(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second article in a two-part series spotlighting a Chattanooga-based physician with a strong entrepreneurial DNA.)
By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
David Adair’s passion for medicine and new ways to treat patients is clearly reflected in the high-risk obstetrics practice he leads as well as the many entrepreneurial endeavors he has or is pursuing.
Years ago, he says he cashed-out his retirement twice and mortgaged the family home a similar number of times. “You have to be willing to risk it all,” Adair says at the start of our recent interview.
For more than 15 years, he’s been an angel investor in both biopharmaceutical and medical device companies, serves as Chairman and Chief Science Officer at Glenveigh Medical, and more recently launched a venture fund named Solas BioVentures LLC.
“The word Solas is Gaelic for comfort,” Adair says, a choice that speaks volumes about his focus on the health and welfare of moms and babies. “As a high-risk pregnancy doctor, there are only so many people you can see in a year. (New) drugs and devices can impact long after I’m gone.”
Adair’s interests are not limited to those that directly impact his medical practice. Instead, they transcend a number of healthcare sectors. They include prostate, lung, heart, kidney, and CNS to name a few.
For example, Glenveigh Medical has reported two medical device exits – one each to Clinical Innovations and Protherics Inc. – and is out-licensing a third technology.
On the angel investment front, there have been three exits, a fourth significant licensing deal, and some investments still in his portfolio.
The exits are Addrenex Pharmaceuticals whose lead product at the time was Kapvay, a non-stimulation approach for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), acquired in 2009 by Sciele Pharma Inc.; Neuronex Inc., the developer of intranasal valium for cluster seizures, acquired in 2012 by Acorda Therapeutics Inc.; Aerial BioPharma, developer of ADX-N05, a novel compound for the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness in patients with narcolepsy, which licensed all rights to Jazz Pharmaceuticals PLC in 2014; and, more recently, NxThera to Boston Scientific Corporation.
Closer to home, Adair was an investor in Chattanooga’s Advanced Catheter Therapies that executed a worldwide license with Toray Industries Inc. for its Occlusion Perfusion Catheter® in 2016.
Adair’s current angel portfolio includes Veran Medical Technologies which has an oncologic solution for navigation in the pulmonary space; Anogen which developed a timed payload deployment modality for ophthalmic targets; and Aegea Medical Inc. which the NxThera technology for endometrial ablation. There are over 15 companies in which the team has placed strategic investments.
What’s his decision-making process as it relates to a “yes” or “no” on an investment?
“When I size-up opportunities, I start by looking at how the entrepreneur squirms,” Adair says.
His newest undertaking – Solas BioVentures – was launched at the end of 2014 and has already had two exits from the first fund capitalized a little under $15 million. Adair says he is exploring a second fund that could reach $100 million and would make investments in the range of $200,000 to $10 million.
“I have done anything and everything,” he explains in describing his pursuit of new drugs and devices. “As long as we were getting positive results, I was willing to risk it all. I am willing to go where no one else goes . . . that’s how I describe an entrepreneur.”