RESI Boston Panel Announcement: Investing In Cell & Gene Therapy

1 Aug

By Lucy Parkinson, VP of Investor Research, LSN

Cell therapies and gene therapies represent the cutting edge of life science innovation.  Only a handful of treatments in this field have reached commercialization, but with many scientists forming new companies to develop treatments based on their research in this field, we could be on the cusp of a revolution in treatments for cancer, rare genetic diseases, and many other diseases.  However, startups in this field face many challenges – not the least of which is finding the right investors and strategic partners.

From among the hundreds of investors who will be attending RESI Boston, LSN has invited five experts in this field to take part in a panel discussion on how they find the right venture investment opportunities in cell and gene therapy startups, and how they guide their portfolio companies through challenges specific to cell and gene therapies, including manufacturing, regulatory issues, and more. The participants are:

Vivian Choi (Head of Gene Therapy Research, Takeda)

Strategic & scientific leader with 9+ years of gene therapy drug development experience. Spearheaded and advised at executive level on gene therapy drug development programs in 2 global bio-pharmaceutical companies. A combined 18+ years of research experience in viral gene delivery, immunology, genetics and pharmacology research. Authored and co-authored 2 US patents, 13+ scientific articles, 5+ review papers, and 20+ international conference presentations.

Elona Baum (Managing Director, DEFTA Partners)

Elona Baum is Managing Director of DEFTA Partners and has 20 years of biotech and regenerative medicine management experience. Prior to joining DEFTA Partners, Ms. Baum served as a senior executive (General Counsel & VP Business Development) for five years at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (“CIRM”). During her tenure, CIRM invested nearly $1 billion in regenerative medicine programs, created a $40 million iPSC bank and launched annual roundtable meetings with FDA. Prior to joining CIRM, Ms. Baum held senior positions in the legal and regulatory departments at Genentech Inc. for over a 13 year span. Ms. Baum received her BA in Economics from the University of California (Cum Laude) and her JD from the University of San Francisco School of Law (Magna Cum Laude). She served as an extern for Justice John A. Arguelles, California Supreme Court. Ms. Baum is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and is an active mentor with Enterprise Futures Network.

Kevin Scanlon (Investor, Sky Ventures)

Dr. Kevin Scanlon’s career spans roles in academic medicine, senior management in the pharmaceutical industry and biotech companies, as well as an individual investor. Currently, he is an investment advisor to Sky Ventures and a Professor of Practice at Northeastern University.

He was the Chairman of Pasadena Angels Investment Group, with ~100 investors that funded over 50 companies in two years. He has been CEO of four biotechnology companies, including Melanoma Diagnostics, which was sold to Myriad Genetics. At Schering AG/Berlex, now Bayer, he was responsible for the genomic and cancer programs.

Dr. Scanlon’s academic achievements include: Leukemia Society Scholar, Paul Martini Medical Research Prize, Co-Founder of the Nature Journal “Cancer Gene Therapy”, President of the International Society of Cell and Gene Therapy, co-authored 135 peer-reviewed scientific articles and nine medical books. Dr. Scanlon also holds seven issued US Patents.

Stefan Vitorovic (Managing Director, Vida Ventures)

Stefan Vitorovic is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Vida Ventures, a life sciences focused company-building and investment firm.

Prior to founding Vida Ventures, Stefan was an investment professional at Third Rock Ventures, an early stage life sciences venture capital firm. At Third Rock, Stefan focused on new company formation, due diligence, portfolio company financings, and partner development. He was part of the founding team of Decibel Therapeutics, a hearing-focused drug discovery and development platform company.

Before Third Rock, Stefan was an investor at TPG Capital, where he focused primarily on majority, control stakes in healthcare companies. Stefan worked on a variety of equity and debt financings, including Aptalis Pharma and Biomet. Prior to TPG, Stefan was an investment banker at Credit Suisse’s healthcare banking group. There he primarily focused on M&A and equity financings for pre-commercial life sciences companies.

Stefan received his B.S. with Honors in Biological Sciences at Stanford University. He completed his M.S. in Biology at Stanford, where he conducted biomedical research in the lab of Dr. Helen Blau at Stanford Medical School. Stefan later received his MBA from Harvard Business School. Stefan currently serves on the Board of Directors for Praxis Precision Medicines and BAIT Cellular Therapeutics and as a Board Observer for Oyster Point Therapeutics.

Yury Kukushkin (Principal, 4Bio Capital Partners)

International, trilingual venture capital professional with strong scientific background and seven years of experience inbiotech consulting and venture capital projects.




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