or viruses that are “programmed” like mini-Terminators to go after tumors and not to stop until the job is done, is based on the fact that patients are generally spared the side effects, which normally plague patients that undergo treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiation
If one of EpicentRx’s viruses were to be approved and administered to patients around the world, that would make Garett even happier—if that’s even possible for the person that we call Mr. Sunshine. We like to imagine that he’d kick up his heels and belt out a dramatic, deep-sounding song—let’s call it “Soapes Opera”.