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Innovation to Impact: Funding Avenues for Emerging Biotech Startups
Innovation to Impact: Funding Avenues for Emerging Biotech Startups

Tue, Dec 05


Northwest Building Room B101

Innovation to Impact: Funding Avenues for Emerging Biotech Startups

Join us for a discussion on opportunities for researchers interested in launching startups out of the lab. Hosted by the Harvard Office for Technology Development and the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator.

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Time & Location

Dec 05, 2023, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Northwest Building Room B101, 52 Oxford St, Cambridge, MA, USA

About the event

Join Steve Tregay, Ph.D., and Deborah Palestrant, Ph.D., MBA for a discussion on opportunities for researchers interested in launching startups out of the lab. Steve and Deb will talk about avenues available to support emerging startups, what piques the interest (and concern) with investors, and where they see opportunities in the biotech ecosystem.

As the speakers share their insights, attendees will gain invaluable perspectives on navigating the complex terrain of entrepreneurship within the realm of life sciences. Following their discussion, we invite you to join us for a networking reception.


Deborah Palestrant, Ph.D., M.B.A joined 5AM Ventures in 2018 as Partner, Head of 4:59. Previously, Dr. Palestrant was Vice President of Corporate Development & Strategy at Relay Therapeutics, where she executed business strategy including alliances, partnerships, and other collaborations and led communications. She has over 15 years of life sciences industry experience including drug discovery, company creation, operations, business development, and strategy. Following her postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Palestrant was a lab head at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, where she advanced multiple structure-based drug discovery programs. In 2010, Dr. Palestrant joined Third Rock Ventures as a senior associate and helped to build and launch Blueprint Medicines (NASDAQ: BPMC). Upon its launch, Dr. Palestrant served an interim role in operations at Blueprint Medicines. Subsequent to her return to Third Rock Ventures, Dr. Palestrant helped to conceive and launch Editas Medicine (NASDAQ: EDIT), and as part of the original founding team, she led the business development group until joining Relay Therapeutics. Dr. Palestrant holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biophysics from Columbia University, an M.B.A from Northeastern University, and was Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at The Scripps Research Institute.

Steve Tregay, PhD joined Mission BioCapital full time as Managing General Partner in 2019 after acting as the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the first BioInnovation Capital fund. He oversees fund activities in Cambridge and focuses on opportunities in therapeutics and platform technologies. In addition to new investment activities, Steve leverages his extensive transaction experience to work closely with portfolio companies to drive value creation. Steve is also currently the Chairman of the Board at LabCentral and has been involved since its creation in 2012.

Previously, Steve was Founder, President, and CEO of FORMA Therapeutics, a company building a robust pipeline of transformative cancer therapeutics directed in areas such as tumor metabolism, epigenetics, protein-protein interactions, and protein homeostasis. Steve led the company for 10 years, during which FORMA secured over $875M in non-dilutive funding on the initial $44M in venture capital investment. To date, the company has advanced seven clinical candidates across oncology, sickle cell, and liver diseases. In 2019, Steve transitioned CEO leadership to Frank Lee from Genentech. FORMA (FMTX) went on to raise $320M in an IPO in June of 2020 and was acquired by Novo Nordisk for $1.1B in September 2021.

In addition, Steve is also co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Compass Therapeutics (CMPX), a clinical-stage biotechnology company targeting the human immune synapse with a new generation of monoclonal and multi-specific antibody therapeutics.

Steve is also an Advisory Committee member for the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator which guides Harvard scientists toward translational impact by providing strategic, monetary, and advisory support for well-defined research projects. In addition, serves as a member of the Board of Advisors of the non-profit, Life Science Cares.

Prior to FORMA, Steve was a managing director for the Novartis Venture Fund. He led the fund’s investments in and served on the board of directors of FORMA Therapeutics, Adenosine Therapeutics (sold to Clinical Data: FRX) and Cequent Pharmaceuticals (sold to Marina Biotech: MRNA), where he first began working with the BioInnovation team. Prior to joining the venture fund, Steve was the Executive Director and Head of Strategic Alliances – Oncology, Ophthalmology and Technologies at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. He managed a team responsible for identification, negotiation and management of collaborations for the oncology and ophthalmology disease areas and all the technology areas. Prior to Novartis, he had roles in business development and research at Array BioPharma.

Steve received his doctoral and master’s degrees in organic chemistry from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree from Davidson College.

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