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.


John Walter, CEO & President, The Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy

In this new role John is charged with meeting the ever-increasing demand for research funding, building brand equity, and exploring investments with industry partners for AGCT, which exclusively supports research in genetic, cell and immunotherapeutic approaches to improve outcomes for all cancers.

John served as President and CEO of the Leukemia & Society, an international health agency.  He drove LLS’s long-range strategic plan with a focus on broadening its base of support and diversifying its revenue sources.

John first joined LLS in 1995 as Senior Vice President of Finance and Information Technology. Then, as Executive Vice President of Strategic Alliances and New Business Development, he designed and implemented LLS’s Co-Pay Assistance Program, which has provided more than $200 million to patients. He also oversaw the international merger that created LLS Canada.

John directed the launch of “Someday is Today,” the branding platform that illuminates how LLS is changing the landscape of cancer.  He guided the expansion of the Therapy Acceleration Program, embracing a venture philanthropy approach.

John has spoken at congressional events in Washington, and to the international business community.  He has been published in numerous journals.


Andres Hurtado-Lorenzo, Director of Translational Research, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation

Dr. Andres Hurtado-Lorenzo is the Director of Translational Research at the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. He is responsible for planning and oversight the Foundation’s translational research portfolio that  funds several research initiatives. These initiatives aim to identify opportunities to translate observations in the laboratory and clinic into interventions that reach and benefit patients; from therapeutics and diagnostics to medical devices and procedures.  The Foundation’s initiatives include microbiome and genetics initiative, RISK stratification, environmental triggers, and a venture philanthropy  initiative focused on accelerating product discovery and development through entrepreneurial investing.

Dr. Hurtado-Lorenzo has extensive drug discovery and development experience gained both in pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. As industry scientist he led research and development programs for neurological and rare diseases at Wyeth, Pfizer and Proteostasis Therapeutics, all the way from discovery to early clinical development.

He obtained his Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine from the University of Manchester in the UK, where he contributed to pioneer the research on viral gene therapy for neurodegenerative diseases. He completed his postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital and Columbia University, where he conducted groundbreaking research focused on molecular mechanisms of autophagy and other protein degradation pathways and their role in health and disease.

Alyssa Reimer, Associate Director, Research Partnerships, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research

Alyssa N. Reimer joined The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) in 2015. In her current role, Alyssa manages data and biospecimen resources from MJFF-sponsored and –funded clinical trials. She leads a data curation, harmonization, and centralization initiative aimed at establishing a platform for making previously siloed datasets widely available and breaking down barriers to clinical trial data analysis. Alyssa leads the newly developing regulatory engagement strategy for effective collaboration with regulators in response to the evolving Parkinson’s disease (PD) research landscape. Prior to joining MJFF, Alyssa was an Intern at Mesoblast, a pharmaceutical company focused on using stem cell research to cure human disease. Alyssa had also worked in several organic synthesis laboratories as an undergraduate. Alyssa graduated from Harvard University with a BA in Chemistry.

Kenneth LaMontagne, Vice President of Research , The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Ken is an experienced leader with broad knowledge of the healthcare industry. Expertise in Oncology, Immuno-Oncology and Cell & Gene Therapies (CGT): includes research and development, clinical and commercial responsibilities. Ken has had roles including Oncology translational science, diagnostics, new products and business development and licensing (BD&L). Ken received his Ph.D. from SUNY at Stony Brook, while his PhD dissertation was done at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. Ken was a post-doctoral fellow (former Career Development Award recipient from the Leukemia Society of America) in the lab of the late Dr. Judah Folkman, Harvard Medical School. Upon completion of his training, Ken ventured into the Pharmaceutical sector with increasing roles at both Johnson & Johnson and Novartis. Ken recently completed an MBA from the Executive program at Rutgers Business School. Ken is now Head of the Therapy Acceleration Program (TAP) at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Michael Batten, Director, Strategic Partnerships, JDRF T1D Fund

Michael Batten, M.D., M.B.A., is a director for JDRF T1D Fund where he facilitates venture creation and syndicated venture investments focused on translating innovative Type 1 Diabetes research into lifesaving therapies for T1D patients.

Previously, Dr. Batten invested in healthcare companies as a portfolio manager at Merrill Lynch and a member of the investment team of the Caxton Health Holdings. Prior to his investing roles, Michael was a member of Pfizer’s Business Development group where he led multiple transactions and was instrumental in the creation of Pfizer Venture Investments, the strategic venture capital arm of Pfizer.

Dr. Batten received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from N.C. State University, M.D. from U.N.C. – Chapel Hill, trained in Ophthalmology at NYU, and M.B.A. from Wharton.

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