Advisory Board

Fran Barros is The Engine Chief Design Officer. With more than 15 years of experience as a designer, at The Engine she works with the portfolio companies on strategy and storytelling through design, as well as leading marketing and brand for The Engine. Prior to joining, Fran spent five years at IDEO, where she was a project leader developing brand, strategy, and service design for startups and corporate ventures. She holds a BA in Design with a minor in Typography from Pontificia Universidad Catolica in Chile and Graduate Degree in Entrepreneurship from Boston University.

Laurie Bohn is the Founder of TalentVivo, a leadership development consultancy focused on using engaging, interactive strategies to partner with partner individuals, leaders and teams who are looking to refine their leadership skills and improve team effectiveness. As the leader of TalentVivo, Laurie brings with her more than 15 years of experience as an internal advocate for people development and talent strategy at both financial services and pharmaceutical Fortune 100 organizations. Through her work supporting small and large research and development teams, Laurie’s impact has been seen through her delivery of high energy, thoughtful solutions that have considerable impact on team effectiveness, capability development and interpersonal communications. She is known for her intellectual curiosity, her ability to build successful relationships, and her desire to make a difference. Laurie holds a B.A in Psychology from McGill University, and MBA from Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. She is a Licensed Practitioner of Insights Discovery ®, and holds the credential of Senior Professional in Human Resources from the Human Resources Certification Institute. Laurie has been coaching leaders and employees throughout her career as an HR Business Partner and as a Learning and Development Consultant and loves the work that she does and the impact that it makes on others.

Tatiana Demidova-Rice is a Director of Business Development at Evotec, a global drug discovery and development company. Previously, Tatiana worked as a Contracts and Collaborations Manager at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Prior to that Tatiana was building and managing relationships between academic investigators and industry partners as a Project Manager at Boston Children's Technology Development Fund and as a Business Development Manager at Harvard’s Office of Technology Development. Earlier in her career, Tatiana was a Postdoctoral Scholar at Tufts University and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School conducting research in the fields on wound healing, angiogenesis and oncology. Tatiana earned her PhD from Tufts University and her undergraduate degree in biology from Yaroslavl State University in Russia.

Kellye Eversole is President of Eversole Associates, an agricultural science and technology consulting firm. An expert in sequencing technologies and strategies, Eversole has more than twenty years of experience in developing genome sequences for several agriculturally important crop and livestock species and has been the Executive Director of the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium since its inception in 2005. She helped develop the Phytobiomes Roadmap and is the Executive Director of the International Alliance for Phytobiomes Research, a public-private collaborative consortium created in 2016 and focused on building a phytobiome-based foundation for accelerating the sustainable production of food, feed, and fiber. In recognition of her work in plant and microbial genomics, Eversole was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2013. More than twenty years ago, Kellye co-created the “Women in Genomics” platform a networking group for women scientists to connect, meet each other, exchange ideas and experiences, and provide career advice. Passionate about innovation for societal benefits, Kellye mentors entrepreneurs from emerging economies who are launching science and technology based businesses. She has been involved actively in various aspects of the agricultural industry since childhood, including working 10 years in the US Senate as an agricultural policy specialist and 2 years as the head of a US study commission before launching her firm. She co-owns a farm in southwestern Oklahoma.

Ryan Higginson-Scott is a leader and innovator in the world of global People Operations and Employee Experience. With a career spanning the entire function, he has led diverse and award-winning teams in a broad set of industries - including higher education, corporate retail, high tech, biotech/pharma, and hospitality - always focused on enabling a powerful and rewarding employee experience. Balancing the need for process, policy and compliance, with the goals of sustainable growth and agile operational efficiency, Ryan is an advocate for continuous, data-driven feedback, and iteration on all fronts. He has shared his experience through guest contribution to well-known HR blogs and podcasts, and volunteered time as a board member, partner, contributor and presenter with several area non-profits. His focus has always been on equity and opportunity in the workplace. He has long been a believer in HR disruption and a vocal proponent of any technology that seeks to reconsider not only the how, but also the why behind the way we operate companies, and enable our employees to do their best work.Currently, Ryan lives in the Boston area and leads the Global People Operations function at Fuze, Inc.

Elissa Hobert is a senior scientist at LARONDE. Previously, she worked at Moderna, where she focused on improving mRNA therapeutics. Prior to joining Moderna, Elissa was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School. Elissa received her BS in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and her PhD in chemistry from Yale University. She has volunteered at WEST events since 2015 and was the recipient of the WEST Giving Back Award in 2016.

Susanna Y. Huh , MD MPH is a pediatric gastroenterologist and physician leader experienced at building and managing cross disciplinary teams in academic, corporate and non-profit settings. She is a Medical Director and Global Clinical Lead at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, where her experience includes the clinical development of small molecule and stem cell therapy in gastrointestinal disease, rare disease, and pediatric conditions. Prior to joining Takeda, Dr. Huh was a faculty member at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, where she directed programs in clinical practice, clinical and epidemiologic research, and quality improvement focused on early childhood nutrition. She is the President of the COVID-19 Action Coalition, a grassroots physician-led non-profit she co-founded to advocate for evidence-based public health practices to reduce COVID-19 transmission. Dr. Huh has a longstanding interest in fostering diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces. At Takeda, she has held leadership roles in employee resource groups and implemented multiple initiatives related to gender parity. Her recent collaboration with other Takeda leaders in launching a structured peer mentoring program was recognized with the 2020 WEST Making a Difference for Women award.


Laura Indolfi is the Co-Founder & CEO of PanTher Therapeutics, an early stage spin-out from MIT and MGH that provides superior technologies for revolutionizing the treatment of locally advanced inoperable solid tumors. Her scientific expertise covers a broad range of therapeutic areas (cardio, cancer, regenerative medicine) and approaches (drug delivery, cell therapy, implanted devices). Together with her strong technical background, Laura has hands-on business and managerial know-how developed during her biomedical business training at Sloan and Harvard Business schools, combining the science and business knowledge to drive the company’s vision. Prior to PanTher, she was a research associate at the Harvard-MIT Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, and served as an entrepreneur-in-residence at the MGH Cancer Center. In 2016, she was named a TED Fellow, one of 21 people chosen annually by the TED organization who are considered to be the most disruptive and transformative change-makers in the world. In 2017, she attended the prestigious conference “Fortune: Most Powerful Women – Next Gen”, an invite-only summit hosted by Fortune gathering a stellar group of game-changing innovators in business. Laura was also one of the 5 women selected for 2018 of MassNextGen program.

Anna Li is a senior organism engineer at Gingko Bioworks. She has more than 15 years of research and teaching experience in molecular biology, microbiology and plant pathology, she has served a series of roles on a scientific team with responsibility for technical development, research supervision, program management and operations throughout her career. She has been a key player in developing the genome mining platform, initially at Warp Drive Bio and recently acquired by Ginkgo. This platform is currently being used, in collaboration with Roche, to develop new classes of antibiotics to fight the rise of antibiotic-resistant diseases. Previously Anna worked as a visiting scholar in the Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Department at Harvard University and conducted research on mutational pathways of bacterial drug resistance. She received her Ph.D. in Plant Pathology in 2007 and held a position as an associate professor at Shandong Agricultural University in China before moving to the US. Anna is passionate about advocating for women in the science community, enabling them to connect and support each other. She has volunteered at WEST events and book clubs for many years and was the recipient of the WEST Giving Back Award in 2017. She served as a WEST Advisory Board member in 2018.


Kristen Lorentz is a biotech founder, company thought leader, and scientific and business professional, who is passionate about leveraging science and technology to develop solutions to intractable healthcare challenges. Kristen has a diverse background in life science R&D and leadership, including in the domains of immunology, regenerative medicine, and platform technology development, as well as in company creation, operations, and strategy. Kristen is currently the Search and Evaluation Lead for Gastroenterology within Takeda’s Center for External Innovation. Prior to joining Takeda, Kristen co-founded two biotech companies, Anokion and Kanyos Bio, with the aim of developing advanced therapies for autoimmune diseases and mitigating drug immunogenicity. As part of their founding Executive Leadership teams, she played a leading role in company creation and in the successful translation of innovative platform technologies from concept to clinic. Kristen earned her B.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University and her Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). 


Kristine McKinney is a research leader who draws inspiration from discovering and developing transformative medicines for patients. She recently returned to Moderna as Senior Director of the newly launched Moderna Genomics (mGx) to build a team that contributes to the next generation portfolio. Prior to mGx, she worked at Arrakis Therapeutics, which was founded with the disruptive aim of developing RNA-directed small molecules to inhibit otherwise difficult-to-drug target proteins. There, she built and led the Target Biology and Translational Medicine team, co-developed the portfolio strategy, contributed to novel target validation and screening approaches for RNA targets, and led programs to drug notorious oncogenes. Before joining Arrakis, Kristine was an early member of the New Venture Labs at Moderna. In that role, she led research to develop novel applications of mRNA as a therapeutic in oncology and immuno-oncology. During her tenure, she contributed to numerous patent filings, developed mRNA cargoes for oncology programs and led a KRAS vaccine (mRNA-5671) through IND. In her academic career, Kristine trained in tumor intrinsic pathways including the p53 tumor suppressor and BRCA1/DNA damage response pathways; she completed her PhD in Dr. Carol Prives' lab at Columbia University and postdoctoral training with Dr. David Livingston at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School.


Catherine Mesner is an accomplished biotech and pharmaceutical executive with expertise in drug development from candidate selection through registration to commercialization. She can translate business strategy into a focused operational plan. As an experienced leader, Catherine has the proven ability to build and develop high-performing teams, design and implement appropriately sized processes for growing organizations and effectively collaborate with multiple internal stakeholders, partners, and consultants. In March 2020 Catherine joined Checkmate Pharmaceuticals, Inc., an immune-oncology company based in Cambridge, MA as VP, Development Operations. Prior to Checkmate she held positions at Pfizer, Alkermes, Quintiles and Eli Lilly. Catherine has been a WEST volunteer for many years and participated as a mentor in their mentorship program. Additionally she is on the Board of Directors for Casa Myrna, Boston’s largest provider of domestic violence awareness efforts and of shelter and supportive services to survivors.


Caroline Ngaara-Woodward is currently an Associate Director at Zentails Pharmaceuticals Clinical Pharmacology Group. She works with clinical development program teams and leverages clinical pharmacology principles and years of experience in clinical development, regulatory and drug discovery to bring life changing therapies to patients. She has worked on several approved products including Iclusig® (ARIAD/Takeda), Tecfidera (China), Vumerity, Fampridine (Biogen). She holds a BSc.Chemistry, MSc. Regulatory and MSc. Pharmacometrics from University of Maryland. She was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya and speaks three languages fluently: Kikuyu, Kiswahili and English. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling with her family, running, getting together with friends, reading, and listening to various podcasts for fun or personal growth. She has been actively volunteering at WEST since May 2020 a role she greatly enjoys.


Saraswathy (Sara) Nochur is Chief Regulatory Officer, Regulatory Affairs at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, MA, where she has worked for over 12 years. She has been in the biotechnology industry since 1989, soon after she graduated with a Ph.D. in Biochemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Over the years, Sara has built a world-class global Regulatory Affairs team at Alnylam, leading to the approval in 2018 of the first ever RNA interference therapeutic by both FDA and EMA. She is also an executive co-sponsor of the Diversity and Inclusion initiative at Alnylam. Sara has been an organizing committee member of the DIA/FDA Oligonucleotide-Based Therapeutics conference over the past decade and has spoken at several forums on regulatory and drug development related topics. Sara has been a mentor to several young professionals in the biotechnology industry, including as part of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association. Sara is on the Board of Hospitality Homes, a non-profit organization that provides free housing for patients and their families when they come to hospitals in the Boston area.


Tatiana Novobrantseva is a Co-Founder and the Chief Scientific Officer of Verseau. Before co-founding Verseau, she consulted for multiple companies on immunological aspects of drug development across different stages and therapeutic modalities in a variety of autoimmune, cancer and rare disease indications. At her prior position as Director of Tumor Immunology at Jounce Therapeutics, Tatiana defined research plans for several programs at the company’s inception, as well as led a portfolio of programs on (re)activating the immune system against cancer. Previously, Tatiana served as Associate Director at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Scientist II at Biogen. Tatiana’s scientific accomplishments include discovering the critical role for B cells in liver fibrosis, developing mechanistic insights for multiple therapeutic programs, pushing the envelope on siRNA delivery and championing a dendritic cell cancer vaccine clinical program. Tatiana completed her Ph.D. with Dr. Klaus Rajewsky at the University of Cologne in Germany, focusing on B cell development and function. She holds a diploma of engineer-physicist and an M.S. in molecular biology from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.

Mary Ann O’Loughlin is an Executive Coach and Principal at Cambridge Consulting and Coaching. Working with global senior executives and mid-career leaders she brings her own personal experience of the leadership challenges encountered on the job to her clients. Mary Ann has led teams and organizations during her 30+ year career in tech and subsequently developed a deep, practical understanding of coaching and leadership development during her tenure at Harvard Business School. Her business career has spanned sales, marketing, consulting, and senior management roles in large corporations and small start-ups. Mary Ann spent ten years with the UK research and consulting company Ovum in both London and Boston where she managed Ovum’s US operation as President of Ovum North America. Previously, Mary Ann had founded a consulting and telecoms service company in France and, earlier in her career, she worked for IBM Canada, Hewlett Packard and Lucent. Mary Ann holds a BS in Physics from McMaster University (Ontario), an MS in Biophysics from the University of Toronto, an MBA from Insead in France and a graduate certificate in Executive Coaching from the William James College.  A UK native, she has lived and worked in Canada, France, the United States, and the United Kingdom and is a fluent French speaker. Mary Ann spent four rewarding years on the WEST board and is a Board Member of the Truro Center for the Arts. 

Aldona Szostek-Pontchek is a Director in the Stability & Statistics department at Sanofi Genzyme. Her career in biotechnology began in 1993 when she joined Human Genome Sciences Inc. She led a sequencing team contributing to one of the most exciting projects of the time with the goal of determining the base pairs that make up human DNA and identifying and mapping all of the genes of the human genome. This effort resulted in the first-in-decades treatment for systemic lupus.Aldona moved from research to Quality Control as a Senior Manager. In this role she was responsible for release and stability testing as well as the development of immunoassays for testing new drug candidates. At Sanofi, Aldona continues to be a part of Quality and she is responsible for oversight of the stability program for biologics and devices. Aldona holds a Masters of Science in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University and she is currently enrolled in the JHU Alumni Career Design Fellowship. Other affiliations include the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) and the Women Inspiring Sanofi Excellence (WISE). Aldona participates in mentoring programs for biotechnology professionals at work.

Anne Thessen worked as a research oceanographer and phycologist until 2013, when she decided to start her own data science company, The Data Detektiv. Anne is well known for her work on data infrastructure and the application of semantic technologies and machine learning in biodiversity and earth science. Her work has supported institutions and companies like Google, the Smithsonian, and NASA. She is an active member of the Research Data Alliance, a global effort to support data infrastructure, as the RDA US Data Share Ambassador. She was an invited speaker on infrastructure sustainability at the EarthCube All-Hands-Meeting in 2016 and on data infrastructures for coastal science at the Atlantic Estuarine Research Society in 2014. Anne has a BS in Biology and a PhD in oceanography from the University of Maryland, where she was a US EPA STAR Fellow. Her thesis work caused the state of Maryland to change the way it monitored harmful algae in the Chesapeake Bay. Anne made the shift from academia to industry in 2013 and is pioneering an alternative career as an independent scientist through her company and her affiliation with the Ronin Institute for Independent Scholarship. She has volunteered at WEST events for many years and was the recipient of the WEST Giving Back Award in 2017.

Jenna Tonn is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Boston College. Her research and teaching focus on the history of women and gender in science, technology, and engineering. She is interested in how women in science have carved out space for themselves and their careers since the nineteenth-century. She is currently working on a range of research projects related to the history of women in experimental biology; the role that masculinity plays in constructing images of the “ideal” twentieth-century scientist; and the changing relationship between feminism and science. She is also starting a new project about engineering pedagogy, gender, and social justice. At Boston College, Jenna has collaborated with faculty and students from the sciences and engineering to expand programming about women and science on campus. Before arriving at Boston College, Jenna taught in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Harvard University. Jenna earned her BA and MA from Stanford University and her PhD in History of Science from Harvard University

Deborah Vernon, Ph.D. is a partner at Womble Bond Dickinson LLP and a founding member of its Boston Office. Deborah assists clients in obtaining and enforcing intellectual property rights with a focus on technology in the chemical and mechanical arts. Deborah has successfully represented clients in appeals and contested proceedings before the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Federal Circuit. Deborah obtained her J.D. from Suffolk University School of Law (magna cum laude). Prior to her legal career, Deborah obtained her doctorate degree in material science from Brown University, where she conducted research on thin films and ceramic materials. This research led her to develop novel processing techniques for controlling grain growth during the densification of nanophase ceramic compacts using chemical vapor deposition. In addition to serving on WEST’s Board of Directors, Deborah serves as a member of the Trinity Engineering Advisory Council at Trinity College.


Gloria Vigliani  is pharmaceutical physician executive with more than 25 years of international drug development experience. She has extensive experience building and managing clinical development organizations and has held various senior management positions at Astra, Biogen, and Cubist Pharmaceuticals where she was head of clinical development and was a member of the executive committee. After 14 years in industry, Dr. Vigliani established Vigliani Consulting to provide clinical and regulatory drug development consulting services. She has an outstanding track record for successful new product registrations in a range of therapeutic areas in the US and in Europe. In recent years, she developed the Mastering Clinical Drug Development training course for physicians and scientists transitioning from academia to industry and has served as a mentor for many young professionals. Prior to industry, Dr. Vigliani held a faculty position at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She received a BS in Biology from Tufts University and an MD degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania. She became board certified in Internal Medicine and Geriatrics.


Karin von Hodenberg is Senior Director of Quality Systems at Akebia Therapeutics. Prior to that she was the Director of Quality Systems at bluebird bio, an advanced gene-therapy company focused on autologous treatment for severe rare diseases. At bluebird bio, Karin also co-led the bWILD employee organization (Women Influencing Leadership & Development) focused on the development and enhancement of leadership skills for the bluebird organization. She has also been a part of the HBA local chapter mentoring program. Prior to joining bluebird bio, Karin managed, developed and grew the quality systems and training organizations for medical device companies - GE Healthcare (Diagnostics), Philips Healthcare and Haemonetics. She has an MBA from Marquette University, and a BBA (International Business) from St. Norbert College.