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INVOForward Therapeutics

Building a Data Package | Winter 2023

INVOForward Therapeutics: Building A Data Package is a mentorship program geared towards Northwestern faculty who are interested in translating their academic research into a potential therapeutic. In this program, faculty teams work with experts experienced in the drug development process to map out a strategy for developing potential therapeutics.  Teams meet weekly with experts in the pharma and investment communities who provide topic-focused advice, real-world examples, and live feedback.  This initiative focuses on the assembly of an industry-standard data package based on a faculty PI’s research to be used for subsequent outreach efforts and/or funding opportunities. The objective of this program is to equip faculty teams with an improved understanding of the elements necessary for creating a compelling data package, and to help make projects competitive to various Northwestern accelerator/incubator opportunities as well as attract potential external partners or investors.


Program Details

Program Overview

INVOForward Therapeutics is a 7-week virtual program (January 20- March 3, 2023) that will feature a series of weekly presentations on key components of a data package and will provide each team an opportunity to compile data and develop their respective package. Teams will work directly with an assigned facilitator who will provide ongoing feedback to help strengthen each aspect of their portfolio. The program will culminate in data package presentations to a panel of representatives from venture capital and pharmaceutical companies, enabling useful feedback and networking for the teams. 

Weekly Sessions

Teams will meet on Friday mornings via Zoom sessions over the course of 7 weeks. During the first 5 weeks, sessions will range from 3-4 hours and focus on developing a specific component of the data package. Each of these weeks, a guest speaker from the pharma and investment communities gives a seminar on the week’s topic and then meets in a closed session with the teams for real-time feedback. The 6th and 7th weeks will be reserved for practicing and delivering final presentations.  Key dates may be found on this schedule.

Session Topics

The INVOForward Therapeutics curriculum will blend drug discovery principles and data package generation. Listed below are learning objectives for each session:

Week 1: Biological Rationale 
Friday, January 20, 2023, 12pm CST
Speaker: Jim Sullivan, PhD (Vanqua Bio, Orbimed)
  • Target identification and validation
  • Conventional and new therapeutic modalities to address “undruggable” targets
Week 2: Clinical Significance
Friday, January 27, 2023, 11am CST
Speaker: Mitchell Glass, MD (Accolade Pharma, Broom Street Associates)
  • Patient identification/stratification (genetics, histologic markers, etc)
  • Biomarker strategy (target engagement and surrogates)
  • Quantifying unmet need
Week 3: Novelty and Competition
Friday, February 3, 2023
Novelty Speaker: John Haugen, JD (Northwestern) at 11am CST
Competition Speaker: Marta New, PhD, MBA (Radyus Research) at 12pm CST
  • IP landscape and strategy
  • Target/approach novelty and competitive analysis
Week 4: Stage-Gates in Drug Discovery
Friday, February 10, 2023, 11am CST
Speaker: Stevin Zorn, PhD (MindImmune Therapeutics)
  • Overview of activities and stage-gate criteria
    • Focus on “discovery” stages: Hit ID, Hit-to-Lead, Lead Optimization
    • Minor discussion of “development” stages: Candidate selection/optimization, IND-enabling studies
  • Analysis of structure-activity relationship to improve chemical (or biological) matter
  • Building a compound progression plan of connected assays to triage molecules
Week 5: Pharma and In-Licensing
Friday, February 17, 2023, 11am CST
Speaker: Niels Emmerich, PhD (AbbVie)


For the duration of the program, each team will be partnered with an internal Northwestern facilitator from INVO or Feinberg to assist with assembling their data package. Facilitators will meet one-on-one with their teams on a weekly basis (1 hour/week) to discuss specific tasks, overall progress, and next steps.

Final Presentations

In the 7th week of the program, each team will present their compiled data package via Zoom to a panel of venture capital and pharmaceutical representatives. During this final session, teams will have the opportunity to engage with members of the investment and pharmaceutical community and receive useful feedback on their projects to help inform next steps. 

Participation Criteria


Team Requirements

Applications for the Winter 2023 cohort of INVOForward Therapeutics are closed.