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Spotlight on Women in Health Ventures

Spotlight on Women in Health Ventures

By Theia
Healthcare does not have a “women in healthcare” problem, but a “women in healthcare leadership” problem. Yet being a leader doesn’t just mean climbing the corporate ladder. We need more women to take ownership of their ideas and translate them into companies. On Spotlight on Women in Health Ventures, Theia co-founders Sumun Khetpal, Shabnam Eghbali, and Irene Park speak with women and allies that are challenging the status quo and changing the healthcare entrepreneurship and investing scene.

Produced by Theia. Editors: Ellie Park, Pearl Zhang, Aseem Jain. Album art: Mia Kim, Sabrina Tian.
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Spinning Out Innovation from Academia with Natalie Ma (Felix Biotechnology)

Spotlight on Women in Health Ventures

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.
September 9, 2021
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
August 25, 2021
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.
August 11, 2021
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.
July 24, 2021
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.
July 7, 2021
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.
June 30, 2021
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.
June 16, 2021
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.
June 5, 2021
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.
May 26, 2021
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.  
May 1, 2021
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.
April 14, 2021
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)
April 6, 2021
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.
March 31, 2021
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.
March 12, 2021
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.”
March 4, 2021
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.
February 20, 2021
Breaking into Life Sciences Entrepreneurship and VC with Dr. Sara Nayeem (Avoro Ventures, fmr NEA)
Sara Nayeem is a Partner at Avoro Ventures (former Partner at NEA) where she focuses on investments in biopharmaceutical companies. We discuss with Sara what it means to “fail fast”, the importance of that “killer experiment” and other key considerations for building a biopharma company. As one of Fierce Biotech’s “Fiercest Women in Life Sciences”, she provides suggestions for how we can promote gender equity in life sciences.
February 4, 2021
Changing Healthcare Through Social Entrepreneurship and Policy with Dr. Sejal Hathi (MGH, CivicRx)
Dr. Sejal Hathi is a physician, public health advocate, and serial entrepreneur, who has dedicated her career to serving vulnerable communities in the United States and globally — with a special attention to women and girls. She has founded two non-profit organizations, Girls Helping Girls and girltank, that have mobilized over 30,000 young women to create sustainable social change in over 100 countries. Presently, she serves as a primary care resident at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Clinical Fellow at Harvard Medical School. She shares with us her motivation behind her social entrepreneurial pursuits, her involvement in Pete Buttigieg’s campaign, and her strategies for success as a leader and entrepreneur (hint: vogue-ish company creation is not the way to go).
January 22, 2021
Building Your Network in Healthcare with Bunny Ellerin (NYCHBL)
Bunny Ellerin is co-founder and president of New York City Health Business Leaders, a community of over 4,000 healthcare executives, entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors. She’s an award-winning leader, thinker, writer, and speaker who has helped transform New York City into a thriving hub of healthcare innovation. We talk to her about effective strategies for networking and how men need to serve as allies to really help build women presence in entrepreneurship and healthcare leadership.
January 13, 2021
Harnessing Artificial Intelligence in Dermatology with Liz Asai (3Derm/Digital Diagnostics)
3Derm is a medical technology company offering a skin imaging system that allows users to take clinical-quality 3D skin images remotely. Dermatologists can use the uploaded images to efficiently monitor high volumes of patients' lesions while reserving in-clinic appointment times for patients whose images indicate a more alarming condition. A week after the interview in August 2020, 3Derm was acquired by autonomous AI platform Digital Diagnostics. 3Derm co-founder and CEO Liz Asai shares how she and her team gained payor buy-in for their product as well as 3Derm’s progress on autonomous and assistive AI with a particular focus on inclusivity in diagnosing skin conditions.
December 30, 2020
Building Wearable Technologies for Chronic Conditions with Ellen Su (Wellinks)
Wellinks is a wearable health technology company that focuses on building software and hardware to improve treatment and outcomes for patients with musculoskeletal conditions. Coming from a non-traditional background with training in product design at Yale and Design for America, co-founder Ellen Su recounts her experience channeling the motivation to help young patients with scoliosis to develop a digital health solution to track brace usage and enhance feedback between patients and physicians.
December 10, 2020
Revolutionizing Accessibility to Glaucoma Care with Daria Lemann-Blumenthal (BELKIN Laser)
BELKIN Laser is an Israeli ophthalmology device company disrupting the glaucoma care space. Their technology is an automated one-second laser device aimed at addressing the growing disparity between the enormous number of glaucoma patients (80M) and the limited number of ophthalmologists (212,000) by enabling the doctor to treat many more patients. In our conversation with BELKIN Laser CEO, Daria Lemann-Blumenthal, we explore the landscape of glaucoma treatment, Israel’s medtech scene, and being a woman and mother in medtech while building a global company.
November 24, 2020
Reimagining the Gynecological Exam with Dr. Nimmi Ramanujam (Calla Health)
Dr. Nimmi Ramanujam is the Director of the Center for Women's Global Health Technologies at Duke University and co-founder at Calla Health. Calla Health strives to sustainably improve women's access to cancer prevention through women-inspired technologies for cervical cancer screening for low-resource settings. With the Callascope, their innovative device for cervical imaging, Nimmi and her team are re-imagining the gynecological exam and bringing cervical cancer screening to women's doorsteps. We discuss with Dr. Ramanujam the design process of the Callascope, how to engage global health partners, and what it means to build a scalable and sustainable enterprise.
November 9, 2020
Investing in Life Sciences Innovation - Barbara Schilberg & BioAdvance
BioAdvance is a venture capital firm investing in early-stage life sciences companies and technologies in the mid-Atlantic region. BioAdvance CEO Barbara Schilberg expands on her over three decade career in biotech from serving as general counsel and running clinical trials at several biotech companies to now being a life sciences investor. During her tenure, BioAdvance has invested over $49 million in 93 companies and academic technologies, which have attracted $3 billion in capital. In our conversation, Barbara outlines qualities vital for a successful entrepreneur and encourages women to challenge the assumption that entrepreneurship is only for young folks.
October 23, 2020
Balancing Academic and Life Sciences Entrepreneurship - Dr. Aimee Payne & Cabaletta Bio
Cabaletta Bio is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of engineered T cell therapies for patients with B-cell mediated autoimmune disease. Their lead product candidate, DSG3-CAART, is entering clinical development as a potential treatment for patients with mucosal pemphigus vulgaris, a prototypical B cell-mediated autoimmune disease. Co-founder Dr. Aimee Payne, MD, PhD is a worldwide leader in characterizing B cell-mediated autoantibody repertoires in pemphigus vulgaris and other autoimmune diseases. We discuss with Dr. Payne on how she translated research out of her lab into a full-fledged company and how she is keen on mentoring female physician-scientists to improve representation of women in healthcare leadership.
October 7, 2020
Disrupting Point-of-Care Diagnostics - Group K Diagnostics
Group K Diagnostics (GKD) is developing a point-of-care diagnostic device, KromaHealth, that leverages paper-based microfluidics technology to reduce cost and time of testing for over 40 diseases. CEO and founder Brianna Wronko walks us through how she has translated her research at the University of Pennsylvania into a full fledged company that has raised $7 million to date. With the use of KromaHealth, she paints a picture of a more efficient doctor’s office visit devoid of the time lag between blood draw and lab result. For any diagnostic tool, the regulatory process can be daunting, so we go into the nuances of the 510(k) pathway for KromaHealth.
September 23, 2020
Tackling Access to Care - Ride Health
Ride Health is dedicated to addressing the transportation barrier to care. They have a software platform that helps care coordinators arrange rides for patients to and from their appointments. Co-founders Sumun Khetpal and Christine Yang discuss the origin of Ride Health and building its product as undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania. Incorporating their respective clinical and financial backgrounds, they breakdown how to build a solution that aligns incentives across multiple stakeholders from patients to payers to physicians to transportation providers.
September 9, 2020
Co-founders Sumun Khetpal, Shabnam Eghbali, and Irene Park introduce their nonprofit Theia and their new podcast, Spotlight on Women in Health Ventures. The series will shed light on the advances women have made and continue to make as entrepreneurs and investors in healthcare. We’ll learn about their highs and lows and how women can take ownership of their ideas and translate them into companies. Spotlight on Women in Health Ventures will debut in early September 2020.
September 2, 2020