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 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.
Brian’s social entrepreneurship began years ago as an award-winning 13-year-old activist. Following a friend’s death, Brian led the effort to enact the nation’s first bicycle helmet law for children. Then, he volunteered to help Safe Kids Worldwide advocate for similar laws nationally. Since then, childhood bicycle fatalities have dropped over 90% saving over 10,000 lives and avoiding many more brain injuries. The Baltimore Sun selected him as an “Earthly Angel” for his positive impact, including supporting cancer research.
Brian serves as a CANCER FUND Venture Partner to help innovators improve patients’ lives, having had family battle and die from various forms of cancer. He has founded some of the fastest growing technology companies in North America – ranked in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 and Inc. 500. Brian was named the 2016 Emerging Technology Company CEO of the Year by the OC Tech Alliance/OCTANe, 2016 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Winner from the OC Business Journal, and a two-time finalist for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Previously, he founded and led Proove Biosciences, worked in corporate venture capital at Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson where he helped launch www.Cancer.com with cancer advocacy organizations, and later Prometheus Laboratories.
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.
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.
Melvin is a professional executive who enjoys the challenge of acquisitions, organizational restructuring, and leading projects from concept through to completion. He has spent more than a decade as the Managing Partner of Howard Capital Management, an independent capital management boutique that offers risk management and outstanding service to family offices, foundations, and accredited private investors and is thrilled to bring his much-needed experience in venture capital to the team at CANCER FUND.
Melvin spent the early 2000s as Chairman & CEO of Centurion Health Corporation Trust. Through his time in healthcare, Melvin encountered many hospital patients. Many of whom later succumbed to cancer. Faced with such loss, Melvin took a personal interest in cancer research and innovation. Helping to defeat cancer became a personal mission.
Melvin is a dynamic professional adept at directing complex projects and leading high-performance teams to complete key financial initiatives, with excellent presentation, negotiation, and interpersonal skills.
During Austin’s sophomore year at Hillsdale College, his grandfather passed away after a three-year-long battle with a rare form of cancer. Since graduating, he has actively sought ways by which he could contribute, in whatever small way, to the global fight to end cancer. With a B.A. in political philosophy, Austin is constantly learning, reading, talking, and writing about myriad subjects. Lately, innovative solutions to longstanding problems have been at the forefront of his mind. That’s how he came across CANCER FUND.
Austin is a consultant with a national philanthropic and fundraising firm. Based in Phoenix, he helps his clients with fundraising, data services, marketing, communication, and organizational strategy. Specifically, Austin is passionate about helping clients identify, cultivate, and solicit major donors.
From global NGOs to charter schools to universities and colleges, Austin has coached, advised, or supported development teams engaging in multimillion-dollar campaigns. Austin began his career with several internships in management consulting as well as a stint on Capitol Hill, serving in the office of the U.S. Senator from his home state.
Chris is an analyst with a background in finance, economics, and management. He arrived in Phoenix recently by way of the U.S. Army, stationed here for his final command assignment as an Infantry Officer.
Chris grew up in close proximity to the Univ. of Florida hospital complex where his father has been a vascular surgeon for over twenty years. This upbringing, against the backdrop of healthcare and healing, made him acutely aware of the human capacity for resilience. Moreover, as multiple family members journeyed through bouts of cancer, Chris learned of the complex interplay between emerging treatments, medications, surgeries, and device technology. He is passionate about service, betterment, and community. As a financial consultant, Chris looks to connect ideas with resources, to be the bridge between researchers and developers and the patients who need the services the most.
Chris earned a B.S. in Economics with a minor in Chinese Language from the Univ. of Notre Dame. As an active duty Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army, he led soldiers in Savannah, GA, and abroad in South Korea. Chris holds an M.S. in Finance from the Univ. of Miami and will pursue his MBA.
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.
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.
breast cancer ambassador
Jess’s cancer journey started before she was even born. Her parents were stationed overseas when the nuclear reactor in Chernobyl exploded, exposing many to catastrophically high levels of radiation. Because her mother was pregnant, Jess was exposed to dangerous levels of radiation in utero. She truly understands how broken and underfunded the cancer community is. The women she met on her path led her to amplify her voice for those who are underrepresented.
Jess works as a recruiter, connecting passionate individuals with innovative companies in the pharmaceutical, BioTech, and BioMed industries.
Through her current position, Jess knows and understands the importance of funding in getting products to consumers and patients, which is why she strongly believes in CANCER FUND and what we can do.
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)®.
It didn’t take long for Alex to know he was “all in” when it came to the CANCER FUND. After his initial conversation about the fund with founder Anthony, Alex wanted to take part in launching this project. Speaking with co-founder Ann only cemented his determination to see this venture take off. Understanding how cancer has impacted founders Anthony and Ann’s lives, Alex felt compelled to contribute in whatever capacity he could. With his background in sports media, Alex found his footing with the fund as the team’s video editor.
Alex is a self-taught video editor who takes pride in being a part of this incredible organization. Watching CANCER FUND continue to gain traction via the hard work of everyone involved is what Alex considers “a beautiful spectacle” to witness.
Alex has a BA in Psychology from CSU San Marcos, and additional post-graduate course work in radio and television from Alpha Pacific University. He’s worked as an on-air talent and producer for NBC Sports, Fox Sports Radio, and the Locked on Podcast Network.
Join Our Team
YOUR NAME HERE
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.
YOUR NAME HERE
Interested in joining CANCER FUND? We’re looking for passionate people to help grow our investor community, expand and evaluate our innovation pipeline, and help manage our portfolio. Click here to learn more about our Venture Partner role.
YOUR NAME HERE
Interested in joining CANCER FUND? We’re expanding our group of experienced healthcare professionals, researchers, and investors.
YOUR NAME HERE
investment committee member
If you’re interested in joining CANCER FUND and believe you can help guide our investment decisions, then let’s talk.