Women in Venture Panel Discussion


The Engine
501 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA
United States

Tuesday, 16 July 2019 - 6:00pm

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Venture Capital is a critical component of the life science ecosystem. Yet, the challenge of accessing VC investment or building a career in venture for women remains a common topic in the industry. Boston is fortunate to have a growing number of women in venture across all stages of investments, investment areas and seniority. Please join us in a panel discussion with leading women investors as they discuss their own career paths and what it’s like to be an investor in the life sciences. 

 - Laura Brass, Managing Director, Novartis Venture Fund
 - Ann DeWitt, General Partner, The Engine
 - Meredith Fisher, Partner, Partners Innovation Fund
 - Karen Hong, Partner, Novo Ventures
 - Tiffany Yu, Senior Associate, Equality Asset Management
 - Jessica Zeaske, Partner, Echo Health Ventures
 - Cynthia Mazareas, Partner, WilmerHale

Panelists Bios

Laura Brass, Managing Director, Novartis Venture Fund

Dr. Laura Brass is a Managing Director at NVF in Cambridge, MA, USA. Prior to joining NVF, Laura was a Managing Director at MPM Capital, and prior to that, she was a member of the founding management team and SVP of Business Development for TriNetX, a healthcare IT company focusing on big data analytics for clinical research. Before TriNetX, Laura was Director of Business Development at Harvard University’s Office of Technology Development and at its Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. She led commercialization strategy, start-up creation, deal structuring, and negotiations for a portfolio of over 250 biotech, synthetic chemistry, engineering, software, device, and stem cell technologies developed at Harvard and Harvard-affiliated institutions. Laura has also held roles in business development and IP strategy at Elixir Pharmaceuticals, and was CEO of Aferon, Inc., an early-stage antiviral start-up company. Laura holds a B.A. in Philosophy and a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago.

Ann DeWitt, General Partner, The Engine

Ann is a General Partner on the investment team at The Engine. Ann was most recently at Sanofi where she held senior roles in business development and strategic venture investment. Prior to Sanofi, she was at Flagship Ventures. Ann started her career in R&D at 3M Company, working across fields of materials, biology, engineering. Ann holds an MBA from Harvard and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from MIT. She serves on the Board of Women in the Enterprise of Science and Technology and on the Life Science Council of Springboard Enterprises.

Meredith Fisher, Partner, Partners Innovation Fund

Meredith Fisher, PhD, MBA currently serves as Partner for the Partners Innovation Fund. Previously, she was in the private/family office at Bracebridge Capital serving as Director of Private Investments and focusing on investments in early stage life science companies. Prior to that role she led business development for Ginkgo BioWorks- an MIT spin out- and was Senior Director of Technology and Business Development of Enlight Biosciences- a venture creation company founded by PureTech Ventures. She spent several years working as a scientist in drug discovery and assay development for Idenix Pharmaceuticals and Anadys Pharmaceuticals (formerly, Scriptgen). Meredith received her undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke College, her MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management and her PhD from Harvard University. While at Harvard, she co-founded Harvard Graduate Women in Science and Engineering (HGWISE). Meredith is a BOD Observer for the Innovation Fund portfolio companies: ImmuneXcite and Raze Therapeutics.

Karen Hong, Partner, Novo Ventures

Prior to Novo Ventures, Dr. Hong was a Senior Investment Director at Takeda Ventures, Inc. based in Cambridge, MA. Prior to TVI, she was a Partner at ProQuest Investments. She has served on the Board of Directors of Obsidian Therapeutics, Palleon Pharmaceuticals, Clarus Therapeutics, and Agile Therapeutics. In addition, she represented ProQuest as an observer on the Board of Directors of BioRexis Pharmaceutical Corp. (acquired by Pfizer), Gloucester Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Celgene) and LEAD Therapeutics (acquired by BioMarin), among others. She brings over twenty years of experience in life science investing and biomedical research. Prior to joining ProQuest, Dr. Hong led numerous research projects in the area of mammalian cancer genetics and genomics in the laboratory of Dr. Eric Lander at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. Dr. Hong earned her Ph.D. in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and holds a B.S. in chemistry and a B.A. in molecular biology from the University of California at Berkeley, where she graduated with honors and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Tiffany Yu, Senior Associate, Equality Asset Management

Tiffany has always been interested in working closely with management teams and helping them grow their businesses into great companies. The opportunity to work at Equality where we can focus on a handful of companies and invest in them for the long-term is especially exciting and rewarding. Tiffany started her career at L.E.K. Consulting where she specialized in the life sciences and healthcare sectors. Following consulting, she joined F-Prime Capital Partners where she focused on sourcing and executing investments in healthcare.

Jessica Zeaske, Partner, Echo Health Ventures

As a Partner at Echo Health Ventures in Boston, Jessica A. Zeaske identifies and invests in health care companies that create paths for innovation in the complex health care industry. She builds deep, high-value relationships with portfolio companies leveraging her two decades of experience bringing emerging models and technology to market. A seasoned venture capitalist and board leader who continues to leverage her public health roots, Jessica has worked in independent, corporate, and university funds and is the author of dozens of health care investment themes over the years. Jessica joined Echo Health Ventures from GE Ventures where she served as Director of Healthcare Investments and focused on Health IT and MedTech markets. Jessica came to GE Ventures from Lemhi Ventures, a fund investing in health care services with a focus on market disruption. At both firms, Jessica developed investment hypotheses, sourced deals, ran diligence processes, and served on multiple Boards. Prior to joining Lemhi, Jessica worked on forming and spinning out HealthTech and Life Science companies based on University intellectual property at University of Minnesota and Oregon Health & Science University. Full Bio

Cynthia Mazareas, Partner, WilmerHale

Cynthia Mazareas is a leading corporate attorney and trusted business advisor to companies in the life sciences, medical device and biopharmaceutical industries. She has more than 25 years of experience providing ongoing, strategic business counsel to boards, management teams and in-house counsel, representing both high-growth private and public companies in day-to-day corporate matters and helping these companies navigate through complex business transactions. She is a member of the firm's Life Sciences Group and Corporate Governance and Disclosure Group.


Date and Time:  
July 16, 2019
6:00 - 8:30 PM


6:00-6:10pm: Registration, Mingling, and Appetizers
 6:10-6:30pm: Welcome, Facilitated Networking 6:30-7:30pm: Panel Discussion 7:30-8:00pm: Q&A 8:00-8:30pm: Optional Networking    

The Engine, 501 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

We appreciate The Engine donating the use of their event space and Partners Innovation Fund providing the food.


Members: $15; Non-Members: $40

Light dinner will be served. 

Given our mission is to promote women's development in STEM we would like to offer a one-time free spot in our workshops to those in transition between jobs. Please contact info@westorg.org if you qualify.

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