Advisory Board


Katherine Andersen is a senior market manager covering Healthcare Corporate Finance in the U.S. in addition to the East and Central regions for SVB’s national Life Science practice. She sits on the Board of Directors for SVB's China JV. Prior to SVB, Katherine was a Senior Vice President for Wells Fargo Bank leading the Life Sciences business development and relationship management efforts for the New England region. Before that, she was a Director at Wells Fargo Capital Finance focused on front-end business development and underwriting of structured loans, ultimately totaling over $3.0B in commitments. Prior to Wells, she held various positions across mergers and acquisitions, finance, equity derivatives, audit, and management while at Affiliated Managers Group, Merrill Lynch, GE Corporate Audit Staff and GE Capital. Katherine has a bachelor’s degree in finance and economics from Virginia Tech. She has also completed Dartmouth’s Tuck Executive Leadership and Strategic Impact Program, Wells Fargo’s Transformational Leadership Program, the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and the GE Capital Financial Management Program. Away from work, Katherine serves on the Finance Advisory Board for Virginia Tech and the Corporate Council for the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge. She also enjoys endurance sports, traveling the world with her family, and baking epic birthday cakes for her three kids.



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.



Abigail Bracha is Chief of Staff at Rubius Therapeutics. Prior to joining Rubius, Abby founded and led the global strategy, search and evaluation team for GE Healthcare Life Sciences. In this role, she was responsible for developing the growth strategy and technology innovation roadmap for GE’s life sciences tools business. Prior to GE Healthcare, Abby was at GE Ventures.  She also spent several years at Dell-EMC where she covered emerging digital technologies. Abby holds a BA in Statistics with General Honors from the University of Chicago, which she completed in three years, and holds a PhD from Harvard University in Experimental Pathology. She was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and received support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.



Alison Elworthy is the VP of Customer Success at HubSpot. Prior to that, she was VP and Chief of Staff and was responsible for HubSpot's operating system, strategic planning and execution, and ultimately, keeping the company on track as the world's leading inbound marketing and sales platform. Before that, Alison led various functions at HubSpot as Marketing Operations Manager, Sales Operations Senior Manager, and Director of Operations. She was previously a User Experience Specialist at Fidelity Investments, focused on the customer experience of their business and customer facing products and websites. Outside of work, she is a wine and food enthusiast and mom to her 2 year old son and newborn daughter. She holds a BS in Human Factors Engineering from Tufts University and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.



Natasha Engan - As Deltek's Senior Vice President of Global Consulting, Natasha Engan is responsible for leading the company’s services business, Deltek Global Consulting. A 20+-year veteran of the software and services business, Natasha has a strong background in managing cross-functional, customer-facing teams in a global workforce. Before Deltek, she held various leadership positions at IBM, including VP of Security Financial Services Market and Security Sales, and VP of North American Cloud Services. Among other roles, Natasha was responsible for IBM cyber security services and software for the evolving threat landscapes in the Financial Services Market. She also had executive management responsibilities for IBM's cloud services businesses, including strategy, market selection, day-to-day sales, P&L management, partner strategy and customer satisfaction. Prior to working at IBM, Natasha held other global sales and services positions at Ascential Software and consulted to early stage technology companies. Natasha graduated from Mount Holyoke College and the Executive Program at Louisiana State University.


 

Jon Giebel has almost 10 years of experience in the agbiotech sector with Bayer. Most of his career Jon worked in Bayer’s CropScience business, leading a team of scientists focused on isolating and culturing environmental microbes for insecticidal toxin discovery. In addition to his roles in new trait discovery, he has served in global strategy roles for R&D and supported the integration of Bayer and Monsanto. In his current role as Program Lead for Bayer’s LifeHub Boston, Jon is responsible for leading a cross divisional open innovation space with a goal of leveraging the strong innovation ecosystem in Cambridge and Boston. The LifeHub Boston strives to convene diverse communities and creative thought leaders to explore solutions to complex challenges in the fields of health and nutrition. Jon also serves on the Advisory Board for the WEST (Women in the Enterprise of Science & Technology) organization and is passionate about community outreach activities that advance Bayer’s core mission statement, Science for a Better Life. He has authored 9 scientific papers and is a named inventor on multiple US patents. He has a Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Michigan, and a B.S. in Biology from Cornell University.


Elissa Hobert is a scientist at Moderna Therapeutics. She is focused on developing improved methods for delivering mRNA therapeutics. Prior to joining Moderna, Elissa was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School where she studied bioactive natural products produced by members of the gut microbiome. 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.


 

Dr. Patricia Hurter currently serves on the Board of Directors of Synlogic, a company working at the intersection of biology and engineering, pioneering the application of synthetic biology to design living therapeutics programmed to treat disease in new ways. Dr Hurter recently retired from Vertex Pharmaceuticals, where she was the Senior Vice President of Pharmaceutical and Preclinical Sciences. In this role, she was responsible for all CMC and preclinical development activities of Vertex’s R&D portfolio, as well as the internal GMP manufacturing facility that provides drug substance and product for clinical development and commercial supply. While serving as Interim Head of Global Regulatory Affairs from 2013-2014, she oversaw several label expansions for Kalydeco® and the submission of the new drug application for Orkambi®. Prior to joining Vertex, Dr. Hurter was Director, Formulation Design and Characterization for Merck where she was a key member of the early development team for Januvia®, for Type II diabetes. At Vertex, she was the founder and executive sponsor of “IWILL,” a Vertex employee network devoted to the advancement of women leaders, and she continues to work towards increasing diversity in leadership in the Life Sciences. Dr. Hurter also serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Harvard Conservation Trust. She holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from West Virginia University and earned a B.Sc. in chemical engineering, cum laude, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa.


 

Lauren Laidlaw is Vice President, Sales and Marketing at Safety Partners, Inc. In this role, Lauren leads the organization’s strategic marketing efforts as Safety Partners continues to grow. Lauren ensures that all marketing and communications initiatives take into account the unique needs of the greater Boston life sciences community. Previously, Lauren was Director of Innovation Services at MassBio, the nation’s oldest biotechnology trade association. She most recently served as Director of Membership and Institutional Support at T1D Exchange, a non-profit organization focused on type 1 diabetes research. She formerly held marketing and communications positions at Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a global energy consulting firm.



Anna Li is a microbiologist at Warp Drive Bio where she is a key player in the genome mining platform of novel antibiotics. Prior to that Anna had worked at Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Department of Harvard University as a visiting scholar in 2013 and 2014 and conducted the research on mutational pathways of bacterial drug resistance. She received her Ph.D. in Plant Pathology in 2007 and had been an associate professor of Shandong agricultural University in China before she came to US. Anna has volunteered at WEST events and book clubs for many years and was the recipient of the WEST Giving Back Award in 2017.


 

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.



Dr. Elizabeth O'Day is the CEO and Founder of Olaris Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company that develops precision medicines for diseases with little to no treatment options and dismal survival rates. Dr. O'Day is also the Founder of Lizzard Fashion, an apparel company that uses fashion to promote science. Partial Lizzard proceeds support cancer research. Additionally, Dr. O'Day founded Proyecto Chispa (Project Spark), a 501c3 non-profit that recycles electronics and uses the resale of parts to build computer centers in orphanages throughout the world. Through her work at Proyecto Chispa, Dr. O'Day was selected as the Greenovate Champion of the Year by the Mayor of Boston in 2015. Dr. O’Day received her PhD from Harvard University, where she was a National Science Foundation fellow. She was one of eleven America scientists awarded a Winston Churchill fellowship and received a Master’s of Philosophy in Chemistry from the University of Cambridge. She has a Bachelors of Science degree from Boston College in Biochemistry. Dr. O’Day is also a Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum and was an invited speaker as a “new champion to reboot healthcare” at the annual meeting in Davos in 2016. She was also a "nominated change maker" and invited to attend the first ever United State of Women Summit convened by the White House in 2016. 



Dr. Patrice Prusko is the Assistant Director, Learning Design, in the Teaching and Learning Lab (TLL) at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She oversees design, development and project management of online and digitally enhanced courses. Prior to joining the TLL she worked as an Instructional Designer at Cornell University in the Center for Teaching Innovation, and as a faculty member at State University of New York, Empire State College, Center for Distance Learning and International Programs. Dr. Prusko's research focuses on developing course and systems level structures that support inclusive, transformational learning experiences for all students, especially first generation and underrepresented student populations in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  She is passionate about increasing global access to STEM education for all women. Dr. Prusko believes by increasing access to education for women we can enable more communities across the globe to thrive and flourish. She holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering (B.S.), and Business Management (MBA) from Union College, and Curriculum and Instruction (Ph.D.) from University at Albany.


 

Jackie Schumacher is currently the VP of Regulatory and Quality at Lyndra Therapeutics. At Lyndra, Jackie is responsible for the regulatory strategy and operations across the portfolio along with Quality Assurance oversight for the company. Prior to Lyndra, Jackie spent most of her 30+ year career within Pfizer; starting as an analytical chemist followed by a long tenure within the CMC Regulatory organization in roles of increasing responsibility. She has led teams to develop successful global registration strategies for new small molecules, product enhancements, inhalation and injectable products. Jackie also held several business-facing/commercial roles, including the creation of a satellite Pharmaceutical Sciences team in Brazil supporting Latin American product and business development; regulatory leadership within the nascent Established Products Sterile Injectables organization and later as Portfolio Optimization and Strategy Leader; facilitating a matrixed team of Pfizer colleagues tasked with radically optimizing the value of the 600+ molecule portfolio. In addition to her Pfizer-based experiences, she has served as a board member and chaired an industry consortium, IPAC-RS, focused on strategic pharmaceutical and regulatory development objectives for orally inhaled and nasal drug products. Jackie has co-founded a recently launched non-profit organization, Optimists without Borders, USA, with one of her former Pfizer colleagues and serves as one of the Directors. Jackie earned her B.A. degrees in Chemistry and Classical Studies from Hamilton College.



Jonathan Sheffi is the Product Manager for Biomedical Data at Google Cloud. Previously, he cofounded Curoverse, which built an open source platform for managing and processing
biomedical data (acquired by Veritas Genetics). His past leadership includes roles with Novartis Diagnostics, Amgen, Accenture, and the Broad Institute. He holds an MBA from Harvard, and an MEng in computational molecular biology from MIT.

 



Ilise Samolyk is the Senior Director, IT Customer Platform at Waters Corporation. She is responsible for providing technical leadership, roadmap development, and solutions delivery to drive business value within the commercial operations of marketing, field sales, and field service. Prior to Waters Corporation, Ilise was Director of Engineering and IT Operations of AIC, a division of Autobytel, providing custom software products and solutions to the automotive industry. Her earlier career was focused on software engineering working in several industries from financial services to government systems. Ilise has over 20 years of expertise in software development and Information Technology with deep experience in web development and CRM systems. Ilise holds a BA in Computer Science with honors from Northeastern University.


 

Kathleen M. Williams, Ph.D, is a partner and co-chair of the Life Sciences practice group at Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP. Kathy advises clients in the life sciences industry with respect to intellectual property. She has advised biotech and pharma companies on IP strategy around patent portfolio creation and management as well as commercialization in view of third-party patents. Kathy has directed global IP strategies to align IP issues in different countries. She has advised venture capital firms and other investors on IP strategies underlying seeding new companies, as well as investing in established companies. Kathy often plays a key role as part of a larger team in resolving IP issues in corporate transactions, such as licensing, partnering, as well as company acquisitions and initial public offerings. Kathy advises clients in a broad range of life sciences fields, including biological and cellular therapeutics, pharmaceuticals (medicinal and small molecules), and diagnostics which lead to personalized medicine.