In episode 34 of the Investing in Impact podcast, I speak with Sean Doherty, Chairman of the JDRF T1D Fund, on using a combination of venture capital and philanthropy to drive cures for type 1 diabetes (T1D) by catalyzing private investment.
Sean Doherty led the concept-creation, design and capital financing of the Fund, and he has driven its strategy since inception. Sean retired at the end of 2018 from his role as Managing Director of Bain Capital, LP, a private global investment firm which he joined in 2005 as the firm’s first general counsel. In this role he built a pioneering and industry-leading deal lawyer and risk management group during a time of rapid growth and institutionalization of the alternative asset industry.
He also had a diverse operational and constituency management role at Bain Capital, where he led crisis management, press and external communications, government relations, branding and philanthropic initiatives and was deeply involved in governance matters and capital raising. Earlier in his career he worked at Ropes & Gray LLP and was a law clerk to a federal district judge in Boston. Prior to law school, he was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, in which he served on a Middle East Force frigate from 1990-94.
Sean and his wife, Suzy, have been involved with JDRF since 2002 when their son Finn was diagnosed with T1D at the age of 2. He served on the JDRF International Board and its Executive Committee from 2016 to 2019 following more than a decade of service on the JDRF New England Chapter Board, including two years as its President.
He received a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and a B.A. magna cum laude in Government from Harvard College. He serves on the boards of directors of two companies with T1D programs and is also a member of the board of trustees of Thayer Academy in Braintree, MA.
Type 1 Diabetes Statistics
- $18M living with T1D globally¹
- $90B annual global economic impact²
- $1.6M people living with T1D in the U.S.³
- $45.5B immunology market by 2022⁴
1. Health Advances, Modeling the Total Economic Value of Novel Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) Therapeutic Concepts, 2020 2. Health Advances, Modeling the Total Economic Value of Novel Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) Therapeutic Concepts, 2020 3. Dabelea, et al. 2014. JAMA 311: 1778-1786 4. Global Autoimmune Disease Treatment Market – By Disease Type, Diagnostics, Products, Region – Market Size, Demand Forecasts, Industry Trends and Updates (2016-2022), June 2017
About The JDRF T1D Fund
They are now one of the largest disease-focused venture philanthropy funds in the world, with $100m in assets and our philanthropic dollars are spurring private investment to ultimately secure the billions we need to generate cures.
The portfolio consists of therapeutics, diagnostics, devices and vaccines, with an emphasis on cure-oriented therapies.
The fund leverages philanthropic capital to build a portfolio of investments that are both attractive to financially motivated investors and are compelling to the T1D community. Yet, it is risky to invest in a fund fully concentrated in one disease.
We need more philanthropists to disrupt and de-risk the investment market in T1D to continue the investment track record and ultimately create a perpetual source of financing and T1D strategic expertise that will be essential as T1D therapies mature.
The aim for T1D Fund portfolio companies is to achieve success, not only to deliver life-changing solutions for individuals living with or at risk of T1D today, but to also create a pipeline of next-generation novel opportunities tomorrow. As a high-impact philanthropic vehicle, all returns on the Fund’s investments are recycled back into the T1D mission.
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Grant is the founder of Causeartist, one of the most influential impact business platforms in the world. Since 2013, Causeartist has been read in over 150 countries. Grant has personally interviewed 700+ impact entrepreneurs from around the world, highlighting innovations in ethical fashion, climate change, ethical technology, impact investing, and sustainable travel.