WHO WE ARE
Board of Directors
Alan Crane is a general partner at Polaris Partners with a focus on building and investing in healthcare companies since 2002. He has served as founder and/or has played a significant role as chairman and CEO in building six Polaris companies. From 2006 to present, Mr. Crane has co-founded and served as CEO of Cerulean Pharma (a clinical stage nanopharmaceutical company), co-founded Visterra, co-founded Calorics Pharmaceuticals (a company focused on nutrient sensing), and co-founded XTuit Pharmaceuticals (a company developing tumor microenvironment drugs). From 2002 to 2006, he was President and CEO of Momenta Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: MNTA). He joined Momenta as the fifth employee and built the company into a public company, creating an advanced and diversified pipeline, entering into two strategic collaborations with Novartis, and raising $275 million. The first product from Momenta's pipeline achieved over $1B during its first year of sales. Prior to Polaris, Mr. Crane was senior vice president of global corporate development at Millennium Pharmaceuticals. He was responsible for leading Millennium's strategic partnering, mergers and acquisitions, and licensing activities, generating over $2B in partner funding and acquiring 19 development stage products, including Velcade® which became the main basis of the company's $9B acquisition by Takeda. He serves on the boards of Cerulean Pharma (Chairman), T2 Biosystems, Ocular Therapeutix, Seventh Sense Biosystems, Calorics Pharmaceuticals (Chairman), XTuit Pharmaceuticals (Chairman), and Vaccinex. Previously, he served on the boards of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: SIRT, acquired by Glaxo SmithKline) and Adnexus (acquired by Bristol Myers Squibb). Mr. Crane received his MBA in 1992 and his BA summa cum laude and MA in 1986, all from Harvard University. He also attended Harvard Medical School from 1986 to 1988 before pursuing a business career.
Ram Sasisekharan has been a Professor of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1996 and is Director of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences & Technology and Edward Hood Taplin Professor of Biological Engineering & Health Sciences & Technology. He is also a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. Dr. Sasisekharan's research on complex polysaccharides has led to over 125 publications and over 50 patents. He is a founder of Momenta Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: MNTA) and Cerulean Pharma. He has won both the Burroughs Wellcome and Beckman Foundation Young Investigator Awards and was the recipient of the 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 CaPCure Awards from the CaPCure Foundation. Dr. Sasisekharan serves on the steering committee of the Consortium for Functional Glycomics. He received his BS in Physical Sciences from Bangalore University (Bangalore, India), his MS in Biophysics from Harvard University, and his PhD in Medical Sciences from Harvard Medical School.
Ed Kania is Managing Partner and Chairman of Flagship Pioneering, a firm he co-founded in 2000. Mr. Kania has 30 years of experience in the venture capital industry. Prior to co-founding Flagship Pioneering in 2000, he spent 14 years as General Partner of OneLiberty Ventures and of its predecessor firm, Morgan, Holland Ventures. His direct investment experience covers over 100 companies. In addition, he has been intimately involved in the launch and development of more than 20 companies as the founding, lead or co-lead investor. He currently serves on the boards of Acceleron Pharma, Blend Therapeutics, DataCore Software, Ecosense Lighting, MedidaMETRICS, Oasys Water, Selecta Biosciences, TARIS Biomedical, and TransMedics. Mr. Kania earned his undergraduate degree in physics from Dartmouth College and his MBA from Harvard Business School.
Brian Pereira is a veteran biopharmaceutical and healthcare leader with experience in financing and growing companies. Prior to joining Visterra, Dr. Pereira served as the President and CEO of AMAG Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMAG.) At AMAG, Dr. Pereira raised four financing rounds at increasing valuations, and built the clinical development, manufacturing, supply-chain, and commercial infrastructure for the company's iron therapy product for anemia. Earlier, he served as the President and CEO of a Tufts Medical Center Physician Organization, and his prior roles at Tufts Medical Center included interim COO, Vice-Chairman for Strategic Development of the Department of Medicine, and staff physician. Dr. Pereira is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Opsonix, Inc. and NephroPlus Ltd. Previously, he was the Chairman of the Board of the Harvard-MIT Biomedical Enterprise Program and President and Board member of the National Kidney Foundation. He is an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine and has contributed over 200 published scientific articles. He received his medical degree (MBBS) from St. John's Medical College, MD (Medicine) and DM (Nephrology) from the Post Graduate Institute, and MBA from Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

Steven Holtzman joined Decibel Therapeutics as President and Chief Executive Officer in 2016. Decibel discovers and develops novel therapeutic approaches to treat hearing loss and other hearing disorders. 

Prior to Decibel, he served as Executive Vice President, Corporate Development at Biogen, Inc. At Biogen, Mr. Holtzman created and led the program leadership and management group through six new drug approvals. He also led the business development and M&A group through successful completion of numerous transactions.

Prior to Biogen, Mr. Holtzman served as the Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Chair of the Board of Directors of Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a cancer drug discovery and development company.  He was also an early leader and the Chief Business Officer of Millennium Pharmaceuticals (now Takeda Oncology), a pioneer in largescale genetics and genomics, and was a Founder, member of the board and the Executive Vice President of DNX Corporation, the first transgenic animal company. Mr. Holtzman is a member of the boards of directors of PMV Pharma, Visterra, Humatics, The Sync Project and Molecular Partners. In the not-for-profit arena, Mr. Holtzman is currently a trustee of the Berklee College of Music and previously served as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Hastings Center for Ethics and the Life Sciences. From 1996 to 2001, he served as a Presidential appointee to the U.S. National Bioethics Advisory Commission.

Mr. Holtzman received his B.A. in philosophy from Michigan State University and his B.Phil. graduate degree in philosophy from Corpus Christi College, Oxford University, which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar.

Akshay Vaishnaw is Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which he joined in 2006. Under his leadership at Alnylam, the company is developing a novel class of medicines, RNAi therapeutics, from which seven distinct programs have entered clinical trials. Previously, Dr. Vaishnaw was Senior Director, Translational Medicine at Biogen, Inc. (now Biogen Idec Inc.), where he was involved in many aspects of clinical research and business development, and led the effort for the approval of alefacept (Amevive™) for psoriasis. Dr. Vaishnaw received his MD from the University of Wales College of Medicine, U.K., with Distinctions in Pathology and Medicine, and his PhD from the University of London, U.K., in Molecular Immunology. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, U.K.
Lincoln Chee is Managing Director and leads the Healthcare and Lifescience practice at Vertex Venture Holdings, a venture subsidiary of Temasek Holdings. Dr. Chee led Vertex Venture Holdings’ investments and held board positions at Arana Therapeutics in Sydney (acquired by Cephalon) and at Biosensors International, a leading drug eluting stent company listed on the Singapore Exchange. Dr. Chee is also an Operating Partner of Advent International, a leading global private equity firm with $40 billion in assets under management. Prior to venture capital, Dr. Chee was CEO and board member at Quality Healthcare Asia, Hong Kong’s first publicly listed and leading healthcare company until its acquisition and privatization by Fortis Healthcare at the end of 2010. In 2009, Dr. Chee was selected as outstanding entrepreneur of Hong Kong in the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards. Dr. Chee received his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the National University of Singapore. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh and a Fellow Academy of Medicine Singapore in Otorhinolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery and held consultant and academic positions in Singapore General Hospital and National University of Singapore.
Bernadette Connaughton has spent her career at Bristol-Myers Squibb, a global biopharmaceutical company, where she currently serves as Head, Intercontinental Markets. Ms. Connaughton has extensive management and pharmaceutical marketing experience in multiple therapeutic areas and geographies. She has held a variety of senior leadership positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb, including Lead, Market/Portfolio Evolution in 2016; Head, European Markets, Canada and Australia from 2014 to 2016; President-Intercontinental from 2013 to 2014; President-Japan, Pacific Rim and Canada from 2010 to 2012; Senior Vice President-U.S. Cardiovascular/Metabolic Business Unit from 2006 to 2009; and Senior Vice President-Primary Care Marketing from 2004 to 2005. She has been on the European Markets and Patient Access Committees of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industry Associations since 2014. Ms. Connaughton received a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and an M.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Halse serves as head of the European Innovation Hub at Merck & Co., Inc., Investment Arm and as Associate Vice President and Partner of MRL Ventures, where he is responsible for leading business development and licensing activities, with a focus on early-stage therapeutics.

Previously, Dr. Halse was a partner with the corporate venture capital arm of Partners HealthCare, a large academic medical center and Harvard Medical School affiliate, based in Boston, US. In this role, he led investments and had Board responsibility for a number of therapeutics and technology platform companies, spanning infectious disease, oncology, neurology, inflammation and genome editing. Prior to this, he was a founding member of a US-based product development company, BioMed Valley Discoveries, that in-licensed and advanced a number of oncology assets into clinical trials. He also had management roles of increasing responsibility at Novartis, based in the US, initially in the diabetes and metabolism group, and then in an internal incubator with a mandate to develop programs outside the core disease areas. Earlier in his career, he led research at Xcellsyz Ltd, a venture-backed start up in the UK. Dr. Halse holds a B.Sc. and Ph.D. from Newcastle University, UK.
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