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About Us

On April 6, 2018, Vanderbilt University and Deerfield Management announced the launch of Ancora Innovation, a collaboration focused on the union of Vanderbilt’s innovative life science discovery efforts and Deerfield’s commitment to accelerating state-of-the-art drug development. Deerfield will fund Ancora Innovation with up to $65 million to pursue novel therapeutics and will provide additional capital to fund successful start-up companies that spin out of Ancora.

Deerfield is a healthcare investment management firm committed to advancing healthcare through investment, information and philanthropy. For more information, please visit

Vanderbilt University researchers are at the forefront of discovery, innovation, scholarship, and creative expression. Our mission is to promote Vanderbilt’s distinctive research culture, which aspires to improve the human condition.



Joint Steering Committee

Kenneth Holroyd, M.D., MBA

Ken is Vice President for Technology Transfer at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Medical Director for the Vanderbilt University Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization, and Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Medicine. Ken has served as the Vanderbilt representative on the Board of Directors for Cumberland Emerging Technologies (a division of Cumberland Pharmaceuticals), Human Vaccines Project, Informatics Corporation of America, DigiChart, Acuitec, Friends in Global
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Health, and the Tennessee Technology Development Corporation. Ken serves as medical lead for the Vanderbilt Accelerating Drug Discovery and Repurposing Incubator. Before joining Vanderbilt University in 2005, Ken was COO with former NASDAQ company Genaera Pharmaceuticals. Since returning to academia, he continues a part time clinical practice in anesthesiology, and has taught courses on the pharmaceutical and medical device industries at Vanderbilt’s Owen School of Management MBA program. Ken received his medical and research training at Johns Hopkins University and the National Institutes of Health, with certifications in internal medicine, pulmonary medicine, and anesthesiology.
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Michael Villalobos, Ph.D

Mike joined Vanderbilt University in September 2011 to head up the Biotech Licensing Team and is responsible for commercializing therapeutic, medical device and diagnostic technologies through corporate partnerships. Prior to joining Vanderbilt, he managed the commercialization of technologies for The Cleveland Clinic and Purdue University. Mike is a seasoned licensing professional with over 15 years of experience bringing early-stage life science and medical device technologies to the
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commercial markets through licensing and co-development partnerships. Prior to his career in licensing, Mike was a Senior Process Scientist at Abbott Laboratories where he oversaw the manufacturing of diagnostic assays for human blood borne pathogens, namely Hepatitis B and C. Mike has a strong life sciences background, which includes a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from the University of Illinois -Urbana and a doctorate in Molecular Biology from Loyola University Chicago. He is a member of the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) and the Licensing Executives Society (LES).
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Gary Sulikowski, Ph.D.

Gary is the Stevenson Professor of Chemistry at the Vanderbilt University Department of Chemistry, the Director of the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology, and the co-PI of the Vanderbilt Center for Cancer Drug Discovery (VCCDD). His current research program continues to encompass the study of complex natural products with an added emphasis on the biology associated with select natural products and synthetic small molecules. He is currently investigating the development of small molecule
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modulators of GIRK (G-protein Inward Rectifying Potassium) ion channels, small molecule regulators of circadian rhythms, small molecule regulators of bacterial two-component systems and synthesis/study of novel fluorescent and affinity probes. As co-PI of the VCCDD, Gary has worked within team science drug discovery projects with a variety of centers including UCSF, SRI international and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (part of the NIH). He has personally trained and graduated over 25 Ph.D. and 10 M.S. graduate students and has also mentored 16 postdoctoral researchers and over 50 undergraduate researchers over his 25-year academic career. Gary received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania under the mentorship of Amos B. Smith, III and then pursued postdoctoral studies at Yale University under the sponsorship of Samuel J. Danishefsky with funding from an American Cancer Society research fellowship.
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William Slattery

William Slattery is a Partner, in collaboration with the Deerfield Discovery and Development team and joined the Firm in 2000. Prior to Deerfield, Mr. Slattery was a senior healthcare analyst for ten years at Amerindo Investment Advisors, where he oversaw biotechnology investments. He has held various positions in research
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including those at National Medical Enterprises, Johnson & Johnson, and HMSS. Mr. Slattery is the Chairman of Gilda’s Club New York City, a non-profit organization supporting cancer patients and their families. He holds an undergraduate degree in Biology and Chemistry from State University of New York at Albany and completed coursework in Immunology at the Graduate School-New Brunswick, Rutgers University.
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Matthew Nelson Ph.D.

Matthew Nelson, Ph.D., is Vice President, Genetics and Genomics, Deerfield Discovery and Development, and joined Deerfield in 2019. Prior to Deerfield, Dr. Nelson spent almost 15 years at GlaxoSmithKline and was most recently the Head of Genetics. Prior to GlaxoSmithKline, Dr. Nelson was the Director of Biostatistics at Sequenom. He began his
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career as an information scientist at Esperion Therapeutics. Dr. Nelson was an Adjunct Associate Professor of Biostatistics at the University of North Carolina from 2010 to 2016. He holds a Ph.D. in Human Genetics and an M.A. in Statistics from the University of Michigan and obtained his B.S. in Molecular Biology from Brigham Young University.
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Scientific Collaboration Director

Margaret Read Ph.D.

Margaret is the Alliance Manager for Ancora Innovation. Prior to joining Ancora Innovation, she was an independent consultant in the oncology sector for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Margaret previously served as vice president of Portfolio and Product Development at Infinity Pharmaceuticals. Prior to Infinity, she was a director at Millennium Pharmaceuticals where she led Cell and Molecular Oncology and was the discovery leader on the VelcadeTM product development team.
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She started her career in drug discovery at ProScript as a senior scientist and leader of the Cell Cycle team. Before joining industry, Margaret was an instructor and research fellow at Harvard Medical School. Margaret brings extensive experience in drug discovery and development to Ancora Innovation, including filing IND’s, leading cross-functional project teams through clinical proof-of-concept studies, and bringing a first-in-class drug to market. She holds a bachelor’s degree in cell biology from University of Tennessee and a Ph.D. in pathology from Vanderbilt University.
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News & Events

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Deerfield Management and Vanderbilt University announce the launch of Ancora Innovation

New York City and Nashville, Tenn.–Deerfield Management and Vanderbilt University announced today the launch of Ancora Innovation, LLC (“Ancora”), a Deerfield company that will support Vanderbilt’s innovative life science research and leverage Deerfield’s expertise in accelerating state-of-the-art drug development. Ancora will fund projects with the aim of changing the current paradigm of drug development and establishing novel therapeutics to cure life-altering disease.

Through Ancora, Deerfield will commit up to $65 million to support promising Vanderbilt life sciences research through the development process, provide operational support, and make additional capital investments into any spin-offs that emerge from Ancora projects. Previously, Deerfield has entered into similar arrangements with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard as well as with Johns Hopkins University.

The selection and development of projects by Ancora will be managed through a joint operations committee comprising an equal number of Vanderbilt and Deerfield representatives, who will be responsible for identifying and establishing development plans for the advancement of promising Vanderbilt research programs. The projects that Ancora takes forward will be based on novel biology, targets or insights that have yet to be fully developed and have the ability to be disease-modifying or -curing.

“Vanderbilt has amassed unparalleled research and development capabilities in drug discovery, in part through forging unique collaborations with industry,” said Susan Wente, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Vanderbilt University. “Our collaboration with Deerfield will provide our researchers with the resources and support needed to translate biological insights into technologies that will have real impact on people’s lives.”

Profits from the Deerfield Healthcare Innovations Fund will be donated to the Deerfield Foundation and are expected to be directed towards projects that lack a commercial market but are necessary for medical innovation.

“It is an honor to be collaborating with Vanderbilt, a world-renowned university with superior science and a true focus on research. The ability to speed Vanderbilt discoveries to market while enhancing our ability to support not-for-profit research through the Deerfield Foundation makes this collaboration important and meaningful,” said James Flynn, Managing Partner at Deerfield Management.

“This collaboration enhances Vanderbilt’s core mission of improving the quality of human life through research,” said Padma Raghavan, Vice Provost for Research at Vanderbilt University. “Deerfield is aligned with us in accomplishing this mission, and we look forward to working with them to develop new life-changing and lifesaving therapies.”

“We are excited about this new collaboration, which will provide beneficial support for basic biomedical research as well as a platform to transform the most promising research into new therapies that may change the course for various human diseases,” said Jennifer Pietenpol, Benjamin F. Byrd Professor of Oncology and Professor of Biochemistry and Otolaryngology.

The Vanderbilt community is invited to learn more about Ancora from Vanderbilt and Deerfield at the Ancora launch event at 3 p.m. April 6 in Light Hall, Room 214.

About Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University, located in Nashville, Tenn., is a private research university offering a full range of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees.

About Deerfield

Deerfield is a healthcare investment firm committed to advancing healthcare through investment, information and philanthropy. For more information, please visit


Vanderbilt University
Heidi Hall, 615-322-NEWS

Deerfield Management Company
Karen Heidelberger, 212-551-1600

Therapeutic Antibody Discovery & Development Seminar

Investigator RFP Information Session

Mar 12, 2019

VICB Annual Symposium


Deerfield Management and Vanderbilt University announce the launch of Ancora Innovation



Ancora Presents: Accelerating Biomedical Commercialization: Rare Genetic Diseases

Therapeutic Antibody Discovery & Development Seminar

Investigator RFP Information Session

VICB Annual Symposium


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