Oncology Innovation Panel

The Search for New Approaches to Diagnosing & Treating Cancer

Tuesday November 16, 11:00AM EST

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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Travis Whitfill, Sr.Director – Global External Innovation, Ipsen (Moderator)

Travis is a serial biotech entrepreneur and venture capitalist. He has co-founded several biotech and healthcare startups companies, including Azitra Inc., which is a mid-clinical stage medical dermatology company. Travis is also a venture capitalist and is a Partner at Bios Partners, which is a life science-focused venture capital firm in Texas with $300 million assets under management. He sits on the board of five portfolio companies, including IN8bio (NASDAQ: INAB), Azitra Inc., SIRPant Immunotherapeutics, Immusoft Corporation (observer), and 410 Medical, Inc. (observer). His background began in molecular biology and biochemistry after receiving scientific training at the MD Anderson Cancer Center and Duke University. He brings strong background in entrepreneurship and business and was recently acknowledged as Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in 2018. He’s also the Senior Analyst at Bios Research, which brings experience in public markets, and drug development to support venture capital investments. He also is an Associate Research Scientist in the Departments of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine at Yale University. Mr. Whitfill has led numerous grant-funded projects, holds nearly a dozen patents, and has co-authored over 50 publications. Mr. Whitfill received degrees from Yale University (MPH), University College London (MPhil), Dallas Baptist University (BS), and is working on a PhD in innovation and economics from UCL. 

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Cynthia Cai, 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, and equity investment. 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.

Currently, Dr. Cai is an investor targeting early-stage opportunities for innovation and disruptive technology in the healthcare field. Before that, Dr. Cai had over 20 years of experience in leadership positions with one of the world’s most respected life science companies. As senior director of marketing in Agilent Technologies, she was responsible for its billion-dollar Chromatography, Automation, and Mass Spec. business. As business development and product marketing manager, Dr. Cai was involved in multiple acquisitions and divestitures, also led a $500+ million-dollar flagship product development and its global commercialization.

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Ernst Geutjes, Partner, Aglaia Oncology Funds

Ernst has over 10 years of experience in cancer research, oncology drug development and venturing. Ernst holds a PhD in molecular cancer genetics from the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI-AvL) after which he continued his career as business developer at the research- and technology organization TNO, where he had a role in spinning-of biotech companies. With Aglaia he is responsible for the analysis of investment proposals, scouting of new investment opportunities and offers strategic and operational support to Aglaia’s portfolio companies. He is board observer for Sapreme Technologies and Macrophage Pharma.

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Richard Ward, Director, Search and Evaluation, Oncology R&D BD, AstraZeneca

Senior Director, Search and Evaluation in the Oncology Business Development Group at AstraZeneca. Previous worked as a Computational Medicinal Chemist in drug discovery projects within Oncology R&D at AstraZeneca for almost 20 years. Co-proposer and co-inventor of the approved EGFR mutant-selective covalent inhibitor osimertinib (Tagrisso) and co-inventor of the ERK1/2 inhibitor AZD0364. As part of this discovery work awarded the Heroes of Chemistry award by the ACS, the Malcolm Campbell Memorial Prize by the RSC and also been the awarded the 8th Capps Green Zomaya Award by the Biological and Medical Chemistry sector of the RSC. Before starting a research career at AstraZeneca, gained a BSc in Chemistry and Bio-organic Chemistry and a PhD in Computational Chemistry at The University of Birmingham, UK.

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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.