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Deerfield Management Announces 2023 XSeed Award Winners

NEW YORK, April 3, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Deerfield Management Company, a healthcare investment firm and Advancium Health Network, a public charity dedicated to eliminating barriers to the advancement of healthcare, today announced the grant recipients and winners of the third annual XSeed Award. The winners will each receive a $250,000 grant to support business growth.  Founded in 2019, The XSeed Award supports women- and minority-led life science startups in New York City to help address critical funding gaps and bridge promising translational research to the marketplace and commercial success.

The award ceremony will take place today at the Cure® healthcare innovation campus and include remarks from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). To watch the award ceremony, join the Deerfield Management LinkedIn live stream using this link.

“We are thrilled for this year’s grant recipients. We know that life sciences researchers and entrepreneurs face real hurdles when working to commercialize translational research; the XSeed Award seeks to support women- and minority-led companies in New York to grow opportunity for them and the city,” said Mark Veich, President, Advancium Health Network “This program illustrates the strong commitment and collaboration taking place across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors in New York City to create a stronger, more diverse life sciences ecosystem.”

The winners of the 2023 program are:

  • Rohini Kalvakuntla, Co-Founder & Chief Growth Officer, Helex. Helex is a pre-clinical stage biotechnology company developing novel 3D genome structures and epigenetics-driven in vivo gene editing therapeutics for greater precision, with a focus on retinal dystrophies.
  • Chidiebere Awah M.D., Ph.D., Principal Investigator, UTR Therapeutics, Inc. and Genome Engineering Postdoctoral Fellow with Olorunseun O. Ogunwobi, M.D., Ph.D., at Hunter College of The City University of New York. UTR Therapeutics is developing a breakthrough technology platform to change how we treat cancer. The platform can overwrite and control oncogenic transcript of undruggable c-MYC and HER2 by engineering the 3’UTR and selectively killing cancer over expressing it, including metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

The award winners presented their submissions to the XSeed Leadership Panel, including:

  • Claire Pomeroy, M.D., President and CEO of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation
  • Nancy Thornberry, Founding CEO at Kallyope, Inc.
  • Elise Wang, Partner at Deerfield Management
  • Joseph PearlbergM.D., Ph.D., Vice President of Scientific Affairs at Deerfield Management
  • H.C. HuangPh.D., Senior Director, Deerfield Discovery and Development
  • Jennifer Laird, VP, Search & Evaluation –Neuroscience at Eli Lilly

“The XSeed Award program continues to reinforce the immense and diverse talent pool that exists in New York City’s life sciences sector,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President and CEO Andrew Kimball. “Across all of EDC’s priority innovation industries, including biotech, we are focused on creating pathways for diverse entrepreneurs. We look forward to watching UTR Therapeutics, Inc. and Helex grow the City’s life sciences ecosystem in the years to come.” 

In addition to the grant funding, XSeed Award winners receive access to the Cure innovation campus, which includes invitations to special events and networking opportunities. Cure offers state-of-the-art laboratory and office space to its residents and is currently home to nearly 20 healthcare-focused companies. Awardees also become part of their own cohort which was designed to help educate on best-practices, bolster professional networks, and raise company visibility.

“New York City must be a leader in life sciences, and I commend Deerfield Management and the New York City Economic Development Corporation for their collaboration that has propelled innovation and strengthened the industry locally. I extend warm congratulations to Rohini Kalvakuntla and Chidiebere Awah on winning the XSeed Award, which will help support meaningful research and work to improve healthcare delivery and outcomes. The XSeed Award ensures that the life sciences industry reflects the great diversity of our city and supports women and underrepresented populations to improve lives and move life sciences forwards,” said New York City Council Member Carlina Rivera (D-02).

“The XSeed Award will allow Helex’s Rohini Kalvakuntla and UTR Therapeutics’ Chidiebere Awah to make critical advances in the life sciences that will ultimately make New Yorkers and people around the world healthier,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “This award is an invaluable platform for elevating and catalyzing life science startups led by people of marginalized identities. I look forward to seeing how XSeed’s model of awards, mentorship, and network-building help create a more diverse future for the life sciences.”

About the XSeed Award
The XSeed Award program will help address a critical funding gap, bridging promising translational research to marketplace and commercial success. Each year Deerfield Management and a panel of industry experts select up to two teams that will be awarded up to $250,000 each. Importantly, in addition to receiving award funding, the winning teams will join a cohort of their fellow awardees. Each winning team has diverse members including women and other underrepresented minorities. Through the XSeed Award cohort, it is anticipated that these startups will bolster their network and significantly raise their visibility. Graduates of each cohort are expected to in turn serve as mentors and coaches for future cohorts, further strengthening the entrepreneurial community in New York City. To learn more about the XSeed Award, visit www.xseedaward.com.

About Deerfield Management
Deerfield is an investment management firm committed to advancing healthcare through investment, information and philanthropy. The Firm works across the healthcare ecosystem to connect people, capital, ideas and technology in bold, collaborative and inclusive ways. For more information, please visit www.deerfield.com.

About Advancium Health Network
Advancium Health Network is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization launched by Deerfield Management dedicated to eliminating barriers to the advancement of healthcare. Our Network includes a pediatric medical device company, CobiCure LLC and life sciences incubator, Cure Innovation Labs. For more information on Advancium Health Network, visit: https://advanciumhealth.org/.

SOURCE Deerfield Management Company, L.P.