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Vigil Neuroscience: Reinventing Neuroscience and Changing Lives


Nothing is more fulfilling than working for the greater good.

The study of the most complex system in human anatomy, the neurological system, is known as neuroscience. Researchers in the field of neuroscience utilize a variety of methods to get a mechanistic understanding of how the brain functions.

This story is about Ivana Magovcevic-Liebisch and how she got the idea to change neurodegenerative disease therapies to help patients, carers, and families.

Ivana founded Vigil Neuroscience, a company that specializes in neurodegenerative diseases. They aim to restore the microglia's sentinel immune cell vigilance to cure unusual and prevalent neurodegenerative disorders. Precision-based treatments are being developed and delivered to patients and their families using the latest techniques from contemporary neuroscience.

So, without any further ado, let's explore how this entrepreneurial woman became the CEO of a company in the most extraordinary field. And just maybe, her success story will inspire you to take action, too!

A New Adventure Has Begun

Ivana started her journey at Wheaton College, Massachusetts, in Norton, MA. She obtained her Bachelor's degree in Biology and Chemistry, where she got her foundations in the field of natural sciences. Following her Bachelor's degree, she enrolled in Suffolk University Law School in Boston, MA, where she obtained a degree in High Technology Law.

Finally, Ivana enrolled in the prestigious Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, where she obtained a PH.D. in the field of Genetics—the cherry on top. With this particular combination of education, the next challenge for Ivana was gathering the necessary work experience to turn her dream of making a change in neuroscience into reality.

Ivana's first work experience was in 2001, in the company Dyax, where she was a CEO and worked in the field of Employee Value Proposition and stayed there for 12 years. Ivana was accountable for Commercial Operations and Research, as well as for Business Development and Legal. She successfully implemented a patient-centered support and service strategy for Hereditary Angioedema Patient hub service patients.

Ivana drastically improved Kalbitor Access®, a vital product of the company, and she achieved a more than 70% increase in sales of Kalbitor. She launched Walgreens Infusion Services—the first-of-its-type home administration service.

After her long and successful journey in Dyax, Ivana became the Senior Vice President at Teva Pharmaceuticals in 2013 and stayed there for four years. She was in charge of Teva's worldwide transaction group, which supported the company's specialty and new therapeutic entity businesses. She established a multinational, well-coordinated BD team.

Ivana implemented a new due- diligence procedure and a strong connection with the search and assessment team to speed up the acquisition process. She carried out many significant trades in her time there.

Work, Volunteering, and Then Some

Besides work, Ivana found the time to devote herself to altruism and volunteered at a few organizations. She became a trustee at Boston Ballet in 2014, helping out in the field of Arts and Culture.

She has also been an Overseer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center since 2015 and a Trustee at the New England's Museum of Science.

In 2014, Ivana became a board member at AGTC, a company based in Alachua, FL. The company worked in the clinical-stage biotechnology field, and Ivana remained a board member there for eight years. She was also a board member of Aeglea BioTherapeutics in Austin, TX, since 2018.

One might ask - where does she find the time and energy to do all these things? Let's see.

Volunteering is a remedy for the soul and brings Ivana immense soul gratification as she prepares for her next challenge. In 2017, she became the Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy and Corporate Development Officer at Axcella in Cambridge, MA.

Ivana was in charge of Axcella's strategy, commercial growth, and intellectual property. The company's entire business strategy was established to steer and prioritize pipeline development.

Ivana developed prescription pharmaceuticals and a healthcare business development strategy and operational procedures to increase visibility, outreach, and positioning with prospective partners.

She also devised patent portfolio development and intellectual property strategy. She has refined organizational culture with best practices to boost output and efficiency—some pretty challenging tasks.

In March 2018, Ivana hopped over to another company, Ipsen, as a Chief Business Officer and managed Employee Value Proposition for two years. Through external innovation, she was in charge of boosting the Ipsen pipeline's output by directing the Global External Innovation & Partnering organization. This was to drive the company's business development and alliance management operations.

During her time at Ipsen, Ivana also became a Board Member and later Chairman of the Board at AbSci in Vancouver, WA, and an Advisory Board Member at Convergence Forum. This was the time when Ivana became confident enough to start her own thing and make a change in the medical industry.

Neurodegenerative Disease - The Focus of Vigil Neuroscience

Ivana founded Vigil Neuroscience in July 2020, where she serves as the President and CEO. Neurodegenerative illnesses are the focus of Vigil Neuroscience—a biotech business focused on developing new treatments.

Ivana got hooked on working on solutions to problems in the most complex medical branch. And she certainly has the skills to do it, as very few take on as grave of challenges as she does!

This team's initial treatment prospects target activation of the microglial receptor protein Triggering Receptor Expressed on Myeloid Cells 2 (TREM2), whose malfunction is associated with neurodegeneration and is necessary for maintaining healthy brain function.

Throughout three investment rounds, Vigil Neuroscience has amassed $161 million. Series B money was received on August 18, 2021, the day before the most recent fundraising round.

VIGL is the Vigil Neuroscience stock symbol.

Vigil Neuroscience IPO

Seven million shares of the company's common stock, priced at $14.00 each, were made available to the general public in an initial public offering (IPO) on January 7.

Investors raised a whopping $98 million in the first public offering, excluding discounts, commissions, and other costs.

A 30-day option to acquire up to an additional 1,050,000 shares of Vigil Neuroscience's common shares at the IPO price, excluding underwriting discounts and commissions, has also been given to the underwriters.

Vigil Neuroscience has 34 employees and a market capitalization of $350 million. Their net income for the last 12 months is around $30 million.

We must mention that as Vigil Neuroscience is still in the process of growing, there’s been some talk regarding its cash burn and how it could affect the company’s future. The company spent $40M in 2021, which isn’t too shabby for a new business. Given they remain stable throughout the year, Vigil Neuroscience has substantial growth prospects.

The Fight Continues for Vigil Neuroscience Inc.

As we mentioned before, neuroscience is one of the most complex branches of medicine. But that didn't stop Ivana from advancing and taking this field's challenges head-on.

However, to engage in this complex field, you need to spend a lot of time, sweat, and probably shed some tears—which is a small price to pay if you dream of making a change.

We can also notice from our heroine's journey that volunteering and helping others brings youthful energy to your soul. Helping others will bring you such energy and satisfaction that you will feel ready for every challenge.

Finally, the cornerstone of every successful person is hard work. If you love what you do and believe in yourself as Ivana did—you won't have trouble solving even the biggest obstacles. The universe has a funny way of bringing you the right tools and ideas once you set on your soul mission!