The Search for New Approaches to Diagnosing & Treating Cancer

This panel is a discussion on topics relevant to investment in current innovations in the oncology space. Topics the panelists might consider discussing include:

  • The technologies/approaches that investors find the most compelling
  • Whether platform technologies or single assets are preferred for investment/partnerships
  • What criteria do investors use when assessing companies for their portfolio or pipeline

Panelists can discuss the industry-wide changes currently seen, including the advance of personalized medicine and the rise of new therapeutic approaches (CAR-T, oncolytic viruses etc.), and how that is affecting the investing landscape.


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Diana Saraceni, Founder, Managing Director Panakes Partners (Moderator)

Diana Saraceni is an investor with long experience in Venture Capital. She is currently Co-Founder & General Partner at Panakes Partners (www.panakes.it), an Italian Venture Capital firm dedicated to early stage investments in healthcare in Europe and Israel. Diana can rely on over 15 years of Venture Capital experience. She has also co-founded and managed 360 Capital Partners (www.360capitalpartners.com), one of the leading Venture Capital firm in Europe. She has led investments in a significant number of companies all over Europe, not only in the medical device sector, and generated several exits as IPO and M&A transactions. Ms Saraceni has a strong knowledge of the Venture Capital community in Italy and Europe. Ms. Saraceni holds an Msc in Engineering and an MBA from Luiss University.

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Thierry Wurch, Senior Director, Ipsen S.A.

Since March 20, Thierry leads the Global External Innovation activities for Europe at Ipsen. Prior to that, he was at SERVIER where he successively led the immunotherapy discovery research programs until end 2016 then joining the newly created External Research and Innovation group overseeing global scouting activities in Oncology.

Thierry Wurch holds a Ph.D in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University Louis Pasteur (Strasbourg, FR, 1992), followed by a post-doctoral training at the University of Ghent (BE). He is member of the Editorial board of MABS (Taylor & Francis), Distinguished Advisor of The Antibody Society and Chair of the IUPHAR-NC Antibody Committee. He is co-author of more than 90 publications.

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Rohit Pratap Singh, Vice President, Investments, Xeraya Capital

Rohit joined Xeraya Capital in August 2015. He has more than a decade experience in PE/VC investments and front end investment banking.

Rohit has extensive experience in the PE/ VC/ M&A space. As an investment banker, he has represented clients from Asia, Europe and the US, advising them on cross border acquisitions worth over USD 1 billion and as a VC he has been part of investments in US, W.Europe and Asia. Apart from developing skill sets in equity transactions, Rohit also brings in cross cultural work experience gained from working in different regions and jurisdictions, an understanding of local/international M&A laws and an extensive network of bankers and fund managers.

Prior to Xeraya, Rohit worked in PwC, KPMG and Rabobank in their respective M&A/ IB teams. He graduated as an engineer and has an MBA from India’s leading institution – Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. He is also a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder.

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Cynthia Cai, Ph.D.; MBA; M. Eng., Venture Partner, Viva BioInnovator

Dr. Cynthia Cai is an executive and investor with over twenty-five years of experience in the healthcare and life science industry. International experience in sales, marketing, business development, equity investment, and board membership. In-depth understanding of global biotech and life science business, widely recognized as having a unique ability to bridge collaborations between technology and business, between the west and east cultures.

Dr. Cai is currently a venture partner of Viva BioInnovator, investing in biotech innovation with novel solutions to cross multiple therapeutic areas. Before that, she served as senior advisor to Northern Light Venture Capital, led its healthcare investment effort in the US. She serves as a member of the board of F5 Therapeutics, Arthrosi Therapeutics, and AceLink Therapeutics.
Previously Dr. Cai had over 20 years of experience in leadership positions with Agilent Technologies. As senior director of marketing, she was responsible for its billion-dollar Chromatography, Automation, and Mass Spec. business. As business development and product marketing manager, she was involved in multiple acquisitions and divestitures, led a $500+ million-dollar flagship product development and its global commercialization, also led the company’s first full IVD registration.

Dr. Cai earned a B.A. and Master of Engineering from Tsinghua University, received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Massachusetts, and an MBA from The Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Cai had been a regular speaker at healthcare investment conferences such as BIO; RESI; China Focus at J.P. Morgan, SAPA Annual Conference, and Wharton China Business Forum.

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Lore Gruenbaum, Vice President, Therapy Acceleration Program Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS)

Dr. Lore Gruenbaum joined LLS in 2020 as the Vice President for the Therapy Acceleration Program (TAP), the LLS venture philanthropy program aiming to accelerate high-risk, innovative blood cancer therapeutics. She brings 20 years of drug discovery and clinical development experience to LLS working on small molecules, biologics, RNA-directed and cell therapies in multiple therapeutic areas including oncology, immunology, virology and neuroscience. Most recently, Dr. Gruenbaum was employed as the Vice President, Biology at Gotham Therapeutics pioneering drug discovery in Epitranscriptomics. Prior to this, she was part of the executive leadership team at Applied Biomath where she led collaborative mechanistic modeling projects to accelerate and de-risk drug development for biotech and pharma and acted as the principal investigator on a NIH small business grant. Dr. Gruenbaum held roles of increasing responsibility at Boehringer Ingelheim and Roche Pharmaceuticals driving technical innovation, predictive toxicology, novel mechanistic and biomarker strategies for drug discovery and clinical projects. She completed her Ph.D. at Free University of Berlin with ‘summa cum laude’ and conducted postdoctoral studies at Yale University.

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Greg O’Ryan Johnson, Advisor, Cancer Fund

The Cancer Fund is the first early stage impact venture capital fund designed to impact cancer by commercializing promising cancer research for preventions, therapies, cures, and enabling technologies. Founded in 2018, Cancer Fund is based in Phoenix, Arizona. The firm is primarily seeking early-stage opportunities (Seed to Seed+) but is open to pre-Seed and Series A financing rounds. Further financing rounds are usually reserved for follow-on investment in portfolio companies. The firm invests in as early as pre-seed to Series A, with initial investment size ranging from $350K (pre-seed) to $4M (Series A), depending on the company’s stage of development. The firm focuses on 3 investment themes: (1) Cancer Therapies & Management, (2) Cancer Diagnostics & Monitoring, and (3) Cancer Prevention & Enabling Technologies. The firm is also works with select early-stage ventures through its innovation, incubation, and acceleration programs. The firm is open to global opportunities.