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Home | BIC 2020 | Gerald Chan

Gerald Chan

Gerald Chan is a scientist and a venture capitalist who has participated in the start-up of over two dozen biotechnology companies. 

Raised in Hong Kong, Gerald went on to study Engineering at UCLA from which he received his BSc and MSc degrees. His migration to studying life science first led to a Master’s degree in Medical Radiological Physics and then a Doctor of Science degree in Radiation Biology, both from Harvard University. After completing his post-doctoral training at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, he left academia for a career in investments. He was an early investor in China in the early 1990s, acquiring valuable properties in Shanghai as well as investing in Chinese internet companies at the inception of the internet age. He then turned his attention to the convergence of life science and investment in biotechnology. Working with academic scientists, he started biotech companies across diverse therapeutic areas including oncology, inflammation, ophthalmology, autoimmunity, diabetes, neurodegeneration, rare genetic diseases and prophylactic vaccines. Examples among these are Biovex and DNATrix — both pioneers in using viruses to kill cancer cells, Stealth Biotherapeutics which is a pioneer in mitochondrial medicine, Cognoa which uses data science techniques for diagnosis of autism, and Clear-B which is developing a functional cure for chronic hepatitis B infection. The theme running through his portfolio companies is novel science, often orthogonal to conventional thinking. Mindful of the unsustainability of ever rising healthcare cost, he has also championed the repurposing of approved drugs for new indications based on new scientific findings. Examples from his portfolio companies include the combination of two approved drugs for retarding disease progression in ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and the combination of two approved drugs for treating obstructive sleep apnea.  

Gerald is the chairman of two Nasdeq listed biotechnology companies - Stealth Biotherapeutics and Apellis Pharmaceuticals. He chairs the Innovation Advisory Committee of the Wellcome Trust in London and the Overseers’ Committee of Morningside College, Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is a trustee of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California and a member of the Dean’s Board of Advisors of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Pursuant to the donation of a naming gift, the School was renamed in 2014 in honor of Dr. Chan’s late father Mr. T.H. Chan. 

He has been honored with six honorary degrees conferred by universities in UK, Hong Kong and America. In 2017, he was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2019, he gave the Andrew Carnegie Lecture in University of Glasgow, Scotland and held a visiting fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge University. 

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