Mona is the founder, executive director, and chairman of the board at Music Beats Cancer. She launched Music Beats Cancer to address the “Valley of Death,” the growing gap in funding that constrains the translation of cancer research discoveries into clinical applications.
As cancer affects millions of Americans each year, national efforts to cure this disease have largely focused on cancer research rather than cancer product development. Mona believes that the key to bridging the Valley of Death is to:
Raise public awareness about the Valley of Death and its impact on our progress on the war against cancer; Create a funding platform that empowers the public to directly and transparently support the development of cancer-fighting solutions.
Prior to Music Beats Cancer, Mona founded Foligo Therapeutics, Inc. in 2005 to develop and commercialize a DNA-based therapeutic compound as a potential treatment for ovarian cancer. While Foligo was able to initially attract funding from various state-run venture programs and business plan competitions, the company ultimately succumbed to the Valley of Death.
In 2010, Foligo closed its laboratory and research facilities due to a funding drought. While there is no guarantee that Foligo’s targeted therapies for ovarian cancer would have worked, there was enough evidence and promise in early proof-of-principle studies to continue the work.
Mona realized that breaking this funding bottleneck was a more critical priority than Foligo and rededicated herself to Music Beats Cancer and its mission.
Mona holds a doctorate in biochemistry from the Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University. She trained as a post-doctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute. Mona was granted the SPORE Fellowship Award for Breast Cancer Research at the Lombardi Cancer Center of Georgetown University. She subsequently specialized in intellectual property and technology transfer while at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research.
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