Lianna Orlando, PhD and Bradley Hodges, PhD Bring Scientific and Investment Expertise to Global Rare Disease Nonprofit’s Venture Philanthropy Team
Newport Beach, Calif. – May 13, 2022 – CureDuchenne, a leading global nonprofit focused on finding and funding a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), today announced the promotion of Lianna Orlando, PhD, to Vice President of Research and the addition of Bradley Hodges, PhD as Partner of CureDuchenne Ventures. The strategic bolstering of the organization’s research and investment team further solidifies CureDuchenne’s consistent growth and commitment to advancing research and strategic investments to identify therapies and a cure for DMD.
“Our mission is to find a cure for this devastating disease by identifying and funding transformative and impactful research, and we are getting closer–it’s no longer science fiction,” said CureDuchenne Founder and CEO Debra Miller. “Lianna’s proven track record for vetting the science behind our investments, coupled with Bradley’s seasoned investment expertise, will be critically important as we work to improve and extend the lives of those living with Duchenne.”
Orlando brings strong knowledge and experience in muscle biology and translational research to the role of Vice President of Research. In this role, she will continue to identify and advise on scientific innovations and promising Duchenne research investments, connect with biotech and pharmaceutical partners, and act as a scientific resource to families diagnosed with Duchenne. In his new role as Partner with CureDuchenne Ventures, Hodges will join Orlando and Michael Kelly, PhD, CureDuchenne’s Chief Scientific Officer, to support and expand CureDuchenne’s research investments, including sourcing, evaluating, negotiating and executing transactions aligned with CureDuchenne’s strategic priorities, as well as working with existing portfolio companies. CureDuchenne deploys donor dollars to fund Duchenne muscular dystrophy treatments with the singular vision of funding a cure for the entire Duchenne community. Since it was founded in 2003, CureDuchenne has funded 44 research projects, 16 of which have advanced to human clinical trials. CureDuchenne also contributed early funding to the first FDA-approved Duchenne drug.
“Lianna and Bradley’s expertise and passion will help strengthen our research and investment team at a critical time when the next handful of years will be transformative for this disease,” said Kelly.
Lianna Orlando joined CureDuchenne in 2019 as Senior Director of Research to help identify and evaluate strategic investments aimed at developing treatments for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Prior to CureDuchenne, Orlando served as Interim Head of Research for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) where she oversaw all of the basic, translational, and clinical grant programs, including MDA’s venture philanthropy program. Before that, she was the Associate Director at Fidelity Biosciences Research Initiative (FBRI), focusing on funding research programs in neurodegenerative diseases.
Before leaving academia, Orlando was a junior faculty member in the Neurology Department at Massachusetts General Hospital. She completed her doctorate in Neurobiology from Harvard University and completed a select Markey Biomedical Scientist Fellowship to earn a master’s degree from Harvard Medical School.
Bradley Hodges has been a champion for those affected by neuromuscular disorders for 30 years and has worked on nearly every therapeutic modality. He is the founder of Prothelia, which developed laminin-111, a novel protein replacement for LAMA2 deficient congenital muscular dystrophy and was later acquired by Alexion in 2014 for $150M. After the rights to laminin-111 were returned to Prothelia in 2017, Hodges took over all business development activities, raised a seed round in 2019, rebuilt manufacturing, and closed a $50M series A in 2020.
Hodges was a discovery consultant for Third Rock Ventures and other clients, leading the review and prioritization of new research opportunities for companies including Fulcrum, Goldfinch, Valerion and Faze.
CureDuchenne was founded by Debra and Paul Miller in 2003 after their son was diagnosed with the disease. The organization combines fundraising and venture philanthropy, leveraging donor dollars to maximize support for promising research into effective treatments for those living with Duchenne. They also provide resources and guidance for families affected by the fatal genetic neuromuscular disorder, which affects more than 300,000 individuals worldwide, and deliver the education and programs needed to support Duchenne patients and their families, caregivers and healthcare providers.
CureDuchenne is recognized as a global leader in research, patient care and innovation for improving and extending the lives of those with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. CureDuchenne is dedicated to finding and funding a cure for Duchenne by breaking the traditional charitable mold through an innovative venture philanthropy model that funds groundbreaking research, early diagnosis and community education. For more information on how to help raise awareness and funds needed for research, please visit www.cureduchenne.org.