founder, managing director
Nearly 20 years ago, Anthony met a doctor looking for investors to help launch a promising cancer therapy. That experience woke him to the immense challenge facing the mission to eliminate cancer: not funding for research, but investors willing to take significant financial risks, and possibly benefit from the rewards of supporting cancer innovations. It took losing his father to cancer, and starting his own family, to motivate Anthony to launch CANCER FUND, wanting more options and better outcomes for his own kids should they be diagnosed with cancer someday.
Anthony is the Founder of CANCER FUND and Managing Director of CANCER FUND I. He has 20+ years of experience building early-stage ventures, taking several from concept through exit. His advisory, consulting, and executive experience includes work with medical device, pharmaceutical, bioinformatics, wellness, and healthcare IT/ IoT companies. Anthony earned his BS in Business Management & Entrepreneurship from DePaul University adding non-degree undergraduate and graduate studies in design, engineering, and business from ASU, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Northwestern University.
co-founder, The Lowdown on Cancer host
Ann is a serial entrepreneur, author, and cancer advocate. After her own cancer diagnosis in 2014, Ann, who spent several decades as a surgical assistant to a glaucoma specialist, recognized how little she knew about the cancer journey, even with her vast medical background. This raised a question in her mind, “If I found the experience difficult, what must it be like to have no medical background and receive a cancer diagnosis?” This question was the impetus for her to pen, Holy Crap I Have Cancer! Now What? What to Expect When You Weren’t Expecting, a book that assists patients, who are newly diagnosed with cancer through their treatment and into survivorship.
Prior to joining the CANCER FUND, Ann spent nearly a decade as the Executive Director of a Phoenix based non-profit, Hearts of Stone, whose mission is “to develop entrepreneurism in at-risk children and to transform the organizations that support them.” Ann was drawn to the CANCER FUND’s mission to invest in only early stage cancer innovations and hopes to join forces with like-minded individuals driven to have a real impact on cancer. Besides her advocacy, Ann is a mom, wife, and caregiver to her elderly parents, and likes to dabble in several different mediums of art.
DR. AJAY BHATNAGAR, MD, MBA
chief medical officer, advisor
Ajay is a practicing board certified Radiation Oncologist. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania in bio-engineering, graduating Magna Cum Laude. He then went on to medical school at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and stayed at UPMC for his residency in Radiation Oncology. He also attained an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh. Given this background, Dr. Bhatnagar has a strong interest in healthcare technologies and has extensive research experience with developing new technologies in radiation oncology, such as electronic brachytherapy and Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT). Dr. Bhatnagar is the Founder of the Prostate Cancer Institute of Arizona now focusing his clinical career on exclusively providing Low Dose Rate (LDR) prostate brachytherapy services in the greater Phoenix metro region
Dr. Bhatnagar also has strong entrepreneurial interests and has been involved with several healthcare start-up companies. He was a shareholder of Cancer Treatment Services International, a start-up company developing modern cancer treatment centers in the developing world, which was recently acquired by a public traded company, Varian. He also served as the CMO for start-up company DermEbx, which provided electronic brachytherapy services for providers to treat patients with non-melanoma skin cancer, which was acquired by a public traded company called Icad, the leading developer of an electronic brachytherapy system. He remains involved in various other health care related business ventures.
JEFF REA, MBA
co-founder, stakeholder engagement
Jeff’s personal interest in cancer took root during college when his father fell to lung cancer and this interest was rekindled while developing and launching Athena bottled water benefiting women’s cancer research. Jeff and his wife relocated to Phoenix in 2017 after fledging their youngest child and he became involved in the area’s medical technology scene leading a new start-up, which eventually led him to CANCER FUND. As a CANCER FUND co-founder, Jeff wears multiple hats but professes a particular interest in engaging our stakeholders – our community, investors, and innovators.
Professionally, Jeff is a Fortune 50 executive turned entrepreneur with a passion for early-stage ventures. After 15 years holding domestic and international responsibility for some of the world’s largest and most trusted consumer brands, Jeff helped launch a variety of start-ups in sectors ranging from entertainment to media to consumer products. Jeff has his MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University and a BBA from Washington State University.
co-founder, venture studio
Over the 2010 – 2020 decade, Jake watched as his grandmother battled recurrence after recurrence of cancer, always refusing chemotherapy and other non-naturopathic treatments. She passed peacefully with her family in 2020, but continues to be a source of inspiration to him.
Jake is a native of Phoenix, Arizona and a graduate of the Biomedical Engineering program at Arizona State University. Growing up, he was passionate about capital markets and often spent time learning the principles of investing from his father. He realized early in his career as an orthopedic engineer that to create the impact he wanted to see in health innovation, he needed to take a risk. BIG risks. He gave his two week notice and moved from Indiana back home to the Valley, where he soon met the CANCER FUND team and immediately put his skills and experience to work supporting the back office operations of the fund and managing the CANCER FUND Venture Studios program. When not helping to build start-ups, he enjoys reading about history and exciting new technologies, as well as training for triathlons.
JON MENGEL, MBA
Jon is from Chicago, and true to his roots is a huge Cubs and Bulls fan. Jon has a passion for the impact of the healthcare space and the cancer space specifically because of his family’s medical history. Having family and friends who had or were impacted by cancer, as well as seeing how medical technology has helped cancer patients, inspired Jon. He works to see how transformative the healthcare innovation space can become and hopes to continue to see patients and healthcare workers live better lives each day.
Jon has experience across Pharmaceutical, Healthcare, and TMT industries in both a management consulting and start-up community. He received his MBA from Washington University in St. Louis, working alongside medical professionals in the business space. Jon supports the CANCER FUND across different areas of the fund, between helping to develop the portfolio pipeline, support investor development, and assist with day to day operations. He hopes to see the CANCER FUND grow to change the lives of many patients and clinicians across the world.
SHARAD MISHRA, MD, MBA
Sharad lives by the adage “if it isn’t really difficult, is it even worth pursuing?” He is a 20+ year healthcare veteran, having been in diverse roles as a physician, an entrepreneur, an investor, and in venture development for large corporations, bringing a global perspective through his life and work experiences in Asia, the Middle East, the UK, and the US. Most recently at UnitedHealth Group’s R&D Ventures team he was involved with multiple investments in and around oncology and care delivery, and saw first-hand the immense need for new therapies and delivery models, while at the same time getting a deeper understanding of challenges early-stage startups face in making these possible and accessible.
Sharad got his degree in Medicine from the Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences in India and an MBA from Darden at UVA. He joined CANCER FUND due to the fund’s focus on impact more than just returns, and to help its founders navigate the very complex and daunting systems of healthcare, both in the US and globally. Besides oncology, his interests include robotics, longevity, space-tech, and crowdfunding, and he is always on the hunt for better tacos.
After nearly 30 years of commercial healthcare experience, with 15 years of that in the oncology space, André has just about seen it all when it comes to cancer. Having experienced working with hospice, top teaching hospitals, and various pain management outlets, André’s passion for contributing to the defeat of cancer is unwavering.
However, what has really inspired André to become more active in the oncology space is the need to find, assist, and help develop our most talented founders/CEOs. These are the brilliant minds who’ve come up with innovative and effective ways to close the gap on defeating the #1 most insidious disease. And they can’t do it alone.
André has held key leadership roles with Fortune 500 companies such as McKinsey & Company, Johnson & Johnson Inc., Hewlett Packard, BASF, SC Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb, Nestle SA, and Novo Nordisk.
André’s most recent role before stepping out on his own was Chief Commercial Officer for Norbrook Laboratories. André was responsible for a $700 million global budget for this company based in Newry, Ireland.
Currently, André is President/CEO of AH2 Management, which has several portfolio companies under its management.
Robin is an experienced, innovative professional with an extensive understanding of the oncology and genetics spaces. Robin has spent her entire career in an entrepreneurial healthcare management environment. She is the Executive Director and co-founder of AliveAndKickn, a hereditary cancer advocacy organization focused on Lynch Syndrome. Robin has developed AliveAndKickn to focus on providing resources for Lynch syndrome patients and developing innovative tools like The HEROIC Registry to further research. She continues to work towards expanding outreach and education about Lynch syndrome in the clinical and patient communities and to the general public. She is strong in analytics, the clinical trials process, research, oncology, genetics and genomics; and efficiently engages matrixed organizations and distills an objective analysis of opportunities.
Robin holds a BA in Economics from Tulane University and an MBA in Finance from the Stern School of Business at New York University. She is a mom, entrepreneur, advocate, and caregiver to her 3-time Lynch cancer survivor husband David and so far, her one Lynch-positive son Zach.
DR. ANITA GUPTA
Anita is an accomplished, board director and executive management leader with two decades of experience as an healthcare professional, general management executive as well as an active pharmacist-physician. Anita’s industry experience spans healthcare, bio-pharmaceuticals, life sciences, digital, government, consumer products, and education. She is the President, CEO of Strata Group, Inc and has served as a c-level executive and senior vice president of both public and private corporations.
Anita has been appointed to serve on over 20 public, private, and government advisory boards and committees and is an appointed investor member of Harvard Business School New York Angels, the largest angel group in NY with 350+ angel investors and investments over $20 million across 100+ emerging companies.
Anita has a GMP in General Management from Harvard Business School, an MPP in Health Policy from Princeton University and dual doctorates in medicine and pharmacy (PharmD, DO) from Rutgers University and the UMDNJ School of Medicine respectively and named a Patient Advocacy Awardee by the National Academies of Practice.
MARA PERNICK, MBA
director of community development
Mara is dedicated to the mission of CANCER FUND and is herself a cancer survivor. She is honored to be a part of the team as, together, we find innovative ways to fight cancer.
Mara is a Partner at Innovative Connections, a public affairs company specializing in strategic messaging and issue advocacy. Mara has more than 20 years of experience in providing advisory and consulting services to publicly traded and privately held companies. Mara began her career in Washington DC, working on legislative issues for a member of the U.S. Senate. Mara is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs, innovators, and emerging companies and has worked on several initiatives aimed at strengthening Arizona’s innovation ecosystem.
Mara is an Arizona native and is a member of Valley Leadership, Class 40. Mara received an MBA from George Mason University and a BA from the University of Arizona.
Jeff’s passion for supporting early-stage cancer research stems from the diagnosis of a family member who participated in multiple successful clinical trials, which eventually became standard of care in treatment for Neuroblastoma. Having witnessed the toxic side effects of existing treatments, he became a fundraiser and advocate in support of early-stage research and development for rare and under-funded cancers.
Jeff comes to CANCER FUND after an early career in investment banking and publishing, followed by two decades at Amazon, a period in which he held a number of executive roles in the US and UK, contributed to the development of systems and processes that facilitated the company’s ability to scale, and launched and led multiple successful global businesses. In addition to his work with Cancer Fund, Jeff currently serves as a board member, advisor and volunteer for several media organizations and institutions focused on access to education. Based in Seattle where he lives with his wife and two children, Jeff enjoys the outdoors, baseball season, and exploring the Pacific Northwest. He holds a BBA in Finance from the University of Notre Dame.
EDWARD CHO, PhD
Ed has spent the past 20+ years as a cancer researcher, life sciences leader, and entrepreneur. He devoted his career to building personalized medicine technologies because each cancer is as unique as the person whose life it disrupts.
Ed is the Head of Biologics Development at Detect, Inc., a molecular diagnostics startup delivering at-home lab-quality tests. He is also Co-Founder/Chief Scientific Officer at Spin Bio, a life sciences startup building a novel single cell analysis platform. He previously co-founded several other life sciences startups. Ed consults for, advises, and mentors other life sciences startups and volunteers as a Board Member for STEM education focused nonprofits. Ed is excited to join the motivated team at CANCER FUND and looks forward to helping the team invest in innovative companies at the forefront of fighting cancer.
Ed received his Bachelors in Public Health and Masters in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University, his PhD in Molecular Medicine/Cancer Biology from the University of Maryland Baltimore, and did his Postdoctoral Fellowship at Scripps Research. As an entrepreneur, he has first-hand experience of the problem that Cancer Fund is solving: progressing high-risk, breakthrough cancer diagnostic and treatment innovations BEYOND RESEARCH due to lack of funding.
Ben brings 5+ years of experience as an oncology strategy consultant to The Cancer Fund. He has worked with many of the largest pharmaceutical companies, helping them to understand different oncology landscapes, develop their commercialization strategy, and design their clinical trials for the best chance at registrational and launch success.
Before The Cancer Fund, Ben was deeply involved with childhood cancer organizations such as Endure to Cure and The B+ Foundation, after watching a fellow soccer player battle AML (Leukemia) in the ICU for 167 days. Since that childhood experience, Ben has been committed to making the lives of cancer patients better and hopes his time at The Cancer Fund will allow him to help advise and bring forth medicines to extend patients’ lives and improve quality of life.
Mark is a serial entrepreneur who has founded several businesses. He is the owner and president of Garland Insurance & Financial Services, which provides commercial insurance and risk management solutions. He is the founder of Paramount Healthcare Services, which provides group benefits for businesses of all sizes. He is also the founder of Paramount Business Services, which helps owners, executives, and entrepreneurs solve complex business challenges.
Mark holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Economics and is currently completing his Master’s degree in Leadership. He plans to pursue a doctorate in Organizational Behavior with an emphasis on Strategic Leadership. He embraces the idea of Servant Leadership.
In 2020, Mark lost his son to mental illness. This tragedy bolstered his commitment to living a life of meaning and helping others. He was drawn to the CANCER FUND’s mission because he lost his maternal grandmother and paternal grandfather to cancer. He wants to unite with like-minded individuals focused on making the world a better place.
Mark is a disabled Veteran, having served in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. He enjoys being a dad, hunting, camping, and practicing martial arts. He also enjoys being a caregiver to his rescue animals, including a horse, a donkey, and four dogs.
DOUG NISSINOFF, MS
Doug has dedicated his entire career to the life sciences and is passionate about making healthcare better. He has acted as an executive consultant for numerous Biotech, Pharma, and MedTech companies that continue to positively impact and revolutionize the way that we think about healthcare.
Doug got his start in the industry by working directly with patients as a Clinical Research Coordinator. He eventually went on to work in Biotech Investor Relations in New York City before moving back to South Florida to spearhead the expansion of a European life sciences consultancy to the U.S.
Having witnessed family and friends experience the difficulties of cancer, Doug was determined to make a positive impact in the cancer space. He was inspired by CANCER FUND’s goal to support the commercialization of promising cancer research for therapies, diagnostics, and prevention. He has eagerly joined the team and looks forward to the future of this partnership.
Doug is a native South Floridian. He holds an MS in Biotechnology from Georgetown University and a BS in Biological Sciences from Florida State University.
SHOSHANA SIMONES, MA
social media manager
Shoshana spent 6 years with the Make-A-Wish foundation, granting wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses, many of them pediatric cancers. As a mother of three, she is determined to make a difference for the next generation of children to experience better cancer outcomes, which is why she believes so strongly in the revolutionary approach of the CANCER FUND.
Shoshana is an experienced writer and designer with over a decade of experience in the non-profit and healthcare sectors. With a bachelor’s degree in Art History and Design, and a master’s degree in Art Education, creativity is one of Shoshana’s driving forces. She harnesses this passion to promote brand identity and awareness, curate social media channels, and coordinate marketing efforts. Shoshana founded Simones Consulting in 2018 to help businesses expand their visual storytelling and social media presence. She has an extensive background in writing, fundraising, and program management. Shoshana holds a Social Marketing Certification and is a Project Management Professional (PMP)®.
Laura is a current graduate student, fortunate to have the opportunity to contribute in the fight against cancer. After watching cancer close in on friends and family, she is determined to dedicate her career to support cancer innovations. Laura seeks to make a positive impact, while concurrently fueling her passion of improving patient access to life-saving therapies. She is incredibly excited to be surrounded by like-minded individuals at CANCER FUND, and learn from brilliant minds during her internship.
Prior to her graduate studies, Laura got her start in the industry in Quality Control at a Pharmaceutical Development Service during a gap year. Laura holds an undergraduate degree in Neurobiology from the University of Maryland, and will graduate in the spring of 2022 with a Master’s in Biotechnology from Georgetown University.
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Interested in joining CANCER FUND? We’re looking for cancer survivors, patients, caregivers, and friends and family that share our passion to support cancer innovations. Click to learn more about our breast cancer ambassador and men’s cancer ambassador roles or contact us below to discuss other ambassador roles.
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If you’re an experienced early-stage investor, angel investor, proven founder, or executive in our space and want to have a real impact by helping guide our investment decisions, let’s talk.