DD & EU: Biotech Company Formation: Lessons From Those Who Have Been There Before

Thursday, November 15 2012
8:00 am – 10:00 am

Location: MassBio, 300 Technology Square, 8th Floor, Cambridge, MA

Thinking of starting your own company, involved in a startup currently, or just interested in how things get started? Come join us for an interesting and informative discussion with those who have been there before.  Our panel will share their experiences and discuss the current state of the early stage biotech industry.  From operations to finance, to picking a winning program, we will discuss the ins and outs of biotech company formation in the current environment. This interactive discussion will highlight the skills, resources, and requirements needed to efficiently get a new company up and running. We will also look at potential pitfalls and distractions that can derail a fledgling company before it gets started. Please join us for what promises to be an educational and insightful look at early stage entrepreneurism.


  • Steven Riesinger, Ph.D., Co-Founder, MedChem Partners


  • Daniel Behr, Ph.D., Sr. VP and Founder, Access BridgeGap Ventures
  • Don Ciappenelli, Ph.D., Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Access BridgeGap Ventures
  • John  “Jay“ Schwartz, Ph.D., CEO & Chairman, AcuityBio
  • Sharon Shacham, Ph.D., MBA, Chief Scientific Officer & Head of R&D, Karyopharm Therapeutics


Speaker Bios

Daniel Behr, Ph.D., Sr. VP and Founder, Access BridgeGap Ventures

Over the past 25 years Daniel Behr has developed deep expertise in venture creation and innovation in the life and physical sciences through his various roles as entrepreneur, investor and technology development professional. Daniel is currently Senior Vice President and a founder of Access  BridgeGap Ventures, the early-stage life sciences venture investment unit of Access Industries.  Before, he was Director of Technology Ventures at Allied Minds, Inc., an investment firm focused on creating and funding academic spinoffs. From 2006-2010, Daniel was Director of Business Development at Harvard University’s Office of Technology Development (technology transfer) where he helped launch 7 Harvard spinoffs. Previously, Daniel co-founded 3 startups (In-USA, Compact  Instruments, Arradiance) and a seed-stage venture investment fund (Seed Partners). Before starting his first company, Daniel was a business strategy Consultant at Bain & Co. and an advanced  materials Research Engineer at Albany International. Daniel earned an MBA with distinction from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Engineering with highest honors from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He speaks German and is fluent in Spanish.

Don Ciappenelli, Ph.D., Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Access BridgeGap Ventures

Don Ciappenelli is Entrepreneur in Residence at Access BridgeGap Ventures and most recently was Co-Founder of SciFluor Life Sciences LLC an early stage drug development company.  As President, he created the science strategy, business and capitalization plan with an initial financing of $5M, and licensed the technology invented in the Ritter laboratory from Harvard University.  He is Managing Principal of Cambridge Laboratory Consultants, a company founded with Harvard  colleagues, as a science management group specializing in the rapid startup and early  development of biotechnology, pharmaceutical, chemical and materials companies.  CLC has been involved in over 50 venture backed startups (e.g. Alkermes, Cubist, Eisai Research Institute, E Ink, Lexigen, Shionogi/Synta, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Pharmacopeia, Procript, Genetic Institute, and Vertex among others).  He is the former CEO and President of Leap Technology Inc., an inception stage technology investment company and holds a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry.  For fifteen years he was Director of The Chemical Laboratories at Harvard University, Director of Graduate Studies, Head Tutor and Lecturer on Chemistry.
Don was a founding Director or senior manager of nine companies, three of which have reached the public market; (ChemDesign Corporation, a specialty and fine chemicals manufacturer acquired by Bayer, ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, and Gestation, Inc., which merged with Midas Pharmaceuticals to form TranXenogen, Inc.  Don launched Gallia, Inc., with Harvard materials scientist Professor Andrew Barron, and served as its CEO until it acquired by TriQuint Semiconductor, Inc,  and Aprilis, Inc., a developer of holographic data storage technologies spun out of Polaroid Corporation and acquired by Dow Corning.  He was founding Chief Operating Officer and Treasurer of Suntory Pharmaceutical Research Laboratories a drug discovery venture acquired by Daiichi  Pharmaceuticals.  Under Don’s leadership The Science Hotel at Cambridge (an Alexandria Real Estate/CLC, Inc., joint venture) was formed to aid the transition of local startups from a university laboratory to operational independence.  Don is a Charter Member and former Chairmen of the Dean’s Council for the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst and a mentor in the Boston University Health Care Entrepreneurship Program and former Secretary and Treasurer of The Association of Harvard Chemists.

John  “Jay“ Schwartz, Ph.D., CEO and Chairman, AcuityBio

Dr. Schwartz received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at New York Medical College and was a Post-doctoral fellow at the M.I.T. Department of Biology / Harvard Medical School. He served as a lab head as Research Scientist Faculty at the M.I.T. Center for Biomedical Engineering. The CEO, Dr. John 'Jay' Schwartz, was co-founder of engeneOS, Inc. a venture-backed bio-nanotechnology company with a highly successful exit through acquisition. Prior to joining AcuityBio, he was a consultant in his capacity as Director of Life Sciences at Stage1 Strategies, LLC, a strategy and management-consulting firm focused on assisting emerging technology and early stage companies to develop, grow and achieve exits for investors through strategic aqusuisition with large pharmaceutical companies

Sharon Shacham, Ph.D., MBA, Chief Scientific Officer & Head of R&D, Karyopharm Therapeutics

Sharon founded Karyopharm at the end of 2008 and has lead its scientific progress since inception. She was former Senior VP of Drug Development, Epix Pharmaceuticals Inc. and was the founding scientist of Predix Pharmaceuticals, a private GPCR company that merged into EPIX in 2006. At Epix/Predix, she led efforts in GPCR modeling, computational chemistry, lead optimization and development of clinical trials. Her Ph.D. thesis on the in silico modeling of GPCRs and other proteins for computer-aided drug discovery at Tel Aviv University served as the basis for Predix Pharmaceuticals. Her software has lead to the rapid identification and optimization of four new chemical entities which entered human clinical trials including Phases I to III.

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