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Corporate Venture Capital Panel Announced! | SEBIO

Corporate Venture Capital Panel Announced!

Posted by on Sep 27, 2019

The Southeast BIO Investor & Partnering Forum is honored to be able to present a panel of distinguished corporate venture capitalists on its opening day, Wednesday, November 6, in Coral Gables, Florida at the Biltmore Hotel. These panelists will provide insight into how to work with corporations, the largest source of capital for biopharma companies. Our panelists will be John Gustofson of AbbVie Ventures, who will double as moderator, Gladys Nunez of Amgen, Diana Bernstein of MRL Ventures Fund and Akhil Saklecha of Cleveland Clinic Ventures.

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John Gustofson, Managing Director, AbbVie Ventures, Boston area, adds more than 20 years of industry experience ranging from business development and venture investing to operational experience across multiple startup biotech and global pharmaceutical companies. John is a Managing Director of AbbVie Ventures and invests across AbbVie’s therapy areas of Immunology, Oncology, and Neuroscience. He currently serves on the Board of Ribometrix and Rheostat and is a Board Observer for Disarm Therapeutics and Ribon Therapeutics.   

Prior to joining AbbVie, John worked at AstraZeneca as a Director of Strategic Partnering and Business Development focused on oncology licensing. John has 20+ years professional experience as a bench scientist and in various roles of market and business development. In addition John has worked in numerous biotechnology companies including Altus Pharmaceuticals, Therion Biologics, Boston Life Sciences and Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals. John also spent approximately 4 years in strategy consulting to the life sciences industry. He holds a Master Degree in Molecular Biology from the Miami University and an MBA from the Boston University. 

Gladys Nunez, Principal, Amgen Ventures, joined Amgen as a biochemist in 1997. In 2002, Nunez joined the company’s business development unit, and has completed numerous deals for the company over the past 13 years, focused on discovery, development, and commercial applications in life sciences. “With my location in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I have worked with multiple east coast institutions, companies, and venture capitalists to be a key contact person to support our business development goals. Recently, I have shifted formally into Amgen Ventures to help advance our early-stage investments in the technology and product areas.”

For more than a decade, Amgen Ventures has invested in more than 30 emerging biotechnology companies to advance promising medicines and technologies. Amgen Ventures funds early-stage companies developing human therapeutics. The Fund was founded in 2004 with an initial $100 million investment. While the fund’s focus is primarily in areas of current therapeutic interest to Amgen, it also seeks out novel modalities with the potential to address targets in both current and emerging therapeutic areas of interest. Investments are made on a case-by-case basis, but Amgen Ventures typically invests $2 to $3 million per company per round with $10 million invested over the life of the company. Therapeutic areas of focus for Amgen include: Oncology, Inflammation, Hematology/Nephrology, Metabolic Disorders, Neuroscience and Cardiovascular. Amgen primarily invests in North America but will consider investments in Europe and the United Kingdom. 

Diana Bernstein, Ph.D. is Senior Associate with MRL Ventures Fund. Prior to joining MRLV, Diana was an Associate at Flagship Pioneering where she was a member of the company creation team. Diana contributed to conceiving and building companies, leading efforts to develop corporate vision and strategy as well as raising seed funding. Prior to her role at Flagship, Diana completed her PhD in Pharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania focused on the role of epigenetics in diabetes and developed a technology to alter gene expression by targeted epigenetic modifications as a novel treatment strategy.

Prior to obtaining her Ph.D., Diana was a project manager at Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals (now Leadiant Biosciences), defining and driving many aspects of drug development for rare disease programs. Prior to joining Sigma-Tau, she was an Associate in PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Industry Advisory practice focused on merging operations in support of a large biotech acquisition.

Akhil Saklecha, MD, is Partner, Cleveland Clinic Ventures. Akhil joined Cleveland Clinic Ventures as a Partner leading Life Science investments. Prior to joining Cleveland Clinic Ventures, Akhil was a Partner at Artiman Ventures, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm with over $1.2 billion under management. While at Artiman, he led investments in early-stage start-up companies with an interest towards medical technology and served on the boards of Cellmax Life, Oncostem Diagnostics, Slive, ApplyBoard, DMS Networks, and HomeUnion. In addition to his Board of Director roles, he also served as CEO of Slive, an Artiman portfolio company. Prior to joining Artiman, Akhil served in administrative roles at Aultman Hospital in Canton, Ohio as Medical Director of the hospital’s regional transfer program and Chairman of the Emergency Department and Level II Trauma Center. He was also CEO of Canton Aultman Emergency Physicians, a professional services firm that provides physicians, mid-level providers, and coding expertise to multiple hospitals and urgent care centers. In this same time period, Akhil participated at the local, state, and national levels of governing institutions within emergency medicine, healthcare quality, information technology, managed care, and emergency medical services.

Akhil is Board-certified in Emergency Medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians. He continues to practice medicine on a part-time basis where he remains connected to clinical care, patients, and physicians. Akhil graduated from the combined accelerated B.S./M.D. program at Northeast Ohio Medical University. He completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at Summa Health System and holds a M.B.A. from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. 


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