Pathfinder Therapeutics is short on CEO as well as capital, it seems.
Paul MacDonald, the Canadian who joined Pathfinder two years ago, is apparently no longer with the firm, just months after his candid comments on the venture's lagging attempts to raise capital in its hometown.
In VNC's report in May, MacDonald said of Pathfinder's prospects for success, "It's there and it's palpable." MacDonald strongly affirmed Pathfinder's desire to remain headquartered in Nashville, and indicated the company was unlikely to be lured away by states such as Alabama, which has netteed several Nashville life-sciences ventures in the past two years.
In the VNC article, MacDonald also described Pathfinder's efforts to raise at least $2 million; expressed disappointment in what he considered inadequate state assistance for ventures such as Pathfinder; and, described local investors' "degree of acumen" within medical devices is "relatively lean," compared with expertise in Memphis, which has a robust medical-devices community.
Pathfinder, which provides technology for image-guided liver surgery, failed in a 2006 attempt to raise series A funding.
Yesterday, Jim Stefansic, the company's co-founder and chief technology officer, fielded VNC queries on the status of its continuing efforts to raise capital and regarding MacDonald's departure. He said, in part, "I’ve got no comment at this time, our story has not changed... we are still looking for capital."
Earlier in the day, The Tennessean's report on venture activity quoted Stefansic essentially echoing some of MacDonald's earlier characterizations. Stefansic was quoted saying, "The environment has been very difficult,'' he said. "It seems like venture capitalists are taking the venture out of venture capital."
In May, Nashville Capital Network Executive Director Sid Chambless said NCN investors, who in 2005 helped fund Pathfinder, remain interested in the company. There has been no announcement of further NCN investment in Pathfinder.
Stefansic has controlled Pathfinder's daily operations for several years and led Pathfinder's efforts to acquire FDA clearance for Pathfinder's LINASYS (LIver NAvigation SYstem). He also served as principal investigator in $3 million in sponsored research underwritten via the National Cancer Institute's Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant program.
Stefansic and other key Pathfinder executives have close ties to Vanderbilt University. He earned a doctorate in biomedical engineering in 2000. He earned an MBA at Belmont University in 2005. For a time, he held research assistant professorships in psychology and neurosurgery at Vanderbilt.
Attempts to reach MacDonald for comments have thus far been unsuccessful. ♦