How Does COVID-19 Impact the Life Science Startup

June 16, 2020 | 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm ET

Speaker Slides

How Does COVID-19 Impact the Life Science Startup

Chris Vincent, Head of Healthcare Sector, PDD Innovation

How Does COVID-19 Impact the Life Science Startup

Dan Mandell – CEO/Founder, GRO Biosciences

How We Are Dealing With Covid-19

Alif Saleh – CEO, Scipher Medicine

Covid-19 Situation and Impact on a Life Sciences Startup

Ramani Varanasi, Co-Founder/President/CEO of X-Biotix Therapeutics

ENET and MDG Boston are pleased to present a Joint Webinar addressing how COVID-19 impacts the life science startup.  

It’s no secret that the oncoing COVID-19 pandemic has created a massive disruption to society. Beyond the astonishing numbers of infected individuals and loss of life, the economy has undergone a tremendous freefall that is impacting virtually all business sectors. The life science R&D enterprise in Massachusetts has been deemed an essential business, as companies throughout the ecosystem are racing to find solutions to this crisis. Established corporations with established infrastructure and strong cash positions are leading the charge.  How does the COVID-19 crisis impact early stage life science companies – emerging enterprises that are in company building mode in actively seeking financing?

Please join us for an engaging discussion with entrepreneurial minded leaders who are finding their way through a very unusual, memorable 2020. 


7:00 – 7:10 PM – ENET Chairperson’s announcements

7:10 – 7:15 PM – MDG President’s announcements

7:15 – 7:25 PM – eMinute Pitch  – Up to 2 Startup companies’ presentations

7:25 – 8:25 PM – 4 expert speakers on the night’s topic

8:25 – 8:45 PM – Audience Q & A with the speakers

(all times are USA Eastern Daylight time)


Dan Mandell – CEO/Founder, GRO Biosciences

Dan received his Bachelors degree from Stanford University in 2002 and a Master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Edinburgh in 2003. His Ph.D. work at UCSF coupled inverse kinematics techniques from robotics with protein modeling and design to allow prediction of flexible protein structures to atomic accuracy, earning him the Julius R. Krevans Award for Most Outstanding Dissertation in 2010. As a HHMI Postdoctoral Fellow of the LSRF in George Church’s lab at Harvard, Dan combined computational protein design with genome-wide codon reassignment to engineer essential enzymes that require synthetic amino acids to function, producing the first organisms that require a synthetic amino acid for survival. As CEO of GRO Biosciences, Dan leads an effort to apply computational protein design with nonstandard amino acids in organisms with expanded genetic codes to produce a new class of protein therapeutics.

Alif Saleh – CEO, Scipher Medicine

A global business leader and entrepreneur at heart, Alif draws from his scientific background in systems biology, network theory, and engineering at Scipher. Alif has successfully led cross-disciplinary teams in technology and business across Asia, Europe and the Americas – raising over $225 million in venture and private equity capital. Previously with BCI (acquired 2000), Alfa Laval (IPO 2002), and Myriant (acquired 2014), Alif received his MSc degree in Chemical and Genetic Engineering from Lund Institute of Technology, Sweden.

Ramani Varanasi, Co-Founder/President/CEO of X-Biotix Therapeutics

Ms. Varanasi is a co-founder, President and CEO of X-Biotix. She is an accomplished business executive, with over 20 years of biopharmaceutical industry experience and a distinguished track record in structuring, negotiating and executing successful strategic alliances, licensing agreements and M&A transactions as well as providing business development, management and strategic leadership to organizations. She has held Research and senior level positions in Business & Corporate Development including at Merck, Millennium (now Takeda), Momenta, and Checkmate Pharmaceuticals, to name a few. Over the course of her career, Ramani has been involved in the formation of strategic partnerships with companies and research organizations globally, including in emerging markets such as Asia – and continues to have a keen interest in bridging the research and business gap and fostering collaboration between enterprises in this global marketplace. Her broad experience in the areas of early stage company formation and financing, including dilutive and non-diluting funding initiatives, has enabled her to execute deals with total value in excess of several billion dollars. Ramani holds a B.Sc. and a M.Sc. from McGill University in Microbiology & Immunology and Biochemistry, respectfully, and an MBA in General Strategy from Northeastern University. She is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Antimicrobials Working Group, an organization that promotes the vision of utilizing collective power to improve the regulatory, investment, and commercial environment for emerging infectious disease companies. Ramani also volunteers as a mentor to start-up companies in the biopharma area and also has an avid interest in the area of international healthcare, a sector in which she has been involved as a board member for two non-profit organizations.

Chris Vincent, Head of Healthcare Sector, PDD Innovation

Chris is heading the PDD Healthcare Sector. PDD is a design and innovation consultancy with offices in Boston, London, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Chris has experience across healthcare, defense and aerospace. He has spent a lot of time working with medical technology companies, consultancies, early stage life science companies and academics to understand their approach to innovation. He has supported strategy reviews and road mapping process across a variety of physical and digital systems and reviewed for the NSF. He has experience of regulatory aspects and risk management process including test, evaluation and trials. He has managed many formative and summative usability evaluations on a diverse range of medical devices from consumables through to complex dialysis equipment in the UK, US and China. He formed part of the ventilator challenge – a UK based response to COVID-19. Prior to joining PDD, Chris worked on the CHI+MED project at the UCL Interaction Centre (UCLIC), publishing commentaries around need to innovate flexibly and efficiently e.g. Can Standards and Regulations Keep Up With Health Technology? He has guest lectured for the UCL Patient Safety and Clinical Risk Module, as well as a series of short courses relating to the design of healthcare apps.


Roger Frechette, Ph.D., Founder and Principal, NEPAssociates

My daily purpose is to exercise an innate drive to transform ideas and projects into life-changing commercial assets. In the life science business, this is the long game, requiring boundless energy and creativity, coupled with knowledge, experience, and patience.

In my consulting work, I leverage an extensive global network and insights derived from >20 years of experience in business development, calibrated with an extensive science background. My career has encompassed success as a business executive, project/alliance manager and entrepreneur, and also as a scientist, including leadership of discovery/preclinical development teams resulting in a new drug candidate – Paratek Pharmaceuticals NDA’s for NUZYRA and SEYSARA NDA’s were approved in 2018.


Peter N. Madras, M.D., Lecturer, Institute for Medical Eng and Science, MIT, President, Medical Development Group of Boston (MDG)

Dr. Madras, a graduate of McGill Medical School is a retired transplant and vascular surgeon and Associate Prof. at Harvard Medical School, a founder of two companies and board member of number of start-ups. He is currently lecturer in the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science at MIT and President of the Medical Development Group (MDG).  During his practice, Dr. Madras was member and Chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine.  He served for ten years as Medical Director for Grace Biomedical in the development of a liver support system and an artificial pancreas. He has authored 80 papers and holds 3 patents.  Prior to his surgical career, Peter was Director of the Medical Group at Avco Everett Research laboratory which brought to market the first mechanical cardiac assist device, the intra-aortic balloon.  This group was spun off to form five different medical companies, the largest of which is Abiomed.

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