WEST Staff & Board of Directors

Staff

Director of Operations


Jaime Luna joined WEST in 2012 and serves as Director of Operations. She comes to WEST with extensive experience in nonprofit organizations, specifically in program operations and project management. Jaime served as Director of Program Operations for Illumination Foundation working with homeless families and individuals. As a key member, she helped the grassroots nonprofit grow from its infancy to a $2,000,000 organization in three short years. Previous to Illumination Foundation, Jaime worked at the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles, Camping Services. She filled in the role of Operations Executive Director. She oversaw the operation of many YMCA camps and developed, monitored, and managed related annual operating budgets of over $2,000,000, including human resources, office administration, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, and procurement. Jaime completed her Master's degree in Education. 


Board of Directors



Co-President: Meredith Fisher, Ph.D. is a Partner at the Partners Innovation Fund- the venture arm of Partners Healthcare System in Boston, MA. Previously, she was in the private office at Bracebridge Capital serving as Director of Private Investments where she led investments in early stage life science companies. Prior to that role she led business development for Ginkgo BioWorks- an MIT spin out- and was Senior Director of Technology and Business Development of Enlight Biosciences- a venture creation company founded by PureTech Ventures. She spent several years working as a scientist in drug discovery and assay development for Idenix Pharmaceuticals and Anadys Pharmaceuticals (formerly, Scriptgen). Meredith received her undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke College, her MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management and her PhD in molecular microbiology from Harvard University. Meredith serves on the board of Lyndra and Nocion for PIF. She is a board member, co-founder and Interim CEO of Mediar Therapeutics. 



Co-President/Treasurer: Chesley M. Chen, is an entrepreneur, Chief Executive Officer, and Board Member. He is currently launching two digital health start-ups as CEO of g.Root Biomedical and as Strategic Advisor of MindMics. Prior to that, he was CEO of Safety Partners. Chesley has over 30 years experience in launching, scaling, and reinventing businesses in life sciences, high tech, and financial services with firms that include Health Dialog, Good Measures, VWR, Goldman Sachs, and Hughes Aircraft Company. Chesley holds a BS in Civil Engineering from Tufts University, an SM in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT, and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. He dedicates his time to mentoring new and promising CEO’s with strong science and technology backgrounds. Chesley serves on the Strategic Advisory Board of the U Mass Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Tufts Launchpad Accelerator Evaluation Committee. He is a devoted family man, rock climber, and black belt in Shotokan karate.



Vice President: Dr. Meena Subramanyam joined Takeda’s gastroenterology group as Vice President and Global Program Leader in May 2017 to oversee the strategic development of therapeutic assets for gastric motility indications. Prior to joining Takeda, Meena spent 19 years at Biogen in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As Vice President and head of the Translational Sciences and Technology group she held broad responsibilities for developing and implementing the biomarker, bioanalytical and diagnostic strategies for pipeline products in clinical development for Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, Fibrosis, SLE amongst others. She co-led the development of the strategy for PML risk stratification and is the co- inventor of the STRATIFY JCV™ diagnostic test. Over her 20 year career in the biotechnology industry, she has contributed to 9 successful BLA and NDA filings. She served as the chair of the National Biotechnology Conference in 2017, and as chair of the BIOTEC section of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists. She also serves as a member of the Biotechnology Industrial Advisory Board of North Eastern University, Boston. Dr. Subramanyam has authored several scientific publications and white papers on topics related to therapeutic drug development.



Previous President: Mariana Nacht, Ph.D., is currently CSO of Vivid Biosciences with over 20 years of experience in biotechnology. Most recently, she was VP Cancer Biology at KDAc Therapeutics. Prior to KDAc, she was VP and Head of Biology at Padlock Therapeutics, which was acquired by BMS in 2016.  She was one of the first employees at Avila Therapeutics, a biotech dedicated to discovering and developing irreversible small molecule inhibitors of kinases for oncology. During the first 5 years, three drug candidates were discovered, and two were advanced to clinical trials (the BTK inhibitor CC-292, and the mutant selective EGFR inhibitor CO-1686, partnered with Clovis Oncology). After the acquisition of Avila by Celgene in 2012, Mariana continued to lead biology research at Celgene Avilomics Research before joining Padlock as an early member of the executive team. Mariana started her biotech career at Genzyme, where she worked for ten years, focusing on various aspects of human oncology including the study of proteins that promote or prevent tumor angiogenesis and growth. Mariana received her B.S. in Biology from Tufts University and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. She continued her training as a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Tyler Jacks at MIT before continuing her career in industry.



Past President: Jo Viney, Ph.D., is Co-Founder, President, and CSO of Pandion Therapeutics, a start-up biotech company focused on drug discovery in autoimmunity, inflammation and transplant. Previously Jo worked at Biogen where she began as VP, Immunology Research and was responsible for building the company’s immunology portfolio before moving on to become SVP, Drug Discovery. Before moving to the East Coast, Jo worked at Genentech, Immunex and Amgen, but she originally hails from the UK where she received her PhD from the University of London. Throughout her career, Jo has been passionate about workplace inclusiveness, promoting the careers of women and under-represented minorities in science. She is involved with several groups driving this mission, and joined the Board of WEST in 2015. Jo is also a member of the Board of Directors for CaroGen Corp, and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for Vaxart Inc. 



Previous President: Sandra Glucksmann is presently President and CEO of Cedilla Therapeutics. She is a veteran biopharma executive and experienced scientist who most recently served as founder and chief operating officer of the gene editing company Editas Medicine, Inc. She previously served as senior vice president of research and development at Cerulean Pharma, which she also joined at its founding. Sandra was a founding scientist at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, where she spent 13 years, taking on a series of senior roles on the science team before moving into an executive position with responsibility for strategic program management and operations. Sandra serves on the boards of directors of REGENXBIO and  Scenic Biotech. Sandra holds a Ph.D. with honors in molecular genetics and cell biology from the University of Chicago. She was a post-doctoral fellow at MIT.


Board Members:


Katherine Andersen serves as Head of Life Science & Healthcare Relationship Banking at SVB. She also sits on the Board of Directors for SVB's Joint Venture in China, SPD Silicon Valley Bank. 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. 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, the Advisory Board for WEST (Women in the Enterprise of Science & Technology), and as Chairperson for the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge Corporate Council. She also enjoys endurance sports, traveling with her family, and baking epic birthday cakes for her three kids.



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.



Etta Jacobs is the Founder and Principal of Power in the Middle, an executive coaching and training organization that specifically focuses on empowering mid-level managers and their teams. Prior to becoming an executive coach, Etta gained her corporate expertise as an award-winning design executive at two Fortune 500 companies, where she coached cohorts of managers and directed teams of creative professionals on innovative, multi-media projects. She shepherded her teams through continuous technological transitions and multiple corporate reorganizations—helping them thrive through increasingly aggressive deadlines, uncertainty, and industry-wide disruption. Etta draws upon this 20+ years of corporate experience when coaching. Her passion is helping her clients reach their highest potential—by guiding them to look at events through different lenses, question their assumptions, find creative and unexpected solutions to their career challenges, and to build a career that is aligned with their strengths, talents, and values. Etta holds a Master of Organizational Psychology and is a Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation (ICF). Etta earned her MA and her Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching from William James College. She has a BFA from Syracuse University.



Danielle Lauzon is a partner in Goodwin Procter LLP’s Technology Companies & Life Sciences Group. Danielle’s representation of start-up and later stage companies spans the entire corporate life cycle, including formation matters, general corporate representation and counseling, venture capital financings, public offerings and mergers and acquisitions. Her clients are in the life sciences, software and healthcare information technology services industries. Prior to joining Goodwin Procter in 2005, Danielle was an associate in the Business Practice Group at Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault in Boston. Danielle is a member of the Massachusetts and Boston Bar Associations. Danielle holds a J.D. from Villanova University School of Law (magna cum laude, Order of the Coif) and a B.A. from the University of Michigan.



Dr. Joseph Lehar is VP of Data Science for Oncology at Janssen. Prior to this, he was an executive director of computational biology at Merck Research Laboratories. Before then, Joseph was at Verily (Google Life Sciences), building their computational biology capability; after Novartis, where he was a director of bioinformatics for Oncology Translational Medicine; and at CombinatoRx, a biotech focused on drug combinations. As an adjunct professor at Boston University through all of these positions, Joseph continues to pursue research on the systems biology of drug combinations. Joseph holds a Ph.D. in physics, and his original career was astrophysics, which he pursued at MIT, Cambridge University, and Harvard.



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.



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.



Elizabeth N. Spar, Ph.D., J.D. (Clerk) is Assistant General Counsel, IP at Astellas Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Before this, she was a Partner at Sunstein Kann Murphy & Timbers LLP. She has extensive experience as a technology specialist, with a focus on intellectual property and patent law, including drafting patent applications, preparing responses to office actions, and contributing to infringement, validity and patentability analyses. With more than 13 years of technical experience in diversified academic research environments, she has drafted patent applications in the fields of molecular and cellular biology, immunology, antibodies, RNAi, biologics, biosimilars, protein expression, genetically transformed plants for use as vaccines and immunogens, genomics, drug discoveries, gene therapy, antitumor therapies, screening assays and protease assays. Dr. Spar’s prior positions include post-doctoral fellowships at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and pre-doctoral fellowships at Harvard University. Dr. Spar’s awards include the Women’s Cancers Program Fellowship, Dana Farber Cancer Institute; and the Ryan Fellowship at Harvard University. She received her B.A. in Biology from Oberlin College, her Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology from Harvard University and her J.D. from New England School of Law. Dr. Spar is registered to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.



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.


Chair Emeritus

Janice Bourque is former Senior Vice President and Group Head-Life Sciences for Comerica Bank where she was responsible for leading Comerica’s national strategy for the life sciences. Prior to that, Ms. Bourque was President/CEO of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MBC) where she led the organization for 12 years. In 2004, she was awarded the Woman of Valor Award by the American Diabetes Association and the 2004 Distinguished Leadership Award by the Huntington Disease Society for her work in public policy and public health. In 2003, Boston Magazine named her one of Boston’s 100 most influential women and the Cambridge Chamber Commerce awarded her Business Person of the Year. Ms. Bourque received her MBA degree in finance and accounting and her BS degree in veterinary science from the University of New Hampshire. 

Board Emeritus

Abigail Barrow is the Managing Partner of Cambridge Innovation Partners – a consulting firm that helps start-ups find global and local resources for success. Previously, she was the Interim Executive Director, Office of Technology Commercialization and Ventures (OTCV) at the University of Massachusetts from 2015 to 2018.  She joined the UMass President’s Office in 2004 as the Founding Director of the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center (MTTC) which was hosted in OTCV.  At MTTC she was responsible for the overall management of the MTTC and the development of its programs. Prior to joining UMass, Dr. Barrow served as managing director of William J. von Liebig Center at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). Dr. Barrow worked in a variety of roles at UCSD CONNECT from 1990 to 2001. Dr. Barrow is on the board and is Chair of VentureWell. Dr. Barrow received her Ph.D. from the Science Studies Unit and a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Edinburgh.


Joel MacAuslan, Ph.D., is Chief Executive and Chief Science Officer of STAR Analytical Services, which provides mathematical and analytical capability for clients' innovation projects that require expertise in system modeling, signal processing, and nonlinear dynamics - from brain surgery to rocket science. He founded STAR on an NIH grant to apply techniques of chaos theory to the dynamics of the larynx. Joel has participated actively in WEST since early 2000. Joel holds a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Cornell and has spent over twenty-five years in mathematical speech, signal, and image-processing analysis.