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'Don't be Afraid': How His Father's Battle With Dementia Inspired This Entrepreneur's Mission Howard Berman discusses the founding Coya Therapeutics, the challenges of biotech entrepreneurship, and the future of therapeutic development.

By Christopher Salvi Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In this compelling episode of The Founder CEO, I had the privilege of interviewing Howard Berman, the founder and CEO of Coya Therapeutics. Howard shared the extraordinary story behind the inception of Coya Therapeutics, born out of a deeply personal family experience. We delved into his evolution as a business leader, exploring his mission-driven approach to healthcare innovation and the challenges and triumphs of taking a biotech company public. Howard's insights into the complexities of neurodegenerative diseases and the future of therapeutic development are truly inspiring. Don't miss this dynamic conversation that highlights the future of healthcare.

Watch the full Founder CEO video interview above and see the takeaways below.

Related: 'Don't Just Give Out the Work -- Do the Work': How This Women's Healthcare CEO Leads With Passion

Personal Influence and Family Background

  • Howard's mother, a world-renowned expert in cancer prevention, and his father, a triple board-certified physician, significantly influenced his mission-driven approach.
  • The inception of Coya Therapeutics is closely tied to the diagnosis and subsequent passing of Howard's father due to dementia.

Founding Challenges and Milestones:

  • The idea for Coya emerged from Howard's collaboration with Dr. Stan Appel, a leading neurodegenerative disease expert.
  • The company's founding coincided with personal tragedy, as Howard's father passed away the same week Coya went public.

Mission-Driven Approach:

  • Coya Therapeutics is dedicated to developing therapies for neurodegenerative diseases by targeting inflammation through regulatory T cells (Tregs).

Related: How His Personal Battle With Cancer Inspired This Founder's Solution for Patient Care

Complexity of Neurodegenerative Diseases:

  • Howard emphasized the complexity of diseases like ALS and dementia, which require targeting multiple pathways for effective treatment.
  • Traditional single-mechanism drugs have often failed, underscoring the need for innovative, multi-targeted approaches.

Innovation and Therapeutic Development:

  • Coya's unique approach involves administering two drugs simultaneously to address the multifaceted nature of neurodegenerative diseases.
  • The goal is to prove the efficacy and safety of these therapies through rigorous clinical trials.

Biotech Market Challenges:

  • Navigating the biotech market, especially during challenging times like 2022, required scrappy, innovative strategies to secure funding and achieve IPO status.

Resilience and Leadership Evolution:

  • Howard's journey from an entrepreneur with a vision to a public company CEO involved overcoming significant barriers and learning to rely on a talented team.
  • His leadership style emphasizes collaboration and trusting experts in their respective fields to drive the company's success.

Strategic Growth and Team Building:

  • Hiring the best talent and fostering a collaborative environment has been crucial to Coya's progress.
  • Howard's experience highlights the importance of adapting leadership strategies to meet the evolving needs of the company.

Future Vision for Coya Therapeutics:

  • Howard is committed to proving the efficacy of Coya 302 for Lou Gehrig's disease and expanding into other neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer's.
  • Strategic partnerships with other pharmaceutical companies are part of Coya's growth plan to accelerate therapeutic development.

Howard Berman's personal story is inspiring. His resilience as a person and entrepreneur shines through in his stories. These lessons serve well for other founder CEOs as a reminder of all that comes with the trials and triumphs of starting and running your own business.

Related: Leadership Lessons We Can All Take From the Sudden, Messy Closure of Two Popular Chains

Christopher Salvi

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

CEO of Salvi

Christopher Salvi is CEO of Salvi Media, an executive branding and content agency. He advises high-performing clients on building trust, executive branding and leading teams to execute at the highest level. He is executive producer of The CEO Series, facilitating guests and partnerships.

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