Nicola Campbell, venture capitalist with Sofinnova Ventures, who impressed me deeply with her ambition and intellect over the years I knew her, has tragically passed away at the young age of 37.
There are not many women who work in venture capital, but Nicola not only nudged her way into that male-dominated world relatively easily (or so it seemed from the outside), she was remarkable for precociousness in most other areas of her career. She had a doctorate in immunology, and started on the science side with Genentech, but then wanted to understand the business side of the VC business too, including all of the regulatory issues and other procedures involved in bringing a new drug to market (“I want to be a fly on the wall,” she told me in this piece written in 2002.” Scroll down a bit, as there’s an extended section about how she created a network called Twist for other young VCs breaking into the business.)
I got to know her when she was leaving Burrill as a junior on the team to join BA Venture Partners and then followed her as she became a partner at Sofinnova Ventures. She shot up the ranks quickly, but she remained cheerful, friendly and easily likable throughout. She made investments that included Alimera Biosciences, Cellective Therapeutics, Marinus Pharma and Phenomix, and helped her team make many others. Looking back on it now, I remember asking myself, “Wow, what makes that Nicola tick?”
Little did I know, her passion for helping to create great new drugs was sparked by her own battle with Crohn’s Disease, something I’m only learning now from Dan Primack. It’s unclear if that condition led to her passing, but there’s no known drug or surgical cure for the disease. Since Dan has already started a page for people to share remembrances of Nicola, I’d like for people to go there to leave any comments.