Pharma Partnering Event

Pharma Partnering Event

Partnering without Pitfalls: Building Successful Collaborations between Entrepreneurs and Pharma

Co-hosted by


Event Sponsors:



Join us for an interactive panel discussion with pharmaceutical leaders who will examine what they look for in a partner, how to navigate the partnering process, keys for success, and lessons learned


Attendance is FREE for members - RSVP here!

Jonathan Lim

Featuring Panelists

David Weitz, Head of Takeda California and Global Research Externalization


Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Limited is focused on discovering transformative medicines for patients in the therapeutic areas of Oncology, Gastrointestinal and CNS.  It has research centers in Tokyo, Boston and San Diego.  David heads the San Diego research center and serves as a member Takeda’s global research senior leadership team.   As the leader in San Diego, David works to maintain the center’s agile, collaborative and entrepreneurial approach to drug discovery research.  David has over 25 years of experience in research, business, legal, and intellectual property, as well as his proven track record of alliance formation, to increase Takeda’s agility in securing external partnerships and collaborations as a key source of innovation.  He received a B.S. in chemistry from M.I.T., a M.S. in chemistry from University of California, Berkeley and a Juris Doctor from University of California, Berkeley.


Jeff Calcagno, Senior Director New Ventures, JNJ Innovation

Jeff Calcagno, MD, is Senior Director, New Ventures, for Johnson & Johnson Innovation (JJI).  Jeff leads the New Ventures team at Johnson & Johnson’s California Innovation Center, which he helped to establish.  Jeff and his New Ventures team play a central role in sourcing and facilitating strategic breakthrough life sciences innovations across Western North America, Australia, and New Zealand.  Jeff also worked for 18 months making and managing venture investments for Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation, the venture investing arm of Johnson & Johnson.Jeff began his business career as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company.  He later served as a healthcare research analyst at JP Morgan Hambrecht & Quist.  As an entrepreneur, he ran corporate development and operations for WIDCOMM, a technology company acquired by Broadcom, and served as CFO & CBO for Vela Pharmaceuticals, a venture-backed drug development company. From 2006 to 2010 he was a Principal & Kauffman Fellow at Scale Venture Partners, a venture fund with over $1B under management.

Jeff graduated Phi Beta Kappa in Biology from Harvard College and earned an M.D. from Harvard Medical School, where he was a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar.  He completed his medical-psychiatric internship and psychiatry residency at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute and served as program chief resident.  Afterwards, he was awarded and completed a clinical neuropharmacology fellowship focusing on the care of treatment-refractory patients. He speaks multiple languages.


Sunny Al-Shamma President & CEO, Beacon Discovery

Sunny Al-Shamma has more than 20 years of drug discovery experience in the biotech industry, most recently at Arena Pharmaceuticals where he was VP of Discovery Biology.  In this role he oversaw the activity of multidisciplinary teams of biologists focused on the discovery of small molecule GPCR ligands for the treatment of Metabolic, CNS, Inflammatory and Cardiovascular diseases.  This discovery group had a hand in advancing more than a dozen candidates into preclinical and clinical development in these disease areas. Prior to Arena, Sunny was Director of Biology at Maxia Pharmaceuticals where he focused on the discovery and development of small molecule nuclear receptor ligands and kinase/phosphatase modulators for the treatment of metabolic diseases and cancer.  Sunny was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles, and has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Behavior from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Melissa Fitzgerald, Head Strategic Research Partnerships, Pfizer

Melissa M. Fitzgerald, Ph.D. is a Senior Director, Oncology for Pfizer’s External Science & Innovation (ES & I) group. In this role, Melissa leads pre-POC asset scouting efforts for the CSO of Tumor Cell Biology at Pfizer La Jolla, and helps expand and manage partnerships with key academic institutes, start-ups and biotech companies in areas of scientific and strategic interest for the CSO. Melissa brings to ES & I her enthusiasm for recognizing and promoting early stage innovation, gained through fifteen years of research and corporate development experience in the San Diego Life Sciences eco-system. Melissa has held positions of including responsibility at Dura Pharmaceuticals, UCSD Technology Transfer, and Amylin Pharmaceuticals.  Melissa obtained her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Virginia Commonwealth University, and was a post-doc in the Department of Molecular Biology at Scripps Research in La Jolla.



5:00 – 6:00pm         Networking Reception & Exhibition, appetizers & refreshments provided. 

6:00 – 6:20pm         Introduction to SDEE, Launchbio and 30 second pitches

6:20 – 8:00pm         Panel Presentation and Discussion


SDEE Members can apply to give a 30 second pitch (Deadline to apply August 31st)

Exhibit tables are available to SDEE Small Business, Corporate, and Consultant members! (Deadline to reserve August 31st)

Members: Contact Danielle Hayes, [email protected]


Cost: Free for SDEE and BioLabs members. SDEE Members please RSVP here

$25 for non-members, please use the form below to purchase tickets.

September 12, 2018 at 5:00pm - 8pm
Illumina Theater, The Alexandria at Torrey Pines
10996 Torreyana Rd
San Diego, CA 92121
United States
Google map and directions
Danielle Hayes ·