Venture Philanthropy Panel

RESI aims to represent a diversity of investment sources for early stage life science companies, beyond traditional venture capital firms and other investors with short-term horizons and, primarily financial aims.

The unique outlook of venture philanthropy investors means that each fund has created a distinct strategy for moving new inventions towards patients. They typically have deep domain expertise at their disposal, and many focus on assets at an earlier stage than typical VCs, with the aim of helping new treatments cross over biotech’s infamous ‘Valley of Death’. In this panel, these investors will explain their unique strategies and expertise, and entrepreneurs can learn how to find and work with a venture philanthropy investor in their domain.

Moderator

Chris de Souza, Director, Broadview Ventures

Chris de Souza, PhD, MBA, is a Director at Broadview Ventures. He brings to this role over 20 years experience in cardiovascular and metabolic related biopharmaceutical R&D, corporate strategy and business development.

Christopher started his pharmaceutical career at Novartis as a senior scientist in the Metabolic and Cardiovascular Diseases group and then as Director of Strategic Alliances with responsibilities for therapeutic area strategy, business development and alliance management. After Novartis, Christopher was Vice President of Business Development at SkyePharma US Inc., a drug delivery company, where he was responsible for out-licensing the company’s clinical assets and drug delivery technologies. Christopher also founded a business development consulting practice with several clients including JSB-Partners, Diagnostics For All and Metaome.

Christopher received a Masters in zoology from the University of Bombay, a PhD in physiology from Louisiana State University and an MBA from Rutgers University. He completed his post-doctoral training at The Upjohn Company and the Joslin Diabetes Center/Harvard Medical School.

Christopher currently serves on the boards of Acesion, Allosteros, DecImmune, Gila Therapeutics, Pulmokine and VentriNova.

Outside of Broadview Ventures, Christopher serves on the board of MassBio and on the grant review committees of the British Heart Foundation and NIH/NHLBI.”

Panelists

Gerard Honig, Translational Research Manager, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation

Gerard manages research initiatives for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, an integrated patient advocacy organization and leading funder of research in inflammatory bowel diseases. His particular focus is on a recently developed venture philanthropy and accelerator initiative intended to drive the development of novel products with potential for positive impact for patients. Gerard received his PhD in neuroscience at the University of California San Francisco as a fellow of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and subsequently trained in immunology and microbiome research. In 2013, Gerard developed and implemented a novel clinical-stage therapeutic modality for the treatment of Clostridium difficile infection. This experience led Gerard to co-found Symbiotic Health Inc., a biotechnology company focused on the development of novel drug delivery systems (and 2015 RESI Innovation Challenge participant). Gerard serves on numerous boards and committees, including the board of directors of the Peggy Lillis Foundation; the external review committee for the Robertson Therapeutic Development Fund at Rockefeller University; and the alumni committee for Entrepreneurship Lab NYC. In his spare time, Gerard enjoys Japanese martial arts and cooking.

Maya Merrell, Director, Business and Partnership Development, Fast Forward, LLC (National MS Society)

Maya has been with Fast Forward since it was founded in 2007 and is responsible for coordinating commercial drug discovery efforts with academic and commercial collaborations and managing day-to-day operations related to Fast Forward’s portfolio of companies. Since 2009, Maya has also been instrumental in managing the activities of the strategic alliance between Fast Forward and Merck/EMD Serono, which is a novel partnership in progressing preclinical and early clinical development of novel therapeutics for multiple sclerosis. A particular focus in Maya’s role and key strategic initiative of Fast Forward has been on bridging the gap between early, discovery stage research with translational potential and more mature, partnership-ready programs, with the goal of expanding the number of new MS treatments in the development pipeline. Before the launch of Fast Forward, Maya served as Manager of Research Programs for the National MS Society’s research and training programs. Prior to joining the National MS Society, she served as staff research coordinator at Mount Sinai School of Medicine where she worked on a variety of projects spanning discovery research and preclinical development with an emphasis in the areas of hematology and oncology.

Javeed Froozan, VP, Research Business Development & Strategic Alliances, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Javeed Froozan leads the business activities of the LLS Research team in support of LLS’ research mission for the LLS Therapy Acceleration Program® (TAP) and LLS Grant programs.

Representative funding transactions include convertible notes, equity, and research collaboration agreements.

His corporate development experience spans over 25 years in early stage, growth, and large biopharmaceutical and health technology firms. This includes work to acquire over $150 Million worth of companies, products and technologies, enable two IPO’s in excess of $50 million each, strategic sales and funding of projects worth millions of dollars, and to develop and launch new products. His experience also includes fostering investment and job creation with acquisitions of bio-manufacturing, R&D, and headquarters facilities using economic incentives.

Prior to LLS, Javeed was at Emergent BioSolutions in its 10x revenue and market cap growth phase from 2003-2015 including leading the acquisition of Trubion Pharmaceuticals. He managed Emergent’s alliance with Pfizer to develop oncology and auto-immune therapeutic candidates, and to develop NuThraxTM, a novel, anthrax vaccine adjuvanted with CPG-7909.

Javeed worked with Baxter Healthcare on its cell therapy business focused on CD34+ cells to treat vascular ischemias. Additional work includes benchmarking technology transfer and venture creation, providing pro-bono guidance to entrepreneurs and scientists, and advising on  economic planning for the Life Sciences industry

Javeed obtained a B.S. in biology from The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and M.B.A. in economics and finance from The University of Michigan, Dearborn.

John Parker, Managing Director, CH Innovations & Springhood Impact Ventures

John established and manages CH Innovations, the program-related investment initiative of the Charles H. Hood Foundation, a Boston-based private foundation that supports pediatric research, where he is also a trustee. CHI invests on a mission-first basis in seed-stage companies developing important medical solutions for children. More recently, John founded Springhood Impact Ventures as a platform through which other impact-first investors can provide critical early support to companies with a significant pediatric focus. Previously, John spent 25 years in the alternative investment industry, including senior roles in venture capital, private equity, and hedge funds. Early in his career he also worked in operations consulting and international merchant banking. John has a BA from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Dartmouth’s Amos Tuck School of Business Administration. John is currently an observer on the boards of Aldatu Biosciences, Breegi Scientific, and Noninvasix.

Go Back to Agenda