SDEE Newsletter_July 2016


This 2016 summer edition of the SDEE newsletter contains a special feature on recent scientific conferences attended by our communications committee volunteers. Conference topics included medical imaging, digital health and biotechnology entrepreneurship. Check out our Featured 2016 Conferences section to see what we learned. We also share investor presentation pitch tips from our speakers at the June 23, 2016 “Perfect Pitch” workshop and photo highlights from our July 12, 2016 Founder's Tales and Vendor Show. Don’t miss the Member News section where you can catch-up on the latest updates from SDEE vendor members. For more events and entrepreneur community information, please visit our SDEE website and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Enjoy!

Newsletter Highlights:

  • Recent SDEE Events
  • Tips from the Pros
  • Featured 2016 Biotechnology and Medical Conferences
  • Upcoming Events
  • Member News

Recent SDEE Events

June 23, 2016 Workshop: Perfect Pitch – For Creating and Delivering Winning Presentations

Tips From the Pros

by Neil Thompson, Patent Agent & Writer

Does the idea of pitching an investor make you want to…abandon that idea? If so, you’re not alone. The pitch workshop, hosted by SDEE on June 23 at Hera Hub, was packed with people wanting to know how to perfect their pitch. Here are 10 tips from the experts. Specials thanks to our panelists Jeff Friedman (Tech Coast Angels), Larry Fromm (Achates Power), Diane West (2Connect), and Grace Chui-Miller (Correlation Ventures) for their nuggets of wisdom. 

  1. Get the audience’s attention within the first minute (Larry says you have one minute to grab investors’ attention before they tune out. Facebook photos won’t scroll through themselves after all. Larry also says that if you have an hour for the pitch, do it in 20 minutes, leaving the rest of the time for Q&A.)
  2. Tell the audience a story (Diane understands that investors need data to make an informed decision about your company, but she implores people who are pitching to couch that data in stories. Kids like stories. Adults do, too.)
  3. Know your audience (According to Diane, the story that the pitch audience wants to hear will vary. The technology-minded will want to hear a technology story. The business-minded? A business story. Find out beforehand who will be in the audience to tailor the story to the audience.)  

Read More Here

July 12, 2016 Event: Founder’s Tales, SDEE Vendor Show & 30 Second Pitches

by Sylvia Norman, Founder & CEO at Molecular Diagnostics Consulting and Sandhill Crane Diagnostics, Inc.

Our Founder’s Tales event featured San Diego Biotech founders Mauro Mileni, PhD, President, CEO & Founder of Abilita Bio, Inc.; R. Scott Struthers, PhD, CEO & co-founder of Crinetics Pharmaceuticals; Joseph E. Payne, President, CEO, Chairman & Founder of Arcturus Therapeutics; and Padmanabh Chivukula, PhD, CSO, COO, Director & Founder of Arcturus Therapeutics. They gave a “no holds barred” approach to telling us what it’s really like to start a company and make it successful. Scott got his company started using creative ways to find lab resources. Mauro had the added pressure of making sure the “Friends & Family” investment he received to start Abilita, was wisely spent. Joseph and Padmanabh overcame initial mistakes and went on to build a profitable company. The event also included a vendor show by 43 SDEE members and 30 second company pitches by BioPioneer, Legal Greenhouse, Certara, and DeeAnn Visk Consulting. Check out our San Diego Entrepreneurs Exchange Facebook page and Twitter @sdeeorg for more photos of this fun event.

Featured 2016 Biotechnology and Medical Conferences

Going Nuclear: a look at the SNMMI annual meeting

by Neil Thompson, Patent Agent & Writer

Physicians, pharmacists, technologists, and industry personnel all descended upon San Diego June 11 – 15, 2016 for this year’s annual meeting of the Society for Nuclear Medicine and Medical Imaging (SNMMI). SNMMI’s influence spans many areas, including education, best practices development, and advocacy. In existence for over 60 years and 17,000 members strong, SNMMI and its members are heavily involved with developing imaging techniques for noninvasive diagnoses of diseases. Going into the meeting, I knew nothing about nuclear medicine or medical imaging.  Over the next few days, I received quite the education.

Nuclear medicine involves introducing small amounts of radiotracer to the body to diagnose diseases. The radiotracer consists of carrier molecules bonded to a radioactive atom. The carrier molecules typically have an affinity for a specific sugar or protein in the body. When the carrier molecules come in contact with that sugar or protein, the radioactive atom emits radiation. External cameras capture the radiation and provide molecular images of the radiating area.

There’s a lot of interesting research going on in the nuclear medicine field. For instance, Belgian researchers are looking into new therapies to treat alcoholism. They imaged the brains of recently sober individuals and those with no alcoholic history. They found that the recently sober test subjects had lower metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 5 (mGluR5) availability. mGluR5, found in certain areas of the brain, has been implicated in causing cravings and addictive dependency. The brains of the recently sober were essentially shutting down mGluR5 receptors, hindering the recovering alcoholics’ desire to relapse. Based on their findings, the researchers believe that mGluR5-targeted therapies to treat alcoholism are on the horizon.  

A highlight of the meeting was the talk given by Robert Dannals, PhD, recipient of the Michael J. Welch Award. Dannals, professor of radiology and Director of the PET Center at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, spent an hour regaling the audience about his exploits from the time he finished his studies to present day. 

Read More Here

Igniting Innovation, Market Opportunities and Partnerships

by Sylvia Norman, Founder & CEO at Molecular Diagnostics Consulting, Inc. and Sandhill Crane Diagnostics, Inc.

The focus at the Digital Health Summer Summit at BIO 2016 (DHSS 2016) and BIO Digital Health track was all about igniting innovative changes in healthcare through digital health. The conference started off at warp speed as Dr. Shafi Ahmed treated us to a demo of his surgical virtual reality (VR) platform, providing each attendee with VR headsets for a truly immersive experience. In April, Dr. Ahmed performed the first ever live-streamed VR surgery using this platform. His vision is for the platform to become a VR surgical teaching tool. This presentation was followed by demos of digital health innovations, including a virtual rehab gamification for stroke patients (Virtualware), a non-invasive cognitive health tool to identify risk of cognitive decline e.g. Alzheimer's (Neurotrack), an injectable biosensor that monitors oxigenation index and glucose in real time (Profusa) and a connected SmartinhalerTM to monitor usage by COPD patients (Adherium). Elli Kaplan, co-founder & CEO at Neurotrack emphasized the need for early cognitive risk assessment tools, since studies have shown 20+ years of irreversible brain loss occurs prior to an Alzheimer's diagnosis. Neurotrack's ImprintTM Cognitive Assessment Test tracks eye movement while the subject views identical and non-identical images. Unimpaired subjects spend more time viewing non-identical images, impaired subjects do not. 

Panel discussions over the next few days focused on market opportunities, investment outlook, and challenges facing digital health companies developing products for use in healthcare settings. 

Market Opportunities - The primary market opportunities are in mental health technology, products for caregivers of our aging population, medical-grade wearables, big data analytics, and telemedicine. The mental health technology panel proposed that digital health's greatest impact will be on behavioral and mental health, by providing tools for digital therapy and analysis of complex data to identify treatment targets. To give an idea of the challenge in identifying mental health biomarkers and treatments, there are 126 symptoms included in the diagnosis for depression. Jeff Beeler (VP of Product Innovation at Merge eClinical) gave us an informative peek into how cognitive technologies work and reminded us that even Watson can't provide actionable data without additional tools - "You can't just give Watson the data, you have to teach him how to use it". For the aging population market, products to assist with mobility, independent living, in-home care, cognitive health, and remote healthcare are needed.

Read More Here

SDEE Members at BIO 2016

BIO 2016 had a variety of industry track sessions, including pharma, biotech, digital health, global health, and clean tech. It was a pleasure to see so many SDEE members participating as BIO2016 exhibitors, speakers, and taking part in the BIO One-On-One Partnering program. RetroVirox, Epigen Biosciences, Crinetics Pharmaceuticals, Managed Lab, Abilita Bio, and Visionary Pharmaceuticals were a some of the SDEE members attending BIO 2016. Thanks to Scott Struthers (Founder & CEO at Crinetics Pharmaceuticals and President of SDEE) for the photos.

Advice for Entrepreneurs from San Diego Startup Week

by Amy Duncan, Goldfish Consulting, Inc.

San Diego Startup week is an innovative weeklong conference that seeks to build an ecosystem of entrepreneurship in San Diego, provide resources for entrepreneurs, and amass a network of like-minded individuals to discuss common issues and share experiences. This year’s conference included a Bio/MedTech track with 15 events. I attended five of the Bio/MedTech sessions, held at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine in La Jolla. Three of the sessions reverberated themes that included teams, partnerships, and licensing that I’ll cover in this blog.

Speakers and Panelists

Participants in “Starting a Biotech Company - JUST DO IT!!” included founders/CEOs Julio de Unamuno from LabFellows, Thomas Hitchcock from Xycrobe Therapeutics, Inc., Paul Laikind from ViaCyte, Zachary Zimmerman from Forge Therapeutics, Inc., Curt Becker from Molecular Assemblies, and Tim Mullen from Qusp Labs. Participants in “Licensing IP from UCSD and other Research Institutions” included Scott Forrest from BlackThorn Therapeutics, Paul Roben from UCSD, and Zachary Zimmerman. Participants in “Biotech Partnerships and Joint Ventures” included Greg Mckee from CONNECT, Jay Lichter from Avalon Ventures, Damien McDevitt from GSK, and Elizabeth Schwarzbach from Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute. Participants in “What Biotech Investors Look For When Funding Startups” included Julio de Unamuno, Kara Bartone from JLABS, Stephen Connelly from BioMed Ventures, and Ron Shigeta from

Building your Team

When de Unamuno asked whether the panelists preferred having loyal or independent team members, the founders unanimously agreed that loyalty and trust are fundamental. The panelists advised working your network to get recommendations for first hires, and that while having a rock star team member was clearly beneficial, they are difficult to lure. Founding team members are either senior level and in a financially secure position to take a pay cut and try something new, or desperately in need of a job. Once you build the lab and foundational data, you can leverage these assets to attract higher quality employees and prune those that don’t fit. The panelists underscored the value of people first, referencing the adage, “It’s about the jockey, not the horse.”

Bartone said one reason startups fail is when founders try to start a company part time, in off hours, or with no full-time employees. She said it’s hard to move a company forward this way. 

Read More Here

Upcoming SDEE Events

Looking for the best place to meet and network with San Diego entrepreneurs? Join us for our SDEE Happy Hours (3rd Thursday of every month) at New English Brewing Co., 5-7 pm. 

Member News

MaxCyte, Inc. (Jessica McClure Kuhar) MaxCyte® Inc., the developer and supplier of a best-in-class cell modification technology to biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms engaged in cell therapy, drug discovery and development, biomanufacturing, gene editing and immuno-oncology, is expanding their technical support team having recently brought on board Joseph Abad formerly of Agensys Inc/Astellas Pharma where he worked for the past 8 years.  As a MaxCyte technology user for over 6 of those years, his background is in cell line development including generation of transient and stable CHO, HEK and other cell lines for antibody and antigen production (soluble and cell surface expression).  He has spent years optimizing his mammalian culture process development working with everything from 40ml to 2L shake flasks to 50L wave bags and 50L bioreactors.  We are happy to have Joseph on the team to serve as an added resource for any transfection and PD related questions.  He can be reached via email at [email protected].

Driven Staffing (Meredith Dow) celebrated its 3 year anniversary on June 13th

Sustainable Surplus has been chosen to partner with the US Business Council for Sustainable Development in the launch of the San Diego Materials Marketplace .  The Marketplace will create a channel for manufacturers to redistribute their raw materials and by-products of production back into the market, supporting a closed-looped economy.  Four such hubs exist in the US and as a result have created new industry, jobs and revenue.  

Crinetics Pharmaceuticals (President – Scott Struthers) announced the addition of Ajay Madan, PhD, DABT, as VP, Development. Dr. Madan was most recently VP of Preclinical Development at Neurocrine Biosciences Dr. Madan is an author of more than 50 scientific publications, and has been a diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology since 2005. He holds a B. Pharm. degree from the Birla Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in pharmacology and toxicology from the University of Kansas.

Big Frog (Todd Bell) recently partnered with the CW6 Morning News Team to design and print their custom printed athletic apparel for them to wear as participants in the EPIC Obstacle Course Event.

Aequor (Marilyn Bruno) is presenting at the International Space Station R&D Conference in San Diegp.  NASA gave us the topic:  "Biofilm --The #1 Impediment to Long Duration Manned Space Travel."  We will be talking abour our novel antibiofilm molecules and the experiment we will be conducting on the ISS to show their efficacy in microgravity against the pathogens contaminating water systems, etc.

Charles River Laboratories (Christi Norton) Charles River has acquired WIL Research, a premier provider of safety assessment and contract development and manufacturing (CDMO) services to biopharmaceutical, agricultural, and industrial chemical companies worldwide. Acquiring WIL Research will enhance CRs position as a leading global early-stage contract research organization (CRO) by strengthening our ability to partner with global clients across the drug discovery and development continuum. This exciting expansion provides its clients with greater capacity, a deeper pool of knowledge, global facilities and more options for the conduct of studies, delivered with the same personal attention and superior service they are accustomed to.

LabFellows (Julio de Unamuno) continues helping more Biotech startups launch and grow with no strings attached in their new Sorrento Valley based ‘Home Lab’ —shared lab space outfitted with flexible equipment access open 24/7.  UCSD recently featured LabFellows, giving us a good glimpse of what they’ve been up to: Rady School Alum Changes the Face of Biotech Research

Molecular Diagnostics Consulting Founder & CEO (Sylvia Norman) had the pleasure of participating as a judge at the Women in Bio pitch challenge and CSU I-Corps entrepreneurship cohort #4 events. Our sister company (Sandhill Crane Diagnostics, Inc.) was a proud sponsor of the San Diego Startup Week bio/med sessions.

Paramit (Jorg Lorscheder) June 21, 2016 – Paramit, the “zero-defect” medical device and life science contract manufacturer, today announced its acquisition of Lathrop Engineering, an instrumentation product development company specializing in medical devices and diagnostics. The move will enable Paramit to deliver unrivaled excellence in the design and manufacturing of complex medical and life sciences instruments. “Our customers tell us that we provide a better than best-in-class experience across quality, service, delivery and cost, the four most important aspects of contract manufacturing,” said Paramit Chief Executive Officer Billoo Rataul.

Etaluma (Lisa Marsh) has increased its distribution channels to have an even broader global distribution presence as well as increasing our internal staffing in San Diego.   This has been in tandem with the release of their new product, the Lumascope 720, their automated imaging microscope that has the added capability of live cell imaging by time lapse in your incubator.   The June issue of Laboratory Equipment published an article entitled “Automated Microscopy in Hypoxic Environments:  Does This Change Everything?” which highlighted an interview with Etaluma’s co-founder Brian Rasnow. 



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