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Biotech Venture Funding from Foundations

April 25, 2018, 2020 | 5:00 pm

Featuring Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, BIRD Foundation,
Michael J Fox Foundation and National Multiple Sclerosis Society


Location: CCIT, 675 US Highway One, North Brunswick, New Jersey 08902

Hosted in partnership with:

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CCIT Life Sciences Incubator, 675 US Highway One, North Brunswick, New Jersey 08902


Wednesday, April 25th, 2018, 5:00 PM



Join us on Wednesday, April 25 at 5:00 pm at the CCIT Life Sciences Incubator for this panel discussion on how biotech companies are raising venture money from foundations.

As an example of the availability and significance of this funding, Gates Foundation recently invested $52 million in CureVac, a biotech firm. In 2014, the Michael J. Fox Foundation invested $17 million into several biopharma companies, ranging from startups to large pharma, working on Parkinson’s Disease treatments. Breakout Labs, a division of famed venture capitalist Peter Thiel’s Thiel Foundation, has funded 22 primarily life science startups since 2011.

The panel will address some of the following key questions:

How will the next generation of drugs, diagnostics and devices be funded?

What new models are there that might change the paradigm?

Is there a better way to fund early and emerging commercial biomedical research?


Panel Participants:


Lauren Friedman, PhD
Director, Scientific Affairs, Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation

Lauren Friedman, PhD, supports the management of our drug discovery portfolio by providing scientific and strategic review of preclinical drug discovery proposals and tracking program progress. Dr. Friedman also manages the ADDF ACCESS program which provides a virtual network of contract research organizations (CRO) and consultants and offers educational resources on drug discovery and CRO selection and management.

Dr. Friedman completed her postdoctoral training at Columbia University, where she studied modulators of autophagy in Alzheimer’s disease. She earned a doctorate in neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where she focused on molecular mechanisms underlying the development and degeneration of brain circuits involved in autism and Parkinson’s disease. She received a bachelor’s degree in biopsychology from Tufts University. Dr. Friedman has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications and is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, New York Academy of Sciences and the Association for Women in Science.


Kuldip Dave, PhD
Director, Research Programs, The Michael J. Fox Foundation

Kuldip D. Dave joined the Foundation in 2010.

As Director, Research Programs, Kuldip stays closely linked to the Parkinson’s community in order to develop an aggressive and innovative agenda for accelerating research and drug development for Parkinson’s disease. This ensures that MJFF priorities reflect and best serve the ultimate needs of patients. Kuldip regularly meets with academic and industry scientists around the world to identify promising proposals to support, providing troubleshooting and ongoing management of projects as they go forward. He supports the Foundation’s priority interest in alpha-synuclein, an important protein linked genetically and pathologically to Parkinson’s disease. He also oversees the emerging targets portfolio to identify and validate novel targets for PD.

Dr. Dave earned an undergraduate degree in biology from Rutgers University and a PhD in Pharmacology & Physiology from the MCP-Hahnemann University. His thesis work focused on serotonergic regulation of motor function and learning and memory. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship at a small biotechnology firm Adolor Corporation investigating opioid-receptor regulation of pain and inflammation pathways. Kuldip went on to work for the pharmaceutical company Wyeth managing programs within the Women’s Health Department focusing on the hormonal regulation of mood and sexual disorders. He brings this broad CNS drug-discovery experience and knowledge to the Foundation to help bring new treatments to people with Parkinson’s.


Andrea Yonah
East Coast & Midwest Director of Business Development, The BIRD Foundation

The BIRD Foundation was established by the U.S. and Israeli governments in 1977 to generate mutually beneficial cooperation between U.S. and Israeli companies, including start-ups and established organizations. BIRD provides both matchmaking support between U.S. and Israeli companies, as well as funding covering up to 50 percent of project development costs, up to $1M per project. BIRD takes no equity in the companies.

Andrea Yonah is the east coast representative of the BIRD (Israel Binational Industrial R&D) Foundation.  Her role is engaging in business development, strategic growth initiatives, relationship management, and matchmaking between Israeli and U.S. companies. Prior to her position with BIRD, Andrea served for eight years as the Executive Director of the New Jersey-Israel Commission.


Maya Merrell
Director of Business and Partnership Development, Fast Forward, LLC (National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Commercial Research Program)

Maya has been with the National MS Society’s Fast Forward program since it was founded in 2007 and is responsible for coordinating commercial drug discovery efforts with academic and commercial collaborations and managing day-to-day operations related to Fast Forward’s portfolio of companies. A particular focus in Maya’s role and key strategic initiative of Fast Forward has been on bridging the gap between early, discovery stage research with translational potential and more mature, partnership-ready programs, with the goal of expanding the number of new MS treatments in the development pipeline. Prior to joining the National MS Society, she served as staff research coordinator at Mount Sinai School of Medicine where she worked on a variety of projects spanning discovery research and preclinical development with an emphasis in the areas of hematology and oncology.


John Pennett (Moderator)
Partner, EisnerAmper LLP

John Pennett is the Partner-in-Charge of the Life Sciences Group and Technology Group. He has 30 years of public accounting experience, with a strong emphasis on public and private life science and technology companies. John is a frequent writer and speaker on topics related to issues impacting businesses in the life sciences and technology space. He is the publisher of Catalyst, a magazine focused solely on issues related to life sciences and pharmaceutical companies. John supports entrepreneurial organizations around the country with content and program development, and serves as a mentor to several early-stage companies.

John has led the accounting, auditing and strategic advisory work for more than a hundred IPOs, private financing and mergers and acquisitions with an aggregate valuation in excess of $1 billion. In addition, he has served as the interim lead of the firm’s Risk Advisory Practice, leading internal audit, contract compliance and Sarbanes-Oxley implementation and testing. John previously worked as an Audit Partner for an international accounting and consulting firm.




April 25, 2018
5:00 pm