Daphna Heffetz: Intuition pays off

Daphna Heffetz began her career in academia at the Weizmann Institute of Science, and now serves as the chief executive officer of TransPharma Medical.

daphna hefetz 88 298 (photo credit: )
daphna hefetz 88 298
(photo credit: )
Daphna Heffetz began her career in academia at the Weizmann Institute of Science, and now serves as the chief executive officer of TransPharma Medical. "I never minded putting in long hours at the lab," Heffetz says. "I enjoyed doing research so much that it never seemed like work." This interest pushed her along a career path that lead to where she is today: managing a specialty pharmaceutical company that is developing a unique drug delivery system and currently has two drugs in clinical trials. The switch from academia to industry came naturally for Heffetz. "Research always interested me, but I also wanted to be part of the entire development process from research-to-product," Heffetz says. "Academia didn't offer me that opportunity, so I sought it out in the business world." That business career started at Sayvon Diagnostics, a company engaged in development and commercialization of diagnostic kits for the detection of infectious diseases. In her seven years there, Heffetz quickly worked up the ranks from managing an R&D group to managing manufacturing and operations activities to managing the company as CEO, a position she held for two years. Although she gained valuable managerial experience at Savyon, it was a challenge, nonetheless, to start a completely new company. Although she didn't have a specific idea in mind, Heffetz says she was ready for the test. "I counted mainly on my intuition," she says. A venture capital firm asked Heffetz to head a start-up based on the ViaDerm delivery system, a technology originated by a team of innovators. Of these initial founders, only Yossi Gross, a well-respected serial entrepreneur, still remains active in the company as a board member. The ViaDerm system works by creating microscopic passages in the outer layer of skin using an alternating electrical current at a high frequency. These passages, called RF-MicroChannels, enable large molecules to pass through the skin which means larger molecule drugs such as growth hormones can be administered painlessly through the skin in place of daily injections. That company, TransPharma, now is developing a human growth hormone and an osteoporosis drug two to be used with ViaDerm. Heffetz is both a successful career woman and a proud mother: during the course of her studies and career, she has found the time to start a family. "I wouldn't say it's easy, but it's possible to raise three children and build a career." She credits the flexibility to work from home and a supportive partner for providing "much-needed reinforcement" to be able to have a family and a thriving career, but she doesn't feel like she ever sacrificed one in the name of the other. Constantly trying to balance her time between work and home, Heffetz says she continues to make a conscious effort to meet the demands of both her "jobs" to this day. Dr. Daphna Heffetz Born: Israel Status: Married with three children Education: Ph.D. in biochemistry Weizmann Institute of Science, 1991 Professional milestones: * Post-doctoral fellowship at Weizmann Institute of Science * CEO and director of Savyon Diagnostics * CEO of TransPharma Medical