Recent Innovations in Research Funding Mechanisms[HRA Members Meeting, Irvine, Spring 2023]

Tuesday March 21, 11:15am-12:30pm PT

While traditional research funding methods are still the predominate method used by HRA members, a growing number of members use non-traditional models. In this session we heard from funders who have developed new ways to address gaps and needs in the research funding landscape, and explore the innovative new programs they have designed along with lessons learned in implementation.

Lara Bethke, PhD
Chief Science Officer | Health Resources in Action
Lara Bethke is the chief scientific officer at Health Resources in Action. Drawing on over 25 years of experience in life science research, consulting, and philanthropic advising, she leads initiatives focused on maximizing the impact of investments in biomedical research, including landscape research and strategic planning, research funding program design and management, impact evaluation, and research capacity building. Previously, she developed and oversaw life science funding initiatives as the Director of Medical and Scientific Research at the Klarman Family Foundation, and as a Science Portfolio Advisor at the Wellcome Trust in London, UK. Prior to her work in biomedical research funding, she was a Research Fellow at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, where she led the genetic epidemiology arm of an international consortium of brain cancer epidemiologists. She has worked in international development in Russia, Ukraine, and Ecuador. She received a BA from Duke University, and a PhD in Biological Sciences in Public Health from Harvard University, where she conducted genetic research in infectious diseases.

Nokware Adesegun, JD
Vice President, Awards Management, Scientific & Medical Affairs | Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
Nokware Adesegun, JD, is the Vice President for Awards Management on the Scientific & Medical Affairs Team at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN). Nokware has many years of experience in grants administration and compliance. Prior to coming to PanCAN, he served as a Senior Business Execution Manager and Vice President with Wells Fargo overseeing grants administration for its corporate foundation. He has also held senior roles in academia, managing sponsored programs, and in the nonprofit domain, including serving as Managing Director for Grants and Sponsored Programs at the American Cancer Society.

Erik Lontok, PhD
Director of Research | Barth Syndrome Foundation
Dr. Erik Lontok is the Director of Research at the Barth Syndrome Foundation. Responsible for the Foundation’s research grantmaking and contracts, Erik also serves as the scientific ambassador for BSF, facilitating collaborations amongst Barth syndrome researchers and external partners.<

He served as the Chief Science Officer of the Lipedema Foundation where he contributed to the Standard of Care for Lipedema in the US guidelines publication, launched the first ever lipedema research program, and patient registry. As a Senior Associate with the Milken Institute, Erik led philanthropic research efforts in inflammatory bowel disease, leukemia, funding academic research, and lipedema. Alongside NIH, FDA, pharmaceutical, and academic partners, Erik facilitated multi-stakeholder collaborations to advance the regulatory science of hepatitis C virus, human immunodeficiency virus 1, and viral deep sequencing at the Forum for Collaborative Research.

Erik graduated with a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of California, San Francisco, and upon moving to the Maryland area, served as an Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry for the University of Maryland, College Park.

Erik’s passion is to engage, learn, and apply knowledge to advance disease research, with the ultimate goal of effective treatments for affected individuals. Erik is an avid cook, occasional gamer, and considers his time teaching Biochemistry as one of his all-time favorite hobbies.

Andres Hurtado-Lorenzo, PhD
Vice President, Translational Research & IBD Ventures | Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation
Andres Hurtado-Lorenzo is the Vice President of Translational Research & IBD Ventures at the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. He is responsible for planning and oversight the Foundation’s translational research portfolio that aims to advance solutions for patients based on research in the fields of Precision Medicine, Genetics, Microbiome, Environmental Triggers, Fibrosis, Pain and Biosensors. He also heads the Foundation’s venture philanthropy program, IBD Ventures, that advances new products for IBD by investing in for-profit and non-profit organizations. He is a translational scientist leader with proven success directing multidisciplinary teams in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry (Wyeth, Pfizer, Proteostasis Therapeutics), resulting in the development of clinical candidate drugs. He obtained his Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine & Gene Therapy from the University of Manchester in England, where he pioneered work in gene therapy for neurodegenerative diseases. He completed his postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital and Columbia University.

Lisa Marks Schwarz, MPA
Chief Operating Officer and Chief Philanthropy Officer | Break Through Cancer
Lisa Schwarz is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Philanthropy Officer of Break Through Cancer. Most recently, she served as the Managing Director of Development at MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. Over the last thirty years, Lisa has raised philanthropic support for numerous institutions including Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston University, and Johns Hopkins University. She holds a BA in art history and communications from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and an MPA from New York University.