Logo for LaunchBio Program: Invest in CuresLogo for LaunchBio Program: Invest in Cures

A Disease Foundation Forum



Disease Foundation Forum


Invest in Cures explores how disease foundations and social venture funds are accelerating the commercialization of early-stage technologies and therapies. LaunchBio and BioNTX welcome researchers, advocates and investment professionals from leading disease foundations that have successfully partnered with local startups focused on oncology and rare disease.

8:00am – 9:00am: Coffee, Continental Breakfast, Registration and Networking
9:00 – 9:05am: Welcome and Opening Remarks
9:05am – 10am: Advancing Patient Outcomes Through Partnerships
10:05am – 10:50am: Acceleration Through Collaboration
11:25am – 12:10pm: Innovation in Rare Diseases
12:10pm – 1pm: Committing to a Cure


Advancing Patient Outcomes Through Partnerships

Nonprofit disease foundations for many years have provided grants for basic science and fellowships to promising researchers. Foundations, through their venture arms, have begun making direct investments in startups to validate proof of concept, spur commercialization and connect founders with a unique network of researchers, patients and advocates. We will hear from two investors from disease foundations on how they made a connection to Dallas-based companies. And we will learn about the companies experience partnering with the foundation to advance their path to the marketplace.

  • Danny Tobey, MD, JD, Partner at DLA Piper (moderator)
  • Debra Miller, CureDuchenne
  • Eric Olson, PhD, Co-Founder, Exonics and Professor Molecular Biology, UT Southwestern
  • Rusty Kelley, PhD, MBA, Foundation for Fighting Blindness
  • Halden Conner, CEO & President at Nacuity Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Amanda de la Garza, MPH, Partner, Bios Partners


Acceleration Through Collaboration

Disease foundations often begin as a group of highly engaged patients, parents and physicians seeking better solutions for patients living with rare diseases. Grass roots efforts from patient advocacy groups have catalyzed highly effective collaborative partnerships with academic medical centers and industry partners. These new models align science and clinical practice to increase the efficiency and outcome of rare disease research. This panel will explore how collaboration is playing a critical role in research, patient care, and the development of cures for patients.

  • Tracy Dowling, JD, General Counsel & Head of Business Development, AskBio (moderator)
  • Steven J. Gray, PhD, Assoc. Professor, Dept. of Pediatrics, UTSW Medical Center
  • RA Session II, MBA, President, CEO and Founder of Taysha Gene Therapies
  • Kasey Woleben, Co-Founder, Rare Village


Innovation in Rare Diseases

Meet four North Texas-based company founders who are working in the rare disease space to learn about their science, milestones and path to commercialization.

  • Brad Phelan, MBA, Dir of Tech. Commercialization, UTSW Medical Center (moderator)
  • Suchi Acharya, PhD, Founder and CEO, AyuVis Research
  • Pouya Modareszadeh, Co-Founder and CEO, HemePro Therapeutics
  • Parsa Modareszadeh, Co-Founder and COO, HemePro Therapeutics
  • Sulagna Bhattacharya, MBA, Co-Founder & CEO, NanoScope Therapeutics
  • Daniel J. Siegwart, PhD, Advisor & Collaborator at ReCode Therapeutics


Committing to a Cure

Disease foundations are mission driven, with a commitment to fund research, improve disease education and advocate for their patients and stakeholders. These organizations play a key role in fostering collaboration amongst scientists around the world and across disciplines, providing seed and early-stage funding and flexibility for innovative ideas and research, all while maintaining a long-term vision and an unwavering commitment to research. Join the panelists as they talk about their research and funding strategies and priorities for improving prevention, developing early-detection tools and advancing targeted therapies and ultimately cures.

  • Kathleen Otto, CEO, BioNTX (moderator)
  • Alice L. Pomponio, Managing Director, American Cancer Society BrightEdge


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