WHO WE ARE
Board of Directors
Alan Crane joined Polaris Partners in 2002 as an Entrepreneur Partner. In this role, he focuses on building and investing in healthcare companies. He has served as founder and/or has played a significant role as chairman and CEO in building seven Polaris companies including Momenta Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: MNTA), Cerulean Pharma (acquired by Dare Bioscience, NASDAQ:DARE), Visterra, Navitor Pharmaceuticals, XTuit Pharmaceuticals, Arsia Therapeutics (acquired by Eagle Pharmaceuticals), and Pandion Therapeutics. In addition, he currently serves on the board of KSQ Therapeutics, Seventh Sense Biosystems and has previously represented Polaris on the boards of T2 Biosystems (NASDAQ: TTOO), Ocular Therapeutix (NASDAQ: OCUL), Sirtris Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: SIRT, acquired by Glaxo SmithKline) and Adnexus Therapeutics (Bristol Myers Squibb). 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, where 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. Among these products was Velcade®, which became the main basis of the company’s $9B acquisition by Takeda. Before joining Millennium, Mr. Crane was a marketing executive at DuPont-Merck and a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group and Arthur D. Little. 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.
Yoh-Chie Lu is Venture Partner to Vertex Ventures HC, a venture subsidiary of Temasek Holdings. Mr. Lu, the founder of Biosensors International Group Ltd, was its chairman and CEO from its inception to 2008. He retained his leadership position as chairman of the Group since January 2008 until his recent retirement. Mr. Lu has more than 30 years’ experience in the medical industry. Prior to starting Biosensors in 1990, Mr. Lu established Asia-based operations for the Medical Division of Gould Inc in Tokyo in 1978. In 1986, he participated in a management-led leveraged buyout of the division from Gould and he continued as president of the Asia-Pacific division through 1988. In the same year, Mr. Lu took the company public on the Nasdaq and it was subsequently sold to British Oxygen Corporation. He then served as president of Asia-Pacific with British Oxygen until 1990. In addition to Biosensors, Mr. Lu is active in both international and local medical arena as an entrepreneurial angel investor. Within the private equity arena, Mr. Lu is a General Partner at Majuven Pte Ltd; Foundry Singapore and a venture partner for medical sector at Vertex Ventures HC. Mr. Lu works closely with Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), where he serves on the main committee of President’s Science and Technology Awards and is a member of Health and Biomedical Sciences International Advisory Council. Mr. Lu has been serving on Singapore’s Board of National Research Foundation (NRF) since February 2014 and most recently been appointed as the Chairman of NRF Audit Committee in April 2017. Mr. Lu received a B.S. from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.B.A. from the Thunderbird Graduate School of International Management in Arizona.
Bernadette Connaughton was formerly Head, Intercontinental Markets at Bristol-Myers Squibb, a global biopharmaceutical company. 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 President of MRL Ventures Fund at Merck & Co., Inc., 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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