Dr. Sheila Gujrathi is a physician-executive with a deep track record in translational science and drug development. She currently sits on the board for Ventyx Biosciences, IMMPACT Bio, ADARx Pharmaceuticals, and Janux Therapeutics and is prior Venture Advisor at OrbiMed and prior chair of Turning Point Therapeutics. She is co-founder and former CEO of Gossamer Bio, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering, acquiring, developing and commercializing therapeutics in the disease areas of immunology, inflammation and oncology. Prior to Gossamer Bio, Dr. Gujrathi served as Chief Medical Officer of Receptos, which was acquired by Celgene in 2015. Prior to Receptos, Dr. Gujrathi was Vice President of the Global Clinical Development Group in Immunology at Bristol-Myers Squibb, where she led clinical development and supported numerous global regulatory filings and approvals for Orencia® and Nulojix®. Prior to Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dr. Gujrathi held roles in the immunology, tissue growth and repair clinical development groups at Genentech.
Dr. Linda Kim is a practicing Harvard-trained psychiatrist and therapist with extensive executive healthcare leadership experience. She is the co-founder and CEO at Moon Mental Health and Founder of LuvLuk. Moon Mental Health is a holistic experience of mental health care for women and their loved ones that is by women, serving women throughout their lifespans. Dr. Kim graduated from the University of Chicago and received her Doctor of Medicine from Tufts University School of Medicine. She then completed her adult psychiatry residency at Harvard Medical School, and joined Kaiser Permanente serving thousands of patients and families. She became Chief of Psychiatry and then Regional Director and Chair of Chiefs of Mental Health and Chemical Dependency for the entire Northern California region, overseeing a population of over 4 million members. In 2020, she built her own group practice, Moon Mental Health, focusing on women’s mental health.
Margaret Melville a Board Certified Patient Advocate and Founder and CEO of Lasa Health, a digital health platform for patients with chronic conditions, starting with endometriosis. She previously worked for USAID's Global Health Center for Innovation and Impact and has a Masters in Business Administration from INSEAD. Margaret started this company because of her own journey with endometriosis and celiac disease. During this episode, we discuss endometriosis and how Lasa Health is using technology to support patients with complex chronic conditions.
Eriona Hysolli, Ph.D., is the Head of Biological Sciences at Colossal Biosciences, a breakthrough biosciences and genetic engineering company spun out of George Church's lab at Harvard focused on developing radical new technologies to advance the fields of de-extinction, species preservation and human healthcare through genomics. In January 2023, the company secured an oversubscribed $150M Series B financing led by the United States Innovative Technology Fund with participation from Bob Nelsen, Jazz Ventures among others, bringing total funding to $225M.
In this episode, we discuss her story, the founding of Colossal, and what it means for humanity and the environment to bring back the wooly mammoth.
Jingyun Fan is CEO and co-founder of Shuni, a company that provides CBT-I coaching for insomnia. Prior to Shuni, Jingyun was an AI research scientist at Accenture and a data scientist at Hello, the company behind the bedside sleep tracer Sense.
This episode was recorded in September 2022. Since the interview, Jingyun and her team have decided to wind down operations of Shuni. Nonetheless, Jingyun provides insightful reflections on her evolving role as co-founder and CEO and on creating a niche as a direct-to-consumer company within the insomnia market.
Kristin Apple is a healthcare leader and brand strategist, and is President of Linus, an insights, strategy, and innovation consulting firm that helps companies in health, wellness, and life science industries. She has worked on the client-side and as an advisor to the world’s largest consumer healthcare, pharmaceutical, and CPG companies for over twenty years.
Prior to LINUS, Kristin built and led the healthcare vertical at Egg Strategy, a global brand and innovation consultancy where she focused on uncovering insights, guiding strategy, and fueling innovation for the world’s largest brands. Her interest in health and wellness started when she spent 6 years at Eli Lilly, launching five blockbuster drugs while in different roles in the sales and marketing divisions.
Ashlee Wisdom is co-founder and CEO of Health in Her Hue, a digital platform connecting Black women and women of color to culturally sensitive healthcare providers, content and community. Ashlee is a public health innovator, committed to dismantling racist systems to achieve a more equitable healthcare landscape. Prior to Health in Her HUE, Ashlee worked for an advisory firm, Junto Health, as the Program Director for the Strategic Ventures Group. In this episode, we discuss topics such as ways Health in Her Hue is working to ensure quality and culturally sensitive care, how to create buy-in from investors that may not relate to your product, and the importance of story-telling as a founder. Key advice for aspiring entrepreneurs - find a pain point that hits home to you or your family and create a solution.
Kristina Saffran is the co-founder and CEO of Equip, a virtual program that delivers modern eating disorder treatment through family-based care that promises lasting recovery at home. Prior to Equip, Kristina founded Project HEAL, a leading grassroots eating disorder non-profit dedicated to treatment access. Kristina is an Ashoka Fellow, a Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneur, and a Facebook Community Leadership Fellow.
Cindy Adam is co-founder and CEO of Choix, a telemedicine clinic founded in 2020 providing sexual and reproductive healthcare in California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, and New Mexico. Choix provides professional and private abortion care to women seeking to safely end a pregnancy from the comfort of their own home. Choix has been featured in USA Today, Insider, Fast Company, among many other news outlets.
Dr. Marla Dubinsky is the co-founder for Trellus Health, the first resilience-driven connected health solution for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Dr. Dubinsky is the Chief of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology at the Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital and is the Co-Director of the Susan and Leonard Feinstein Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinical Center at Mount Sinai. Her primary research focuses on the influence of genetics and immune responses on the variability in clinical presentations, treatment responses and prognosis of early-onset IBD.
Dr. Mimi Winsberg is co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of Brightside Health, a telehealth startup focused on delivering life-changing mental health care. A Stanford-trained psychiatrist with over 25 years of clinical experience, she was previously the on-site psychiatrist at the Facebook Wellness Center. Dr. Winsberg appears regularly on Good Morning America, and her work has been featured in HealthDay, Business Insider, Fast Company, and Bloomberg BusinessWeek. She has a B.A. in Neuroscience from Harvard College. She is also the author of the insightful book, Speaking in Thumbs.
We cover topics like her journey co-founding Brightside Health, the future of tele-psychiatry and the role data science can play, and general advice for aspiring physician-entrepreneurs.
Jennifer Steiner is the CEO of Lightfully Behavioral Health, which provides primary mental health treatment to commercially insured clients. Lightfully is one of the first behavioral health organizations built around Processed-based Therapy, a framework that delivers more personalized and holistic care. Previously, she was the CEO of Alsana, an Eating Recovery Community. Alsana combines data-driven, evidence-based treatment with a fresh perspective focused on total health and wellness. With communities in St. Louis, MO, Birmingham, AL, and Monterey, Westlake Village and Santa Barbara, CA, Alsana delivers compassionate, best-in-class care to individuals looking for recovery from eating disorders.
Julia Bernstein is a former consultant turned healthcare strategy and growth leader, currently working as General manager of Platform at Thirty Madison, the virtual specialized care platform mixing direct-to-consumer and reimbursable models. Thirty Madison includes companies like Keeps, a men’s hair loss solution, Cove, focusing on migraine care, and Evens for GI symptoms, and Picnic, for allergies.
Mary Ray, COO and co-founder of MyHealthTeam, has a deep understanding of consumers, contributing to her success in growing innovative companies from incubated new ventures at public companies to ‘traditional’ start-ups. Drawing from her personal experience with friends and family living with chronic conditions, she empathizes with the loneliness of these experiences, leading her to co-found MyHealthTeam with Eric Peacock, to promote social connectedness and support for those in similar circumstances. With MyHealthTeam they hope to shift healthcare from physician- and pharmaceutical driven to a consumer-driven industry. Previously, Mary has held executive positions at Sony and other innovative start ups in the field of mobile, digital media, and consumer technology.
Alessandra Henderson is the co-founder and CEO of Elektra Health, the next-gen healthcare platform to smash the taboo surrounding menopause. Elektra Health offers evidence-based education, care, and community for women going through various stages of menopause. Elektra Health has been featured in leading publications including Fast Company, Forbes, Techcrunch, and more with endorsements from prominent women like Katie Couric and Maria Shriver. Alessandra began her career at Artsy, building the content partner business. She then went on to found and serve as Executive Director of the MIT NYC Startup Studio and as VP of Network at Human Ventures.
Jessica Bell van der Wal, co-founder and CEO of Frame Fertility, is joined by one of her seed investors, Margaret Malone from Flare Capital. Frame Fertility helps individuals and couples plan ahead for expanding their family and know their risk factors early to avoid a downstream and often costly fertility crisis. They each share their perspective on the fundraising process and the relationship between entrepreneur and investor after the round closes.
Dr. Nina Vasan is a psychiatrist, entrepreneur, and pioneer in digital mental health innovation. Dr. Nina Vasan is the Chief Medical Officer at Real, a mental health care company building a new therapy model, and psychiatrist and professor at Stanford where she is the founder and Executive Director of Brainstorm: The Stanford Lab for Mental Health and Innovation.
Daphne Chen is the cofounder of TBD health, an at-home screening platform for sexually transmitted infections made for women. Chen pursued her undergraduate degree at Princeton and received her MBA from the University of Pennsylvania. She is applying her skillset from her previous strategy consulting and product management experiences at McKinsey and Amazon to encourage women to take care of their own health. TBD Health provides seamless, user-friendly at home STI testing while also destigmatizing STIs and empowering women with knowledge to take care of their sexual wellness. The focus on TBD health is to provide an inclusive, engaging, and empowering care and to bust myths about STIs and sexual wellness.
Tia Lyles-Williams is founder and CEO of LucasPye Bio, the first large-scale biotechnology/biopharmaceutical company to be led by an African American woman. As a contract development manufacturing organization (or CDMO), LucasPye Bio currently offers a wide range of services to its clients, including proprietary cell line development, bioprocess development, consulting, and cGLP small scale bioprocessing, in turn fast-tracking the clinical development of companies’ biologics for regulatory approval, manufacturing the biologic below market price, and accelerating the drug products into the global commercial market for sale. Tia also founded HelaPlex, LucasPye Bio’s sister company, which is a commercial co-working space for life science startups and virtual biotechs. In this episode, Tia touches on her journey to starting LucasPye Bio, the hurdles BIPOC and LGBTQ+ face in entrepreneurship, and how CDMOs can play a role in influencing policy on drug pricing.
Jaye Goldstein is the head of program at Petri. Before coming to Petri, she founded the MIT Communication Lab along with the Department of Biological Engineering. This lab was created in an effort to teach scientists and engineers to communicate effectively. Jaye created the bridge between the School of Engineering and the Communication lab, making it a resource for emerging scientists and engineers. After joining the MIT, she worked as the Director of Strategic Projects and Innovation Grants at Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching. Now, she is the Head of Programs at Pillar VC and Petri which creates a new approach to funding formation-stage biology and engineering startups. It is cofounded by entrepreneurs and academics who have a deep understanding of human health and sustainability. Petri is specifically tailored for entrepreneurs in the biology and engineering fields.
Liya Shuster-Bier is the founder and CEO of Alula, the radically honest resource making cancer less lonely.
On January 11, 2018, on the cusp of her 30th birthday, six months after graduating from Wharton, Liya was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Taking the knowledge gained from her experience, Liya built Alula to support people, families, and friends through the entire lifecycle of cancer, from diagnosis and treatment to recovery and (sometimes) bereavement.
On this episode we discuss Liya's personal experiences with cancer, her career path to entrepreneurship, and how she built Alula.
Maria Luisa Pineda is the co-founder and CEO of Envisagenics, which was founded in 2014 as a spinout of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Given that there are over 30 million people in the United States who suffer from genetic diseases or cancer, which could be caused by mutations affecting RNA splicing, Envisagenics aims to accelerate the development of innovative therapeutic solutions for RNA splicing variants with the help of its AI platform. On this episode, we discuss her experience in navigating the science startup world.
Dawn Barry is the president and co-founder of LunaPBC, which is the public benefit corporation that launched LunaDNA, the first DNA and health research platform owned by its community of data donors. LunaDNA's member-owned digital data-sharing community makes discovery representative of the real world and aligned with people’s true goals by giving all individuals a role in research. Previously, Dawn joined Illumina in 2005 and served as the Vice President of Applied Genomics. Prior to Illumina, Dawn worked at Genaissance Pharmaceuticals, one of the first genomics startups focused on personalized medicine. In this episode, Dawn shares lessons learned in her career in biotech, how she built LunaDNA with its innovative shared ownership structure, and her perspectives on the future of data sharing and the applications of genomics in medicine.
Alyssa Jaffee is a Partner at 7wireVentures where she focuses on investments in digital healthcare and technology-enabled services that empower consumers to be better stewards of their health in today’s changing healthcare ecosystem. Alyssa sits on the board of Ayogo Health and Higi and is a board observer with Zerigo Health, NOCD, Jasper Health, and RecoveryOne. Alyssa’s prior experience in venture capital includes her time as an investor at Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Hyde Park Angels, one of the Midwest’s largest angel organizations, and Healthbox, an early-stage healthcare innovation firm, supporting their accelerator program called the Studio. Alyssa is also a Co-Founder of TransparentCareer, a 2016 NVC winning company focused on helping people make more data-driven career decisions.
In this episode, Alyssa discusses her career path into digital healthcare investing and what she looks for when making investments.
Dr. Lara Devgan is a top board-certified New York City plastic surgeon and the founder and CEO of luxury medical-grade skincare line Dr. Devgan Scientific Beauty. She is the former Chief Medical Officer of RealSelf, the largest online aesthetics community where consumers learn about cosmetic treatments and connect with doctors and other clinicians.
Dr. Devgan is a medical expert for ABC News, an editorial consultant for The Lancet, a nationally and internationally invited lecturer on surgical topics, and an advisor on plastic surgical issues for Gerson Lehrman Group, Guidepoint Global, and Medefield. Her brand, Devgan Scientific Beauty, has been featured in Glamour Magazine, Forbes, Allure, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle Magazine.
Robin McIntosh is a designer, author and social impact entrepreneur. She has founded multiple companies, and has worked across startups, brands, and business communities over the past decade, with a focus on the arts, health and wellness. Currently, she serves as co-founder and co-CEO of Workit Health, where she and her co-founder Lisa McLaughlin develop digital therapeutic programs and precision prevention models for addiction recovery and wellness. Workit provides home-based detox and rehab services and guides individuals from high-risk substance use to a healthy thriving lifestyle through a 90-day program of weekly interactive lessons, tailored content, and personalized interactions with coaches and clinicians. McIntosh shares her journey to entrepreneurship, what it was like building WorkIt Health, and provides advice to female founders on fundraising.
Dr. Lisa Bard Levine served as the former CEO of The MAVEN Project, a telehealth nonprofit that supports primary care providers in delivering comprehensive care to vulnerable patients at community health centers across the country. Her team recruits and retains experienced volunteer physicians who work closely with front line providers to educate, advise, and enhance local care capacity through provider-to-provider consults, one-on-one mentoring, and customized education sessions. Founded by alumni leaders from Harvard, Stanford, UCSF, Yale, and Tufts, The MAVEN Project’s physician volunteers now represent over 40 medical specialties at over 90 community clinic sites for 765,000 patients. Dr. Levine shares with us her experience building the MAVEN Project and how we can enhance delivery of comprehensive care to the most vulnerable patient populations.
Vivian S. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A, is President of Health Platforms at Verily Life Sciences, an Alphabet company whose mission is to apply digital solutions that enable people to enjoy healthier lives. A passionate champion of improving health in the U.S. and worldwide, she works closely with Verily’s clinical and engineering teams to develop products and platforms that support the successful transformation of health systems to value and advance the co-production of health with patients, caregivers, and communities. Wearing many hats as a President of a tech company, Senior Lecturer at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, and an author, Dr. Lee shares her journey, the work underway at Verily, and how we can improve healthcare delivery in the US.
Dr. Leila Strickland is the co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of BIOMILQ, a women-owned, science-led, and parent-centered infant nutrition company based in Durham, North Carolina. With her co-founder, Michelle Egger, Dr. Strickland is disrupting the over $65 billion infant formula market through culturing mammary gland cells in a lab. Despite its recent formation in January 2020, BIOMILQ has caught the eye of Bill Gates, who bought a $3.5 million stake in June 2020, as well as Breakthrough Energy Ventures, composed of investors such as Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Ma, and Michael Bloomberg. In June 2021, the company announced that they have successfully made the world’s first cell-cultured human milk from mammary cells outside of the breast. Their 100% human milk contains the majority of nutritional complexities of breastmilk, with the practicality of formula.
Vernita Brown is CEO of Natalist, a venture-backed women’s health startup focused on supporting women from concept to conception. Their fertility products and resources are backed by science with a net-zero plastic footprint. Prior to Natalist, Vernita spent a decade working with organizations and businesses like Teach for America and United Way in positions of leadership, asset management, program development, recruitment, and culture building. Vernita shares with us the origins of Natalist, including principles of leadership and team-building, and how to thrive in the femtech space, including approaches to pitching women’s health products to male investors.
Arlan Hamilton is founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital, a venture fund dedicated to minimizing funding disparities by investing in high-potential founders who are people of color, women, and/or members of the LGBTQ community. Since its founding in 2015, Backstage has invested more than $20 million in more than 180 companies with plans to raise up to $30 million for its newest fund. In 2018 Arlan co-founded Backstage Studio which launched four accelerator programs for underestimated founders in Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and London. Arlan’s book "It's About Damn Time" published in May 2020 chronicles her journey from being homeless in SF to running a multimillion-dollar investment fund and the lessons learned along the way. Arlan touches on her journey founding Backstage Capital; discusses how biases lead investors to think that a pipeline problem is the cause for <10% of funding going to underrepresented founders; and provides advice for underrepresented founders on being your authentic self.
Vineeta Agarwala, MD, PhD, is a General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and adjunct clinical professor in the Division of Primary Care and Population Health at Stanford. She previously worked as a management consultant at McKinsey and as a Director of Product Management at Flatiron Health. At a16z, she works with companies seeking to improve how drug development and patient care delivery is done. We discuss with Dr. Agarwala the importance of adopting a “continuous learner” mindset, how to make the jump from academia to entrepreneurship, and trends in biotech and health tech, including a DoorDash-infrastructure for healthcare delivery.
Sachin Jain, MD, MBA is President and CEO of SCAN Group and Health Plan, where he is charged with leading the organization’s growth, diversification, and emerging efforts to reduce healthcare disparities. Previously, Dr. Jain was President and CEO of CareMore and Aspire Health, innovative care delivery systems with > $1.6B in revenues serving 200,000 Medicare and Medicaid patients and 2500 associates in 32 states. He pioneered the first clinical program in the world focused on social isolation. We discuss with Dr. Jain his thoughts on effective leadership, what it really means to tackle social determinants of health to reduce healthcare disparities, and how men can be allies in the efforts to achieve gender parity in healthcare leadership.
Jun Axup is the Chief Science Officer and Partner at IndieBio, the world’s leading biotech startup accelerator. Focused on turning scientists into entrepreneurs, IndieBio has funded and helped build 100+ biotech companies spanning the future of food/agriculture, consumer biotech, computational biology, digital health, therapeutics, medical devices, neurotech, and regenerative medicine. In this episode, Jun shares her journey from scientist to entrepreneur to VC, reveals the moonshot projects underway at IndieBio, and reflects on VC in the post-COVID era.
Dr. Dana Kanze is an accomplished professor at London Business School, specializing in organizational behavior and gender inequality within the workplace. Her internationally accredited TED Talk entitled, “The real reason female entrepreneurs get less funding,” has spurred many important discussions surrounding the biases that investors carry within their evaluation of start-up ventures. We discuss the implications of her research -- namely “promotion vs. prevention” mindset among male and female founders and investors penalizing female founders for perceived lack of industry fit.
Dr. Seema Yasmin is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, poet, medical doctor and author. Serving as an officer in the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she investigated disease outbreaks as principal investigator on a number of studies. Previously she was a science correspondent at The Dallas Morning News, medical analyst for CNN, and professor of public health at the University of Texas at Dallas. She is author of three award-winning books: The Impatient Dr. Lange, Viral BS: Medical Myths and Why We Fall for Them, and Muslim Women are Everything. Dr. Yasmin shares with us the inspiration behind her books and provides advice on effective communication in the face of misinformation and stereotypes.
Angela Lee is an educator, entrepreneur, and investor. Angela is a Professor of Practice and the Chief Innovation Officer at Columbia Business School, where she teaches courses on leadership and venture capital. She started her career in product management and then moved onto strategy consulting at McKinsey. She is the founder of four startups, including the NYC-based investor network called 37 Angels, where she is an angel investor. Angela shares her journey to angel investing and provides a framework for evaluating companies and entering the world of angel investing.
Dr. Nadine Hachach-Haram is a London-based consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon and the founder of Proximie, a technology platform that allows clinicians to virtually 'scrub in' to any operating room from anywhere in the world. This augmented reality platform allows health professionals to teach, train, and collaborate remotely, thus digitizing a given surgeon's footprint and creating a borderless and inclusive operating room. We discuss what it takes to be a clinician-entrepreneur and how Proximie will democratize surgical training. The key, according to Dr. Hachach-Haram, is to be mission-driven and to develop a solution that is solving an existing problem, not a solution trying to fit a problem.
Nearly 700,000 Americans suffer an ischemic stroke each year, and though tPA has been approved for over 25 years to treat ischemic strokes, only 5-10% of eligible patients receive this therapy due to delays in seeking medical attention. Alva Health is developing a wearable device to help older Americans living with high stroke risk monitor and detect signs of stroke. Founder and CEO Dr. Sandra Saldana shares with us her journey in applying her science and business backgrounds to create Alva Health and discusses the need for innovation for the aging population, an often neglected population.
Dr. Natalie Ma is co-founder and director of business development at Felix Biotechnology, a seed-stage biotechnology company working to accelerate its deployment of novel biotherapeutics to manage infectious diseases using their proprietary phage technology. She helped launch Felix Biotech with Dr. Paul Turner when she was a Blavatnik Fellow in Entrepreneurship at the Yale Tech Transfer Office. Natalie shares her journey operating on both the science and business sides of the life sciences industry as well as her advice for female physicians and scientists in academia with an itch towards commercializing their research.
During the pandemic, Theia has talked with more than a dozen of healthcare professionals, leaders, and innovators. We wanted to share what we have discussed and learned from our podcast guests with respect to Covid-19 and its effects on healthcare through this episode. This piece aims to share how entrepreneurs adapted their ventures to the events of the pandemic, reflect on how the pandemic revealed key unmet needs and raised important issues within healthcare, and show how the pandemic spurred innovation and impacted investments and notable trends within healthcare. This episode features
Dr. Sejal Hathi (Internal Medicine Resident Physician at MGH, founder of CivicRx)
Pooja Chandrashekar (founder of COVID-19 Health Literacy Project)
Dr. Sachin Jain (CEO of SCAN Health Plan)
Vernita Brown (CEO of Natalist)
Bunny Ellerin (Director of Healthcare Management at Columbia Business School)
Andrea Ippolito (founder & CEO of SimpliFed)
Dr. Jerrica Kirkley (co-founder & CEO of Plume)
Barbara Schilberg (co-founder & Managing Director of BioAdvance)
Dr. Seema Yasmin (CNN Analyst, Former CDC Detective)
Ellen Su (co-founder of Wellinks)
Sara Nayeem (Partner at Avoro Ventures)
Dr. Dana Kanze (Gender Equity Researcher and Professor, London Business School)
Dr. Jerrica Kirkley is co-founder and CMO of Plume, a direct-to-consumer telehealth company that provides medical consultation and gender-affirming hormone therapy for transgender patients. As a trans woman, family practice physician and educator, Dr. Kirkley and her co-founder, Dr. Matthew Wetschler, started Plume in 2019 to radically increase access to gender-affirmation services. Plume is currently operating in 33 states - and has been regarded as one of the fastest-growing trans tech companies in the nation. We discuss the origins of Plume as well as the changing landscape regarding policy and education surrounding gender-affirming care.
Avisi Technologies is a University of Pennsylvania spinout company developing a nanoscale, ocular implant called VisiPlate to stop blindness in patients with glaucoma. CEO Rui Jing Jiang co-founded Avisi while completing her undergraduate business degree at Wharton. What began as a business project turned into a full-time endeavor. We talk about how to leverage the resources at your academic institution for opportunities to commercialize intellectual property owned by the institution, mentorship and guidance from key opinion leaders, and funding. Avisi is gearing up for in-human clinical trials, so Rui Jing reflects on Avisi’s strategy for preclinical studies and conversations with the FDA.
Andrea Ippolito is the founder and CEO of Simplifed, the first independent tele-lactation consulting and nutrition support platform connecting new mothers with resources in the first weeks of becoming a parent. She is currently a Lecturer in the Engineering Management Program at Cornell University. Prior to this, she served as Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Innovators Network within the VA Innovation Center. There she led the creation of a $10.5m program that provides the tools and resources to VA employees to develop innovations that improve the experience of our Veterans. In 2012, she co-founded health IT company SmartScheduling which was sold to athenahealth in 2016. In our interview with Andrea, we learned about her journey to entrepreneurship and how her work with organizations like the VA has impacted her path within healthcare. She emphasized the importance of not just being an entrepreneur, but giving back to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the process. How can we create buy-in and ensure durable change in healthcare? She says, “follow the money.”
Pooja Chandrashekar is a second year medical student at Harvard Medical School and founder of the COVID-19 Health Literacy Project, which aims to create and translate accessible COVID-19 information into different languages to help all patients know when and how to seek care. We talk about her ability to mobilize hundreds of health professional students to work towards tackling language barriers to health literacy. She shares her vision for more equitable and patient-centered healthcare delivery.
Sara Nayeem is a Partner at Avoro Ventures (former Partner at NEA) where she focuses on investments in biopharmaceutical companies. We discuss with Sara what it means to “fail fast”, the importance of that “killer experiment” and other key considerations for building a biopharma company. As one of Fierce Biotech’s “Fiercest Women in Life Sciences”, she provides suggestions for how we can promote gender equity in life sciences.
Dr. Sejal Hathi is a physician, public health advocate, and serial entrepreneur, who has dedicated her career to serving vulnerable communities in the United States and globally — with a special attention to women and girls. She has founded two non-profit organizations, Girls Helping Girls and girltank, that have mobilized over 30,000 young women to create sustainable social change in over 100 countries. Presently, she serves as a primary care resident at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Clinical Fellow at Harvard Medical School. She shares with us her motivation behind her social entrepreneurial pursuits, her involvement in Pete Buttigieg’s campaign, and her strategies for success as a leader and entrepreneur (hint: vogue-ish company creation is not the way to go).
Bunny Ellerin is co-founder and president of New York City Health Business Leaders, a community of over 4,000 healthcare executives, entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors. She’s an award-winning leader, thinker, writer, and speaker who has helped transform New York City into a thriving hub of healthcare innovation. We talk to her about effective strategies for networking and how men need to serve as allies to really help build women presence in entrepreneurship and healthcare leadership.
3Derm is a medical technology company offering a skin imaging system that allows users to take clinical-quality 3D skin images remotely. Dermatologists can use the uploaded images to efficiently monitor high volumes of patients' lesions while reserving in-clinic appointment times for patients whose images indicate a more alarming condition. A week after the interview in August 2020, 3Derm was acquired by autonomous AI platform Digital Diagnostics. 3Derm co-founder and CEO Liz Asai shares how she and her team gained payor buy-in for their product as well as 3Derm’s progress on autonomous and assistive AI with a particular focus on inclusivity in diagnosing skin conditions.
Wellinks is a wearable health technology company that focuses on building software and hardware to improve treatment and outcomes for patients with musculoskeletal conditions. Coming from a non-traditional background with training in product design at Yale and Design for America, co-founder Ellen Su recounts her experience channeling the motivation to help young patients with scoliosis to develop a digital health solution to track brace usage and enhance feedback between patients and physicians.
BELKIN Laser is an Israeli ophthalmology device company disrupting the glaucoma care space. Their technology is an automated one-second laser device aimed at addressing the growing disparity between the enormous number of glaucoma patients (80M) and the limited number of ophthalmologists (212,000) by enabling the doctor to treat many more patients. In our conversation with BELKIN Laser CEO, Daria Lemann-Blumenthal, we explore the landscape of glaucoma treatment, Israel’s medtech scene, and being a woman and mother in medtech while building a global company.
Dr. Nimmi Ramanujam is the Director of the Center for Women's Global Health Technologies at Duke University and co-founder at Calla Health. Calla Health strives to sustainably improve women's access to cancer prevention through women-inspired technologies for cervical cancer screening for low-resource settings. With the Callascope, their innovative device for cervical imaging, Nimmi and her team are re-imagining the gynecological exam and bringing cervical cancer screening to women's doorsteps. We discuss with Dr. Ramanujam the design process of the Callascope, how to engage global health partners, and what it means to build a scalable and sustainable enterprise.
BioAdvance is a venture capital firm investing in early-stage life sciences companies and technologies in the mid-Atlantic region. BioAdvance CEO Barbara Schilberg expands on her over three decade career in biotech from serving as general counsel and running clinical trials at several biotech companies to now being a life sciences investor. During her tenure, BioAdvance has invested over $49 million in 93 companies and academic technologies, which have attracted $3 billion in capital. In our conversation, Barbara outlines qualities vital for a successful entrepreneur and encourages women to challenge the assumption that entrepreneurship is only for young folks.
Cabaletta Bio is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of engineered T cell therapies for patients with B-cell mediated autoimmune disease. Their lead product candidate, DSG3-CAART, is entering clinical development as a potential treatment for patients with mucosal pemphigus vulgaris, a prototypical B cell-mediated autoimmune disease. Co-founder Dr. Aimee Payne, MD, PhD is a worldwide leader in characterizing B cell-mediated autoantibody repertoires in pemphigus vulgaris and other autoimmune diseases. We discuss with Dr. Payne on how she translated research out of her lab into a full-fledged company and how she is keen on mentoring female physician-scientists to improve representation of women in healthcare leadership.
Group K Diagnostics (GKD) is developing a point-of-care diagnostic device, KromaHealth, that leverages paper-based microfluidics technology to reduce cost and time of testing for over 40 diseases. CEO and founder Brianna Wronko walks us through how she has translated her research at the University of Pennsylvania into a full fledged company that has raised $7 million to date. With the use of KromaHealth, she paints a picture of a more efficient doctor’s office visit devoid of the time lag between blood draw and lab result. For any diagnostic tool, the regulatory process can be daunting, so we go into the nuances of the 510(k) pathway for KromaHealth.
Ride Health is dedicated to addressing the transportation barrier to care. They have a software platform that helps care coordinators arrange rides for patients to and from their appointments. Co-founders Sumun Khetpal and Christine Yang discuss the origin of Ride Health and building its product as undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania. Incorporating their respective clinical and financial backgrounds, they breakdown how to build a solution that aligns incentives across multiple stakeholders from patients to payers to physicians to transportation providers.
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