Social Impact Nonprofit Roivant Social Ventures Announces Leadership Team, Inaugural Partnership, and Publication in Nature Gene Therapy

August 17, 2021
  • Founder and CEO Lindsay Androski previously served as a federal prosecutor and an executive at Roivant Sciences
  • MIT spinout Sunflower Therapeutics, focused on improving access to medicines through improvements in complex manufacturing, is Roivant Social Ventures’ first investment, building upon prior funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Nature Gene Therapy publication spotlights efforts to expand gene therapy access in India and Africa

NEW YORK, August 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Roivant Social Ventures (RSV), a not-for-profit social impact organization launched out of Roivant Sciences, today unveiled its executive team and announced its inaugural partnership with Sunflower Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company developing simplified manufacturing methods for therapeutic proteins. RSV also announced the publication in Nature Gene Therapy of the Global Gene Therapy Working Group’s initiative to expand gene therapy access in Africa and India.

Executive Team

Lindsay Androski, JD, MBA, CFA is the Founder, President and CEO of Roivant Social Ventures. Ms. Androski sits on the MIT board of trustees, the Visiting Committee for the MIT Department of Biology, and the Visiting Committee for MIT Sponsored Research. She also serves as President of Incubate, an organization which educates policymakers on the role of venture capital in the biopharma industry. Ms. Androski joined the founding team at Roivant Sciences in order to build and lead the transaction team primarily responsible for in-licensing and acquiring over 40 therapeutics programs. Earlier in her career she served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, where she investigated and prosecuted high-profile cybercrime and national security cases.

Rachel Rubin, who serves as Vice President of Programs at RSV, also joins from Roivant Sciences, where she oversaw launch and business operations for several healthcare technology Vants. Prior to Roivant, Ms. Rubin worked at the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and spent several years as an investor.

Saranna Biel-Cohen joins RSV as Vice President of Strategic Development. Ms. Biel-Cohen previously served as Executive Director of the Hermitage Museum Foundation, where she facilitated major funding and programming partnerships, including with the United States federal government and leading corporations.

Partnership with Sunflower Therapeutics

RSV’s first partnership, which includes a financial investment and company incubation assistance, is with Sunflower Therapeutics, a public benefit corporation operationalized in 2019 by CEO Dr. Kerry Love and a team of engineers previously involved in the development of the InSCyT (Integrated and Scalable Cytotechnology) Program in the lab of J. Christopher Love at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT.

Sunflower’s Daisy System is a multi-product manufacturing platform for distributed production of protein biologics, monoclonal antibodies, and subunit vaccines, which enables efficient production of multiple medicines tailored to a region’s specific needs. RSV’s funding will be used to deploy the Daisy System for the first time and builds upon prior funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2019 to develop the Daisy System. The system will be deployed to a non-profit partner serving low-or-middle-income countries (LMICs) and used to bolster local capacity to provide advanced therapeutics to underserved populations and reduce reliance on the global supply chain.

“Roivant Social Ventures is truly a one-of-a-kind impact investor, creating productive partnerships with companies like Sunflower that are focused on increasing global health access and equity,” said Dr. Kerry Love, CEO of Sunflower Therapeutics. “I am excited to further development of Sunflower’s technologies with the goal of ensuring advanced therapeutics are accessible to all members of the global community.”

“We are thrilled to play a role in solving supply chain issues that disadvantage LMICs and inhibit their ability to deliver needed therapeutics to their local populations,” said Ms. Androski. “Sunflower Therapeutics embodies the core values of Roivant Social Ventures and is a phenomenal first partner in our mission to use advances in science and technology as vehicles to change the ethical norms of healthcare delivery.”

Publication in Nature Gene Therapy

RSV is also a founding member of the Global Gene Therapy Initiative (GGTI), a cross-collaborative group with expertise spanning manufacturing, drug development, patient advocacy, clinical practice, regulatory, and diplomacy, focused on a common goal: to bring gene therapy treatments to patients worldwide. Among other operational pillars, the group is using scaled-down and modular manufacturing systems to deliver gene therapies to patients in Uganda and India by 2024, with an initial focus on HIV and sickle cell therapies.

A publication regarding the group’s progress, titled “Towards Access for All: 1st Working Group Report for the Global Gene Therapy Initiative (GGTI)", is in press in Nature Gene Therapy, with Lindsay Androski and Alex Popovski as Contributing Authors.

“Gene therapy, and other advanced therapies, offer patients hope far beyond most current treatment methods,” said Ms. Androski. “We cannot accept as normal a world where advanced therapies are only available to a small number of patients in the wealthiest countries, and we must prevent this from becoming a reality by investing now in ways to bring these treatments to patients worldwide. We are thrilled to help advance the important work of GGTI.”

About Roivant Social Ventures
Roivant Social Ventures (RSV) is a not-for-profit social impact organization founded by Roivant Sciences focused on improving healthcare access and outcomes for underserved groups. RSV invests in initiatives to expand worldwide access to cell and gene therapies through simplified manufacturing techniques, facilitates research and development on promising deprioritized programs across the biopharma industry, and encourages continued focus on challenging therapeutic areas where significant unmet medical needs remain. RSV applies Roivant Sciences’ unique approach to incubating biotech and healthcare technology companies, including providing non-financial assistance to companies and health initiatives, and seeks to maximize impact through strategic collaborations.

About Sunflower Therapeutics
Sunflower Therapeutics, PBC is a unique biotech company with a mission to enable more medicines to reach patients worldwide. Sunflower’s goal is to transform access to biologic medicines for patients worldwide by creating novel technologies for development and manufacturing with the whole global community in mind. Using its core technologies–an efficient host, data-driven methods for process development, and novel manufacturing facilities–the team aims to create efficient, fast and less costly cycles of development and production for many new innovative patient-focused products. Sunflower’s research labs are currently located at LabCentral in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Contact
Saranna Biel-Cohen
saranna.biel-cohen@roivant.com

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