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  • Writer's pictureBen Freeberg

Oncology Ventures: First Investment, Cancer Facts and Comedy

Congratulations on making it to month two of the Oncology Ventures monthly newsletter! We knew you had it in you.


Quick about us: Oncology Ventures is an early-stage, cancer-focused VC fund. We are investing in data, IT, infrastructure and services start-ups that are making cancer care more affordable, efficient and accessible.


Oncology Ventures Fund Updates


We made our first investment into VivorCare, a fully-integrated cancer survivorship platform. We are thrilled to partner with Hil Moss, Justin Grischkan and the VivorCare team as they seek to improve survivorship care for the 17M+ cancer survivors in the U.S.


In case you missed it, here is more detail on our investment thesis on the current state of cancer survivorship in the U.S. Spoilers, it needs some work.


We are excited to welcome to our team:


Nandita Kotwani, Associate, joins us from Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Innovation Arm. Prior, Nandita worked at Flatiron Health and City of Hope. She received her Masters in Healthcare Administration from Columbia University.


Ethan Zohn, Venture Partner, is the co-founder of the global non-profit, Grassroot Soccer, which has reached over 18 million youth in over 60 countries with critical health information and access to health services. Ethan is a cancer survivor and winner of the hit reality television show, CBS’s Survivor: Africa.


Oncology Market Facts of the Month

- Only 60% of oncologists feel responsible for addressing health disparities

- Only 33% of oncologists feel prepared to address health disparities

  • There were 457 oncology biomarkers approved by the FDA in 2020, up from 160 in 2019. Pharmacogenomics will continue to play an important role in identifying responders and non-responders to medications, avoiding adverse events, and optimizing drug doses


Comedy!


A couple of interesting things have happened since I launched this fund.


I was invited to headline a gynecological cancer center’s holiday party. I think I am a pretty decent comedy writer, but they would have been better off hiring an experienced midwife comic - they would have been better at the delivery.


And, I got a good haircut from a new barber.


I was reflecting on when I was bald during my cancer treatment. It was tough looking like the lovechild of Ed Sheeran and Mr. Clean. Especially when it didn’t come with their musical talent or amazing body. And whatever I would’ve inherited from Mr. Clean.


I remember I was at a party before I lost my hair from chemotherapy. This girl offered me a drink, which I politely turned down. She asked me 5 times "how are you so sick that you can't have one drink?" I finally told her I had cancer. Then she started crying.


So now I have to comfort her. I said, I’m so sorry that I ruined your party with my cancer. I know I shouldn’t have brought my cancer out with me. So silly, I always forget to leave my cancer at home.


When I made the decision to get cancer, I underestimated how much it would make others uncomfortable. Saying that last joke at a comedy club is fun - there is always one drunk guy who looks at me like a deer in headlights and then turns to whoever he is with and not so quietly whispers - wait… why would he choose to get cancer?

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