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

A Disease Foundation Forum

La Jolla, CA

Invest in Cures San Diego 2023

Impact Investing Through Disease Foundations


Invest In Cures 2023 Forum
August 24th 9am – 2:30pm
Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, La Jolla California

Join us to explore the rising trend of impact investing through disease foundations and innovative approaches to addressing rare disease challenges. Foundation leaders, advocates and entrepreneurs will share how a targeted venture philanthropy approach is accelerating the commercialization of life saving therapies. Discover how collaborative efforts are lowering the barriers of diagnosis and treatment of rare disease. This forum examines the foundation venture funds and their investment philosophies, highlights successful collaborations with start-ups as well as disease advocacy groups and offers matchmaking opportunities for venture funds and start-ups that align with their investment profile.

Invest in Cures combines main stage sessions and panel discussions with intimate gatherings and high-level networking. Capacity is limited and guests must pre-register to attend.

Co-hosted with California Life Sciences and Women in Bio, Southern California

Fondation Ipsen LaunchBio


Forum organized with the support of Fondation Ipsen, under the aegis of Fondation de France.



8:00am:  Coffee, Continental Breakfast, Networking

9:00am:  Welcome and Introductions, Thank You to Sponsors

9:05-9:25am:  Opening Keynote: Derisking Rare Disease

9:30-10:20am:  The Rise of Impact Investing — How Disease Foundations are Translating Science Into Cures

10:25-11:25am:  Mission-Driven Funding – The Collaborative Approach of Venture Philanthropy

11:25am-12:15pm:  Lunch (provided)

12:15-12:40:  ASO Technology – Hope for the N of 1 Populations

12:40-1:20pm:  Innovation in Rare Diseases — Novel Approaches that Address Unmet Medical Needs

1:35 – 2:25pm:  Accelerating Pediatric Cures — Building the Framework for Faster Diagnosis and Treatment

2:25 -2:30pm: Closing


9:05am: Opening Keynote: Derisking Rare Disease

Derisking rare diseases is of utmost importance as an astounding number of 300 million individuals worldwide are burdened with these conditions, yet effective cures remain elusive. To combat this global healthcare crisis, it becomes imperative to seek sustainable solutions that not only alleviate the suffering of these patients but also make the most efficient use of capital to maximize their impact. By carefully deploying resources and investments, we can optimize the outcomes of research, development, and treatment efforts, ensuring that every dollar spent brings us closer to discovering effective therapies and minimizing the anguish endured by those affected. Dr. Levine will speak about his experience in the field over the last 35 years.


9:30am:  The Rise of Impact Investing — How Disease Foundations are Translating Science Into Cures

Impact investing in healthcare has been a growing trend over the last several years and for good reason.  A mission-driven approach to investing in startups has proven to be a successful method for advancing science beyond the lab and into the clinic. Funds affiliated with disease foundations often include backing from a vast network of experts, access to patient populations, a drive for results, and patient advocacy that transcends business objectives. Traditional drug development investors often neglect rare disease populations due to small market size and challenges in conducting clinical trials, proving this alternative approach to be particularly advantageous. In this session, learn from a panel of impact investors on what they look for in potential investments, how they syndicate with other investors, and what makes their approach to working with startups unique. 


10:25am:  Mission-Driven Funding – The Collaborative Approach of Venture Philanthropy

The driving force behind disease foundations is improving patient outcomes. The affiliated venture arms created by many of these foundations share the long-term commitment and dedication needed to support the mission of their parent organization. This patient-centric objective is reflected in the investment horizon and overall strategy of the fund and ultimately influences how these foundational funds support their portfolio companies. This session explores the collaborative approach of two disease foundation funds and their investments.


12:15pm:  ASO Technology – Hope for the N of 1 Populations

Hot off the press, entrepreneur, scientist and philanthropist, Stanley Crooke, PhD, will discuss his recent publication in Nature Biotechnology that explores ASO (Antisense Oligonucleotide) technology and its unique ability to treat ultra-rare patients.  He will also shed light on the  measures taken to ensure safe treatment of these micro-populations and address what future reforms are needed to continue to improve the medical community’s ability to support these patients.

  • Stanley Crooke, PhD, Founder & CEO, n-Lorem


12:40pm:  Innovation in Rare Diseases — Novel Approaches that Address Unmet Medical Needs

Advancements in personalized medicine have revolutionized the biomedical industry’s ability to treat even the rarest conditions. Antisense Oligonucleotides and computational biology hold promise of developing therapies for the ultra-rare disease populations that have historically had little hope of treatment. Unfortunately, economic barriers to developing therapies for ultra-rare conditions often prevent these treatments from becoming a reality for the patients who need them most. Innovation is needed not only in the science but in the economics of drug development to truly revolutionize rare disease medicine. In this session, meet leaders in the rare disease space who have made huge strides in lowering the cost of developing treatments and forging partnerships to impact treating rare disease populations.


1:35pm:  Accelerating Pediatric Cures — Building the Framework for Faster Diagnosis and Treatment

Genetic abnormalities account for 72% of rare diseases with two-thirds having childhood onset. Next-generation genetic sequencing and data analytics have dramatically impacted the ability to identify mutated genes immediately and the rapidly advancing field of gene and cell therapy offers hope for treatments and cures to patients and families impacted by rare diseases. Identifying and diagnosing these genetic abnormalities at birth can jump start a race against the clock to find treatments and cures for debilitating and deathly diseases. Despite these medical advancements, many families burdened by these rare diseases are financially disadvantaged and lack the means to access such technologies. In this session, learn how foundational support is paving the way for worldwide institutional collaboration to help rapidly diagnose underserved pediatric patient populations and how impact investing is propelling the translation of these diagnoses into commercial treatments. 




California Life Sciences in collaboration with LaunchBio is dedicated to creating opportunities for startups and small companies to connect with Disease Foundations, Corporate Partners, and other funding sources for rare diseases. To that end, selected companies can apply by August 11, 2023 to meet virtually with the following organizations to discuss partnering opportunities. Attendance at the forum is not required to apply.

Brain Tumor Investment Fund (National Brain Tumor Foundation)


Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Fund

Dementia Discovery Fund

Foundation for Prader Willi Research Venture Philanthropy Fund

Health Innovation Capital

IBD Ventures (Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation)

Mission Cure Capital

Pathway To Cures (National Hemophilia Foundation)

Retinal Degeneration Fund (Foundation Fighting Blindness)