Boston, MA (US) and London (UK) – May 5th, 2021. The Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF), the venture capital fund investing in, and creating, biotech companies pursuing transformational therapeutic approaches for dementias, announces the appointment of Luca Santarelli, M.D., as new Chair of its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB).
Dr. Santarelli is an entrepreneurial pharmaceutical executive with a background in academic research and more than 20 years of experience in R&D and as a biotech CEO. He has led drug programs in the areas of neuroscience, rare diseases, ophthalmology, metabolic and G.I., spanning the value chain from discovery research to commercialization. In his new role with DDF, Dr. Santarelli will use his scientific and strategic expertise to advise on DDF’s investment pipeline and portfolio strategy, provide input on its most advanced investment opportunities, and support to existing portfolio companies.
Dr. Christian Jung, Partner at The Dementia Discovery Fund, said, “Dr. Santarelli brings scientific excellence, vast industry experience and a deep understanding of venture capital combined with a strong entrepreneurial spirit to our Scientific Advisory Board; we are delighted that he has agreed to become its Chair. I am confident that, in this role, he will provide outstanding guidance to continuously evolve DDF’s scientific focus as we look to both source exciting new opportunities pursuing the translation of novel therapeutic concepts at the leading-edge of science and drive the growth and development of our existing portfolio.”
Dr. Luca Santarelli, said, “I am honored to be appointed Chair of DDF’s world-class Scientific Advisory Board. DDF is building a portfolio of highly innovative companies in the dementia space and it is clear that technological innovation and better biological understanding of neurological diseases is presenting new opportunities to create ground-breaking companies and progress the development of new therapies in this important area. I very much look forward to working with the SAB and DDF’s partners and portfolio companies on this exciting mission.”
Luca Santarelli, M.D.
Dr. Santarelli is the CEO of VectivBio (Nasdaq:VECT), a clinical-stage rare disease company he founded after serving as CEO and co-founder of Therachon AG, which was acquired by Pfizer in 2019 for $810 million.
Prior to Therachon, Dr. Santarelli was Venture Partner at Versant Ventures, which he joined after 12 years at Roche, most recently serving as the Senior Vice President and Head of Neuroscience, Ophthalmology and Rare Diseases. At Roche, he advanced over 20 new molecular entities (NMEs) to the clinic, various NMEs to registration studies including gantenerumab in Alzheimer’s disease and spearheaded the development of several drug candidates that have now reached approval, including ocrelizumab in multiple sclerosis and risdiplan in spinal muscular atrophy. Dr. Santarelli also provided strategic and operational leadership for many of the Roche external biotech collaborations and helped instill a more entrepreneurial culture in the broader R&D organization. During this period, he catalyzed the creation of Synosia, a spin-off from Roche developing innovative treatments for disorders of the Central Nervous System (CNS). Synosia was acquired by Biotie in 2011.
Previously, he was a Research Scientist at Columbia University and a co-founder of BrainCells Inc., a company focused on the discovery of novel antidepressants that are able to stimulate the growth of new neurons, with Nobel laureates Eric Kandel, Rene Hen and Fred Gage.
Dr. Santarelli completed his M.D. and Psychiatry Residency at the University of Turin, Italy, and a postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University.
Photo available on request
About The Dementia Discovery Fund
The Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) is a £250m specialist venture capital fund investing in, and creating, biotech companies pursuing transformational therapeutic approaches for dementias including Alzheimer’s disease. The DDF brings significant capital and domain expertise to enable talented entrepreneurs to bring therapeutics addressing one of the world’s largest unmet medical needs to the clinic – ultimately aiming to generate significant returns for its investors. The DDF is enabled by its networks and influential group of investors including some leading pharmaceutical companies (Biogen, Eli Lilly and Co., GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Otsuka (Astex), Pfizer and Takeda), along with AARP, Aegon, Bill Gates, British Patient Capital, NFL Players Association, Quest Diagnostics, UnitedHealth Group, the UK Government’s Department of Health and Social Care, and the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK. The Fund is managed by SV Health Investors. Learn more at www.TheDDFund.com
About SV Health Investors
SV Health Investors is a leading healthcare fund manager committed to investing in tomorrow’s healthcare breakthroughs. The SV family of funds invests across stages, geographic regions, and sectors, with expertise spanning biotechnology, dementia, healthcare growth, healthcare technology and public equities. With approximately $2.7 billion in assets under management and a truly transatlantic presence with offices in Boston and London, SV has built an extensive network of talented investment professionals and experienced industry veterans. Since its founding in 1993, SV has invested in more than 200 companies with more than 90 of these having achieved successful acquisitions or IPOs.
For more information, please see www.svhealthinvestors.com
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Dementia Discovery Fund
Laurence Barker (Partner), Jonathan Behr (Partner), Christian Jung (Partner)
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
Sylvie Berrebi, Frazer Hall, Mark Swallow PhD
Tel: +44 (0)20 7638 9571