Meet the Class of 2022 Henri Termeer Fellows


Meet the Henri Termeer Fellows. To apply for the Termeer Fellows program, click here.

Claudine

Xavier Duportet
Eligo Bioscience


Xavier Duportet is a genome architect and science entrepreneur. He cofounded Eligo Bioscience in 2014 during the last year of his Ph.D. in synthetic biology, a joint program between MIT and the French research institute Inria. Xavier has been recognized as the French Innovator of the Year by MIT TR35, a Young Global Leader by the WEF, a Forbes 30U30, and received the Rising Star Award from the French Biotech association. He seats on the Strategic Board of University Paris Saclay.

Eligo Bioscience is pioneering the revolutionary concept of deploying in vivo gene editing technologies against microbiome targets to address diseases with high unmet needs in autoimmunity, skin diseases and cancer. Eligo designs first-in-class therapeutic modalities with its GEM platform that can precisely eliminate or edit disease-promoting genes expressed by commensal bacteria. These programmable medicines offer a completely novel way to generate high value therapeutic opportunities by modifiction of composition and/or function of the microbiome with unprecedented precision.

In Boston, Xavier discovered an exciting ecosystem that showed him that being a scientist-entrepreneur solving unmet medical needs was one of the best ways to have an impact on the world. Wishing to bring to Europe what Boston had offered him, he created Hello Tomorrow, a non-profit that helped thousands of scientists in their entrepreneurial journey. Past winners of the Hello Tomorrow startup competition have raised more than 5B$ to date.

Greatest accomplishment thus far: To have assembled a diverse and international team of incredibly passionate and dedicated Eligonauts , who share the vision of the company and are constantly pushing the boundaries of knowledge in genetic engineering and microbiome science with such inspiring resilience.

Greatest challenge thus far & how overcame: Being the only full-time cofounder at Eligo, especially as a first-time founder. Surrounded myself with a great management team and created local support circles of other biotech/medtech founders.

What keeps you up at night: Besides my lovely 1-year-old daughter, the fact that we have not yet cured a patient! And this is my north star. Many people consider fundraising as a success, but really for me is when we will have demonstrated that our products can really have an impact on the lives of patients. And we’re working really hard to achieve it!

How you first got involved in STEM & what kept you engaged in the field: I had the immense luck to do my first internship at 12 years old in a lab pioneering genetic engineering of silk-worms. My supervisor was a fantastic scientist who loved his work and transmitted his passion to me. I will always remember his smile when I got to see fluorescent silkworms for the first time under the microscope. Since then, I always knew I wanted to be a scientist.

What keeps you motivated: My team. They always come up with solutions to the hardest problems and they are always here for me and for Eligo. I want to be there for them too, and try to always be at my best!

Book recommendations: 21 questions for the 21st century & The last days of night (Bedside book these days: Venture Deals)

Hobbies: Ants breeding & Kitesurfing.


Nick Davis

Alex Federation, Ph.D.
Talus Bio


Alex Federation, Ph.D. is the co-founder and CEO of Talus Bio, a company developing drugs for incurable childhood cancers. These cancers are nearly always caused by dysfunction in genome regulation, and Talus has built a drug development platform using next-gen proteomics and AI to find new drugs for these previously undruggable genome regulators.

Alex received his graduate degree from Harvard University where he trained with Jay Bradner in medicinal chemistry, drug screening and drug development for TFs. His work contributed to the development of inhibitors for BET bromodomains, DOT1L and EZH2, all of which are in clinical study. During his fellowship at the Altius Institute for Biomedical Sciences with John Stamatoyannopoulos in Seattle, Dr. Federation partnered with scientists at the University of Washington to invent the technology that underlies the Talus Bio drug development platform.

Greatest accomplishment: Building first platform for undruggable genome regulators.

Greatest challenge as a leader and how you have overcome: The technologies required to do the work are so new, we have to invent a lot from scratch. We have overcome by building an amazing team who are interdisciplinary and can bring together fields to solve the problems.

What keeps you up at night: Trying to figure out what are we missing, what are the unknowns that we should be thinking about that we are not.

How you first got involved in STEM & what kept you engaged in the field? Interested in science since I was a pretty little kid and the interest continued to grow. I never really considered doing something else, there is always more to learn.

What keeps you motivated: Idea of building something that would not exist if we did not do it.

Book recommendations: Deep Work by Cal Newport or Once a Runner by John L. Parker, Jr.


Claudine

Daniel Fischer
Tevard Biosciences


Daniel Fischer co-founded Tevard Biosciences to develop gene therapy approaches to cure Dravet Syndrome — a disease that affects his daughter Natasha — and other rare diseases not amenable to traditional gene therapy approaches. He brings extensive management and entrepreneurial expertise. Daniel has been a management consultant to Fortune 500 companies with several top-tier consultancies, including A.T. Kearney and Arthur D. Little. Daniel worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with industry, academic researchers, and startups in advancing the state-of-the-art in multiple disciplines, including: AI/machine learning, biotechnology, nanotechnology, IoT, and innovation management. Daniel was the founder and CEO of Intellimedix which he co-founded to develop and implement a platform for personalized medicine. In 2000 he co-founded and managed Comerxia, a company that was featured in TIME magazine as the leading solution for international ecommerce.

Greatest accomplishment thus far: Bringing together a group of great scientific minds to pioneer a new therapeutic modality to cure rare and severe genetic diseases.

Greatest challenge thus far & how overcame: Working on novel science and building a strong team and culture while keeping everyone focused on the end goal -- getting treatments to people living with rare diseases in a time frame that matters! What has worked for us is hiring the right people, having plans with clear goals and milestones, and constantly reminding everyone of our end goal.

What keeps you up at night: The constant thought that we could be moving faster toward the clinic.

How you first got involved in STEM & what kept you engaged in the field: I’m an electrical engineer and have always had a passion for science and technology. I got involved in biotechnology in search of a cure for the rare disease that affects my daughter Natasha.

What keeps you motivated: Every night after work, my wife and kids ask me “have you found the cure for Natasha?” That keeps me motivated!

Book recommendations: Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. A story of courage, leadership, and what the human spirit can achieve when faced with adversity.

Hobbies: Swimming and mountain biking.


Claudine

Laura Kleiman
Reboot Rx


Laura Kleiman is the Founder and CEO of Reboot Rx, the nonprofit health tech startup dedicated to fast-tracking the development of affordable cancer treatments using repurposed generic drugs, AI technology, and innovative funding models. Laura’s career has focused on building collaborations across disciplines and sectors to expand treatment options for cancer patients. She holds a PhD in Computational and Systems Biology from MIT, was an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and most recently served as Scientific Research Director in the Department of Data Sciences at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Laura has been featured in Forbes and the Boston Business Journal, named a CHM Patrick J. McGovern Tech for Humanity Prize Changemaker finalist, and recognized with awards from The Commonwealth Institute’s Extraordinary Women Advancing Healthcare, 40 Under 40 in Cancer, the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center’s MassNextGen Initiative, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Greatest accomplishment thus far: Launching Reboot Rx as a not-for-profit company and deploying our AI technology to identify the most promising low-cost generic drugs to repurpose for treating prostate cancer.

Greatest challenge thus far & how overcame: Finding the right partners to advance our top drug candidates into the standard of care for patients. We’ve focused on stakeholders with aligned incentives of improving outcomes for patients while reducing healthcare costs.

What keeps you up at night: Imagining a world where drug development is driven by maximizing benefits to patients instead of maximizing profits.

How you first got involved in STEM & what kept you engaged in the field: My dad, an applied mathematician, introduced me to the concept of using computation to study biology. As more family members were diagnosed with cancer, the application to cancer is what gave me purpose.

What keeps you motivated: Our incredible team at Reboot Rx that is passionate about getting affordable treatments to cancer patients worldwide faster than traditional drug development pathways.

Book recommendations: The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

Hobbies: Spending time with my family.


Claudine

Lukas Lange
Probably Genetic


Lukas Lange is the CEO and Co-Founder of Probably Genetic. Prior to founding Probably Genetic, he worked for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s $2bn healthcare venture capital arm and for The Boston Consulting Group’s healthcare practice. He is a Rhodes Scholar and holds a PhD in Bioinformatics from Oxford University, where he worked on the 100,000 Genomes Project, an M.Phil. in Chemical Engineering from Cambridge University, and a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from the Technical University of Munich. He was a Fellow of the German National Academic Foundation. Outside of work, he enjoys running, hiking, high-intensity workouts, cooking, board games, and spending time with his family.

Greatest accomplishment thus far: Delivering diagnosis to undiagnosed rare disease patients.

Greatest challenge thus far & how overcame: Building a technology product that finds undiagnosed rare disease patients, overcame by building a great team that is infinitely more skilled at what they do than me.

What keeps you up at night: Number of patients that are still undiagnosed.

How you first got involved in STEM & what kept you engaged in the field: I always loved chemistry, physics and math. I got really excited about fuel cells in high school and decided to study chemical engineering which is how got into STEM and later shifted to get into Genetics.

What keeps you motivated: Rare disease cause tremendous human suffering when it does not have to. There is enormous opportunity for one player to step in and solve this problem and build a valuable company in the process!

Book recommendations: Fiction- The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss Non-fiction- The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman.

Hobbies: Hiking, running, weight training, sailing, cooking, spending time with friends and family, reading.


Claudine

Claudine van der Sande
Xinvento


Claudine van der Sande is founder and CEO of Xinvento, a biotech company developing treatments for congenital hyperinsulinism and other diseases caused by hyperinsulinism. Claudine’s motivation for founding Xinvento is her son who is born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare disease with high unmet medical need.

Claudine holds a bachelor degree in Biomedical Sciences and earned a Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship in the health and life sciences from the VU University of Amsterdam. Claudine has worked for more than 10 years in the pharmaceutical industry and previously held positions within clinical operations at Roche and the medical affairs department at Sanofi, along with roles at other pharmaceutical companies.

Greatest accomplishment thus far: I have always followed my (maternal) instincts in uncertain times.

Greatest challenge thus far & how overcame: Converting a negative situation into a positive one. Achieved by perseverance, optimism and engaging people.

What keeps you up at night: The blood sugar levels of my son.

How you first got involved in STEM & what kept you engaged in the field: When I worked in the clinical operations department I remember meeting a medical doctor who had treated his patient with an investigational drug. I will never forget his reaction: he was so amazed that the malignant tumor had disappeared. This was the first moment I saw the direct positive impact of a scientific innovation on the life of a patient. With science we can change the lives of vulnerable people and that is exactly what we are going to do at Xinvento.

What keeps you motivated: My intrinsic motivation: my son and all the other patients that have been diagnosed with congenital hyperinsulinism. This group is expanding, babies with rare diseases are born every day.

Book recommendations: The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million--And Bucked the Medical Establishment--In a Quest to Save His Children (written by Geeta Anand).

Hobbies: Swimming, playing chess and piano.


Claudine

Yael Weiss
Mahzi Therapeutics


Yael Weiss completed her PhD at the Weizmann Institute of Science and MD at Hadassah Medical School at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She has over 20 years of industry experience in medical/clinical and business development roles at Genzyme, Merck and Ultragenyx. Yael founded Mahzi Therapeutics in 2020 to bring therapies to patients with underdiagnosed ultra-rare genetic neurodevelopmental disorders. Mahzi works closely with patient foundations to support their journey towards drug development, and bring programs into Mahzi once pre-clinical proof of concept is established.

Yael is a member of the NIH driven Bespoke Gene Therapy (BCTG) consortium, ASGCT translational committee, N=1 collaborative. Board member/advisor to ADNP and FOXG1 foundations.

Greatest accomplishment thus far: Founding Mahzi. Started Entrepreneurship Boot Camp, going on its 5th year. Two amazing children

Greatest challenge thus far & how overcame: Becoming a CEO, having to change my mindset.

What keeps you up at night: Patients that I know who need the therapies and how we can get therapies to them as fast as possible.

How you first got involved in STEM & what kept you engaged in the field: There was never an option to do something else. My dad was a Veterinarian and a Virologist, I grew up around science and animals and it was clear to me that this was what I wanted to in life somehow. Never even considered an alternative career.

What keeps you motivated: The knowledge that I could potentially impact a patient and their family’s life.

Hobbies: Horseback riding, knitting, cooking, hiking.


Claudine

Elizabeth Wood
JURA Bio


Elizabeth Wood is Co-Founder & CEO of JURA Bio, a cell-therapy startup advancing new treatments for autoimmune disease. She serves on the boards of Project Clio, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit dedicated to advancing the understanding of autoimmune disease in women and children, as well as MIT's Pure Home Water, a Ghanaian NGO focussed on providing low-cost technologies for at-home water purification. She is a visiting scientist at the Broad Institute, where she helps organize a weekly seminar uniting machine learning and biology, and an active volunteer with Women in Machine Learning, the Research Science Institute, ENROOT, and Life Science Cares.

Greatest accomplishment thus far: Building this extraordinary team that is better at everything than I am. Getting to build a workplace where everyone is so dedicated and knowledgeable is a real privilege.

Greatest challenge thus far & how overcame: Integrating advanced machine learning platform with synthetic biology and lab-based work. It was a major cultural shift for both sides and translation was really difficult between the two slides. We overcame with a tremendous amount of trust and communication between each other.

What keeps you up at night: How and when to get our therapeutics to patients, when it has been sufficiently de-risked, how to keep costs low, how to offer the best drug available.

How you first got involved in STEM & what kept you engaged in the field: A Science fair in High School. I was going to be a Classics Major and applied for colleges for Classics, but then ended up making an autonomous robotic dog to help train landing paradigms for the Mars Rover.

What keeps you motivated: I could not imagine doing anything else. I wake up every morning and am certain of what needs to be done.

Book recommendations: Love and Science by Jan Vilcek or Anything by Simon Schama

Hobbies: Draw and paint, love to be on the water.


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