7
Feb
2019

Meet the Kilimanjaro Climb to Fight Cancer Team

The Kilimanjaro Climb to Fight Cancer team is ready to go.

We have a full group of 28 biotech executives and investors – 14 women and 14 men – committed to climbing the highest peak in Africa this July. Working together, we’re raising $1 million for cancer research at Fred Hutch.

With five months to go, we are about one-fourth of the way toward our goal. It’s happening.

This is a special group. I’d like to introduce you to the full team. Please consider supporting someone you know on this mission to support lifesaving cancer research.

Kristin Anderson, Kristin is a postdoc in Phil Greenberg’s lab at Fred Hutch. The lab boss is a co-founder of Juno Therapeutics, and a world leader in CAR-T and TCR cell therapy. Anderson is a cancer survivor (triple-negative breast cancer diagnosis at age 28), and she’s also a rising scientific star. This fall, she won a Presidential Award winner for young investigators from the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC). She says she enjoys hiking in the Cascades, but doesn’t get out as much as she’d like. Wonder why? (Donate to Kristin’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Kirsten Axelsen, vice president for strategy and new business assessment, Pfizer Innovative Health. Kirsten leads the team that crafts strategy for the Pfizer Innovative Health business, and the company’s patient-focused vision. Through nearly two decades at Pfizer, Axelsen has made her name as someone “uniquely savvy about the complex commercial and political landscape into which today’s drugs are developed and launched,” said Nina Kjellson, a general partner with Canaan Partners. Kjellson adds that Axelsen is a mother to twins, a marathon runner and “all-around bad-ass.” (Donate to Kirsten’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Zoe Barry, CEO, Boston-based ZappRx. Zoe is an up-and-coming entrepreneur offering software solutions to streamline the prescription management of specialty medicines. She’s also a runner, having participated in the “Reach the Beach” run organized by Bruce Booth of Atlas Venture. (Donate to Zoe’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Heather Behanna, biotech investment professional. Heather is showing a true spirit of adventure. As she puts it: “So far in my career, I have had the opportunity to take a swing at cancer from arm’s length – this feels like an opportunity to make a more direct hit.” (Donate to Heather’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Katrine Bosley, biotech entrepreneur. Katrine Bosley is a veteran biotech entrepreneur in Boston. She is stepping down as CEO of Editas Medicine, the genome editing company, on Mar. 1. Katrine is a recent addition to the Kilimanjaro expedition. She is someone who thinks deeply about biotech’s connection to society. I very much look forward to hearing her thoughts on the trail and around the dining tent in Tanzania. (Donate to Katrine’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Daniel Bradbury, chairman and CEO, Equillium. Dan is an experienced biotech executive and investor based in San Diego. He has a simple 3-point explanation for why he’s joined the Kilimanjaro expedition. 1. Cancer sucks and has taken many great friends and almost took my mother  2. Fred Hutch has and is developing ground breaking therapies to cure cancer. 3. Climbing Kilimanjaro is one of my top life bucket list items. (Donate to Dan’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Ken Brunt, VP of customer operations, Veracyte. Ken is an ultramarathon runner. He’s run around Mont Blanc three times. But a summit of Kilimanjaro is a different thing. He writes: “I am taking on this challenge because I hate cancer and love mama nature! Getting outside in nature is healing and motivating…my philosophy is to do things that scare me and being at 19,341 above sea level scares me.” (Donate to Ken’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Peter Faroni, co-founder and partner, Madryn Asset Management. Peter contributes to the industry in his day job as an investor. But like everyone on the trip, he has interests outside work. One is the outdoors. Another is a desire to make different kinds of impact – direct impact – for patients. The Kilimanjaro expedition is right up his alley. (Donate to Peter’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Simba Gill, CEO, Evelo Biosciences; venture partner, Flagship Pioneering. Evelo is based on new insights into the interactions of the microbiome and the immune system in the tumor microenvironment. Evelo is a member of the Biotech IPO Class of 2018. Born in Tanzania, Simba’s mother summited Kilimanjaro when she was pregnant with him. Dang. (Donate to Simba’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Adam Gridley, president and CEO, Histogenics. Adam runs a cell therapy company in Boston. He skis. And he’s had family members affected by cancer. (Donate to Adam’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Spencer Guthrie, VP, global TTR strategy, Akcea Therapeutics. Spencer has a history of work in cancer drug discovery, and in collaboration with Fred Hutch. He’s thinking about what kind of impact we can all make for future generations. “I am a new father, and I don’t want my daughter to grow up in a world where cancer has such a big impact on her life. I know that the key is more research,” he writes. (Donate to Spencer’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign)

Heidi Hagen, co-founder, chief strategy officer, Vineti. Heidi is working to build a venture-backed software company to help cell and gene therapy companies manage specialized supply chains. She gained a wealth of experience in this tricky area at Dendreon. Heidi, in a past life, was twice named to the All-Pac10 team as a middle-distance runner at the University of Washington. (Donate to Heidi’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Nancy Hong, managing director, RiverVest Venture Partners. Nancy is an avid hiker, and Kilimanjaro has been a longtime dream. But a combination of things inspired her to go to work on this fundraising campaign. “We are truly in a golden age of molecular medicine where research dollars are translating more and more directly to clinical impact in oncology,” Hong writes. “The Hutch has been a leader in this arena, and it is a privilege to help their efforts. And joining fellow biotech folks on this trip is icing on the cake!” (Donate to Nancy’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Nina Kjellson, general partner, Canaan Partners. Nina is one of the most respected biotech VCs in the business. One of her current portfolio companies is Vineti, (see above) the software company striving to advance the cell and gene therapy revolution. (Donate to Nina’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Garry Menzel, CEO, Cambridge, Mass.-based TCR2 Therapeutics. Garry is not only running an aspiring leader in the field of engineered T-cell receptor therapies for cancer, he’s an accomplished mountaineer. Notable ascent: Manaslu in Nepal. It’s the eighth-highest mountain in the world. (Donate to Garry’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign.)

Alec More, student. Alec is an impressive young man who I’m just starting to get to know. He raised $8,000 for cancer research in his first week on this campaign. He’s learning early in life that what matters most is what you do for other people. I can’t wait to see what he does when this campaign is all said and done. (Donate to Alec’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Bob More. Bob is a veteran biotech venture capitalist, now serving as a partner with Alta Partners and as an advisor to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He’s a skier, and two-time climber of Kilimanjaro. Bob is functioning as campaign co-chair, providing me with valuable support and advice. (Donate to Bob’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign.)

Bill Newell, CEO, South San Francisco-based Sutro Biopharma. Bill’s company is developing antibody-drug conjugates for cancer. The key twist is that Sutro makes its large molecules in a cell-free platform, aiming to sidestep the cost and complexity of classical biologics manufacturing in eukaryotic cell lines. Sutro has a number of well-known partners, and was a member of the Biotech IPO class of 2018. (Donate to Bill’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Kelly O’Brien, vice president of philanthropy, Seattle-based Fred Hutch. Kelly O’Brien was the key decision-maker at Fred Hutch who bet on the Everest campaign before success was assured – both on the mountain, and in the fundraising department. Kelly is also an experienced climber. She has summited Kilimanjaro, and trekked to Everest Base Camp, elevation 17,500. (Donate to Kelly’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Julia Owens, CEO, Millendo Therapeutics. One great thing about biotech is how many people are willing to push the boundaries – professional and personal – for a good cause. Julia Owens is a good example. Both of her patients got cancer, and her Dad died of cancer when she was a teenager. She’s pushing herself on this campaign to help others. “While I enjoy the outdoors and lead an active lifestyle, camping and certainly mountain climbing are way outside my comfort zone. I haven’t slept in a tent in over 15 years!” Owens writes. (Donate to Julia’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Nancy Miller-Rich, CEO, Miller-Rich Associates. Before starting her own consulting firm in September 2017, Nancy was a senior vice president at Merck. She oversaw global human health business development and licensing, strategy and commercial operations. That gave her direct profit-and-loss involvement in a $38 billion business. At Merck, she closed 300 deals, involving $10 billion in value creation. Nancy has also dreamed of climbing Kilimanjaro for years. (Donate to Nancy’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Uciane Scarlett, associate, Atlas Venture. Before joining Atlas in 2018, Uciane (pronounced “You-sha-knee”) was a director of business development and strategy at Compass Therapeutics. Compass is a private company working on treatments for autoimmunity and cancer. Uciane got her PhD in cancer immunology from Dartmouth College. (Donate to Uciane’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Deaidra Smith, director of portfolio communications, Alexion Pharmaceuticals. Dee Smith is an experienced hiker, having completed the full Appalachian Trail. She has jumped into the Kilimanjaro campaign with both feet, however, because of her sister’s brush with a rare and deadly hereditary form of cancer. She’s thankful her sister survived, and now she wants to give back to researchers that are making progress in revealing cancer’s secrets. (Donate to Dee’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Lesley Stolz, head, JLABS Bay Area. Lesley is a veteran of biotech business development. For those unfamiliar, JLABS is part of Johnson & Johnson. JLABS sets up quality lab space for entrepreneurs to help them hit the ground running with experiments that are essential for little companies to grow up and win the next round of funding from venture capitalists. (Donate to Lesley’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Senthil Sundaram, chief financial officer, Nightstar Therapeutics. Senthil has traveled the world and done some spectacular hikes. Now he sees an opportunity to combine his passion for the outdoors with a cause that has struck many people in biotech. (Donate to Senthil’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Luke Timmerman, founder & editor, Timmerman Report. I’ve been writing and speaking about biotech since 2001. (Donate to Luke’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Praveen Tipirneni, CEO, Waltham, Mass.-based Morphic Therapeutic. Praveen is running a company that has used a combination of proprietary crystallography images, high-powered computational simulations, and small-molecule chemistry to sprint ahead with new drug candidates against integrin targets. Last fall, AbbVie wrote a $100 million upfront check help advance this work. Praveen also happens to be a runner. We once shared a van ride on the 24-hour road race called “Reach the Beach” in New Hampshire. Apparently, that sweaty van ride didn’t dissuade him from accepting this invitation. (Donate to Praveen’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Sandy Zweifach, founder and CEO, South San Francisco-based Nuvelution Pharma. Sandy has a diverse set of experiences in business development, investment banking and venture capital over the past 25 years. Nuvelution, backed by Clarus Ventures and Novo A/S, seeks to increase R&D output through risk-sharing collaborations. As a climber, he attempted Pico de Orizaba, one of the famous Mexican volcanoes, years ago. (Donate to Sandy’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

6
Feb
2019

Get Tickets Now: The Cancer Summit Series is Coming to Boston, SF, Seattle

We live in a time of tremendous possibility for cancer R&D.

Checkpoint inhibitors, cell therapies, molecular diagnostics that catch cancer early and can guide effective custom treatment – these fields are brimming with progress. All were considered speculative at best a decade ago. The science has never been more promising. Yet pricing and access to this new world of cancer therapy remains thorny. These issues have to be resolved if society is going to reap the benefits of this work.

Come to a Cancer Summit event near you this spring to hear from leading scientists, entrepreneurs, and investors about how they are thinking about the future.

All ticket proceeds go to the Kilimanjaro Climb to Fight Cancer, a philanthropic campaign to support basic cancer research at Fred Hutch.

See the outstanding speakers for each event:

Boston Cancer Summit confirmed speakers:

  • David Schenkein, executive chairman, Agios Pharmaceuticals
  • Mary Lynne Hedley, co-founder and president, Tesaro
  • Cindy Perettie, CEO, Foundation Medicine
  • Sanjiv Patel, CEO, Relay Therapeutics
  • Garry Menzel, CEO, TCR2 Therapeutics
  • Simba Gill, CEO, Evelo Biosciences
  • Uciane Scarlett, associate, Atlas Venture
  • Katrine Bosley, biotech entrepreneur
  • Praveen Tipirneni, CEO, Morphic Therapeutic
  • Zoe Barry, CEO, ZappRx
  • Phil Rowlands, Head, Oncology Therapeutic Area Unit, Takeda Pharmaceuticals
  • Deborah Palestrant, partner, 5AM Ventures; Head, 4:59
  • Elliott Sigal, venture partner, NEA
  • Leigh Zawel, CSO, small molecules, Cullinan Oncology; executive partner, MPM
  • Luke Timmerman, founder and editor, Timmerman Report

SAVE THE DATE: 1-6 pm, April 16, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, 121 Seaport Blvd., Boston

BUY TICKETS HERE

GET TICKETS FOR THE BOSTON CANCER SUMMIT HERE

NOTE: Last year’s events sold out in advance. Buy your tickets early to reserve a seat.

San Francisco Cancer Summit confirmed Speakers:

  • Carolyn Bertozzi, Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University and Co-Founder, Palleon Pharmaceuticals
  • Ira Mellman, vice president, research oncology, Genentech
  • Harlan Robins, member, Fred Hutch; program head, computational biology; co-founder, Adaptive Biotechnologies
  • Stanley Riddell, member, Fred Hutch; scientific director, Immunotherapy Integrated Research Center; co-founder, Juno Therapeutics
  • Bonnie Anderson, co-founder and CEO, Veracyte
  • Nina Kjellson, general partner, Canaan Partners
  • Ben Hindson, co-founder and CSO, 10X Genomics
  • Larry Corey, past president of Fred Hutch, co-PI of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network
  • Lesley Stolz, head, JLABS Bay Area
  • Bill Newell, CEO, Sutro Biopharma
  • Omid Farokhzad, CEO, Seer
  • Angie You, CEO, Amunix Pharmaceuticals
  • Steve James, CEO, Pionyr Immunotherapeutics
  • Bassil Dahiyat, CEO, Xencor
  • Luke Timmerman, founder and editor, Timmerman Report

SAVE THE DATE: 1-6 pm, April 18, Biocom Bay Area, 1 Tower Place, South San Francisco

BUY TICKETS HERE

GET TICKETS FOR THE SAN FRANCISCO CANCER SUMMIT HERE

NOTE: Last year’s events sold out in advance. Buy your tickets early to reserve a seat.

Seattle Cancer Summit confirmed speakers:

  • Gary Gilliland, president and director, Fred Hutch
  • Chad Robins, co-founder and CEO, Adaptive Biotechnologies
  • Steve Harr, co-founder and CEO, Sana Biotechnology
  • Charlotte Hubbert, partner, Gates Foundation Venture Capital
  • Peter Thompson, private equity partner, OrbiMed; co-founder, Silverback Therapeutics
  • Sam Blackman, founder and chief medical officer, Day One Therapeutics
  • Heidi Hagen, co-founder and chief strategy officer, Vineti
  • Bob More, partner, Alta Partners
  • Thong Le, CEO, Accelerator Life Science Partners
  • Clayton Knox, chief operating officer, Mavupharma
  • Kristin Anderson, postdoctoral fellow, Fred Hutch Phil Greenberg Lab, Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer Presidential Award-winning young investigator
  • Racquel Bracken, vice president, Venrock
  • Brad Gray, CEO, NanoString Technologies
  • Tom Daniel, venture partner, ARCH Venture Partners
  • Kelly O’Brien, vice president of philanthropy, Fred Hutch
  • Mark Litton, president and COO, Alpine Immune Sciences
  • Luke Timmerman, founder and editor, Timmerman Report

SAVE THE DATE: 1-5:30 pm, May 10, Fred Hutch, Pelton Auditorium, Seattle

BUY TICKETS HERE

GET TICKETS FOR THE SEATTLE CANCER SUMMIT HERE

NOTE: Last year’s events sold out in advance. Buy your tickets early to reserve a seat.

30
Jan
2019

Finding a Way in Genomic Diagnostics: Bonnie Anderson of Veracyte on The Long Run

Bonnie Anderson is today’s guest on The Long Run.

Bonnie Anderson, CEO, Veracyte

Bonnie is the CEO of Veracyte. It’s a genomic diagnostics company in South San Francisco. The company markets a line of tests for thyroid cancer, lung cancer, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Veracyte got started in 2008. Bonnie, as co-founder and CEO, was recruited by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and a couple other venture firms. The VCs were trying to ride the wave of interest in genomic diagnostics, and wanted to know if a business could be built with unique information from gene expression signatures to guide cancer treatment.

The scientific answers didn’t take long to get. Persuading the medical community and the payer community of the value in the information, and getting them to pay for it? That took a lot longer. This is a familiar story for those who follow genomic diagnostics or precision medicine.

Without a lot of notice, Veracyte has made a lot of progress over the last decade. Revenues were up 34 percent in the third quarter. Test volume climbed 23 percent. The company is getting precariously close to break-even. With three marketed tests gaining adoption from physicians and payers, its market valuation up near a 52-week high, with a respectable $720 million valuation the day of this recording.

Bonnie came to entrepreneurship, and Veracyte, after “retiring” from Beckman Coulter. She learned a lot there about how technologies enable new kinds of biological and medical questions to be asked and answered. As a businessperson, she’s also learned the value of perseverance in getting over the many, many obstacles that make it so difficult to get rewarded for creating new diagnostic tests.

I think listeners will appreciate the perseverance you’ll hear in her voice. 

Now, join me and Bonnie Anderson for The Long Run.

16
Jan
2019

Big Money For Glaring Global Health Needs: George Scangos on The Long Run

Today’s guest on The Long Run is George Scangos.

Scangos is the CEO of San Francisco-based Vir Biotechnology. He’s best known for his last job as the CEO of Biogen, one of the industry’s biggest companies.

George Scangos, CEO, Vir Biotechnology

He left that high-profile perch a little more than two years ago. Like many big company veterans, he heard the siren song to join a startup. In this case, it was from Arch Venture Partners.

The vision was pretty simple. All these new technologies that are enabling advances in cancer biology, particularly with harnessing the immune system to fight tumors, could also be harnessed toward fighting infectious diseases. Everyone in the world during 2016 was trying to elbow into cancer. Not infectious disease. There was an obvious gap in the market. You make more money treating cancer than you do by making a new flu vaccine.

Arch wondered – given the state of technology, what could a startup do for infectious disease if it were given a massive war chest – something like $500 million or $600 million? Many little infectious disease startups die from starvation – i.e. lack of capital. In this case, would the money help assemble the team and the technologies necessary to pull off something big? It’s an open question at Vir, at this early stage of gestation.

Usually in these interviews, I ask a lot about people’s life experiences. This time, I skipped that, because I had already written a magazine-type profile of Scangos in 2011 for Xconomy. You can read that article here.

The gist is that George Scangos is the product of a working-class, Greek immigrant family in Lynn, Massachusetts. It’s not far from the throbbing heartbeat of biotech in Kendall Square, but, to use a cliché, it’s culturally a world away. Scangos’s life journey is a good reminder that amazing things are possible in this country because of investments and systems put in place decades and decades ago by far-sighted leaders. It’s also important to remember today that medicine is for everyone – from Cambridge MA to Lynn MA and way beyond — especially when you’re talking about the fight against infectious diseases that are global.

We talked in this conversation some about science and company building, but also toward the end about how Vir can and should think about fair and responsible pricing of its products (if it creates any). This is a conversation that needs to happen in every company, at every stage of maturation.

Now, join me and George Scangos for The Long Run.

2
Jan
2019

From Merck Fast Track to Computer Chem Frontier: Karen Akinsanya on The Long Run

Today’s guest on The Long Run is Karen Akinsanya.

Karen Akinsanya, chief biomedical scientist, Schrodinger

Karen is the chief biomedical scientist at Schrodinger. The New York-based company is a leader in computational chemistry for drug discovery. The company is privately held, and not a household name. But some wealthy and powerful people know it well. Schrodinger counts Bill Gates and David E. Shaw, the hedge fund billionaire, among its major shareholders. Nimbus Therapeutics and Morphic Therapeutic are a couple of young companies that have made strides with its computer modeling to develop new drugs.

Karen came to Schrodinger in 2018 from Big Pharma – Merck, to be specific. She received her PhD in endocrine physiology at Imperial College London. She worked her way from the lab bench to many different aspects of the pharmaceutical business. She was going places at Merck. But as she puts it, she likes new challenges. Karen is focused now on what Schrodinger can enable – how it can put a dent in the industry’s stubborn problem – the lack of drug R&D productivity.   

Karen is a native of the UK, an immigrant, a Mom, and someone who devotes considerable time and energy to youth science education. She recognizes the importance of role models who can encourage young people to go down paths they might not have known existed. I wish I had asked her more about that work, but it was good to at least hear her philosophy on why she makes time for science education volunteer work. It comes up toward the end of the conversation.

Now, join me and Karen Akinsanya for The Long Run.

26
Dec
2018

Messenger RNA Therapies That You May Not Have Heard Of: Ron Renaud on The Long Run

Today’s guest on The Long Run is Ron Renaud.

Ron is the CEO of Lexington, Mass.-based Translate Bio. The company is working on messenger RNA therapies. You may have heard about this technology. mRNA molecules provide genetic instructions for making proteins. The idea is to restore functional proteins that, for one reason or another, have gone awry in a disease process. If you can inject mRNA directly into people – always a big IF – then theoretically the cell machinery can be harnessed to essentially turn patients into their own mini-drug factories.

Ron Renaud, CEO, Translate Bio

While Moderna captures most of the attention in this subsector of biotech – pulling off the industry’s biggest-ever IPO in December 2018 – it’s not the only game in this particular town. Translate is developing assets that have been tested for more than a decade, stretched back to early stealthy work done at Shire, the rare disease company. Translate actually went public six months before Moderna.

Ron comes to this juncture after a long and successful career on the business and finance side of the house. His biotech career took off at Amgen, and then he took a detour to Wall Street before coming back into executive leadership at Keryx and Idenix. Idenix was a turnaround story that he left on a high note, with a $3.9 billion acquisition by Merck.

Ron is not a scientist, and doesn’t try to pose as one. The important thing is that if you are a biotech CEO who’s a non-scientist, you had better be fluent in the scientific concepts, know the key questions to ask, and hire good people. Ron does all of that. Listening to him, I think you’ll hear a certain amount of humility in his voice. That’s a healthy thing, in my view.

It was a pleasure to speak with Ron about his career arc, hear his thoughts on biotech management, and the industry’s role within the society at large.

12
Dec
2018

First Everest, Now Kilimanjaro: Climb With Me and a Great Biotech Team to Fight Cancer

Summiting the highest peak in the world and raising $340,000 for cancer research at Fred Hutch was the start.

It was the start of something bigger.

Today, I’m overjoyed to say that an outstanding team of biotech executives and investors will join me on the Kilimanjaro Climb to Fight Cancer. This will be a 7-day expedition to the summit of Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, in late July.

Like Everest, this climb will be a big fundraiser for cancer research at Fred Hutch, a leading center for immunotherapy.

Unlike Everest, the pinnacle of Kili can be reached without supplemental oxygen tanks and fancy technical gear. At 19,340 feet, Kili is within reach for anyone in good physical shape, a willingness to train for a few months, and a desire to support this great cause.

So far, 16 climbers are confirmed. They are leveraging their networks to raise $50,000 apiece.

Look who’s joined the Kilimanjaro team so far:

Bob More. Bob is a veteran biotech venture capitalist, now serving as a partner with Alta Partners and as an advisor to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He’s a skier, and two-time climber of Kilimanjaro. Bob is functioning as campaign co-chair, providing me with valuable support and advice. (Donate to Bob’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign.)

Garry Menzel, CEO, Cambridge, Mass.-based TCR2 Therapeutics. Garry is not only running an aspiring leader in the field of engineered T-cell receptor therapies for cancer, he’s an accomplished mountaineer. Notable ascent: Manaslu in Nepal. It’s the eighth-highest mountain in the world. (Donate to Garry’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign.)

Praveen Tipirneni, CEO, Waltham, Mass.-based Morphic Therapeutic. Praveen is running a company that has used a combination of proprietary crystallography images, high-powered computational simulations, and small-molecule chemistry to sprint ahead with new drug candidates against integrin targets. This fall, AbbVie wrote a $100 million upfront check help advance this work. Praveen also happens to be a runner. We once shared a van ride on the 24-hour road race called “Reach the Beach” in New Hampshire. Apparently, that sweaty van ride didn’t dissuade him from accepting this invitation. (Donate to Praveen’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Kelly O’Brien, vice president of philanthropy, Seattle-based Fred Hutch. Kelly O’Brien was the key decision-maker at Fred Hutch who bet on the Everest campaign before success was assured – both on the mountain, and in the fundraising department. Kelly is also an experienced climber. She has summited Kilimanjaro, and trekked to Everest Base Camp, elevation 17,500. (Donate to Kelly’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Zoe Barry, CEO, Boston-based ZappRx. Zoe is an up-and-coming entrepreneur offering software solutions to streamline the prescription management of specialty medicines. She’s also a runner, having participated in the “Reach the Beach” run organized by Bruce Booth of Atlas Venture. (Donate to Zoe’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Kristin Anderson, Kristin is a postdoc in Phil Greenberg’s lab at Fred Hutch. The lab boss is a co-founder of Juno Therapeutics, and a world leader in CAR-T and TCR cell therapy. Anderson is a cancer survivor (triple-negative breast cancer diagnosis at age 28), and she’s also a rising scientific star. This fall, she won a Presidential Award winner for young investigators from the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC). She says she enjoys hiking in the Cascades, but doesn’t get out as much as she’d like. Wonder why? (Donate to Kristin’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Bill Newell, CEO, South San Francisco-based Sutro Biopharma. Bill’s company is developing antibody-drug conjugates for cancer. The key twist is that Sutro makes its large molecules in a cell-free platform, aiming to sidestep the cost and complexity of classical biologics manufacturing in eukaryotic cell lines. Sutro has a number of well-known partners, and was a member of the Biotech IPO class of 2018. (Donate to Bill’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Lesley Stolz, head, JLABS Bay Area. Lesley is a veteran of biotech business development. For those unfamiliar, JLABS is part of Johnson & Johnson. JLABS sets up quality lab space for entrepreneurs to help them hit the ground running with experiments that are essential for little companies to grow up and win the next round of funding from venture capitalists. (Donate to Lesley’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Luke Timmerman, founder & editor, Timmerman Report. I’ve been writing and speaking about biotech since 2001. (Donate to Luke’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Simba Gill, CEO, Evelo Biosciences; venture partner, Flagship Pioneering. Evelo is based on new insights into the interactions of the microbiome and the immune system in the tumor microenvironment. Evelo is a member of the Biotech IPO Class of 2018. Born in Tanzania, Simba’s mother summited Kilimanjaro when she was pregnant with him. Dang. (Donate to Simba’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Heidi Hagen, co-founder, chief strategy officer, Vineti. Heidi is working to build a venture-backed software company to help cell and gene therapy companies manage specialized supply chains. She gained a wealth of experience in this tricky area at Dendreon. Heidi, in a past life, was twice named to the All-Pac10 team as a middle-distance runner at the University of Washington. (Donate to Heidi’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Uciane Scarlett, associate, Atlas Venture. Before joining Atlas in 2018, Uciane (pronounced “You-sha-knee”) was a director of business development and strategy at Compass Therapeutics. Compass is a private company working on treatments for autoimmunity and cancer. Uciane got her PhD in cancer immunology from Dartmouth College. (Donate to Uciane’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Sandy Zweifach, founder and CEO, South San Francisco-based Nuvelution Pharma. Sandy has a diverse set of experiences in business development, investment banking and venture capital over the past 25 years. Nuvelution, backed by Clarus Ventures and Novo A/S, seeks to increase R&D output through risk-sharing collaborations. As a climber, he attempted Pico de Orizaba, one of the famous Mexican volcanoes, years ago. (Donate to Sandy’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Nancy Miller-Rich, CEO, Miller-Rich Associates. Before starting her own consulting firm in September 2017, Nancy was a senior vice president at Merck. She oversaw global human health business development and licensing, strategy and commercial operations. That gave her direct profit-and-loss involvement in a $38 billion business. At Merck, she closed 300 deals, involving $10 billion in value creation. Nancy has also dreamed of climbing Kilimanjaro for years. (Donate to Nancy’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Kirsten Axelsen, vice president for strategy and new business assessment, Pfizer Innovative Health. Kirsten leads the team that crafts strategy for the Pfizer Innovative Health business, and the company’s patient-focused vision. Through nearly two decades at Pfizer, Axelsen has made her name as someone “uniquely savvy about the complex commercial and political landscape into which today’s drugs are developed and launched,” said Nina Kjellson, a general partner with Canaan Partners. Kjellson adds that Axelsen is a mother to twins, a marathon runner and “all-around bad-ass.” (Donate to Kirsten’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Nina Kjellson, general partner, Canaan Partners. Nina is one of the most respected biotech VCs in the business. One of her current portfolio companies is Vineti, (see above) the software company striving to advance the cell and gene therapy revolution. (Donate to Nina’s Climb to Fight Cancer campaign).

Want to join this private group on the highest peak in Africa, July 17-28?

This campaign is shaping up into something special. Simple math says that 20 climbers each raising $50,000 adds up to $1 million.

We are well on our way to that goal with 16 climbers. At least a dozen more are considering joining. Our group limit is 28.

Together, we will raise a ton of cash and awareness for this exciting moment in cancer research.

Want to join the Kilimanjaro team?

Interested in sponsoring?

Email: luke@timmermanreport.com

Thank you for everything you do in the fight against cancer.

11
Dec
2018

Google Money at Work in Biology: Krishna Yeshwant on The Long Run

Today’s guest on The Long Run is Krishna Yeshwant.

Krishna is a general partner with GV, the corporate venture firm formerly known as Google Ventures. He is a rare bird – a Stanford computer scientist and a Harvard physician. With this combination of professional interests, and with the resources of Google to invest in fledgling companies, Krishna has acquired an unusual vantage point on where things are going, and where they could go, in biotech and healthcare.

Krishna Yeshwant, partner, GV

GV, like most corporate venture firms, doesn’t promote itself as much as traditional venture firms that need to hit up Limited Partners for new cash every 3-5 years. Krishna doesn’t talk to the media much. I enjoy talking with him on a semi-regular basis, and appreciate this extended look into his thinking on the podcast. He has his hands in a huge number of pies in biopharma, in genomic diagnostics, and in biology-and-healthcare software.

Krishna recently turned 40, a traditional time to take stock on one’s work.

Here’s one safe bet: He will be around a long time, keeping his finger on the pulse of biology and computing.

Before we dive in, a word from our sponsor.

YEAH! You heard that right! <fist pump> The Long Run now has a new marquee sponsor: PPD Biotech.

So, back to that brief word from our sponsor:

As your drug development advances, it’s critical to select the right CRO partner for your innovative therapy. With a full set of development services and global reach, PPD Biotech offers teams that are dedicated to biotech and small pharma.

PPD Biotech knows that every milestone, every project update, every change in direction is important. Committed to close alignment and cultural fit, PPD Biotech works as an extension of your team every step of the way to find innovative solutions that get your treatments to the clinic faster.

To learn more about PPD Biotech or to schedule a meeting with us at the upcoming J.P. Morgan conference, visit www.PPDbiotech.com/longrun.

Now, join me and Krishna Yeshwant for another episode of The Long Run.