Dreams to Reality: Case Studies, Successes

Thursday, June 13 2013
8:00 am – 10:00 am

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

Registration is now closed. This event has reached capacity.


In Dreams to Reality, the first of our Adventures in Biotech Series, industry leaders will share stories of their successes – and challenges – in starting companies, each representing a different business model.  Panelists will share what motivated them to establish their companies and their initial goals. They will reveal their strategies for achieving those goals, overcoming hurdles along the way, and how they adjusted their preconceived notions of success. Among the questions they will address are: how the Reality has changed from the Dream, how they have accepted and dealt with those changes, and perhaps the most important question that all entrepreneurs ask of themselves: “Now that I know what I know, how could I have done things differently?”

Bring your questions, comments and your own stories. Come join the discussion for what promises to be a lively, interactive Forum.


  • Mark Benjamin, DSc, President & CEO, Galenea (Partnership with big pharma model and grant & foundation funded)
  • Barbara Fox, PhD, Founder & CEO, Avaxia Biologics (Angel & non-dilutive funding model)
  • Roger Frechette, PhD Founder, MaxThera, Inc. (Grant funded, semi-virtual model)
  • Jeff Saunders, PhD, VP, Small Molecule Drug Discovery, Ember Therapeutics (VC model, 3rd Rock)
  • Roger Tung, PhD, Co-Founder, President and CEO, Concert Pharmaceuticals (Partnerships with big pharma model)


  • David Grayzel, MD, Managing Director,  Atlas Venture Development Corp.


This Forum is presented by the Drug Discovery, Legal & Regulatory, and CRO/CMO Forum Working Groups.


Speaker Bios

Mark B. Benjamin, DSc, President & Chief Executive Officer, Galenea

Mark comes to Galenea with 16 years of industry experience, 13 in business development. He was most recently the Chief Business Officer of Nura Inc., a neuroscience drug discovery company founded by 2004 Nobel laureate Dr. Linda Buck, which was acquired by Omeros Inc. in 2006. In previous positions, he served as Vice President of Global Business Development for Manteia SA, a Swiss-based subsidiary of Serono SA (now Merck KGaA) and was the senior business development executive at Rosetta Inpharmatics, a company founded by a team that included 2001 Nobel laureate Leland Hartwell. Rosetta was acquired by Merck & Company in 2001. Mark received a first class B.Sc. degree with honors from the University of London and a D.Sc. degree in Cancer Biology from Harvard University.

Barbara Fox, PhD, Founder & CEO, Avaxia Biologics

Barbara S. Fox, PhD, is founder and CEO of Avaxia Biologics, a leader in the growing field of gut-targeted therapeutics.  Avaxia’s lead clinical candidate, AVX-470, is an oral anti-TNF antibody for inflammatory bowel disease. This product offers potentially improved safety and efficacy by focusing immune suppression only where needed in the inflamed gut. Avaxia is funded by $11.7M from angel investors and $5.8M in non-dilutive funding. Dr. Fox’s previous positions have included Affiliated Entrepreneur at Oxford Bioscience Partners; founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Recovery Pharmaceuticals; Vice President, Discovery and Immunology at ImmuLogic Pharmaceutical Corp.; and Associate Professor of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology at the U. Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Fox received her PhD in Chemistry from MIT and trained as a post-doc in cellular immunology at the NIH.

Roger Frechette, PhD,  Partner and Co-Founder, New England PharmAssociates, LLC

In 2004, Roger co-founded MaxThera, Inc., a drug discovery research company developing novel antibacterial agents to treat life-threatening infections caused by antibiotic resistant pathogens. He served as VP of Chemistry and R&D Operations for MaxThera. The company was formed through the acquisition of the drug discovery portfolio developed at Genome Therapeutics Corporation, where Roger was a medicinal chemistry consultant. MaxThera was funded by the US Bioshield Program and by SBIR grants administered through the NIAID (NIH). MaxThera’s antibacterial assets were sold in early 2010 to Biota Holdings Limited, a Melbourne Australia anti-infectives company.

Prior to starting MaxThera, Roger was a independent drug discovery and life-sciences consultant following his role as Project Director at Paratek Pharmaceuticals, in Boston, where he had successfully led the team that discovered PTK0796, and oversaw the pre-clinical development program. PTK0796 is a novel antibacterial agent currently in Phase III clinical trials. Prior to Paratek, he was Associate Director of chemistry at RiboGene, Inc, in Hayward, CA, where he built the chemistry department and managed two drug discovery programs in collaboration with a Japanese strategic partner. He began his career as a medicinal chemist at the R.W. Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Institute (A Johnson and Johnson Company) in Raritan, NJ.

David Grayzel, MD, Managing Director,  Atlas Venture Development Corp.

Dr. Grayzel is Managing Director, Atlas Venture Development Corp. (AVDC).  AVDC is an innovative, asset-centric structure that is partnering with Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology companies to develop late preclinical and clinical stage programs through to key value inflection points.  The first company to be created by AVDC is Arteaus Therapeutics, LLC in which Dr. Grayzel currently serves as CEO and Chairman.  Funded by Atlas Venture and Orbimed, Arteaus is developing an antibody for calcitonin gene-related peptide as a novel approach to migraine prevention.  AVDC also launched Annovation BioPharma, Inc., which is developing novel anesthetics for surgical and procedural care.  Annovation is funded by Atlas Venture, Partners Innovation Fund, and strategic partner The Medicines Company.  Previously, Dr. Grayzel was responsible for leading Infinity Pharmaceutical’s (Nasdaq: INFI) clinical research efforts as the head of clinical development and medical affairs, as well as co-chairing the company’s Scientific Leadership Team. Dr. Grayzel obtained his MD at Harvard Medical School and completed his internship and residency training in Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. Prior to his medical training, he received a B.A. with honors from Stanford University.

Jeff Saunders, PhD, Vice President, Small Molecule Drug Discovery, Ember Therapeutics

Prior to joining Ember in 2012, Dr. Saunders was the vice president, chemistry at Agios. Dr. Saunders also worked as a consultant at Elixir Pharmaceuticals, where he managed all chemistry and related intellectual property for five years. Prior to this, he held the position of principal investigator at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, where he worked for 14 years as chemistry head and project head for multiple programs. Previously, he was a research scientist at the Squibb Institute for Medical Research. Dr. Saunders received his A.B. in chemistry from Hope College in Michigan, earned his Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry at the University of South Carolina and held an NIH postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania.

Roger Tung, PhD, Co-Founder, President and CEO, Concert Pharmaceuticals

Dr. Roger Tung is the scientific founder, President, and CEO of Concert Pharmaceuticals, which he co-founded in 2006. Before Concert, Dr. Tung worked in venture-backed start-up and major pharmaceutical companies; including Vertex Pharmaceuticals, as a founding scientist and most recently Vice President of Drug Discovery; Merck; and E.R. Squibb & Sons. At Vertex, he co-invented the marketed HIV protease inhibitors Lexiva® and Agenerase®, and oversaw the discovery of Incivek® and Kalydeco®, approved respectively to treat HCV infection and cystic fibrosis caused by the G551D CFTR mutation. Dr. Tung has published widely and been granted 60 U.S. patents. He received a B.A. in Chemistry from Reed College and a Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from Professor Daniel H. Rich. Dr. Tung is a scientific advisor to public and private biotech companies and serves on the Board of Visitors of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy.



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