Venture capital has something of a reputation as a boys’ club, but there are women making their mark in this field. In particular, five women have been singled out for their contributions to the life sciences industry.

Bio Buzz selected five women venture capitalists who are considered “trailblazing investors shaping the future of life science investing” in the BioCapital Hotbed Community, which includes Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Kyparissia Sirinakis – Sirinakis, who goes by the nickname Kyp, is the co-founder and managing partner at Epidarex Capital. The venture capital company is focused on supporting novel and innovative life science and health technology companies. One company Sirinakis played a key role in boosting is Harpoon Medical, which was acquired by California-based Edwards Lifesciences in 2017. Just prior to that acquisition, Sirinakis was named to the board of directors at Virginia Bio, the commonwealth’s non-profit association representing the life science industry. Before launching Epidarex, Sirinakis served on the senior management team of MASA Life Science Ventures.

Claire Broido Johnson – Johnson is the managing director of the Maryland Momentum Fund, a $10 million fund that provides early stage seed investment funding for promising technology ventures that come out of any of the 12 University System of Maryland institutions. Companies the MMF has invested in include Gemstone Therapeutics, Veralox Therapeutics, and NeoProgen.  Broido Johnson was tapped for this role in July. Broido Johnson founded CBJ Energy, LLC, a full-service energy consultancy firm, as well as SunEdison, a solar energy provider.

Sara Nayeem – A partner at New Enterprise Associates, Nayeem focuses on biopharmaceutical company investment. According to Bio Buzz, Nayeem has “played an integral role in the funding of approximately 19 life science companies to date, including nine IPOs.” Nayeem served on multiple boards of directors, including Vtesse, which was acquired by Sucampo Pharmaceuticals in 2017.

Arti Santhanam – The executive director of the Maryland Innovation Initiative (MII), Santhanam is overseeing a $5.6 million fund aimed at moving university-sponsored research toward commercialization. She has worked with multiple companies, including Neuraly/Theraly and Sonavex. Over the past seven years, MII has invested more than $29 million, which has resulted in 80 startup companies. Santhanam became executive director in 2018. Prior to this role, she served as an Investment Analyst for the Maryland Venture Fund and Manager for the Life Science Investment Fund, Bio Buzz said.

Elizabeth Cho-Fertikh – In 2019, Cho-Fertikh launched MEDA Angels, where she serves as managing director. MEDA is an angel investor company focused on healthcare. Prior to founding MEDA, Cho-Fertikh founded CF Biosolutions, a biomedical advisory firm.



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