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Startup Speaker: Michael Hund, CEO of EB Research Partnership


Startup Speaker: Michael Hund, CEO of EB Research Partnership

By: Casey Ma MPH ‘25

Early in his career, Michael Hund, MBA (SOM '18), realized the incredible impact that dedicated research could have on transforming lives, particularly those of children suffering from rare diseases. This passion led him to EB Research Partnership, where he now leads efforts to cure Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), a debilitating rare genetic skin disorder.

Michael’s journey began in the Flint Hills of Kansas, where he grew up on a cattle ranch. His experiences there instilled in him values like resilience, hard work, and community spirit, which have guided him throughout his career. He shared a quote from one of his personal heroes, Muhammad Ali: “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”  This philosophy has driven Michael to use his talents to make a meaningful difference in the healthcare industry.

Reflecting on his upbringing, Michael shared the “cowboy code” that has guided him through life. These principles, taught by his family, have been a cornerstone of his personal and professional life, shaping his approach to challenges and guiding his mission-driven work.

  1. Take pride in your work

  2. Finish what you start

  3. Your word is your bond

  4. A person's true character is defined in their hardest times

  5. Don't be all hat and no cattle

  6. Ride for the brand

  7. You can't control the weather, but you can control how you respond

  8. Help your neighbor when you can

  9. Cowboys lead from the back

  10. Be a buffalo

In his discussion, Michael explained the innovative model known as Venture Philanthropy employed by EB Research Partnership. This approach involves not just passively funding research, but investing in the most promising projects across academia, medical and biotech industries with the potential for significant returns. These returns are then reinvested into further research. He highlighted the importance of this model, noting that their first major success involved an investment of more than $750,000 in a company developing a treatment for EB, which later generated a more than double return on investment and became the first FDA approved treatment for EB. EBRP was able to reinvest that capital back into more EB projects. This reinvestment strategy ensures sustained funding for ongoing research and development, making a profound impact on their mission.

Emphasizing the urgent need for treatments in the field of rare diseases, Michael pointed out the stark reality that underscores the importance of their work, which fuels the passion and dedication behind EB Research Partnership's efforts.

95% of rare diseases lack an approved treatment - let alone a cure.

In his leadership role, he has seen the organization expand its efforts globally, funding projects in 22 countries and starting eight companies. The results speak for themselves: in the last decade, EB Research Partnership has raised $60 million, funded 140 projects, and increased clinical trials by 20 times. Last year marked a significant milestone with the approval of two FDA treatments for EB, a groundbreaking achievement in the field of rare diseases.

During the discussion, Michael emphasized the importance of outcome-based thinking, setting clear, ambitious goals, and working collaboratively across disciplines. This kind of vision and determination is crucial in driving progress and achieving significant milestones. He also stressed the importance of collaboration in accelerating research: “We share, we collaborate, we cure.” By incentivizing universities and research institutions to work together and share data, EB Research Partnership has managed to speed up the development of treatments and move closer to finding a cure.

We will not rest until we have a cure.

About the speaker: Michael Hund joined EBRP as the CEO in 2017. Under his leadership EBRP has accelerated the EB landscape from 2 to over 40 clinical trials and via their award-winning Venture Philanthropy Model helped fund the first FDA approved treatment for EB in 2023, the first ever topical gene therapy. EBRP’s innovative business model has garnered recognition from Harvard Business School, Yale University, MIT, Rolling Stone, and Forbes. Previously Michael served as the Director of Development for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation and the $100 million Curing Cancer Now campaign, which led to more than 10 FDA approved treatments and the tripling of patient life expectancy. He also served for over a decade at Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Fund, working on behalf of children and families battling life threatening illnesses. He has dedicated his career to transforming healthcare. Michael received his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Yale University, CORe credential from Harvard Business School, and an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from the University of Kansas. He is the recipient of the MIT Solve Horizon Innovation Award, Social Innovations Journal Leadership Award, Top 100 Magazine Innovators, iHeart Media’s CEOs You Should Know, and the Milken Institute’s FasterCures Changemaker & LeadersLink. He lives in Connecticut with his wife Sarah and four daughters.

About the series: ​The Yale Ventures Startup Speaker Series is a series of dynamic virtual discussions featuring a lineup of founders, investors, and key members of the Yale innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. Open to the Yale community, this series is designed to explore critical topics for aspiring and current founders, offering invaluable insights and inspiration. Sessions may explore the journeys of successful entrepreneurs, the nuances of startup investment, and the latest trends in innovation. Whether you're a student, alumnus, or part of the Yale faculty, this series promises to be an enriching experience, fostering connections and empowering Yale founders.

Register for upcoming Startup Speaker Series events here