Dr. Maria Berkman holds the Vascular Graft Solutions device, which is the first commercial product in Broadview’s portfolio.
Maria Berkman, MD ’09, MBA, is a director at Broadview Ventures in Boston, Massachusetts, the venture-investment arm of the Leducq Foundation. Broadview’s mission is to accelerate the development of promising technology in cardiovascular and neurovascular diseases through targeted investments in, and support of, early-stage ventures. At Broadview, Dr. Berkman shares responsibility for day-to- day operations, including the identification and screening of new opportunities, diligence, negotiation of deals and portfolio-company board involvement. Prior to joining Broadview, Dr. Berkman was a management consultant with Monitor Group (now Monitor Deloitte), where she specialized in life sciences with a focus on corporate strategy, franchise and asset-level commercialization, and competitive strategic planning. She also completed the Transitional Year Internship Program within the Partners HealthCare System in Boston.
I was one of seven students from the class of 2009 enrolled in the MD/MBA joint-degree program at UCLA. Of those seven, I am the only one who has pursued a career outside of medicine. Following an intern year in Boston, I joined Monitor Group, a management-consulting firm focused on strategy projects for Fortune 500 biopharmaceutical companies. Consulting is like residency for the business world, and after two years of ‘training,’ I was fortunate enough to join Broadview Ventures, a venture-capital firm entirely funded by the Leducq Foundation, a philanthropic organization that focuses on cardiovascular disease as its mission.
Because we invest in very early-stage companies, the proposals I review are typically in the preclinical and/or translational-research phase, making a substantial part of our diligence scientific in nature. In diligence, I spend roughly equal amounts of time leveraging my medical knowledge and my business degree. In addition to ensuring that the companies in which we invest have outstanding science, data and intellectual property as a foundation, we also thoroughly evaluate their business plans, management teams and financial projections — a sound investment has to have those components.
One of my first investments at Broadview was Zumbro Discovery, founded by John Burnett, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, one of the leaders of the natriuretic peptide field. Zumbro had just completed its large animal studies, and with Broadview’s investment, it is now completing enrollment of a Phase 1b trial in resistant hypertension. In an equally exciting milestone, thanks to Broadview’s investment, Vascular Graft Solutions (VGS) has been able to bring an external-support device for vein grafts in coronary-artery-bypass grafting to the market in Europe. VGS is the first of Broadview’s portfolio companies to commercialize. Seeing our portfolio’s researchers and entrepreneurs take products from concept to patient is exciting and gratifying and one small step toward addressing numerous unmet needs in the cardiovascular space.