Venture Philanthropy Panel


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.”

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.

Lauren Friedman, Associate Director, Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation

Lauren Friedman, PhD, is the Associate Director for Scientific Affairs at the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF). She manages ADDF’s preclinical drug discovery portfolio and the ADDF ACCESS program, which provides a virtual network of contract research organizations (CRO) and offers educational resources on drug discovery. Lauren completed her postdoctoral training at Columbia University, where she studied modulators of autophagy in Alzheimer’s disease. She earned a doctorate in neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where she focused on molecular mechanisms underlying the development and degeneration of brain circuits involved in autism and Parkinson’s disease. She received a bachelor’s degree in biopsychology from Tufts University.

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.

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