Deerfield Management Announces Winners of the First Annual XSeed Award
Apr 20, 2021
Deerfield Management Company, a New York City-based healthcare investment firm, today announced the grant recipients of its XSeed Award, a new program designed to support early-stage life science startups. Each of the five New York City-based award winners, a majority of which were women or other underrepresented founders, will receive a $100,000 grant to further projects focused on infectious diseases.
The 2021 recipients of Deerfield’s inaugural XSeed Award are:
Dr. Chandrabali Ghose-Paul, Founder and CEO of Bioharmony Therapeutics, for her work with next-gen antimicrobial therapies for lethal, drug-resistant bacterial infections
Dr. Ashiwel Undieh, The City College of New York, for his work with platform nanotechnology for enhanced formulation and delivery of mRNA vaccines
Dr. Jonathan Lai, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, for his work with alphavirus-associated arthritis
Dr. Julie Magarian Blander, Professor of Immunology at Weill Cornell Medicine, for her work with pan-coronavirus vaccines
Dr. Andras Fiser, Dr. John Blanchard, Dr. Simone Sidoli, and Dr. Johanna Daily, all from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, for their work to identify effective drug combinations for the treatment of K. pneumoniae
“This year has been unlike any other in so many ways, not the least of which is the unprecedented advancement of medical science,” said Joseph Pearlberg, MD, Ph.D., Vice President of Scientific Affairs at Deerfield. “Our inaugural group of XSeed Awardees will support some of New York City’s most talented researchers and scientists with a focus on developing cures for infectious diseases. As we begin to rebound from the pandemic, we cannot become complacent - support for new ideas and vaccines should remain a global priority.”
The XSeed Award was created by Deerfield as a result of the partnership announced in September 2019 between NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Deerfield to develop the Cure life science campus. The 12-story vertical campus is bringing together innovators from academia, government, industry, and the not-for-profit sectors under one roof to advance human health and accelerate the fight against disease. Occupants will benefit from state-of-the-art laboratories, engineering and computing space, as well as amenities and support services.
“New York City has all the critical pieces to become a world-class life sciences hub, including diversity, and it’s imperative that we strategically support underrepresented minority groups to ensure equity throughout our efforts to grow the sector,” said NYCEDC Acting President Rachel Loeb. “Together with Deerfield, we are supporting early-stage entrepreneurs across all sectors and from all backgrounds. This critical financial support complements the services provided within the Cure campus and is a natural extension of our partnership.”
The Cure campus is part of LifeSci NYC, a $500 million commitment to establish New York City as a global leader in the life sciences. The opening of the Cure includes the relocation of Deerfield’s corporate headquarters to the site at 345 Park Avenue South in New York City (from its past location of 780 Third Avenue). With this endeavor, Deerfield has invested to create the transformative life sciences campus. In addition, Deerfield announced its programmatic efforts at the Cure, starting with a virtual lecture series led by experts covering topics, including COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence: Engaging with the Community for Improved Uptake and “Are you OK?” Having Conversations about Mental Health at Work.
“Congratulations to the recipients of the inaugural XSeed Awards! The Life Sciences is a growing industry in New York City, one that can help grow our economy and employment base as we recover from the pandemic. More importantly, we need to continue to ensure that these 21st Century job and entrepreneurship opportunities are inclusive, providing access to innovators from underrepresented communities. I look forward to seeing Deerfield’s initiatives and LifeSci NYC programs catapult New York City to the forefront of innovation and diversity in biotech,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera.
“The grants awarded to New York City-based life science startups will bring immense return on our investment. This is a tremendous step forward for developing the life science vertical campus as New York City becomes a global leader in advancing human health and fighting against diseases”, said Council Member Paul A. Vallone.
Bridging the Critical Funding Gap
With a 20+ year commitment, the XSeed Award program will help address a critical funding gap, bridging promising translational research to marketplace and commercial success.
Each year, the award will have a specific focus with Deerfield selecting five teams that will be awarded a total of up to $500,000. Finalists presented their startups to a panel made up by: Claire Pomeroy, MD, President and CEO of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation; Nancy Thornberry, CEO at Kallyope, Inc.; James E. Flynn, Managing Partner of Deerfield; Elise Wang, Partner at Deerfield; and Joseph Pearlberg, MD, Ph.D., Vice President of Scientific Affairs at Deerfield, among others.
Importantly, in addition to receiving award funding, the winning teams will join a two-year cohort of their fellow awardees. The teams will be provided with peer-learning and office hours with leading investors, entrepreneurs, and business experts. Through the XSeed Award cohort, it is anticipated that these startups will bolster their network and significantly raise their visibility. Graduates of each cohort are expected to in turn serve as mentors and coaches for future cohorts, further strengthening the entrepreneurial community in New York City.
Deerfield’s Commitment to Promoting Equality
The life sciences sector is comprised of many mission-driven companies in fields like biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, biomedical technologies, medical devices, and biochemistry that work to translate scientific research into cures and treatments that save and improve lives.
However, funding for women and other minority-led life science research and ventures face a significant gap. Female founders raised only 2.3 percent of total venture capital funding in 2020. Black applicants are 10 percent less likely than whites to be awarded NIH Funding, and women of color, more broadly, have raised less than 1 percent of all venture capital funding since 2009.
With its rich history of developing and leading programs that support diversity, additional educational programming will continue, including Deerfield’s growing LifeSci NYC Fellows and Break into the Boardroom programs. In addition, in 2019 Deerfield introduced a new effort, Women in Science, focused on training women on how to commercialize their novel discoveries and create companies.
Deerfield announced in September 2019 that it intended to commit more than $2 billion in research and seed funding by 2030 to develop much-needed new and innovative medicines and treatment solutions. Deerfield expects this world-class infrastructure and funding will contribute to the prevention, cure or management of dozens of still deadly and debilitating diseases.
To learn more about the XSeed Award, visit www.xseedaward.com.