Qiming Venture Partners USA’s Anna French

From our Women's PE Briefs - week commencing May 10, 2021

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Qiming Venture Partners USA’s Anna French saw one portfolio company go public and another strike a deal to become publicly traded.

Talaris Therapeutics, Inc., which was founded by Dr. Suzanne Ildstad and on whose board Anna was an observer, raised $150 million by pricing 8.825 million shares at $17 a share. It is listed on Nasdaq under the symbol TALS. Based in Louisville, Ky., Talaris is focused on developing cell therapies that have the potential to induce durable immune tolerance across a range of indications. It is seeking to eliminate the burden of chronic immunosuppression for organ transplant recipients as well as induce durable remissions in patients with severe autoimmune and immune-mediated disorders. The company’s lead candidate is currently being tested in a Phase 3 trial on first-time kidney transplant recipients who are receiving their organs from live donors. Talaris is also testing its lead candidate in diffuse systemic sclerosis, a severe form of the rare autoimmune disease scleroderma.

Anna brought her firm into the company’s $100 million Series A round and then its $115 million Series B round that was done last fall. Bihua Chen’s Cormorant Asset Management took part in that round as well, meaning it now has had at least eight portfolio companies go public in 2021. Qiming, according to Talaris’ filing with the SEC had an 8.74 percent stake prior to the IPO. Blackstone was the largest shareholder with a 24.85 percent pre-IPO stake. The company’s board includes Sapna Srivastava, the former chief financial and strategy officer at Abide Therapeutics, Inc., which was acquired in 2019 by H. Lundbeck A/S. Suzanne is Talaris’ chief scientific officer and a member of the company’s board. A transplant surgeon by training, Suzanne developed the FCR001 platform while at the Institute for Cellular Therapeutics at the University of Louisville.

Additionally, another company on whose board Anna sits, Jasper Therapeutics, Inc., has agreed to merge with a special purpose acquisition company, which will enable it to go public. Jasper’s agreement with Amplitude Healthcare Acquisition Corp. will result in it having cash reserves of $180 million and an initial market capitalization of $490 million. Once complete, Jasper would trade on Nasdaq under the symbol JSPR. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., Jasper was co-founded by Dr. Judith Shizuru and Susan Prohaska. The company is focused on enabling safer conditioning and therapeutic agents that expand the application of curative hematopoietic stem cell transplants and gene therapies. Jasper’s lead product candidate is designed to replace or reduce the toxicity of chemotherapy and radiation therapy as a conditioning regimen to prepare patients for hematopoietic cell transplant. Judith is a hematopoietic stem cell transplant expert at Stanford University and Susan is a Stanford University-trained immunologist, stem cell biologist and early-stage drug development professional. Judith serves on the board while Susan is a board observer and Jasper’s vice president of operations and program management.

 Anna brought Qiming into Jasper’s $35 million Series A round in December 2019 and joined its board. The company, according to Crunchbase, has raised a total of $49 million. Other investors in Jasper include Abingworth, LLP, Alexandria Venture Investments, LLC and Surveyor Capital. Anna is also on the boards of Umoja Biopharma, WindMIL Therapeutics, Auron Therapeutics, whose co-founder and CEO is Kate Yen, and is an observer on the boards of Cadent Therapeutics and Platelet BioGenesis.

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