Venture Philanthropy Panel


Debra Miller, Founder, CureDuchenne  

Debra Miller co-founded CureDuchenne in 2003 with her husband, Paul, after their only son was diagnosed with Duchenne. Miller relies on her extensive background in sales and marketing to lead CureDuchenne.

Her role includes overseeing all operations, research and financial resources as well as serving as the primary liaison to the Board of Directors. She is the decision maker, leader and manager in carrying out the mission of the organization. She also works closely with the Scientific Board of Advisors in designing and implementing the medical research strategic plan.

Miller earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from the University of California Los Angeles. Prior to CureDuchenne, she had a career in publishing with positions in advertising sales and was an independent stock trader.

Evelia Johnston, Associate Director, Research PartnershipsThe Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research

Evelia Johnston joined The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in 2014. In her current role, Evelia is responsible for shaping the strategic development and implementation of activities designed to increase the Foundation’s engagement within the Parkinson’s research eco-system. Evelia leads the project and relationship management of complex multi-stakeholder research collaborations that bring together industry, academia, patients, payers and regulators to tackle field-wide challenges and work towards shared goals. She leads a number of pre-competitive research consortia and identifies innovative industry collaborations that aim to accelerate the development of new therapeutics for Parkinson’s disease.

Prior to joining MJFF, Evelia was at the pharmaceutical company Forest Laboratories, as a Project Coordinator focused on International Business, Strategy and Operations and also spent time at Terrapinn Inc. as a Project Coordinator developing program content for Life Sciences events.

Evelia graduated from Hofstra University with a BA in International Business.

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.

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.

Jonathan Behr, Managing Director, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)

Jon joined the T1D Fund from Partners Healthcare Innovation, where he was a Market Sector Leader and Executive in Residence, driving technology translation from research hospitals affiliated with Harvard Medical School. He previously held senior venture creation roles including Vice President of New Ventures for Enlight Biosciences and Principal at PureTech Ventures (LON:PRTC). Jon has co-founded and supported seven companies (including holding C-level operating, business development and board director positions) and managed alliances with top pharmaceutical companies. He earned his Ph.D. at Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Howard Hughes fellow and his B.S. from Rice University.

Lucie Bruijn, CSO, The ALS Association

Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D. MBA joined The ALS Association in January 2001 as Science Director and Vice President and is currently Chief Scientist for the organization. Prior to that Dr. Bruijn led a team of researchers in drug discovery programs for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease at Bristol Myers Squibb.

Dr. Bruijn received her Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy at Rhodes University, South Africa. She received a Master’s degree in Neuroscience and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, specializing in disease mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease, at the University of London, United Kingdom. She received her MBA at Imperial College, London, UK. She joined Dr. Don Cleveland’s laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, USA in 1994 where she developed and characterized a mouse model of ALS (mice expressing the familial-linked SOD1 mutation). Using this model her studies focused on disease mechanisms. In addition, in collaboration with Dr. Robert Brown she looked for neurofilament mutations in familial and sporadic ALS patients.

At the ALS Association, Dr. Bruijn leads a global research effort. She has expanded on the existing TREAT ALS™ portfolio to include large international collaborative initiatives in drug development and precision medicine. She has built extensive collaborations internationally and works closely with other ALS funding organizations as well as National Institute of Health.

Dr. Bruijn represents The ALS Association on several scientific and research committees world-wide and acts as advisor to scientists, government officials and industry leaders seeking council in the field of ALS research. She continues to publish in peer-reviewed journals and attends scientific meetings throughout the year to ensure that the research portfolio maximizes opportunities in the field.

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