Foundations use creative approaches
The final panel, moderated by Tara Britt, associate chair of the NC Rare Disease Advisory Council, discussed creative ways three foundations are trying to speed drug discovery. The panelists were: Sonya Dumanis, Ph.D., senior director innovation, Epilepsy Foundation; Amy Gray, CEO, Charcot-Marie Tooth Association; and Rich Horgan, founder and chairman, Cure Rare Disease.
Dumanis described the Epilepsy Therapy Project, which provides seed funding to companies via a competition akin to the Shark Tank television show. Entrants submit a 4-page proposal. The five finalists chosen receive coaching to perfect their 30-minute pitches. Then the audience, as well as the judges, vote. To date, she said, nine projects have already reached the market. In addition, even the unfunded entrants receive valuable feedback from the business and scientific advisory boards.