Dr. Lara Sullivan rings NASDAQ's bell

Staff Reports
Dr. Lara Sullivan (PYA ’90) was given the special opportunity to ring the NASDAQ closing bell Dec. 1.

NEW YORK — Dr. Lara Sullivan (PYA ’90) was given the special opportunity to ring the NASDAQ closing bell in NYC’s Times Square on Dec. 1, with her entire team and assorted friends and family members as guests, including two of her brothers. 

Dr. Lara Sullivan (center), of Penn Yan, at NASDAQ's television studio in NYC’s Times Square with her entire team and assorted friends and family members as guests.

Sullivan is the CEO of Pyxis Oncology, a newly public oncology company addressing difficult-to-treat cancers. She is as proud of her company’s pioneering work as she is with the impressive diversity of her team, with more than 50 employees in 10 states across the country, representing various corporate, academic and cultural backgrounds. She points to this diversity as a very deliberate choice and one of the main reasons why Pyxis has been able to attract over $300 million in capital in 2021. 

“Diversity has actually been a key part of the founding principles of Pyxis Oncology from day one,” said Sullivan, who attended Cornell University after graduating from Penn Yan Academy. 

Dr. Lara Sullivan, a 1990 Penn Yan Academy graduate, is also featured on this month's cover of "Life Science Leader," a leading medical industry magazine.

Sullivan recalls avoiding the medical field entirely for many years, majoring in Comparative Literature during her time in Ithaca. But as the oldest of her three siblings, she also remembers what it was like to move to Penn Yan as a young teenager.

“When we moved there, the local newspaper, which was published every Wednesday, had a headline about two doctors moving to town, and a picture of my parents with us four kids,” she said. 

Sullivan’s parents, Dr. Cordy Sullivan, an anesthesiologist, and Dr. John Sullivan, an ER physician, practiced at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital in Penn Yan for many years after the U.S. Public Health Service moved the family to the rural Finger Lakes region to pay off John’s debt for attending medical school. 

Growing up in Penn Yan and returning there over the years, Lara says, “I’d go to the supermarket and would run into someone, and inevitably a conversation around how one of my parents took care of one of their relatives would pop up.”  She eventually turned to medicine herself, applying her experience and interest in business and finance.

In addition to earning her BA at Cornell, Lara earned MD and MBA degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. But it was her high school alma mater that made the travel team to Times Square.  One brother, Matt, flew from Texas for the event, while another, Mike, drove from Penn Yan and surprised her by wearing his big sister’s PYA varsity volleyball jacket to the television studio. “I’m quite sure this is the very first time a PYA varsity jacket made an appearance at NASDAQ!” said Lara. “Go Mustangs!” 

Dr. Lara Sullivan with her proud little brothers, Matt (left) and Mike, wearing her old PYA volleyball jacket in honor of her academic origins.

Lara has passed on the jacket on to her teenage niece, Else Sullivan, and there’s no telling where it may end up next. Meanwhile, congratulations to Lara and the entire Pyxis Oncology team, and best wishes to all the patients that may benefit from their hard and inspired work.