EVCA Leadership
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September 1, 2021

Leadership Spotlight: Healthcare Vertical Leads, Amanda Way of Emerson Collective and Emily Zhen of New Enterprise Associates

By
Isaac Snitkoff
, EVCA Fellow

The EVCA leadership is dedicated to building community across and empowering the next generation of venture capitalists through an array of activities—from hosting events, knowledge sharing, and connecting others. This EVCA Leadership Spotlight Series is intended to help the broader community get to know what's going on behind the scenes at the EVCA, as well as highlight the valuable contributions of those individuals who make the EVCA possible. Accordingly, it's a great privilege for us to announce this EVCA Leadership Spotlight on our very own EVCA Healthcare Vertical Leads, Amanda Way of Emerson Collective and Emily Zhen of New Enterprise Associates (NEA).

Amanda Way, Senior Associate at Emerson Collective

Amanda Way is an investor on the Health Team at Emerson Collective, a family office founded by Laurene Powell Jobs that leverages venture capital, policy, and philanthropy to do the most good for the most people. The venture arm of the Health Team makes early stage investments and builds companies in the oncology space - Amanda having worked with the biotech arm for her first 3 years in VC, and helping build out the healthcare arm for the past year. Prior to Emerson Collective, Amanda studied neuroscience at Brown University as a part of its 8-year medical program - conducting research in the Assad Lab on the optogenetic investigation of neural rhythms and learning, working as an EMT, and co-founding a cystic fibrosis focused company that reduces bacterial growth on nebulizers. Amanda did not end up returning to medical school once she entered the venture capital world, but she is currently working on her Master’s in Clinical Informatics Management at Stanford alongside her work at Emerson Collective - a program that is a cross between the medical school and GSB. Outside of work, Amanda figure skates, is working towards her private pilot’s license, and loves going on hikes with her pug.

EVCA: Could you explain more about what you do in your role as Healthcare Vertical lead at EVCA?

Amanda: As the co-leads of the healthcare group at EVCA, Emily and I have been building a community of young investors across the biotech and healthcare sectors. We love to bring in the top leaders in different spaces for learning sessions, as well as senior partners from different firms to talk about their paths as investors and on the operational side of things. We also have two venture fellows who are college students interested in the venture space and are currently learning how to do a market landscape. As the world starts to open up again, hopefully we can do more events in person!

EVCA: What made you interested in taking a leadership role at EVCA?

Amanda: I actually joined the EVCA right as it was being formed, so when I saw the opportunity to get more involved and build a community I had been craving as a young investor - I jumped on it! Health investors are scattered across the globe, so I am excited to bring all of these minds together to learn from each other’s experiences, about the healthcare systems of different countries, and provide support for each other.

EVCA: What is your most contrarian view on an existing or emerging technology trend?

Amanda: While many believe this will not happen in our lifetime, I believe in the upcoming years, controlling devices using our brains (think brain computer interfaces, or BCIs) will become the norm.

The world recently saw Elon Musk present monkeys playing video games through his Neuralink technology, and while I am always excited for the media to bring attention to the space, this was nothing new. Scientists have been working on BCIs since the 1970s for medical purposes, though recent progress is moving this technology towards the commercial sector.

While I am personally most excited for the impact BCIs will have on improving the lives of patients, I am also eager to watch the effects of how BCIs will change how we control devices (maybe no more passwords, but pass-thoughts instead?) and improve how we work.

Emily Zhen, Associate at New Enterprise Associates (NEA)

Emily Zhen is an investor focused on healthcare services & technology and biopharma investing at New Enterprise Associates (NEA), one of the largest global venture capital firms, in the Bay Area. Prior to NEA, Emily worked at Goldman Sachs in healthcare investment banking in New York City. Emily graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with dual degrees in biology from the College of Arts and Sciences and finance from the Wharton School, with a certificate in healthcare policy. She has worked across the public and private sectors, including at the U.S. Department of Treasury, consulting at PwC, clinical research on opiate withdrawal treatments and Castleman Disease, and healthcare technology startups NeuroFlow and Healthie. Outside of work, Emily enjoys hiking and visiting national parks, music (playing the piano and guitar), and exploring the food scene in whatever city she is in (currently San Francisco!)  


EVCA: Could you explain more about what you do in your role as Healthcare Vertical lead at EVCA?

Emily: As a healthcare co-lead for EVCA alongside Amanda, we have been focused on bringing together investors who focus on healthcare, biopharma, and medtech investing to help each other with network and community building, knowledge sharing, and career growth. We plan events throughout the year, including fireside chats with leading healthcare operators and senior investors, happy hours, and social gatherings. If you are interested in getting more involved or have any event ideas, please feel free to send either of us a message or email me. Always love chatting about healthcare and meeting other folks in the space!

EVCA: What made you interested in taking a leadership role at EVCA?

Emily: My venture journey started in the beginning of 2020, right before the pandemic and remote work. When working remotely, I still wanted a chance to connect with other like-minded investors and also meet more people in the Bay Area after moving across the country from the East Coast. Getting involved in EVCA was a perfect way for me to meet more awesome people in investing, and I was happy to take on a leadership role to help build the community and start / lead the healthcare vertical with Amanda.


EVCA: What is your most contrarian view on an existing or emerging technology trend?

Emily: One emerging trend that we have been seeing is the increasing use of robotics in healthcare, which has sparked the question, “Will robots ever replace doctors?” My view is that is it unlikely that robots will completely replace doctors and other healthcare providers, at least in our lifetime. While robotics can be an additional tool to help improve the accuracy of treatments and diagnosis, what robots cannot provide (at least at this point) are the human interaction, ethics-based decision making, and empathy that a human physician can offer. Artificial intelligence and robotics can help augment care and free up time for a doctor to spend with patients; however, healthcare would look very different if we removed the personal relationships with our healthcare providers and replaced them with robots.


Interested in taking on an EVCA leadership role?
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