Spotlight: K. Angela Macfarlane, Institute Board Member; Founder, Managing Member and CEO of ForSight Labs, LLC

Angela Macfarlane Brings Decades of Medtech Experience and Mentoring Acumen to Fogarty Institute Board

Some people’s careers are a straight path, while others are a winding road. The latter was the case for Angela Macfarlane. After all, not many people can say they started their career in the field of law as a judicial extern for the United States District Court, and then veered to find success in medical technology. Over the course of the medtech part of her career, Angela was directly involved in earning 25 U.S.-issued patents and more importantly, helped numerous companies during their early-stage of ushering critical technologies to market and, ultimately, to patients.

This deep expertise is why the Fogarty Institute is proud to announce she has recently joined its board of directors, as well as serving as a Ferolyn Fellowship mentor.

Angela’s career in medtech started in the ‘90s when she became very interested in early-stage startups. She quickly realized that one of the key areas where these small companies needed to focus was on their patent portfolio and intellectual property (IP) strategy in order to create future value for the company.

She initially worked for VidaMed, a company that designed, developed and marketed systems for urological conditions, which later went public and was acquired by Medtronic. While serving as in-house corporate counsel, she focused her efforts on IP and licensing and how to successfully spin off additional companies or create other opportunities in different fields.

After meeting Allan Will during a CEO search at VidaMed, he invited her to join AneuRx, a company Thomas Fogarty, MD, founded to develop one of the first stent grafts for aortic aneurysms. Here she also focused on IP and the financing process for potential acquisition, which was brought to fruition when the company was acquired by Medtronic in 1996.

“This was a pivotal moment in my career, as I had the opportunity to work with two industry leaders in a company that was transforming vascular surgery and patient care,” Angela said.

And perhaps most importantly, she had the opportunity to understand Dr. Fogarty’s approach to innovation and discover the influence his work had on making procedures less invasive. As an example, she watched him conduct an abdominal aortic aneurysm repair surgery, which at the time was an open surgery lasting seven hours; and then later saw the transformational benefits the AneuRx brought to patients, through a shorter, less-invasive procedure and quicker recovery.

Angela later worked with another impactful entrepreneur, Josh Makower, when she served as director of IP and business development at TransVascular; and subsequently joined Fogarty Research as technology counsel. Here she had the opportunity to work for a variety of startups and really understand how Dr. Fogarty solved problems, innovated and invested in companies.

“Being able to observe Dr. Fogarty’s thought process and problem-solving insight on a daily basis — whether a clinical or financial issue, or one that involved the board of directors — was a real privilege and source of inspiration,” she says, adding that she had the opportunity to work on nine different companies while at Fogarty Research.

“That variety taught me a lot about effective problem solving, leadership and tenacity,” she says. “He was truly so focused and never gave up, overcoming challenges that others would have shied away from, and I saw the positive results. It was clear that he deeply cared about the success of his teams, the companies and the impact of their technologies on patients.”

Angela ultimately transitioned to work for The Foundry, as chief technology counsel working closely with Kara Liebig, Hanson Gifford and Mark Deem. In 2005, The Foundry partnered with Eugene de Juan, Jr., MD, a renowned retinal specialist with a track record for innovation, and ForSight Labs, an ophthalmic incubator, was formed. Angela joined as CEO of ForSight in 2007.

Over the past decade, ForSight Labs has started six vision companies, which have collectively raised over $200M in capital, returning over $550M to date with an additional $550M in milestones. She served as president and CEO of three of the six companies: Nexis Vision, which was licensed to a strategic partner; ForSight VISION4, which was recently acquired by Roche Holdings U.S.; and ForSight VISION5, which was acquired by Allergan. The other three companies were also successfully spun out and include: Transcend Medical, acquired by Alcon/Novartis; ForSight Newco II acquired by QLT; and ForSight VISION6, which is operating under a strategic partnership.

Joining the Institute’s board of directors

Angela has long believed in the Institute’s mission and the benefit it provides to the next generation of innovators. After having the privilege of working with Ferolyn as consulting technology counsel at Evalve, a company where Dr. Fogarty was a board member, she helped develop and shape the Ferolyn Fellowship and has served as a mentor to Kate Garrett and Shreya Mehta.

Looking forward to her increased involvement, she says, “I am excited to be part of the Institute’s legacy of supporting and creating opportunities for early-stage startups, and look forward to carrying out the bold vision that Andrew and the team are creating. The potential to share the body of knowledge our ecosystem has to offer to foster the next generation of leaders is very inspiring.”

The skills she brings will be invaluable to the Institute, particularly her experience in both the medtech and drug development sides of the industry; her ability to counsel early-stage companies on IP, licensing, portfolio management and business development; and her focus on creating powerful cultures with values-driven leadership.

“I strive to see opportunity and possibility where others may see problems, I am passionate about the success of others, and I am motivated by what continued innovation can achieve,” she says.

On a personal note, Angela is involved in animal rescue, a passion she developed nearly 20 years ago through her association with Dr. Fogarty’s wife, Rosalee. A resident of Woodside, Calif., she loves the outdoors and enjoys hiking and mountain biking with her husband.

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