Spotlight on Women in Health Ventures
Produced by Theia. Editors: Ellie Park, Pearl Zhang, Aseem Jain. Album art: Mia Kim, Sabrina Tian.
Spotlight on Women in Health VenturesApr 14, 2021
Innovating in the Home-Based Care Market for Chronic Conditions with Naama Stauber Breckler (Better Health)
We are so excited to invite Naama Stauber Breckler, a software engineer and a product manager turned healthcare entrepreneur who has founded 3 prior companies and has now started Better Health. Better Health is a healthcare company providing a digital care solution that bundles peer support, education, and delivery of medical supplies to patient’s homes. Through her work, Naama aims to tackle gaps in the quality of care for people with chronic conditions. Naama received an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of business and an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from The Academic College of Tel Aviv.
Delivering Sexual Wellness Solutions with Dr. Lyndsey Harper (Rosy)
Dr. Lyndsey Harper is an enthusiastic and passionate women's health advocate, a Board Certified Ob/Gyn, Associate Professor of Ob/Gyn for Texas A&M COM, a Fellow of The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and a Fellow of the International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health. Dr. Harper is the founder and CEO of Rosy, an award-winning women’s health technology company that connects women who have sexual health concerns with hope, community, and research-backed solutions. She has been named Forbes Top 53 Women Disrupting Healthcare, People Newspapers’ 20 Under 40, a Top Innovator in North Texas for 2020 and a DBJ Top Woman in Tech.
Closing the Gender Health Gap by Exploring the Vaginal Microbiome with Priyanka Jain (Evvy)
Priyanka Jain has always been passionate about leveraging data to improve outcomes for women. She is co-founder and CEO of Evvy, a company focusing on closing the gender health gap by discovering female-specific biomarkers, starting with the vaginal microbiome. Evvy has the metagenomic sequencing vaginal health test and offers care based on the discoveries to diagnose, treat, and predict risk for complex health conditions in the female body. Prior to Evvy, Priyanka worked as Head of Product at Pymetrics, where she focused on building algorithms to make hiring more fair, efficient, and transparent. She is also a spokesperson for the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up Campaign, Chair of the Acumen Fund’s Junior Council, and on the Innovation Board for the XPrize Foundation. She received her B.S. from Stanford University where she was a Mayfield Fellow and President of Stanford Women in Business.
Just the Doctor's Order - A Digital Solution for Chronic Pain with Rachel Trobman (Upside Health)
Rachel Trobman is founder and CEO of Upside Health, a digital health company transforming the way chronic pain is assessed and treated through remote physiologic monitoring, therapeutic monitoring, and behavioral health integration. Prior to Upside, she worked in news production and content development, working for NY1, the New York Times and NBC News. During our conversation, Rachel details her path to founding Upside Health and what the pain management market looks like. Her advice to aspiring healthcare entrepreneurs: find a problem - not the solution - that you're obsessed with.
Quantifying Social Determinants of Health Risk as a Comorbidity at the Local Level with Dr. Hillit Meidar-Alfi (Spatially Health)
Dr. Hillit Meidar-Alfi is founder and CEO of Spatially Health, a tech start-up in spatial analytics and location-based services to analyze the relationship between communities and health care outcomes. The platform’s proprietary models leverage location intelligence and spatial analytics that go beyond ZIP codes and provide granular patient insights at the hyper-local level. Spatially helps identify and quantify SDOH risks at the individual level, guiding decision makers on where and how to allocate resources to maximize positive impact and promote equity. Hillit is a trained architect with experience working in housing, urban planning and design, and health care. She received a Master of City Planning and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, and Bachelor of Architecture from Carnegie Mellon University.
Building A Career in Biotech as a Woman Physician-Entrepreneur-Executive with Dr. Sheila Gujrathi
Dr. Sheila Gujrathi is a physician-executive with a deep track record in translational science and drug development. She currently sits on the board for Ventyx Biosciences, IMMPACT Bio, ADARx Pharmaceuticals, and Janux Therapeutics and is prior Venture Advisor at OrbiMed and prior chair of Turning Point Therapeutics. She is co-founder and former CEO of Gossamer Bio, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering, acquiring, developing and commercializing therapeutics in the disease areas of immunology, inflammation and oncology. Prior to Gossamer Bio, Dr. Gujrathi served as Chief Medical Officer of Receptos, which was acquired by Celgene in 2015. Prior to Receptos, Dr. Gujrathi was Vice President of the Global Clinical Development Group in Immunology at Bristol-Myers Squibb, where she led clinical development and supported numerous global regulatory filings and approvals for Orencia® and Nulojix®. Prior to Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dr. Gujrathi held roles in the immunology, tissue growth and repair clinical development groups at Genentech.
Addressing women's mental health with Dr. Linda Kim (Moon Mental Health/ LuvLuk
We are very excited to welcome Linda Kim to the podcast. She is a practicing Harvard-trained psychiatrist and therapist with extensive executive healthcare leadership experience. Linda is the co-founder and CEO at Moon Mental Health and Founder of LuvLuk. Moon Mental Health is a holistic experience of mental health care for women and their loved ones, by women, serving women throughout their lifespans. Dr. Kim graduated from the University of Chicago and received her Doctor of Medicine from Tufts University School of Medicine. She then completed her adult psychiatry residency at Harvard Medical School, and joined Kaiser Permanente serving thousands of patients and families. She became Chief of Psychiatry and then Regional Director and Chair of Chiefs of Mental Health and Chemical Dependency for the entire Northern California region, overseeing a population of over 4 million members. In 2020, she build her own group practice, Moon Mental health, focusing on Women’s mental health and additional coursework through the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.
Using technology to support patients with endometriosis with Margaret Melville (Lasa Health)
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month and this week we are very excited to welcome Margaret Melville to the podcast. Margaret is a Board Certified Patient Advocate and Founder and CEO of Lasa Health, a digital health platform for patients with chronic conditions, starting with endometriosis. She previously worked for USAID's Global Health Center for Innovation and Impact and has a Masters in Business Administration from INSEAD. Margaret started this company because of her own journey with endometriosis and celiac disease. During this episode, we discuss endometriosis and how Lasa Health is using technology to support patients with complex chronic conditions.
Tackling Extinction through Genetics with Eriona Hysolli (Head of Biological Sciences @ Colossal Biosciences)
Eriona Hysolli is the Head of Biological Sciences at Colossal Biosciences, a breakthrough biosciences and genetic engineering company focused on developing radical new technologies to advance the fields of de-extinction, species preservation and human healthcare through genomics. In January 2023, the company secured an oversubscribed $150M Series B financing led by the United States Innovative Technology Fund with participation from Bob Nelsen, Jazz Ventures among others, bringing total funding to $225M.
Eriona was previously a postdoctoral fellow in the George Church lab at Harvard Medical School from 2015 – 2021, where she focused on developing and optimizing novel genetic tools for multiplex mammalian genome engineering including mammoth de-extinction and building a virus-resistance human cell line. Her authored publications include characterizing different populations of human induced pluripotent stem cells arising during reprogramming, setting up a human cell-bacteria co-culture model to study how biocontainment can be exploited for probiotic development, and multiplex editing of TAG to TAA codons genome-wide in human cells.
We are excited to hear her story, the founding of Colossal, and what it means for humanity and the environment to bring back the wooly mammoth, Tasmanian tiger, and more recently announced, the Dodo bird.
Creating a niche within the sleep market with Jingyun Fan (Shuni)
Jingyun Fan is CEO and co-founder of Shuni, a company that provides CBT-I coaching for insomnia. Prior to Shuni, Jingyun was an AI research scientist at Accenture and a data scientist at Hello, the company behind the bedside sleep tracer Sense.
This episode was recorded in September 2022. Since the interview, Jingyun and her team have decided to wind down operations of Shuni. Nonetheless, Jingyun provides insightful reflections on her evolving role as co-founder and CEO and on creating a niche as a direct-to-consumer company within the insomnia market.
Creating your Brand with Kristin Apple (Linus)
Kristin Apple is a healthcare leader and brand strategist, and is President of Linus, an insights, strategy, and innovation consulting firm that helps companies in health, wellness, and life science industries. She has worked on the client-side and as an advisor to the world’s largest consumer healthcare, pharmaceutical, and CPG companies for over twenty years.
Prior to LINUS, Kristin built and led the healthcare vertical at Egg strategy, a global brand and innovation consultancy where she focused on uncovering insights, guiding strategy, and fueling innovation for the world’s largest brands. Her interest in health and wellness started when she spent 6 years at Eli Lilly, launching five blockbuster drugs while in different roles in the sales and marketing divisions.
Kristin received her MBA from the University of Colorado and her undergraduate degree from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business.
Pushing for Culturally Competent and Sensitive Care with Ashlee Wisdom (Health in Her Hue)
Ashlee Wisdom is co-founder and CEO of Health in Her Hue, a digital platform connecting Black women and women of color to culturally sensitive healthcare providers, content and community. Ashlee is a public health innovator, committed to dismantling racist systems to achieve a more equitable healthcare landscape. Prior to Health in Her HUE, Ashlee worked for an advisory firm, Junto Health, as the Program Director for the Strategic Ventures Group. In this episode, we discuss topics such as ways Health in Her Hue is working to ensure quality and culturally sensitive care, how to create buy-in from investors that may not relate to your product, and the importance of story-telling as a founder. Key advice for aspiring entrepreneurs - find a pain point that hits home to you or your family and create a solution.
Building a nonprofit versus a for profit eating disorder company with Kristina Saffran (Equip and Project HEAL)
Kristina Saffran is the co-founder and CEO of Equip, a virtual program that delivers modern eating disorder treatment through family-based care that promises lasting recovery at home. Prior to Equip, Kristina founded Project HEAL, a leading grassroots eating disorder non-profit dedicated to treatment access. Kristina is an Ashoka Fellow, a Forbes 30 under 30 social entrepreneur, and a Facebook Community Leadership Fellow, and graduated from Harvard College with a bachelor's degree in psychology in May 2014.
Tackling Abortion and Reproductive Care with Cindy Adam, FNP (Choix)
Cindy Adam is co-founder and CEO of Choix, a telemedicine clinic providing sexual and reproductive healthcare in California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, and New Mexico founded in 2020. Choix provides professional and private abortion care to folks seeking to safely end a pregnancy from the comfort of their own home. Choix has been featured in USA Today, Insider, Fast Company, among many other news outlets.
Cindy trained at the University of California Family Nurse Practitioner Program and completed clinical preceptorships at SFGH, Planned Parenthood, and the Women’s Community Clinic. She focused her career on sexual & reproductive heathcare through work with the SF Department of Public Health Programs for Youth, in private practices with a local obgyn as well as with an early stage contraceptive care telehealth provider.
Value Based Care in Pediatric Gastroenterology with Dr. Marla Dubinsky (Trellus Health)
Today we welcome Dr. Marla Dubinsky who is the Co-Founder for Trellus Health, the first resilience-driven connected health solution for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Dr. Dubinsky is the Chief of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology at the Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital and is the Co-Director of the Susan and Leonard Feinstein Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinical Center at Mount Sinai. Her primary research focuses on the influence of genetics and immune responses on the variability in clinical presentations, treatment responses and prognosis of early-onset IBD. Dr. Dubinsky received her medical degree from Queen’s University, Canda and completed her Pediatric Residency at Alberta Children’s Hospital, Calgary, Canada, and her Clinical Fellowship in Gastroenterology and Nutrition at Sainte-Justine Hospital at the University of Montreal, Canada. She completed her Research Fellowship in Inflammatory Bowel Disease at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles where she then served as the Director of the Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center prior to coming to Mount Sinai.
Bringing Data Science to Mental Health Care with Dr. Mimi Winsberg (Brightside Health)
Dr. Mimi Winsberg is co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of Brightside Health, a telehealth startup focused on delivering life-changing mental health care. A Stanford-trained psychiatrist with over 25 years of clinical experience, she was previously the on-site psychiatrist at the Facebook Wellness Center. Dr. Winsberg appears regularly on Good Morning America, and her work has been featured in HealthDay, Business Insider, Fast Company, and Bloomberg BusinessWeek. She has a B.A. in Neuroscience from Harvard College. She is also the author of the insightful book, Speaking in Thumbs.
We cover topics like her journey co-founding Brightside Health, the future of tele-psychiatry and the role data science can play, and general advice for aspiring physician-entrepreneurs.
Scaling Mental Health Ventures and Working with Private Equity Companies with Jennifer Steiner (Lightfully)
Jennifer Steiner is the Chief Executive Officer of Lightfully Behavioral Health, which provides primary mental health treatment to commercially insured clients. Lightfully is one of the first behavioral health organizations built around Processed-based Therapy, a framework that delivers more personalized and holistic care. Previously, she was the Chief Executive Officer of Alsana, an Eating Recovery Community. Alsana combines data-driven, evidence-based treatment with a fresh perspective focused on total health and wellness. With communities in St.Louis, MO, Birmingham, AL, and Monterey, Westlake Village and Santa Barbara, CA, Alsana delivers compassionate, best-in-class care to individuals looking for recovery from eating disorders.
Prior to Alsana, Ms. Steiner served as Chief Executive Officer of InnerChange, a leading provider of residential treatment programs and community-based, outpatient treatment programs for struggling adolescents, young adults and their families Prior to InnerChange, she served as Division Vice President at Davita Health Care Partners, a Fortune 500® provider of kidney care that delivers dialysis services to patients in over 2000 outpatient dialysis centers in the U.S. and abroad.
Jennifer holds an MBA from the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business and earned her undergraduate degree in liberal arts from Colorado College. She lives with her husband and three children, and enjoys running marathons, reading and being outdoors. Jennifer is also an ardent supporter of “Lead like a Chiq,” a movement she founded that promotes the power of authentically female leadership.
Direct to Consumer Health Care Businesses with Julia Bernstein (Thirty Madison)
Julia Bernstein is a former consultant turned healthcare strategy and growth leader, currently working as General manager of Platform at Thirty Madison, the virtual specialized care platform mixing direct-to-consumer and reimbursable models. Thirty Madison includes companies like Keeps, a men’s hair loss solution, Cove, focusing on migraine care, and Evens for GI symptoms, and Picnic, for allergies.
Prior to Thirty Madison, Julia was COO of Tempest and worked in health strategy, operations, and sales at Beacon Health Options, Institute on Aging, and Ginger. Earlier in her career, Julia worked at McKinsey and Company serving healthcare companies. She received an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business and a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College.
Building Online Communities for People with Chronic Conditions with Mary Ray (MyHealthTeam)
Mary Ray, COO and co-founder of MyHealthTeam, has a deep understanding of consumers, contributing to her success in growing innovative companies from incubated new ventures at public companies to ‘traditional’ start-ups. Drawing from her personal experience with friends and family living with chronic conditions, she empathizes with the loneliness of these experiences, leading her to co-found MyHealthTeam with Eric Peacock, to promote social connectedness and support for those in similar circumstances. With MyHealthTeam they hope to shift healthcare from physician- and pharmaceutical driven to a consumer-driven industry. Previously, Mary has held executive positions at Sony and other innovative start ups in the field of mobile, digital media, and consumer technology.
Mary has received accolades for her leadership in health tech including the 2019 DTC Innovator Award, the 2021 PM360 ELITE Covid Hero Award, and she was a 2021 MM+M Hall of Femme Honoree. In 2021, she was honored by Inc. Magazine’s Female Founders 100 (the top 100 Women Entrepreneurs). She is a graduate of the College of William & Mary School of Business and George Mason University, and she lives in San Francisco, CA with her family.
Smashing the Menopause Taboo with Alessandra Henderson (Elektra Health)
Today we will be talking with Alessandra Henderson, the Co-Founder and CEO of Elektra Health, the next-gen healthcare platform to smash the taboo surrounding menopause. Elektra health offers evidence-based education, care, and community for women going through various stages of menopause. Elektra Health has been featured in leading publications including Fast Company, Forbes, Techcrunch, and more with endorsements from prominent women like Katie Couric and Maria Shriver. Alessandra began her career at Artsy, building the content partner business. She then went on to found and serve as Executive Director of the MIT NYC Startup Studio and as VP of Network at Human Ventures.
She has a B.A. from Vanderbilt University and a MBA from Sloan MIT, where she received the Martin Trust Community Fellow Award '16 and the Patrick J. McGovern, Jr Entrepreneurship Award '16.
Perspectives on Fundraising and the Entrepreneur-Investor Relationship with Jessica Bell van der Wal (Frame Fertility) and Margaret Malone (Flare Capital)
We have an exciting episode ahead. We are joined by Jessica Bell van der Wal, co-founder and CEO of Frame Fertility, as well as with one of her seed investors, Margaret Malone from Flare Capital. They will each share their perspective on the fundraising process and the relationship between entrepreneur and investor after the round closes.
Jessica Bell van der Wal has ~20 years of experience as a cross-functional executive, team leader and operator and has sold digital health products to patients, payers and employers at companies such as Genentech, Nike and Castlight Health. She serves as an advisor and Board Member for various early stage digital health / private companies and nonprofits, and she loves supporting women as a mentor especially through her role as a Co-Chair of 50/50 Women on Boards. Jessica holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor's in public health from UNC Chapel Hill. In 2020, Jessica founded her own digital health venture, Frame Fertility, which helps individuals and couples plan ahead for expanding their family and know their risk factors early to avoid a downstream and often costly fertility crisis. She is also the proud mom of 2 year old Parker, who inspired her work at Frame, which she started with her partner, Corey, following their own tough fertility experience.
Margaret Malone is a principal at Flare Capital. She was a member of the deal team for Flare’s investment into BeMe Health, Cayaba Care, Eden Health, Elektra Health, and Oshi Health. In addition, she led the firm’s Flare Scholar Ventures investments into Darby, Docent, Frame Fertility, and Visana Health. Before joining Flare Capital, Margaret partnered with entrepreneurs and investors to build executive teams and create the foundational human capital strategy for early-stage healthcare companies while at Oxeon Partners. Margaret also brings experience in healthcare-focused venture capital through her prior roles at 7wire Ventures and B Capital Group. She began her career as a clinical operations consultant with Huron Consulting Group’s healthcare practice. Margaret is also a co-founder of Dropping Claims, a content platform powered by the HealthTech Grind, a community of 300+ women entrepreneurs, operators, and investors passionate about health tech.
Physician Entrepreneurship and Mental Health with Dr. Nina Vasan (Brainstorm Lab and Real)
Dr. Nina Vasan is a psychiatrist, entrepreneur, and pioneer in digital mental health innovation. Dr. Nina Vasan is the Chief Medical Officer at Real, a mental health care company building a new therapy model. Through a monthly membership model, Real helps members access high quality mental health care through a suite of on-demand tools including their core product, Pathways. Each therapist designed and leads multi-session Pathways focuses on a specific issue, ranging across topics like body image, navigating adult friendships, and managing anxiety or depression. Real recently raise $37 million during their Series B round.
Outside of her work at Real, Dr. Vasan is a psychiatrist and professor at Stanford, where she is the founder and Executive Director of Brainstorm: The Stanford Lab for Mental Health and Innovation. Brainstorm is the world’s first academic laboratory dedicated to transforming mental health at scale through clinically-informed consumer tech products. Brainstorm’s experts worked with Pinterest to design the “compassionate search” experience which provides treatments for anxiety, depression, and self-harm for Pinterest's 450 million users. This work was named by Fast Company as the “Most Innovative Wellness Projects” and “Best Designs for Social Good”.
Dr. Vasan has worked as a healthcare advisor to the UN, the WHO Director-General’s Office, and the Obama and Biden presidential campaigns. She majored in Government at Harvard, graduating as one of Glamour Magazine's Top 10 College Women, and received an MD from Harvard Medical School, where she was voted by classmates as a commencement speaker. She graduated from Stanford's Adult Psychiatry Residency Training Program, where she was a Chief Resident, and received an MBA from Stanford's Graduate School of Business. She co-authored the #1 Amazon Best Selling book "Do Good Well: Your Guide to Leadership, Action, and Social Innovation" and was named by Business Insider as one of their 30 Under 40 in Healthcare in 2021.
Tackling Female Sexual Health with Daphne Chen (TBD Health)
Today we get to talk to an innovator who is changing the field of female sexual health. Daphne Chen is the cofounder of tbd health, an at-home screening platform for sexually transmitted infections made for women. Chen pursued her undergraduate degree at Princeton and received her MBA from the University of Pennsylvania. Daphne Chen is utilizing her skillset from her previous strategy consultant and product management experiences at Mckinsey and Amazon, applying them to encourage women to take care of their own health. TBD Health provides seamless, user-friendly at home STI testing while also destigmatizing STIs and empowering women with knowledge to take care of their sexual wellness. The focus on TBD health is to provide an inclusive, engaging, and empowering care and to bust myths about STIs and sexual wellness.
Rethinking CDMOs with Tia Lyles-Williams (LucasPye Bio)
Tia Lyles-Williams is founder and CEO of LucasPye Bio, the first large-scale biotechnology/biopharmaceutical company to be led by an African American woman. As a contract development manufacturing organization (or CDMO), LucasPye Bio currently offers a wide range of services to its clients, including proprietary cell line development, bioprocess development, consulting, and cGLP small scale bioprocessing, in turn fast-tracking the clinical development of companies’ biologics for regulatory approval, manufacturing the biologic below market price, and accelerating the drug products into the global commercial market for sale. Tia also founded HelaPlex, LucasPye Bio’s sister company, which is a commercial co-working space for life science startups and virtual biotechs. In this episode, Tia touches on her journey to starting LucasPye Bio, the hurdles BIPOC and LGBTQ+ face in entrepreneurship, and how CDMOs can play a role in influencing policy on drug pricing.
Communication Coaching for Biotech Startups with Jaye Goldstein (Petri)
Jaye Goldstein is the head of program at Petri. Before coming to Petri, she founded the MIT Communication Lab along with the Department of Biological Engineering. This lab was created in an effort to teach scientists and engineers to communicate effectively. Jaye created the bridge between the School of Engineering and the Communication lab, making it a resource for emerging scientists and engineers. After joining the MIT, she worked as the Director of Strategic Projects and Innovation Grants at Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching. Now, she is the Head of Programs at Pillar VC and Petri which creates a new approach to funding formation-stage biology and engineering startups. It is cofounded by entrepreneurs and academics who have a deep understanding of human health and sustainability. Petri is specifically tailored for entrepreneurs in the biology and engineering fields.
Making Cancer Less Lonely with Liya Shuster-Bier (Alula)
Liya Shuster-Bier is the founder and CEO of Alula, the radically honest resource making cancer less lonely.
On January 11, 2018, on the cusp of her 30th birthday, six months after graduating from Wharton, Liya was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Taking the knowledge gained from her experience, Liya built Alula to support people, families, and friends through the entire lifecycle of cancer, from diagnosis and treatment to recovery and (sometimes) bereavement.
Prior to Alula, Liya built a career in community development and impact investing, partnering with mayors and governors across the country to create innovative financing solutions that improved community outcomes. She started her career at Goldman Sachs, on the corporate currency derivatives team. In addition to receiving her MBA in Entrepreneurial Management from The Wharton School, Liya is a proud Dartmouth alum, native Queens girl, and an immigrant from Baku.
On this episode we discuss Liya's personal experiences with cancer, her career path to entrepreneurship, and how she built Alula.
Using AI to Promote Biotech Innovation: Dr. Maria Luisa Pineda (Envisagenics)
Maria Luisa Pineda is the Co-founder and CEO of Envisagenics, which was founded in 2014 as a spinout of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Given that there are over 30 million people in the United States who suffer from genetic diseases or cancer, which could be caused by mutations affecting RNA splicing, Envisagenics aims to accelerate the development of innovative therapeutic solutions for RNA splicing variants with the help of its AI platform.
Dr. Pineda has over a decade of experience as a biologist. She was awarded an endowment of $2 million dollars from the Goizueta Foundation and an NIH fellowship with the Minority Access to Research Careers program during her undergraduate training. She then went on to obtain her Ph.D. from the Watson School of Biological Sciences at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as an Arnold and Mabel Beckman graduate student and a William Randolph Hearst foundation scholar. On this episode, we discuss her experience in navigating the science startup world.
Redefining Research through Transparency in Data Sharing with Dawn Barry (LunaDNA)
Dawn Barry is the president and co-founder of LunaPBC, which is the public benefit corporation that launched LunaDNA, the first DNA and health research platform owned by its community of data donors. LunaDNA's member-owned digital data-sharing community makes discovery representative of the real world and aligned with people’s true goals by giving all individuals a role in research. Previously, Dawn joined Illumina in 2005 and served as the Vice President of Applied Genomics. Prior to Illumina, Dawn worked at Genaissance Pharmaceuticals, one of the first genomics startups focused on personalized medicine. In this episode, Dawn shares lessons learned in her career in biotech, how she built LunaDNA with its innovative shared ownership structure, and her perspectives on the future of data sharing and the applications of genomics in medicine.
Investing in Digital Health with Alyssa Jaffee (7wireVentures)
Alyssa Jaffee is a Partner at 7wireVentures where she focuses on investments in digital healthcare and technology-enabled services that empower consumers to be better stewards of their health in today’s changing healthcare ecosystem. Alyssa sits on the board of Ayogo Health and Higi and is a board observer with Zerigo Health, NOCD, Jasper Health, and RecoveryOne. Alyssa’s prior experience in venture capital includes her time as an investor at Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Hyde Park Angels, one of the Midwest’s largest angel organizations, and Healthbox, an early-stage healthcare innovation firm, supporting their accelerator program called the Studio. Alyssa is also a Co-Founder of TransparentCareer, a 2016 NVC winning company focused on helping people make more data-driven career decisions. Alyssa holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago – Booth School of Business.
In this episode, Alyssa discusses her career path into digital healthcare investing and what she looks for when making investments.
Innovating and Building a Brand with Dr. Lara Devgan (Dr. Devgan Scientific Beauty)
Dr. Lara Devgan is a top board-certified New York City plastic surgeon and the founder and CEO of luxury medical-grade skincare line Dr. Devgan Scientific Beauty. She is an international lecturer, a renowned industry consultant, a classically trained artist, and an expert in plastic surgery and injectables for the face, breasts, and body. She is the former Chief Medical Officer of RealSelf, the largest online aesthetics community where consumers learn about cosmetic treatments and connect with doctors and other clinicians.
Dr. Devgan is a medical expert for ABC News, an editorial consultant for The Lancet, a nationally and internationally invited lecturer on surgical topics, and an advisor on plastic surgical issues for Gerson Lehrman Group, Guidepoint Global, and Medefield. She has established herself as a key opinion leader within plastic and reconstructive surgery on social media, accruing nearly half a million followers on Instagram. Her brand, Devgan Scientific Beauty, has been featured in Glamour Magazine, Forbes, Allure, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle Magazine.
Dr. Devgan pursued her undergraduate degree at Yale, medical school at Johns Hopkins, and plastic and reconstructive surgery residency at Columbia and New York Presbyterian Hospital. In this podcast, we learn about Dr. Devgan's path to plastic surgery and entrepreneurship, building her world-renowned luxury skincare brand.
Building a digital therapeutic program for addiction recovery and wellness with Robin McIntosh (WorkIt Health)
Robin McIntosh is a designer, author and social impact entrepreneur. She has founded multiple companies, and has worked across startups, brands, and business communities over the past decade, with a focus on the arts, health and wellness. Currently, she serves as co-founder and co-CEO of Workit Health, where she and her co-founder Lisa McLaughlin develop digital therapeutic programs and precision prevention models for addiction recovery and wellness. Workit provides home-based detox and rehab services and guides individuals from high-risk substance use to a healthy thriving lifestyle through a 90-day program of weekly interactive lessons, tailored content, and personalized interactions with coaches and clinicians. McIntosh shares her journey to entrepreneurship, what it was like building WorkIt Health, and provides advice to female founders on fundraising.
Enhancing Community-Based Care with Dr. Lisa Levine (MAVEN Project)
Dr. Lisa Bard Levine served as the former CEO of The MAVEN Project, a telehealth nonprofit that supports primary care providers in delivering comprehensive care to vulnerable patients at community health centers across the country. Her team recruits and retains experienced volunteer physicians who work closely with front line providers to educate, advise, and enhance local care capacity through provider-to-provider consults, one-on-one mentoring, and customized education sessions. Founded by alumni leaders from Harvard, Stanford, UCSF, Yale, and Tufts, The MAVEN Project’s physician volunteers now represent over 40 medical specialties at over 90 community clinic sites for 765,000 patients. Dr. Levine shares with us her experience building the MAVEN Project and how we can enhance delivery of comprehensive care to the most vulnerable patient populations.
Navigating The Long Fix of American Healthcare with Dr. Vivian S. Lee (Verily)
Vivian S. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A, is President of Health Platforms at Verily Life Sciences, an Alphabet company whose mission is to apply digital solutions that enable people to enjoy healthier lives. A passionate champion of improving health in the U.S. and worldwide, she works closely with Verily’s clinical and engineering teams to develop products and platforms that support the successful transformation of health systems to value and advance the co-production of health with patients, caregivers, and communities. Wearing many hats as a President of a tech company, Senior Lecturer at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, and an author, Dr. Lee shares her journey, the work underway at Verily, and how we can improve healthcare delivery in the US.
Disrupting Infant Nutrition and the Alt-Food Pipeline with Dr. Leila Strickland (BIOMILQ)
Dr. Leila Strickland is the co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of BIOMILQ, a women-owned, science-led, and parent-centered infant nutrition company based in Durham, North Carolina. With her co-founder, Michelle Egger, Dr. Strickland is disrupting the over $65 billion infant formula market through culturing mammary gland cells in a lab. Despite its recent formation in January 2020, BIOMILQ has caught the eye of Bill Gates, who bought a $3.5 million stake in June 2020, as well as Breakthrough Energy Ventures, composed of investors such as Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Ma, and Michael Bloomberg. In June 2021, the company announced that they have successfully made the world’s first cell-cultured human milk from mammary cells outside of the breast. Their 100% human milk contains the majority of nutritional complexities of breastmilk, with the practicality of formula.
Busting Taboos Around Women’s Health and Trailblazing in Femtech with Vernita Brown (Natalist)
Vernita Brown is CEO of Natalist, a venture-backed women’s health startup focused on supporting women from concept to conception. Their fertility products and resources are backed by science with a net-zero plastic footprint. Prior to Natalist, Vernita spent a decade working with organizations and businesses like Teach for America and United Way in positions of leadership, asset management, program development, recruitment, and culture building. Vernita shares with us the origins of Natalist, including principles of leadership and team-building, and how to thrive in the femtech space, including approaches to pitching women’s health products to male investors.
Minimizing Funding Disparities for Underrepresented Founders with Arlan Hamilton (Backstage Capital)
Arlan Hamilton is founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital, a venture fund dedicated to minimizing funding disparities by investing in high-potential founders who are people of color, women, and/or members of the LGBTQ community. Since its founding in 2015, Backstage has invested more than $20 million in more than 180 companies with plans to raise up to $30 million for its newest fund. In 2018 Arlan co-founded Backstage Studio which launched four accelerator programs for underestimated founders in Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and London. Arlan’s book "It's About Damn Time" published in May 2020 chronicles her journey from being homeless in SF to running a multimillion-dollar investment fund and the lessons learned along the way. Arlan touches on her journey founding Backstage Capital; discusses how biases lead investors to think that a pipeline problem is the cause for
Leveraging Your Superpowers with Dr. Vineeta Agarwala (Andreessen Horowitz)
Vineeta Agarwala, MD, PhD, is a General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and adjunct clinical professor in the Division of Primary Care and Population Health at Stanford. She previously worked as a management consultant at McKinsey and as a Director of Product Management at Flatiron Health. At a16z, she works with companies seeking to improve how drug development and patient care delivery is done. We discuss with Dr. Agarwala the importance of adopting a “continuous learner” mindset, how to make the jump from academia to entrepreneurship, and trends in biotech and health tech, including a DoorDash-infrastructure for healthcare delivery.
Naming Problems to Solve Problems in Healthcare with Dr. Sachin Jain (SCAN Group)
Sachin Jain, MD, MBA is President and CEO of SCAN Group and Health Plan, where he is charged with leading the organization’s growth, diversification, and emerging efforts to reduce healthcare disparities. Previously, Dr. Jain was President and CEO of CareMore and Aspire Health, innovative care delivery systems with > $1.6B in revenues serving 200,000 Medicare and Medicaid patients and 2500 associates in 32 states. He pioneered the first clinical program in the world focused on social isolation. We discuss with Dr. Jain his thoughts on effective leadership, what it really means to tackle social determinants of health to reduce healthcare disparities, and how men can be allies in the efforts to achieve gender parity in healthcare leadership.
Bringing Moonshot Thinking to Life with Jun Axup (IndieBio)
Jun Axup is the Chief Science Officer and Partner at IndieBio, the world’s leading biotech startup accelerator. Focused on turning scientists into entrepreneurs, IndieBio has funded and helped build 100+ biotech companies spanning the future of food/agriculture, consumer biotech, computational biology, digital health, therapeutics, medical devices, neurotech, and regenerative medicine. In this episode, Jun shares her journey from scientist to entrepreneur to VC, reveals the moonshot projects underway at IndieBio, and reflects on VC in the post-COVID era.
Achieving Gender Parity in Entrepreneurship and VC with Dana Kanze (LSE)
Dr. Dana Kanze is an accomplished professor at London Business School, specializing in organizational behavior and gender inequality within the workplace. Her internationally accredited TED Talk entitled, “The real reason female entrepreneurs get less funding,” has spurred many important discussions surrounding the biases that investors carry within their evaluation of start-up ventures. We discuss the implications of her research -- namely “promotion vs. prevention” mindset among male and female founders and investors penalizing female founders for perceived lack of industry fit.
Combating Healthcare Misinformation with Dr. Seema Yasmin
Dr. Seema Yasmin is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, poet, medical doctor and author. Serving as an officer in the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she investigated disease outbreaks as principal investigator on a number of studies. Previously she was a science correspondent at The Dallas Morning News, medical analyst for CNN, and professor of public health at the University of Texas at Dallas. She is author of three award-winning books: The Impatient Dr. Lange, Viral BS: Medical Myths and Why We Fall for Them, and Muslim Women are Everything. Dr. Yasmin shares with us the inspiration behind her books and provides advice on effective communication in the face of misinformation and stereotypes.
Establishing Diversity in Angel Investing with Angela Lee (37 Angels)
Angela Lee is an educator, entrepreneur, and investor. Angela is a Professor of Practice and the Chief Innovation Officer at Columbia Business School, where she teaches courses on leadership and venture capital. She started her career in product management and then moved onto strategy consulting at McKinsey. She is the founder of four startups, including the NYC-based investor network called 37 Angels, where she is an angel investor. Angela shares her journey to angel investing and provides a framework for evaluating companies and entering the world of angel investing.
Shaping the Future of Surgery with Augmented Reality with Nadine Hachach-Haram (Proximie)
Dr. Nadine Hachach-Haram is a London-based consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon and the founder of Proximie, a technology platform that allows clinicians to virtually 'scrub in' to any operating room from anywhere in the world. This augmented reality platform allows health professionals to teach, train, and collaborate remotely, thus digitizing a given surgeon's footprint and creating a borderless and inclusive operating room. We discuss what it takes to be a clinician-entrepreneur and how Proximie will democratize surgical training. The key, according to Dr. Hachach-Haram, is to be mission-driven and to develop a solution that is solving an existing problem, not a solution trying to fit a problem.
Creating Innovation for the Aging Population with Sandra Saldana (Alva Health)
Nearly 700,000 Americans suffer an ischemic stroke each year, and though tPA has been approved for over 25 years to treat ischemic strokes, only 5-10% of eligible patients receive this therapy due to delays in seeking medical attention. Alva Health is developing a wearable device to help older Americans living with high stroke risk monitor and detect signs of stroke. Founder and CEO Dr. Sandra Saldana shares with us her journey in applying her science and business backgrounds to create Alva Health and discusses the need for innovation for the aging population, an often neglected population.
Spinning Out Innovation from Academia with Natalie Ma (Felix Biotechnology)
Dr. Natalie Ma is co-founder and director of business development at Felix Biotechnology, a seed-stage biotechnology company working to accelerate its deployment of novel biotherapeutics to manage infectious diseases using their proprietary phage technology. She helped launch Felix Biotech with Dr. Paul Turner when she was a Blavatnik Fellow in Entrepreneurship at the Yale Tech Transfer Office. Natalie shares her journey operating on both the science and business sides of the life sciences industry as well as her advice for female physicians and scientists in academia with an itch towards commercializing their research.
Reflections on COVID 19 by Women Healthcare Leaders
During the pandemic, Theia has talked with more than a dozen of healthcare professionals, leaders, and innovators. We wanted to share what we have discussed and learned from our podcast guests with respect to Covid-19 and its effects on healthcare through this episode. This piece aims to share how entrepreneurs adapted their ventures to the events of the pandemic, reflect on how the pandemic revealed key unmet needs and raised important issues within healthcare, and show how the pandemic spurred innovation and impacted investments and notable trends within healthcare. This episode features
- Dr. Sejal Hathi (Internal Medicine Resident Physician at MGH, founder of CivicRx)
- Pooja Chandrashekar (founder of COVID-19 Health Literacy Project)
- Dr. Sachin Jain (CEO of SCAN Health Plan)
- Vernita Brown (CEO of Natalist)
- Bunny Ellerin (Director of Healthcare Management at Columbia Business School)
- Andrea Ippolito (founder & CEO of SimpliFed)
- Dr. Jerrica Kirkley (co-founder & CEO of Plume)
- Barbara Schilberg (co-founder & Managing Director of BioAdvance)
- Dr. Seema Yasmin (CNN Analyst, Former CDC Detective)
- Ellen Su (co-founder of Wellinks)
- Sara Nayeem (Partner at Avoro Ventures)
- Dr. Dana Kanze (Gender Equity Researcher and Professor, London Business School)
Easing Barriers to Care for Transgender Patients with Dr. Jerrica Kirkley (Plume)
Dr. Jerrica Kirkley is co-founder and CMO of Plume, a direct-to-consumer telehealth company that provides medical consultation and gender-affirming hormone therapy for transgender patients. As a trans woman, family practice physician and educator, Dr. Kirkley and her co-founder, Dr. Matthew Wetschler, started Plume in 2019 to radically increase access to gender-affirmation services. Plume is currently operating in 33 states - and has been regarded as one of the fastest-growing trans tech companies in the nation. We discuss the origins of Plume as well as the changing landscape regarding policy and education surrounding gender-affirming care.
Designing Medical Devices for Glaucoma with Rui Jing Jiang (Avisi Technologies)
Avisi Technologies is a University of Pennsylvania spinout company developing a nanoscale, ocular implant called VisiPlate to stop blindness in patients with glaucoma. CEO Rui Jing Jiang co-founded Avisi while completing her undergraduate business degree at Wharton. What began as a business project turned into a full-time endeavor. We talk about how to leverage the resources at your academic institution for opportunities to commercialize intellectual property owned by the institution, mentorship and guidance from key opinion leaders, and funding. Avisi is gearing up for in-human clinical trials, so Rui Jing reflects on Avisi’s strategy for preclinical studies and conversations with the FDA.
Following the Money in Healthcare with Andrea Ippolito (SimpliFed)
Andrea Ippolito is the founder and CEO of Simplifed, the first independent tele-lactation consulting and nutrition support platform connecting new mothers with resources in the first weeks of becoming a parent. She is currently a Lecturer in the Engineering Management Program at Cornell University. Prior to this, she served as Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Innovators Network within the VA Innovation Center. There she led the creation of a $10.5m program that provides the tools and resources to VA employees to develop innovations that improve the experience of our Veterans. In 2012, she co-founded health IT company SmartScheduling which was sold to athenahealth in 2016. In our interview with Andrea, we learned about her journey to entrepreneurship and how her work with organizations like the VA has impacted her path within healthcare. She emphasized the importance of not just being an entrepreneur, but giving back to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the process. How can we create buy-in and ensure durable change in healthcare? She says, “follow the money.”
Improving Health Literacy with Pooja Chandrashekar (COVID-19 Health Literacy Project)
Pooja Chandrashekar is a second year medical student at Harvard Medical School and founder of the COVID-19 Health Literacy Project, which aims to create and translate accessible COVID-19 information into different languages to help all patients know when and how to seek care. We talk about her ability to mobilize hundreds of health professional students to work towards tackling language barriers to health literacy. She shares her vision for more equitable and patient-centered healthcare delivery.