- Roberto De Ponti, PharmD - Head, Corporate New Ventures and Strategic Investments, Helsinn International Services
Roberto De Ponti, PharmD
Head, Corporate New Ventures and Strategic Investments, Helsinn International Services
Dr. De Ponti, a Pharmacist by training and an EU Qualified Person, is Head of Corporate New Ventures and Strategic Investments for Helsinn International Services, the advisor company to the new Helsinn Investment Fund, part of the Helsinn Group. The new Helsinn fund aims to complement and expand the presence of Helsinn in early stage companies, contributing to the progression of new drugs, medical devices and diagnostics mainly in oncology therapeutics, oncology supportive care, metabolism and gastro-intestinal areas.
From 2008 to when he joined the new fund in 2016, Dr. De Ponti was Head of Corporate Business Development at Helsinn where his responsibilities included identifying external research projects, in-licensing, new investments and setting up strategic collaborations with companies and Universities.
Prior joining the Helsinn Group, Dr. De Ponti held responsibilities for in and out-licensing for Indena, a leading natural derivatives company with pharmaceutical products fighting cancer. Before that he served as Site Lead and Head of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the Oncology Italian site of Pharmacia and Pfizer which was eventually spun-off and where he brought the Pharma Science business unit to breakeven. Dr. De Ponti has held several patents covering the development and the commercialization of oncology drugs.
- Steven Gillis, PhD - Managing Director, ARCH Venture Partners
Steven Gillis, PhD
Managing Director, ARCH Venture Partners
Dr. Gillis is a Managing Director at ARCH Venture Partners, focused on the evaluation of new life science technologies and also on the development and growth of ARCH's biotechnology portfolio companies. Dr. Gillis was a founder and director of Corixa Corp. and served as the company’s Chief Executive Officer since inception and as its Chairman since January of 1999. Corixa was acquired by GlaxoSmithKline in July of 2005. Prior to starting Corixa, Dr. Gillis was a founder and director of Immunex Corp. From 1981 until his departure in 1994, Dr. Gillis served as Immunex’s Director of Research and Development, Chief Scientific Officer, and Chief Executive Officer of Immunex’s Research and Development subsidiary. Dr. Gillis was interim Chief Executive Officer of Immunex Corp. following its majority purchase by American Cyanamid Co. and he remained a member of the Board of Directors until 1997. Immunex was acquired by Amgen Inc. in 2002. Dr. Gillis is an immunologist by training and is credited as being a pioneer in the field of cytokines and cytokine receptors, directing the development of multiple marketed products, including Leukine®, Prokine®, Enbrel®, and Bexxar®.
Dr. Gillis received his B.A. from Williams College in 1975 and his PhD from Dartmouth College in 1978.
- Wende Hutton - General Partner, Canaan Partners
General Partner, Canaan Partners
Seasoned healthcare investor Wende Hutton is passionate about identifying, investing in and building companies that are revolutionizing the practice of medicine. She joined Canaan in 2004, bringing diverse expertise from across the entire medical spectrum. Over the last 15 years, Wende has facilitated the market entrance of over 11 novel and lifesaving medical devices, new drugs and diagnostics. Her track record is a testament to her leadership and includes the initial public offerings of five companies, of which two were later acquired, and the acquisition of three more by medical companies. Wende began her venture career at Mayfield Fund in 1993, where she was a General Partner in the life sciences group until 2001. During her tenure at Mayfield, Wende incubated Heartstream Inc. (HPQ) and Northstar Neuroscience Inc. (NSTR), working closely with those founding teams. Most recently, she was a General Partner at Spring Ridge Ventures, a healthcare-focused seed fund. Earlier in her career, Wende held senior operational management positions at GenPharm International and Nellcor in business development and marketing.
Ms. Hutton holds an AB in human biology from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was a Baker Scholar.
- Nathan Jorgensen, PhD - Lead, Healthcare Group, Qatar Investment Authority
Nathan Jorgensen, PhD
Lead, Healthcare Group, Qatar Investment Authority
Nathan invests in global heath care opportunities for the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the sovereign fund for the State of Qatar, and these opportunities include public, private, venture,, and specialty vehicle investments. Nathan spearheads the biotech and pharma efforts for the team. He draws from a diverse background of buy-side analyst, sell-side analyst, consulting, and laboratory scientist.
Before joining QIA, Nathan covered biotech and pharma at Calamos Investments, a firm with $25 billion of assets under management located in the Chicago metro area. Prior to Calamos, he covered the biotechnology industry as an equity research associate in the mid-large cap team at Stifel Nicolaus. He focused on healthcare strategy and finance at the Cornell University's Johnson School and previously consulted for medical device and pharmaceutical industries. He investigated the molecular mechanism of Parkinson’s disease as a Post-Doctoral Scientist in the Movement Disorders Division at Columbia University. He earned his PhD in neuroscience from the laboratory of prominent neurogeneticist Harry Orr at the University of Minnesota. His PhD investigated inherited ataxias and won the prestigious American Legion Award for Outstanding Thesis in Brain Sciences.
- John McKearn, PhD - Managing Director, RiverVest Venture Partners
John McKearn, PhD
Managing Director, RiverVest Venture Partners
John McKearn joined RiverVest® in April 2008 as a venture partner and became a managing director in April 2011. He has almost 30 years experience as a successful “drug hunter and developer” in both large and small biopharma, including a decade in small-cap and venture-backed companies.
John serves on the board of Allakos, Inc., Tioma Therapeutics, Inc., Viba Therapeutics, Inc. and OncoResponse, Inc., all RiverVest portfolio companies. He is a former director at Otonomy, Inc., which completed an initial public offering, chairman of Lumena Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which was acquired by Shire plc in June 2014, and a former director of ZS Pharma, Inc., which also completed an initial public offering and was subsequently acquired by Astra Zeneca. Prior to joining RiverVest, he was president and CEO of Kalypsys, Inc., and has served on the boards of IDM Pharma, Inc. (acquired by Takeda), Epimmune and Keel Pharmaceuticals, Inc. John holds more than 50 patents and numerous patent applications, primarily in the areas of cancer treatment and inflammatory disease.
John worked as a scientist with Searle / Pharmacia, from 1987-2003, including head of discovery research from 1997-2003. Through his efforts, John helped establish the groundwork for new studies that led to the commercialization of several major products, including DayPro, Arthrotec, and most notably, Celebrex, one of the leading pharmaceuticals to treat arthritis.
Prior to 1987, John was a senior scientist at E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company;
a member of the Basel Institute for Immunology in Basel, Switzerland; and a research associate in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Washington University
in St. Louis.
Additionally, he has co-authored more than 70 published, peer-reviewed scientific papers. John completed his PhD in immunology from the University of Chicago and his BS in biology from Northern Illinois University.
- Andrew Perlman - Co-Founder and Managing Partner, GreatPoint Ventures
Co-Founder and Managing Partner, GreatPoint Ventures
Andrew Perlman is an entrepreneur and investor who has founded pioneering businesses across six industries, including telecom, semiconductors, energy, natural resources, water, and biotechnology. Andrew is the co-founder and Managing Partner of GreatPoint Ventures, where he invests in companies solving major global problems. Andrew was profiled by the Wall Street Journal as one of its leading entrepreneurs "on the move,” chosen by the MIT Technology Review as one of its “35 Innovators Under 35,” and selected by Crain’s Chicago Business as one of its 40 leaders under 40.
- Clifford J. Stocks - Chief Executive Officer, OncoResponse
Clifford J. Stocks
Chief Executive Officer, OncoResponse
Mr. Stocks brings more than twenty-five years of experience in the biotech industry to OncoResponse. Most recently, Mr. Stocks served as Chief Executive Officer at Theraclone Sciences, where he was responsible for leading all aspects of the company’s efforts to discover and develop novel therapeutic antibody immunotherapies for the treatment of infectious disease. Prior to Theraclone, Mr. Stocks served as Chief Business Officer of Calistoga Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where he led the partnering activities and M∓A teamwork that resulted in the acquisition of Calistoga by Gilead for $600 million in Q2 2011. Prior to Calistoga, Mr. Stocks spent over 15 years at ICOS Corporation, where he served as an Executive Officer and Vice President of Business Development. While at ICOS, he led acquisitions and joint venture activities, as well as alliance formation, strategy, licensing and deal making. He played an instrumental role on the leadership team that developed and launched Cialis®, and was a key architect of the Lilly ICOS joint venture partnership leading to the $2.3 billion acquisition of ICOS in 2007. Mr. Stocks's early career includes a turn as a management consultant in the Health Services practice of Booz, Allen & Hamilton, as well as academic research in the department of immunology at the University of Utah and the department of molecular genetics and cell biology at the University of Chicago.
Mr. Stocks received a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Chicago, Booth Graduate School of Business and a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Utah.