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. 

External Relations & Program Manager

 

Veronica Huang  joined WEST in 2018 and serves as External Relations & Program Manager. Veronica got her PhD in Chemistry and conducted postdoctoral research at UC Berkeley, studying an infectious disease pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. While at Berkeley, Veronica became actively involved in postdoc/student communities. She directed and coordinated multiple student programs, including Postdoc Industry Exploration Program (PIEP), Beyond Academia Conference, and PhD Consulting Club. Later Veronica served at two non-profit organizations in Boston, Partners Healthcare Innovation and National Tay-Sachs and Allied Diseases organization (NTSAD) as a licensing associate and science communication, respectively. Veronica is passionate about science communication and community building. She maintains a life science blog to keep track of interesting industry trends. Now she works as marketer, strategist, and business developer in the life science industry. 

Board of Directors


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.



Vice 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. 



Past President: Jo Viney, Ph.D., is Co-Founder 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 and is currently serving as President. 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:


Chesley M. Chen  (Treasurer/Clerk) is an entrepreneur, Chief Executive Officer, and Board Member. He is currently on the Advisory Board of Benefunder, Inc., a financial technology start-up providing impact investing services. He was most recently CEO of Safety Partners, Inc., which provides environmental, health, and safety programs to over 200 life science companies each year. He has over 30 years experience in launching, scaling, and reinventing businesses in healthcare, life sciences, high tech, and financial services with firms which include Health Dialog, Good Measures, Goldman Sachs, The Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, 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. In addition to the Board of WEST, he serves on the Advisory Board of the Harvard Medical School-Chinese Scientists and Scholars Association. He dedicates his time to mentoring new and experienced entrepreneurs. He is a devoted family man, rock climber, and black belt in Shotokan karate.



Jodi Detjen is a clinical professor of management at Suffolk University and is the MBA program director. She co-authored The Orange Line: A Woman’s Guide to Integrating Career, Family and Life in May 2013. She focuses on consulting and leadership development on these principles in her consulting firm, Orange Grove Consulting. Her vision is to help organizations globally achieve gender parity in leadership. Jodi has been consulting around leadership and organizational effectiveness for over 25 years. She teaches, consults and writes in areas of leadership development, managing change, increasing impact, and how women can realize their power. Jodi teaches management at the MBA, Undergraduate and Executive Education levels online, in the classroom and internationally. Prior to teaching Jodi was an international management consultant based in London, England working with Global 1000 clients. Jodi focused on redesigning operations thereby realizing significant financial benefits. Her MA in International Development Policy is from Duke University and her B.Sc., from Virginia Tech in Management Science. 



Ann DeWitt is the COO of the Engine. Ann was most recently at Sanofi where she held senior roles in business development and strategic venture investment. Prior to Sanofi, she was at Flagship Ventures. Ann started her career in R&D at 3M Company, working across fields of materials, biology, engineering. Ann holds an MBA from Harvard and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from MIT. She serves on the Board of Women in the Enterprise of Science and Technology and on the Life Science Council of Springboard Enterprises.



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.



Mary Ann O’Loughlin having recently retired from Harvard Business School (HBS) Mary Ann now brings her advisory expertise to global executives as a both a business consultant and leadership coach. Her business career has spanned sales, marketing, consulting, and senior management roles in large corporations and small start-ups. She has lived and worked in Canada, France, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Prior to joining HBS in 2007, Mary Ann spent ten years with the UK research and consulting company Ovum in both London and Boston. In addition to her own work as a telecoms sector Principal Consultant, she managed Ovum’s US operation as President of Ovum North America for five years. Previously, Mary Ann had founded and managed a consulting and telecoms service company in France and, earlier in her career, she worked for IBM Canada, Hewlett Packard and Alcatel in senior sales and product marketing positions. Mary Ann holds a BS in Physics from McMaster University (Ontario), an MS in Biophysics from the University of Toronto, an MBA from Insead, and a graduate certificate in Executive Coaching from the William James College. A UK native, Mary Ann lives in Boston. She is a fluent French speaker.



Elizabeth N. Spar, Ph.D., J.D. is 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.



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.



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.



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.



Shelia Violette, Ph.D. is currently Chief Scientific Officer at Admirx. She has more than 20 years of industry experience advancing programs from early research to clinical development. Shelia has provided strategic and operational leadership to multi-disciplinary teams of scientists, led several research and early clinical programs, and authored more than 80 manuscripts and patents. She was previously Vice President of Tissue Injury and Fibrosis Research at Biogen and prior to that Vice President of Research at Stromedix. Shelia has directed research and led therapeutic programs at several biotechnology companies including Repligen, Ariad, Stromedix and Biogen. She received her Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Yale University and carried out her post-doctoral training with Frank Ruddle in the Department of Biology at Yale University.

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, Ph.D., is the Interim Executive Director, Office of Technology Commercialization and Ventures (OTCV) at the University of Massachusetts.  She joined the UMass President’s Office in 2004 as the Founding Director of the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center (MTTC) which is housed in OTCV. At OTCV she supports the campus technology transfer programs as well as assisting with start-up formation and other systemwide entrepreneurship activities at UMass. She is also 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.