Panelists

Michele Cleary, PhD

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Michele Cleary joined The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research as Chief Executive Officer in January 2017. Since that time, she has recruited a high-performance scientific and administrative team and built a global research portfolio of over $135 million in grants and early-stage investments. Prior to her role at The Mark Foundation, Michele was vice president at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS). At BMS, she led early clinical and translational research teams using cutting-edge technologies to accelerate drug discovery and development for cancer and other diseases. Before joining BMS, Michele held several senior-level positions at Merck & Co., Inc. overseeing the development and application of innovative platforms aimed at understanding molecular mechanisms of cancer, identifying new therapeutic approaches for multiple diseases, and functionally validating novel drug targets identified through human genetics. At Merck, her research teams also conducted pioneering work using genetic screens for new drug targets and biomarkers in cancer.

Michele is co-author of more than 50 primary research papers and co-inventor on multiple patents for new technologies with direct application to drug development. She received a PhD in Molecular Microbiology and Genetics from Stony Brook University and completed graduate research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory followed by postdoctoral training at Princeton University.

Steven E. Cohen, MD

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Steven E. Cohen, MD received a BA from Yeshiva University & an MD from New York Medical College, Dr. Cohen completed Internal Medicine Residency & Endocrinology Fellowship at Harvard Medical School, where he worked in the Laboratory of Dr. Ron Kahn at the Joslin Clinic.  Dr. Cohen has always continued practicing medicine & teaching the next generation of physicians while maintaining his academic appointment, initially at Harvard Medical School & the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, & presently as an Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Dr. Cohen began his career in the pharmaceutical industry in 2003 at Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, MA, where he held positions of increasing responsibility in Translational Medicine & Clinical Development (TMCP).  He then moved to head Diabetes & Obesity in Experimental Medicine at Merck Research Laboratories in NJ. Dr. Cohen joined Daiichi Sankyo in 2008 to head Metabolism in External Scientific Affairs. Given his experience in the basic sciences & TMCP, he has been given increasing responsibilities in these areas & has expanded his therapeutic reach to include Oncology, Central Nervous System disorders, Rare Diseases, and other subspecialties of Internal Medicine, while maintaining his primary duties in the search for new compounds.  Additionally, Dr. Cohen is the Lead Investor Representative of Daiichi Sankyo Pharma in Hatch Biofund Management LLC for academic sites & incubator biotech companies interested in developing drugs primarily in Oncology & Cell & Gene Therapies.

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Eric Heil, MBA

Eric Heil is a venture capital investor and former CEO/serial entrepreneur with significant experience in healthcare across life-sciences, digital health, and technology-enabled care delivery services.  Eric joined Medical Excellence Capital, LLC (MEC), an early-stage life science venture fund, in early 2020 as Managing Partner.  

Prior to MEC, Eric served as an SVP/Advisor to Health Quality Partners, a non-profit organization committed to care delivery design and value-based care, and served as an adjunct professor at Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania teaching healthcare entrepreneurship from 2016-2020.  From 2017-2018, Eric co-founded Upward Health, a technology-enabled care delivery service for complex Medicaid patients with mental health challenges.  Prior to co-founding Upward Health, Eric served as SVP, Chief Commercial Officer of Software Solutions at naviHealth Inc., a Cardinal Health Company, serving over 650 hospitals and 10,000 post-acute care providers nationwide. In 2012, Eric co-founded and served as president and CEO of RightCare Solutions, an evidence-based venture-backed health care IT company specializing in care transitions and discharge planning. In December 2015, RightCare Solutions, Inc. was successfully acquired by naviHealth, Inc. 

Early in his career, he was an investment professional at Domain Associates, LLC, a leading life-science venture capital fund with over $2.5 billion under management, and became an Entrepreneur-in-Residence when launching RightCare.  During his tenure there, Eric also led business development at Corthera (acquired by Novartis) and Celator Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Jazz Pharmaceuticals).  Before joining Domain Associates, he was an Equity Research Analyst and a member of an Institutional Investor top-ranked team at Bear Stearns covering the Managed Care sector and a consultant with Easton Associates (no Navigant Consulting), a management consultancy dedicated to the medical industry. 

He earned a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering with a focus in healthcare systems from the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Heil also completed his MBA from Wharton's MBA Program for Executives at the University of Pennsylvania in 2012. 

Emcee for the event

Grant Castor

Grant Castor is the Vice President of Commercial Operations for Sentynl Therapeutics. Sentynl Therapeutics is a San Diego based specialty pharmaceutical company that acquires, develops and commercializes prescription products focused on a variety of genetic orphan and neurological disorders.  Commercializing its first asset in 2015 Sentynl was successfully acquired by Zydus Pharmaceuticals in 2017.  Prior to Sentynl; Mr. Castor managed marketing for the Brand and Authorized Generic portfolios of Amedra Pharmaceuticals and Lineage Therapeutics. Amedra Pharmaceuticals, Lineage Therapeutics, and Corepharma were successfully sold to Impax Laboratories in 2015. Prior to Amedra, Mr. Castor was head of U.S. operations and global marketing for an Israel based medical device start-up that successfully commercialized a novel orthopedic device in 30 + countries. Mr. Castor began his career “carrying the bag” for a distributor of Zimmer Spine implants and Osteotech Orthobiologics (Acquired by Medtronic in 2010).

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In addition to leading Commercial Operations for Sentynl Therapeutics, Mr. Castor is an active volunteer firefighter in the Doylestown Community, is very active in the local biotech community, and provides mentorship to entrepreneurs. He earned his B.S. in International Business from Johnson & Wales University.