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INVOForward Therapeutics

Building a Data Package | Winter 2021

INVOForward Therapeutics: Building A Data Package is a new 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 Northwestern professional staff experienced in the drug development process to map out a strategy for developing potential therapeutics. Unlike previous cohorts of INVOForward, which focused on the customer discovery process, this new initiative will focus 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 6-week virtual program (January 22- February 26, 2021) 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 2-3-hour Zoom sessions over the course of 6 weeks. The first 5 weeks will focus on developing a specific component of the data package. Each week, a guest speaker with subject-matter expertise from the pharma and investment communities will provide topic-focused advice and real-world examples. The 6th week will be reserved for final presentations.

Session Topics

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

Week 1: Biological Rationale (Jim Sullivan, OrbiMed)
  • Target identification and validation
  • Conventional and new therapeutic modalities to address “undruggable” targets
Week 2: Clinical Significance (Mitchell Glass, Broom Street Associates)
  • Patient identification/stratification (genetics, histologic markers, etc)
  • Biomarker strategy (target engagement and surrogates)
  • Quantifying unmet need
Week 3: Novelty and Competition (John Haugen, Northwestern University; Marta New, Radyus Research)
  • IP landscape and strategy
  • Target/approach novelty and competitive analysis
Week 4: Stage-Gates in Drug Discovery (Jim Audia, EIR at Third Rock Ventures)
  • 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 (Niels Emmerich, 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 6th 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.  Confirmed panelists include representatives from Atlas Ventures, Deerfield Management, Eli Lilly, AbbVie and Osage University Partners.

Participation Criteria


Team Requirements

Interested and eligible teams may APPLY HERE.

** Applications will close on Dec 4, 2020 at 11:59 PM CST. **