Rank #1: Stacey Seltzer on VC: Timing Timing Timing
If the mantra in real estate is location location location, for venture capital it might just be timing timing timing. Stacey Seltzer made the move from big pharma into venture capital during a financial crisis and has gone on to build a wildly diverse portfolio of healthcare companies at Aisling Capital. She takes us on a tour of some of the highlights, and reveals what venture capitalists do for fun.
Rank #2: Deborah Dunsire: Business XTuition
Deborah Dunsire was a general practitioner in South Africa when a motorcycle drove her into industry. And that side trip, ultimately routing her to Boston, is still going on. She built the North American Oncology unit at Novartis, launched Gleevec, ran Millennium after the millennium, realized the value in Velcade, took a foray into Forum, and recently announced her latest role, President and CEO of XTuit Pharmaceuticals.
Rank #3: The Multivalent Mathai Mammen
Today, Mathai is the SVP of R&D at Theravance Biopharma. Under his leadership, they have always done things a little differently. In the beginning they used their seed capital to build an in-house vivarium. They have discovered all of their development candidates - 31 and counting - internally or collaboratively. And after 3 approvals, they left their royalty stream to Innoviva and struck out on their own to focus on R&D - because "it's difficult to be innovative when you're in the shadows."
Mathai has had a longstanding reputation as one of the good guys in the industry, but in recent years he has doubled down. After two extraordinary family tragedies, he calls out the importance of persistence, humility, and empathy above all - both in and outside of business.
Rank #4: Ron Cohen: Founder & Confounder (Part 1)
Ron discusses his road from Jeopardy! champion to entrepreneur, the role played by his flat head and great hair, and what on earth could motivate someone to invest in drug development. He also explains how upstate NY does not start at 96th St.
The two-part interview continues in the following episode, Part 2.
Rank #5: Glen de Vries has his Head in the Cloud
Glen explains how he plans to reach escape velocity with no exit strategy.
And how he keeps his feet on the dance floor and head in the cloud.
Rank #6: Greg Verdine will not take “undruggable” for an answer
He has teamed up with Third Rock Ventures, TPG Biotech, AppleTree Partners, and he unveils his brand new gig with WuXi Ventures.
Greg co-founded the biotechs Enanta (ENTA), Tokai (TKAI), Gloucester (now Celgene), Aileron, Warp Drive, WaVe (WVE), and Fog. His day job today, if forced to list just one, is CSO of Warp Drive Bio. He reveals a couple of secrets about Warp Drive strategy and lifts the fog off of Fog Pharma, his latest – and still stealth – newco.
As different as these companies are, a common theme runs through them: to cure the incurable by drugging the undruggable. With apologies to Star Trek, that is Greg’s personal mission: to boldly go where no drug has gone before.
In fact Greg wants to blow up the conventional meaning for the word "drug". He sees beyond the pharma industry’s small molecules plus the biotech industry’s biologics, because they seem positively “puny” in the context of human biology. And he has clever tricks and other modalities at his disposal – not to mention the blueprints: 135,000 bacterial genomes, where the answers cannot hide.
Rank #7: Francois Nader: Be Small But Think Big
But you might remember him from such former roles as President, CEO and Executive Director of NPS Pharma (NPSP now Shire) prior to its $5.2B acquisition, Venture Partner at Care Capital, 2013 Ernst and Young National Life Science Entrepreneur of the Year, Chairman of BioNJ, and Board member of BIO, Noven (NOVN), Trevena (TRVN), and Baxalta (BXLT now also Shire).
He joins me to describe the art of being small while thinking big, and to share some decidedly unconventional wisdom.
Rank #8: Bill Newell: Sutro has an Unfair Advantage
Where other biotechs find scientific challenges can threaten their survival, with Sutro it comes down to strategic challenges. And Bill has led them to enviable partnerships, capital, and optionality.
Sutro has an unfair advantage: Bill Newell.
Rank #9: Brian Bloom: Hockey Sticks and Cheerleaders Do Not Go Together
With a mission to uncover and cultivate Canadian life sciences companies through scientific focus and range of services, Bloom Burton & Co., which he co-founded in 2008, has risen swiftly to be profitable and globally unique.
And its Bloom Burton Healthcare Investor Conference achieved actual hockey stick growth since it broke onto the Canadian biotech scene 5 years ago.
But hockey and cheerleaders do not go together. Brian’s knowledge of the Canadian biotech scene, and his seat on umpteen boards, leads him to a frank, no-apologies stance on the industry.
Rank #10: Sven Jacobson Doesn’t Have a Swelled Head
That’s Sven Jacobson. He is CEO of Remedy Pharmaceuticals, and was Partner at Carrot Capital Healthcare Ventures, the nontraditional VC that founded and funded Remedy.
For a long time, Remedy was one guy and one drug. But that drug, Cirara™, combats swelling in the central nervous system - a root cause of morbidity and mortality in multiple diseases. Today Cirara™ is still investigational, but in line to be the first therapeutic advance in the stroke field in over 20 years. And an in-progress Ph II trial in TBI has it poised to tackle football as well.
Sven doesn't have a swelled head - and he doesn't want anyone else to have one either.