Rich Horgan is the Founder and President of Cure Rare Disease. He has a deep passion for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) and other rare diseases. With a younger brother impacted by the disease, Rich has a strong interest in accelerating promising treatments for the disease. He formed a collaboration with world-class researchers and clinicians to pioneer the rapid development of customized therapies for Duchenne and other rare diseases. Prior to making his foray into biotech, Rich had extensive experience working in new business development at Corning Incorporated where he led the successful launch of a new Willow® Glass product. He also launched a successful car washing business in upstate New York. He holds a BS from Cornell University where he graduated summa cum laude and an MBA from Harvard Business School where he was awarded the Blavatnik Fellowship for Life Science Entrepreneurship.
Dr. Melissa Hunter-Ensor
Dr. Melissa Hunter-Ensor is a board member of Cure Rare Disease. She is also Greenberg Traurig’s Global Patent Prosecution Group. Melissa focuses her practice on the intellectual property and commercial needs of clients in the life science industry, encompassing pharmaceutical, biotechnology, chemical agricultural, diagnostics and medical device companies. Melissa has experience representing clients throughout the business cycle, from start-ups and universities to global pharmaceutical companies, with patent portfolio management and strategic alliances, as well as litigation and pre-litigation strategy. She also assists venture capital firms and other investors in assessing the IP risks of target investments and conducts IP patent and licensing due diligence in connection with life science technology transactions.
Before becoming a lawyer, Melissa earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania and her thesis research resulted in a first author paper in Cell. She followed this accomplishment with a four-year post-doctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology laboratory of Nobel laureate H. Robert Horvitz where she was a Jane Coffin Childs fellow.
Marshall D. (Mark) Smith
Mark joined Occidental Petroleum as Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in August 2014 in preparation for the successful IPO and spin of its subsidiary, California Resources in December 2014. He has over 35 years of progressive experience in all aspects of the energy industry. Previously, Mr. Smith served as Senior Vice President and CFO of Ultra Petroleum from July 2005. Prior to Ultra, he most recently served as Vice President, Upstream Business Development for Constellation Energy and previously served as Vice President, Business Development, and as a member of the management committee, for J.M. Huber Energy. During fourteen years of corporate and investment banking with BMO Capital Markets (formerly Bank of Montreal and affiliates), Mark held advisory roles to a diverse range of energy companies including Texaco, Union Pacific Resources, Oryx, Pennzoil, and Anadarko.
Mr. Smith holds a B.S. degree in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Oklahoma, where he was a distinguished scholar, and an MBA with highest honors from Oklahoma City University. He has also completed executive business development programs at Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Mr. Smith was named Best CFO of the Year for 2013 for a Medium Public Company by the Houston Business Journal and Best CFO of the Year for 2017 for a Large Public Company by the San Fernando Valley Business Journal.
Mr. Smith continues to be a passionate supporter and involved with muscular dystrophy initiatives for decades. He first came to know of the inspiring strength and courage of those living with the disease as a young boy, as his cousin was impacted. He admired the courage, determination and grace she exhibited as she faced this debilitating disease. Inspired by her and driven by his desire to help kids and adults with neuromuscular diseases live longer and grow stronger, he is passionate about using his skill set to help fund breakthrough research related to rare diseases.
Kwesi Acquay is an associate at J.P. Morgan in the Technology Investment Banking Group. He is the founder of the J.P. Morgan Digital Initiative: the first initiative dedicated to digital ecosystems and startup engagement across NY & Boston Investment Banking practices.
In addition to Cure Rare Disease, Kwesi serves on the Board of StEP, an education technology startup in Worcester, MA.
Kwesi graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in Applied Economics and Management from Cornell University in 2014. He is the recipient of the Richard A. Church ’64 Senior Service Award, awarded by the CALS Alumni Association in recognition of leadership and service to Cornell University. He serves on the Advisory Council for Entrepreneurship at Cornell.
Kwesi remains passionate about innovation and how it can make a difference in the community.
Carolina Alarco currently serves as a board member for Cure Rare Disease. She has more than 25 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Carolina has recently founded BioStrategy Advisors LLC, a strategic business consulting firm servicing small and medium-sized Biotech companies in the Massachusetts area. Specializing in biotech start-up corporate strategy, early commercial planning for assets in early-stage clinical development and commercial product launch planning for later-stage specialty therapeutics and/or orphan drugs/rare diseases.
Carolina’s passion is to bring innovative therapies for rare diseases to patients in need around the world. She has spent most of her career working in the Rare Genetic Disorders/Orphan Drugs area. Most recently, Carolina was President of Global Marketing and International Markets at Novelion Therapeutics where she lead the marketing function and the International region. Prior to this, she was President of International at Aegerion, where she built the geographical footprint of the company through innovative go-to-market strategies. Carolina was a Vice-President at Genzyme, where spent 15 years in several roles of progressive responsibility. In her tenure at Genzyme, she played a pivotal role in several product launches globally, new market development and geographical expansion.
Carolina also has a strong philanthropic focus on causes such as children in need, women in science and Latino affairs. In addition to her role at Cure Rare Disease, she has recently been appointed by Governor Baker to the Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council. She currently serves as a Founding Member and Past-Chair of the Latino Council at Boston Children’s Hospital Trust. She is co-founder and member of the Steering Committee of Latinos in Bio. She has been past-chair and Board Member of the New-England Latin America Business Council, as well as, other organizations. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Lima (Lima, Peru) and a Graduate Degree in Business and Management from Harvard University (Cambridge, MA, USA).
Stephanie Herzog currently serves as a board member for Cure Rare Disease. Stephanie is the CEO/Founder/Owner of a boutique Home & Commercial Interior Design Firm in Connecticut with proven specialties ranging from interior furnishings to complete custom space builds.
Stephanie has over 15 years experience in designing, team leading, project execution, and completion in the robust space she serves.
Stephanie’s passion for Cure Rare Disease and the research strategies for curing Genetic Disorders was born from the recent DMD diagnosis of her four year old son, Max. Throughout Stephanie’s journey she was fortunate enough to meet Rich Horgan and be introduced to the amazing ground-breaking research and work his team is doing for Muscular Dystrophy and similar rare genetic diseases.
Stephanie also serves on the Branford Arts and Culture Alliance Board in Branford, CT as well as the Board of Governors for the Pine Orchard Yacht & Country Club, chairing the Entertainment Committee.
Donna Atchison Izzo
Donna Atchison Izzo has been in the Investment business for over 40 years. With her past experience at many large Money managers as a Trader in Science and Technology space she knows the metrics of Life Sciences, and drug advancements in addition to AI and software development within Fintech. Gene Therapy has been a focus with many Early stage investment ideas. Giving back was a major focus within her Wall Street community and charities were always a part of it. Wings over Wall Street, Robin Hood, Breast Cancer Awareness, Efforts for Hurricane Sandy, St Jude, Charities for MD and now Cure Rare Disease. Her tenacious approaches for donations from Corporations, Institutions and Philanthropies have made her nomination to Cure Rare Disease Foundation fitting. We are pleased to have her engage with us.
Karen Morales spent over 20 years in nationally recognized agencies solving Fortune 500 marketing and advertising challenges before she founded her own company, Marketing Magnet, in 2017. Marketing Magnet provides in-depth agency services focused on efficiency, fun, and fast results for businesses of all sizes.
Karen was also diagnosed with LGMD2b when she was a junior in college. Two decades later, she is a mom, survivor and advocate for those with health challenges. She is eager to bring hope and change to the disease community after spending so much of her time and personal resources on navigating the unpaved medical road of a rare disease.
Jon Bircher serves as a board member for Cure Rare Disease and provides a footprint for us in Europe. Jon has worked in the health and biopharmaceutical industry for more than 20 years and as Chief Commercial Officer and board director at Cello Health is responsible for supporting business growth through sales, marketing, innovation and strategic partnerships. Cello Health is a global strategic advisory firm with deep experience and relevant expertise in science, insights, strategy and commercial.
Jon loves combining his leadership, critical thinking and strategic planning skills to tackle the industry’s most difficult commercial challenge. Over the years he has worked across multiple therapy areas and geographies with a focus on helping companies bring new therapies to the patients that need them. In his board role Jon looks forward to applying these skills and experiences to advancing the cutting-edge work of CRD in developing customized therapeutics at unparalleled speed, starting with DMD.
Sara Cole currently serves as a board member for Cure Rare Disease. She is currently working at IQVIA as a Life Sciences Strategy Consultant. Prior to that, she completed her MBA in the Health Sector Management Program at Boston University. While there, she spent time working in an operations and finance role within the research and development team at Tesaro. Before coming to Boston, she worked as a Process Technician in research and development for Corning Incorporated. There, she focused on process improvement and new process development for the Chemical Analysis Department. Sara is originally from Corning, NY and attended University at Buffalo, earning a BS in Medicinal Chemistry.