Fireside Chat with AMR Action Fund CIO Martin Heidecker

Dear All,

Ahead of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, I sat down with AMR Action Fund Chief Investment Officer Martin Heidecker for a Fireside Chat. It was a fabulous conversation that covered everything from how the Fund’s investment process works to what it’s looking for in portfolio companies to broader investment trends in the AMR space. 

As a disclaimer, I am the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board for the AMR Action Fund. We thought this Fireside Chat would be beneficial for those who want to know a little more about the Fund’s inner workings so this is a little different from previous videos.
 
The AMR Action Fund launched in late 2020 with approximately $1 billion in investments from the Wellcome Trust, the European Investment Bank, and nearly two dozen pharmaceutical companies. The past year has been catalytic for the Fund which has quickly emerged as a critical source of investment and a prominent advocate for Pull incentives. The overarching goal is to enable the launch of two to four new antimicrobials by investing that $1 billion across a range of small and mid-size biotechs that are developing therapeutics for WHO and CDC priority pathogens.
 
You may remember that CEO Henry Skinner has also been interviewed as part of the AMR Fireside Chat series! If you’ve not had a chance to watch our chat from early 2021, I highly recommend you do that. Now, the Fund is almost fully staffed up and making strides toward fulfilling its mission. This past winter, it appointed nine members to its Scientific Advisory Board. Soon after that, it announced its first two investments into Adaptive Phage Therapeutics and Venatorx Pharmaceuticals! Very exciting!
 
Along the way, the Fund has been building relationships with potential co-investors to help bring private investment back to the antibiotic space and it has been using its platform to raise the profile of AMR and the need for policy reforms. CEO Henry Skinner opined in Harvard Public Health that AMR “should be the priority of every legislator in every place where policy is set,” and he and CARB-X’s Kevin Outterson teamed up and recently warned in The Boston Globe that AMR “isn’t a what-if scenario. It’s already killing millions of people, and it’s going to get much worse if we don’t act now.” 
 
As Martin noted in our conversation, the Fund has plans to announce additional investments in the near future and to continue to maintain focus on market reforms. Hope you enjoy the ~30 min conversation! 

All best wishes, –jr

John H. Rex, MD | Chief Medical Officer, F2G Ltd. | Operating Partner, Advent Life Sciences. Follow me on Twitter: @JohnRex_NewAbx. See past newsletters and subscribe for the future: https://amr.solutions/blog/. All opinions are my own.

Current funding opportunities (most current list is here)

  • Current funding rounds from CARB-X are as described in this newsletter!
  • The AMR Action Fund is now open to proposals for funding of Phase 2 / Phase 3 antibacterial therapeutics. Per its charter, the fund prioritizes investment in treatments that address a pathogen prioritized by the WHO, the CDC and/or other public health entities that: (i) are novel (e.g., absence of known cross-resistance, novel targets, new chemical classes, or new mechanisms of action); and/or (ii) have significant differentiated clinical utility (e.g., differentiated innovation that provides clinical value versus standard of care to prescribers and patients, such as safety/tolerability, oral formulation, different spectrum of activity); and (iii) reduce patient mortality. It is also expected that such agents would have the potential to strongly address the likely requirements for delinked Pull incentives such as the UK (NHS England) subscription pilot and the PASTEUR Act in the US. Submit queries to contact@amractionfund.com.
  • INCATE (Incubator for Antibacterial Therapies in Europe) is an early-stage funding vehicle supporting innovation vs. drug-resistant bacterial infections. The fund provides advice, community, and non-dilutive funding (€10k in Stage I and up to €250k in Stage II) to support early-stage ventures in creating the evidence and building the team needed to get next-level funding. Details and contacts on their website (https://www.incate.net/).
  • It’s not a funder, but AiCuris’ AiCubator offers incubator support to very early stage projects. Read more about it here.
  • The Global AMR R&D Hub’s dynamic dashboard (link) summarizes the global clinical development pipeline, incentives for AMR R&D, and investors/investments in AMR R&D.
  • In addition to the lists provided by the Global AMR R&D Hub, you might also be interested in my most current lists of R&D incentives (link) and priority pathogens (link).


Upcoming meetings of interest to the AMR community (most current list is here):

  • 17-20 Nov 2022 (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia): The International Congress on Infectious Diseases will take place for the first time as a hybrid event. Go here for details. 
  • 18-24 Nov 2022 (Everywhere!): WHO’s World Antimicrobial Awareness Week is back and happening worldwide. This year, the theme of WAAW is “Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together.” Go here for the campaign details.
  • 27-30 Nov 2022 (Perth, Australia): 32nd International Congress of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy is the biennial congress of the International Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (ISAC). Go here for details.
  • [NEW] 2 Dec 2022 (Harvard, Boston, 9a-6p with reception to follow): BAARN, the Boston Area Antimicrobial Resistance Network. A full day of networking and lectures, including a keynote by Gerry Wright. Go here for details and here to register.
  • 3-7 Dec 2022 (Banff, Canada): Novel Approaches Against Emerging Antimicrobial Resistance by Keystone Symposia. Go here for details. 
  • 14 Apr 2023 (Copenhagen, Denmark; 3-6.30p CEST): ECCMID and the Global Leaders Group on AMR will jointly sponsor a symposium entitled “Forging partnerships between science and policy in Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).” Go here to register.
  • 15-18 Apr 2023 (Copenhagen, Denmark): 33rd ECCMID. Go here for details and to register.
  • 8-12 May 2023 (Lisbon, Portugal): 41st Annual Meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases. Go here for details.
  • [NEW] 14-22 Oct 2023 (residential, Annecy, France): ICARe, the Interdisciplinary Course on Antibiotics and Resistance. Now in its 7th year, this course is a deep-dive into the world of antibiotic development. Intense, rigorous, and HIGHLY recommended. Seats are always limited … apply sooner rather than later! Go here for details.
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