Brenda Gavin, Founder of Phila.-based VC firm dies at 67


Brenda Gavin, one of the first female venture capitalists who helped guide dozens of local biotechnology firms in their early days, passed away unexpectedly last week at age 67.

Gavin — a Missouri native who originally set out to become a veterinarian — was one of the founders of Quaker Partners, a Philadelphia venture capital firm, and prior to that served as the president of S.R. One, the venture capital arm ofGlaxoSmithKline. She was also previously a general partner at EuclidSR Partners, an independent venture capital fund focused on health care and information technology.

“Brenda’s unexpected death has put an enormous emotional hole into the heart of our fund, and into the heart of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey life science and venture capital communities,” said P. Sherrill Neff, a colleague and co-founder at Quaker Partners.

H. Donlon Skerrett, a biotechnology entrepreneur and president of Pharmaceutical Consulting Consortium International, described Dr. Gavin as a “friend, a mentor, a force of nature.… She helped put Philadelphia’s life sciences community on the map.

“When Brenda Gavin entered a room, the room changed. So did the people she touched. Brenda’s personal journey may be over, but her legacy lives on in the many who succeeded because she gave them their start,” Skerrett said. “Brenda was truly one of a kind. She will be missed.”

Chris Molineaux, president of the life sciences industry trade organization Pennsylvania Bio, also expressed sadness on the news of her passing.

“Brenda left us with a great deal of work still to be done: encouraging entrepreneurs, advancing science and supporting philanthropy and the arts,” Molineaux said. “Fortunately her life offers a road map for how we accomplish all these.”

After receiving a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from the University of Missouri, Dr. Gavin began her professional career with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Epidemic Intelligence Service as part of a team of health care professionals who investigate epidemics around the world.

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