Who We Are

The West Health Investment Fund was established with a unique mission – to lower health care costs – by providing risk capital for companies with cutting-edge health care technologies and services.

The West Health Investment Fund was launched by entrepreneurs and philanthropists, Gary and Mary West. The Wests have committed $100 million to the Fund, and they are the sole funders.

The West Health Investment Fund exists with a mission to lower health care costs. Instead of returns flowing back to partners, the Fund's returns will be used to sustain the mission of philanthropic work to lower health care costs.

There are no management fees, there is no carried interest, and compensation is salaried. The Fund’s team may serve as independent Board advisors and observers for portfolio companies. Learn more about how the entities are funded and related.

 

About Gary & Mary West

Investment Committee

Manager

Nicholas J. Valeriani
Nicholas J. Valeriani

Manager

In his role as chief executive of the collective West Health effort, Nicholas J. Valeriani brings valuable expertise in engineering, operations, medical devices and diagnostics, entrepreneurship and non-profit leadership that make him uniquely qualified to advance the mission to lower health care costs through the West Health Institute, West Health Policy Center, West Health Investment Fund and West Health Incubator. All of these entities focus on lowering costs by creating innovative, patient-centered solutions that deliver the right care at the right place at the right time. Valeriani is the CEO of the Institute, the flagship organization of West Health, and the chair of the Executive Committee, the coordinated leadership team of West Health.

Valeriani established himself as a visionary health care leader over a 34-year career with Johnson & Johnson where he led several corporate functions and was a member of the corporation’s executive committee as corporate vice president of human resources; worldwide chairman of medical devices & diagnostics; and as vice president of the Office of Strategy & Growth. He was instrumental in identifying the global health care trends that led to the creation of a new wellness and prevention business platform and pioneering opportunities in the area of digital health.

He currently serves on the board of directors for the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

Valeriani has an M.B.A. from Rutgers University, Graduate School of Management and a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering from Rutgers University, College of Engineering.

Co-Manager

Joseph M. Smith, MD, PhD, FACC
Joseph M. Smith, MD, PhD, FACC

Co-Manager

An MIT-trained engineer (PhD in Medical engineering and Medical physics) and a Harvard-trained physician with comprehensive clinical experience in medicine, cardiology and clinical cardiac electrophysiology, Dr. Smith served in executive leadership roles in three of the largest U.S. medical device manufactures (Guidant, Boston Scientific, and Johnson & Johnson) with responsibilities including business development, venture investment, public policy, and clinical studies.

He has served as an advisor to many leading universities and foundations, as well as a broad range of venture-backed medical technology start-ups. Dr. Smith is also the inaugural Chief Medical and Science Officer at the West Wireless Health Institute.

Co-Manager

Richard Dakers
Richard Dakers

Co-Manager

In his role as chief strategy officer and executive vice president of business development, Richard Dakers oversees the strategic planning process, all business development, technology transfer and licensing activities, clinical systems innovation collaborations and the interoperability initiative. He also evaluates existing and new strategic areas of interest to advance West Health’s mission of lowering health care costs through the West Health Institute, West Health Policy Center, West Health Investment Fund and West Health Incubator. All of these entities focus on lowering costs by creating innovative, patient-centered solutions that deliver the right care at the right place at the right time.

As a member of the operating committee and co-manager of the West Health Investment Fund, Dakers brings 33 years of experience to his position with an extensive career in business development and recognition as a subject matter expert in the broader medical technology industry. Most recently, he was vice president, business development and worldwide strategy for Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, a Johnson & Johnson company. He began his career at Johnson & Johnson in 1979, spending the first 10 years in positions of increasing responsibility in sales, marketing and general management in Europe, the U.S. and the Middle East. In 1991, Dakers joined Ethicon Endo-Surgery as director of marketing helping to create and establish the minimally-invasive surgery market. He then assumed business development and strategic planning roles, eventually overseeing these functions for the Medical Device & Diagnostics segment of Johnson & Johnson. In this role, he was responsible for coordinating the mergers and acquisition process, as well as leading key acquisitions for the company.

Dakers has a Bachelor of Science degree, with honors, in science and social science from Edinburgh Napier University in the United Kingdom.

Chief Financial Officer

Michael M. Caponetto, MBA
Michael M. Caponetto, MBA

Chief Financial Officer

In his role as Chief Financial Officer of West Health, Mike Caponetto brings strategic financial, operating and administrative expertise to advance the unique, one-of-a-kind initiative’s mission to lower health care costs through the West Health Institute, West Health Policy Center, West Health Investment Fund and West Health Incubator.  All of these entities focus on lowering costs by creating innovative, patient-centered solutions that deliver the right care at the right place at the right time.  

As a member of the executive leadership team, Caponetto oversees investments, long-term financial strategies and day-to-day financial and administrative operations of the West Health Institute, West Health Policy Center, West Health Investment Fund and West Health Incubator.  In this role, he maximizes West Health’s resources for achieving its mission, working closely with the other members of management team to help ensure the entities are focused on opportunities with the greatest cost-savings potential.  He also helps lead investments for the West Health Investment Fund.

Caponetto has extensive experience providing strategic, financial and operational leadership to a number of successful companies in the healthcare sector and various industries. Prior to joining West Health, he was Chief Financial Officer, Director of M&A, and a senior member of the management team for two Goldman Sachs-backed companies, via the firm's Special Situations Group.  His roles included financial and accounting operations, administration, human resources, and M&A, financing and growth strategies for Business Records Management LLC, an information management services company, and NorthStar Nuclear Medicine, LLC, a multidisciplinary radiopharmaceutical company he helped found and obtain financing.

Previously, Caponetto was Senior Principal and Managing Director at Triple Tree, LLC and Vine Street Partners/Century Capital Group, respectively, where he was responsible for the origination and execution of transactions involving mergers, acquisitions and venture capital, private equity and debt financings.  He has advised companies across numerous healthcare sectors, including without limitation medical devices, healthcare information technology, medical equipment, managed care, and institutional pharmacies. Caponetto earned an MBA with concentrations in finance and accounting from the University of Chicago (Booth) Graduate School of Business.

Chief Operating Officer

Shelley Lyford, MA
Shelley Lyford, MA

Chief Operating Officer

In her capacity as the President of the Gary and Mary West Foundation, Shelley Lyford has expertise in tax and compliance as well as the capability of creating impactful, action-oriented partnerships and identifying technology that enables seniors to be independent and age in place.

Prior to her work with Gary and Mary West, she was a Director at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Joan Kroc Institute at the University of San Diego. In roles at the United Nations and the International Executive Service Corps, she gained experience in assessing the viability of opportunities in emerging markets. Lyford sits on the Governance Committee of Grantmakers in Aging and is also the inaugural Executive Vice President at the West Health Institute.