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So you want to start a life sciences company? Pointers to succeed

  • 15 Mar 2016
  • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Microsoft Technology Center, One Cambridge Center (Kendall Square, next to Marriott Hotel), Cambridge, MA

Andrew Snyder, Research Scientist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard - presentation

There are lots of ways to fund and launch a life sciences start-up. The work is always interesting, often with the potential to change the lives of patients suffering from an under served medical condition.  Yes, there are lots of ways to get the job done, but none of them are easy.

ENET has assembled a distinguished panel of experienced entrepreneurs who have accepted the life sciences start-up challenge, each having taken a very different path.  Join us to hear their stories and engage them in discussion.


Andrew Snyder, Ph.D. is a Research Scientist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.  In his current role, he focuses on finding novel therapeutics for cardiovascular disease in collaboration with Bayer Healthcare.  Prior to working at the Broad, Andy worked at Targanox, Inc, a biotech focused on discovering targeted therapeutics to offset the effects of reactive oxygen species.  As part of the initial startup team, Andy was responsible for setting up the biology laboratory, co-developing the proteomics platform and conducting screening assays to identifying targets and inhibitors.  Andy completed his post-doctoral training in cancer biology at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, PA and was a NRSA NIH/NCI individual award recipient.  Andy holds a Ph.D. (Molecular and Cell Biology) and a M.S. degree (Environmental Molecular Biology) from the University of Maryland at Baltimore and a B.S. in microbiology from the University of Maryland at College Park.  Andy began volunteering with ENET in 2014.

Shikha P. Barman, Ph.D., Co-Founder, CEO & CTO Integral BioSystems, Co-Founder and CEO, Integral Ophthalmics, http://www.integralbiosystems.com/

Named as one of “20 Women to Watch in Massachusetts High Technology in 2014”, Dr. Barman has over 20 years of experience in the translation of concepts from the lab into clinical and commercial drug products. She is a founding member of Integral BioSystems, LLC, a CRO/innovation-based company based in Bedford, MA.  In 2014, she also spun-off Integral Ophthalmics, LLC, a start-up focused on the treatment of ophthalmic diseases such as glaucoma. Prior to founding Integral BioSystems as a hybrid CRO/innovation-based company with Boston-area patent attorney Dave Karasic, Dr. Barman served in leadership roles at various start-ups. At Follica, Inc. a start-up founded by Boston-based Puretech, she was V.P. Pharmaceutical Development responsible for multiple departments in CMC, Preclinical DMPK and Toxicology, developing an innovative hair-growth product. At the now-publicly traded Inotek Pharmaceuticals, she was Senior Director of Pharmaceutical Development, helping develop INO-8875 for glaucoma. She was Head of Vaccine and Transdermal Development at Sontra Medical Corporation, as part of the team that developed Symphony™, as continuous glucose monitoring system and a transdermal drug delivery patch delivering actives using SonoPrep™. At Zycos, Inc., Dr. Barman was Head of Gene Delivery, targeting PLG microsphere-based DNA-based therapies for the treatment of HPV and cancer. Lastly, at Focal, Inc., she helped develop one of first lines of biodegradable tissue sealants, now marketed as FocalSeal, by Genzyme BioSurgery.

She has 17 issued US Patents and 56 US applications/PCTs, 65 publications and 4 book chapters.

Dr. Barman has a dual degree Ph.D in Polymer Science and in Plastics Engineering from University of Massachusetts at Lowell, a M.S. in Polymers from University of Massachusetts at Lowell, and B.S. / M.S. in Chemistry from Auburn University, AL.

Ulrik B. Nielsen, PhD, CEO of Torque Therapeutics, Inc., http://labcentral.org/resident-companies/torque/

Ulrik is a co-founder and CEO of Torque Therapeutics, Inc., a company focused on the specific modulation of immune cell subsets based on novel platform technologies. The goal is to develop a next generation of immunotherapies to address otherwise intractable cancers – particularly solid tumors. He was previously a founder of Merrimack Pharmaceuticals where he served as the Chief Scientific Officer until 2015 and remains on the board of directors. At Merrimack, Ulrik was responsible for R&D and the early phases of clinical development. He was instrumental in building the company’s Network Biology platform and oncology pipeline. He has also served as Chief Executive Officer of Silver Creek Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a majority-owned subsidiary of Merrimack, from July 2010 to March 2014. 

Dr. Nielsen holds a PhD in molecular biology from the University of Copenhagen and did research at the University of California San Francisco and MIT. Ulrik has also undertaken extensive executive business education, including education at Harvard Business School (PLD graduate).

Nagesh K. Mahanthappa, PhD, MBA. CEO & President, Scholar Rock®, LLC, http://www.scholarrock.com/

Dr. Mahanthappa is a biotechnology entrepreneur with over 20 years of industry experience in roles spanning discovery research through early clinical development, as well as operations and strategy. He is the president and CEO of Scholar Rock®, a company that is discovering and developing a new class of biologic therapies to selectively target dysregulated growth factors in the disease microenvironment resulting in therapeutic effects specifically at the source of disease.

Prior to Scholar Rock®, Dr. Mahanthappa was a founding employee and VP, Corporate Development at Avila Therapeutics, Inc. (acquired by Celgene Corporation in 2012). Avila discovered and developed novel covalent drugs for the treatment of cancer, autoimmune, and viral diseases. He was previously a founding employee of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, the first biotech established to discover RNA interference therapeutics and rose to VP, Scientific & Strategic Development. Earlier professional roles include business development at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and discovery research at Ontogeny (now Curis, Inc.) and Cambridge NeuroScience. He was also a founder of TwistDx, a DNA diagnostics company acquired by Inverness Medical Innovations (now Alere, Inc.) in 2010.

Dr. Mahanthappa received his Ph.D. in Neurobiology from the California Institute of Technology, and post-doctoral training at the E.K. Shriver Center for Mental Retardation (then affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital) and Harvard Medical School. He received his MBA from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Management at Babson College.


Dr. Roger Frechette is the Co-Founder and Principal of New England PharmAssociates, a consultancy offering on-demand executive and business advisory services to life sciences enterprises. He was the US East Coast Ambassador for Medicon Valley Alliance, a life sciences cluster organization based in Copenhagen. Previously, he was a Co-Founder of Frontiera Therapeutics, a startup developing therapeutics for vascular leaks. He is a volunteer adviser and mentor with several Boston area biotech incubators and startup mentoring programs. Previously, Dr. Frechette was Co-Founder of MaxThera, an antibacterial drug discovery company. MaxThera was sold in 2010 to Biota Holdings Limited, a Melbourne Australia anti-infectives company.  Prior to starting MaxThera, Dr. Frechette was a drug discovery and life-sciences consultant following his role as Project Director at Paratek Pharmaceuticals (Boston). At Paratek he led the team that discovered PTK0796 (currently in Phase III clinical trials) with strategic partner Glaxo-Wellcome, and the pre-clinical development program that was carried out with a multinational team of consultants and contractors.  Previously, he was Associate Director of Chemistry at RiboGene (Hayward, CA), where he built the chemistry department and managed two drug discovery programs in collaboration with strategic partner Dainippon Pharmaceuticals. He began his career as a medicinal chemist at the R.W. Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Institute (J&J, Raritan, NJ). Dr. Frechette was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Yale University, earned his PhD in Organic Chemistry from Wesleyan University and his BA in Chemistry from College of the Holy Cross.