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3:30p.m. - 4:25p.m., Tuesday, October 8th, Twin Peaks North/ South

Smaller private companies are constantly in search of capital, but many find it difficult to navigate the step between a “friends & family” round or one with angels and an initial venture round. Crowdfunding has been used in a limited number of examples for life science companies, but where is this pathway heading? How should a company look at opportunities for crowdfunding? The panel will look at life of a small company, as a CEO moderator asks a set of investors and others about both crowdfunding and other pathways.


  • Nicholas Franano, MD, Founder, President & CEO, Novita Therapeutics


  • Andrew Merickel, PhD, Partner, Knobbe Martens 
  • Deepa Pakianathan, PhD, General Partner, Delphi Ventures 
  • Gregory C. Simon, CEO, Poliwogg 
  • Hemai Parthasarathy, PhD, Scientific Director, Breakout Labs/Thiel Foundation

Who's Who

Nicholas Franano, MD
Founder, President & CEO, Novita Therapeutics

F. Nicholas Franano, MD is a physician, scientist, entrepreneur, inventor, and innovator. He is currently Chief Executive Officer of Novita Therapeutics, a privately held life-sciences incubator company that has raised more than $8M in capital and is developing cardiovascular medical device products through subsidiary companies Flow Forward Medical and Metactive Medical. He previously founded Proteon Therapeutics, serving as CEO and Chief Scientific Officer, leading the development of Proteon’s lead drug candidates, and helping raise more than $89 million in capital from venture capital and angel investors. Dr. Franano invented Proteon’s elastase vasodilation technology, as well as important compositions of matter and methods for manufacturing for PRT-201. In total, Dr. Franano holds 10 patents and more than 30 pending patent applications. In January 2013, Proteon announced the results of a highly successful multicenter US Phase 2 clinical trial with PRT- 201. He continues to serve as a member of the Proteon Board of Directors.

Dr. Franano received a Doctor of Medicine from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He completed a residency in Diagnostic Radiology and a fellowship in Interventional Radiology at Johns Hopkins Hospital. From 2000 - 2006, Dr. Franano maintained an active clinical practice in interventional radiology, performing a wide range of vascular and non- vascular interventional procedures. He received a Master’s degree in Biomedical Research from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and a BS in Cellular Biology from the University of Kansas. He has received numerous research awards, grants, and fellowships, has published many abstracts and articles in peer-reviewed journals. He currently serves on the Biological Sciences Advisory Board at the University of Kansas, the Advisory Board of the Enterprise Investment Program at the University of Missouri, and the Board of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. In 2009, Dr. Franano was named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the Central Midwest.

Andrew Merickel, PhD
Partner, Knobbe Martens

Andrew N. Merickel is a partner in our San Francisco office. Dr. Merickel’s practice focuses primarily on patent prosecution in the areas of biotechnology, integrated circuit fabrication, agriculture and food technology. Dr. Merickel joined the firm in 2000 and became a partner in 2005.

Deepa Pakianathan, PhD
General Partner, Delphi Ventures

Deepa joined Delphi Ventures in 2001 and leads the firm's biotechnology investment activities. Deepa served on the boards of Salmedix (a.b. Cephalon in 2005), Ilypsa (a.b. Amgen in 2007), Proteolix (a.b. ONXX in 2009) and led Delphi's investment in Seattle Genetics (Nasdaq: SGEN). Prior to joining Delphi, Deepa was a Vice President in the healthcare group at JP Morgan where she was involved in healthcare M&A transactions worth in excess of $6 billion and public offerings for biotechnology companies that raised more than $9 billion in capital.

From 1997 to 1998, Deepa was a biotechnology research analyst at Genesis Merchant Group. She worked as a postdoctoral scientist in the Immunology Department at Genentech Corporation from 1993 to 1997, where she evaluated chemokines and chemokine receptors as targets for therapeutic intervention. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Gregory C. Simon
CEO, Poliwogg

Mr. Simon has held senior positions in both houses of Congress and the White House, been a senior strategy consultant to a number of international technology CEOs, led a national patient advocacy nonprofit he co-founded with Mike Milken, and has served as a senior executive at a large pharmaceutical corporation. He has developed a reputation as a visionary strategist, dynamic public speaker and writer, and as a knowledgeable analyst of emerging trends in healthcare, information technology, drug research and development, and patient advocacy.

Most recently Mr. Simon was Senior Vice President for Patient Engagement at Pfizer, Inc. In that role he focused on engaging patients more productively in research and clinical trials and on helping Pfizer develop policies, practices, and medical solutions to improve health, happiness and productivity. Previously, from June 2009 to February 2010, he was head of Pfizer‘s Worldwide Policy group. He led a global team of professionals in: 1) worldwide government policy, 2) science policy, 3) economic policy and research, and 4) international policy. He advised the CEO on the company’s efforts in Healthcare Reform.

Prior to joining Pfizer, Mr. Simon was the founding President of FasterCures/The Center for Accelerating Medical Solutions, an independent, nonpartisan organization that is a center of the California-based Milken Institute. There he led efforts to reform policies governing biopharmaceutical discovery and development, with the goal of bringing a greater number of lifesaving medicines more quickly to doctors and patients.

Mr. Simon was Chief Domestic Policy Advisor to Vice President Al Gore from 1993 to 1997. He was the lead staffer for the Clinton-Gore Administration for development and passage of the Telecommunications Reform Act of 1996 as well as development of the National and Global Information Infrastructure. He represented the Vice President on the National Economic Council, helped negotiate the US-Russia agreement on the International Space Station and oversaw a number of key initiatives, including programs at the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Human Genome Project. He was also instrumental in crafting the regulatory framework that is now the foundation for the biotechnology industry.

Hemai Parthasarathy, PhD
Scientific Director, Breakout Labs/Thiel Foundation

Hemai Parthasarathy, Ph.D. is the Scientific Director of Breakout Labs, the Thiel Foundation's program to support early-stage companies engaged in radical scientific innovation. She is responsible for establishing the scientific priorities of the program and evaluating the technical merits of submitted proposals. Hemai brings a deep commitment to scientific innovation and communication to Breakout Labs, with ten years' experience in high profile scientific publishing (Nature and PLoS) and five years as a consultant advising research institutes, non-profits, and biotechnology companies on the development and communication of their scientific portfolios. She holds a Ph.D. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.