Panelists

Brian Halak, Ph.D - Partner, Domain Associates

Brian Halak, Ph.D., has been creating, investing into, and guiding early stage life science companies for 20 years.
As a part of Domain Associates since 2001, and a Partner since 2006, Brian has invested in over a dozen companies, several of which he helped create.  He and partner Eckard Weber, licensed assets from a Japanese pharmaceutical company to create Tobira Therapeutics, which was eventually acquired by Allergan in 2016, for up to $1.7 billion. Brian also established and directed Domain’s prior initiatives in China including its collaboration with Beijing Elite to create new medical device companies in China based on technology licensed from US and European markets.

One such company, Elite Neurovascular, was successfully sold to Terumo Corporation in 2017.  Most recently, Brian joined with two scientific founders at Johns Hopkins University to create WindMIL Therapeutics, which is developing a novel cell therapy to treat a variety of cancers.  Brian served as President and CEO of WindMIL from 2015 to early 2019, during which time he raised $43.5MM in two rounds of financing.  Additional investments where Brian has served on the Board of Directors include: Esprit Pharma (acquired by Allergan), Dicerna Therapeutics (Nasdaq: DRNA), Alimera Sciences (Nasdaq: ALIM), and Vanda Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: VNDA).
 

Prior to Domain, Brian was an associate with Advanced Technology Ventures where he participated in the firm’s investments in Plexxikon, Percardia and Emphasys. Previous to that, he was a consultant at the Wilkerson Group, where he developed strategy for pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Brian received his B.S.E. in bioengineering from University of Pennsylvania and his Ph.D. in immunology from Thomas Jefferson University.
 

Brian is currently a member of the Advisory Board for the Department of Bioengineering of the University of Pennsylvania, a director on the board of Life Sciences Pennsylvania, and an advisor to Elm Street Ventures.

Kathy Ku - Chief Licensing Advisor, Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati

Katharine Ku is currently serving as Chief Licensing Advisor at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.   Previously, she was Executive Director of Stanford University’s Office of Technology Licensing (OTL) for 27 years, until 2018.  Ku was President of the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) from 1988-90. She received the AUTM 2001 Bayh-Dole Award for her efforts in university technology transfer. In 1999, Stanford OTL received the LES Achievement Award.

Ku is currently a member of the Visiting Committee for Advanced Technology of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  Ku has a B.S. Chemical Engineering (Cornell University), an M.S. in Chemical Engineering (Washington University in St. Louis) and is a registered patent agent. 

Gwen Melincoff - Gemini Advisors, LLC
Ms. Melincoff has over 25 years of leadership experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.  Her experience has spanned public and private company boards, venture financing, business development, licensing, mergers and acquisitions, research operations, marketing, product management and project management.
Ms. Melincoff currently sits on the board of directors of Photocure ASA, Collegium Pharmaceutical, Inc., Soleno Therapeutics and Protalix Biotherapeutics and is a Venture Advisor at Agent Capital.  She is also an advisor to Phase 1 Ventures and Verge Genomics and was a board member at Tobira Therapeutics from 2014-2016 which Allergan acquired for $1.7B. From August 2014 to September 2016, she served as Vice President of Business Development at BTG International Inc. a UK- specialist healthcare company.

From September 2004 to the December 2013, Ms. Melincoff was Senior Vice President of Business Development at Shire Pharmaceuticals.  Additionally, she led the Strategic Investment Group (SIG), Shire’s $50MM corporate venture fund which was started in 2010. She served as a board member/board observer at DBV Technologies, AM Pharma, ArmaGen Technologies, Promethera Biosciencs, Naurex Inc. (acquired by Allergan) and Enterome. During her tenure, she was involved in numerous licenses, product divestments, co-promotion and collaboration agreements, and mergers and acquisitions.  She was responsible for the collaboration with New River Pharmaceuticals that led to the $2.6 billion acquisition of the company within two years of the first transaction.  Ms. Melincoff was named a “Top Women in Biotech 2013” by Fierce Biotech as well as being named to the Powerlist 100 of Corporate Venture Capital in 2012 and 2013.

 

Prior to joining Shire, Ms. Melincoff was Vice President of Business Development at Adolor Corporation, a biopharmaceutical company focused in the development of pain management products that was acquired by Cubist Pharmaceuticals and then Merck.  Over the five years that Ms. Melincoff worked at Adolor, the company grew from 22 employees to over 150 employees.  She was involved in helping the company launch a successful IPO and in raising over $300 million.  Ms. Melincoff was responsible for crafting the collaboration agreement with GlaxoSmithKline for Entereg.  This transaction included a $50 million upfront payment and potential milestones of $210 million, and was nominated for the “Allicense Deal of the Year” in 2004.

 

Ms. Melincoff worked for Eastman Kodak for over ten years in a number of their health care companies, including Eastman Pharmaceuticals which acquired Sterling Drug.  She was the Director of Business Development at NanoSystems, a spin-out from Kodak that specialized in nanotechnology drug delivery.  She was a key member of the management team which successfully built the business from a start-up to cash flow positive in less than five years and then sold the company for $175 million.

 

Ms. Melincoff has a B.S in Biology, a Master’s of Science in Management, and has attained the designation of the Certified Licensing Professional (CLP™).

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