Finding a Path in Biotech Venture Capital: Nina Kjellson on The Long Run

Today’s guest on The Long Run is Nina Kjellson.

Nina Kjellson, general partner, Canaan Partners

Nina is a general partner with Canaan Partners on the West Coast.

Her investing style leans toward high science, which you can see in portfolio companies like PACT Pharma, a company developing neoantigen targeted T cell therapies for cancer, Tizona Therapeutics, a targeted antibody developer for cancer, and Vineti, a software platform to help cell and gene therapy companies manage their supply chains and scale up with these intricate medicines.  

Nina is also a powerful advocate for helping women advance in biotech. She has developed her own platform with a podcast called Women who Venture, or WoVen, to amplify voices of strong women leaders. She organizes meetings for help women executives extend their networks.

As a successful VC who sits on a lot of company boards, she’s in a position to open doors and uplift people. She takes that role seriously.

I saw Nina do this at close range, when she joined me last summer on a trip to climb the highest peak in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro, as part of a group fundraiser for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

It was very important to me as the team captain to assemble a diverse, gender balanced group. Nina played a key role in helping make that happen.

Now before we start, this interview was recorded in early March. I was already sheltered in place, and a bit anxious, but we didn’t talk about the pandemic. I’ve held onto this conversation for a couple months to squeeze in more timely news-oriented episodes of The Long Run. This episode is more in the typical format of this show, which runs longer and discusses the guest’s personal journey.

I know everyone’s busy, but I think we need to have these kinds of deeply humanizing conversations to understand each other better as people, not just one-dimensional professionals who do X or Y.

I hope you enjoy the conversation. 

Now, please join me and Nina Kjellson on The Long Run.

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