2019 Massachusetts Life Sciences Innovation Day Speakers

Nancy Briefs

Nancy Briefs is a strategic business leader with extensive experience creating value, driving strategy and launching product commercialization in diverse life science companies. She has deep general management and fundraising expertise having raised over $500 M in equity including IPO. She is innovative, collaborative and entrepreneurial, a strong communicator and tenacious. She is a trusted advisor and mentor to founders and boards. Energized by turning innovation into commercial reality, she works with creative scientists, and communicates value to partners and investors. She also has extensive regulatory experience with FDA and notified bodies. She has a MBA in finance and marketing with broad experience in, biomedical devices, digital health including AI and machine learning and combination products.

Anne Carpenter

Carpenter focused on high-throughput image analysis during her postdoctoral fellowship at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and MIT’s CSAIL (Computer Sciences/Artificial Intelligence Laboratory). Her PhD is in cell biology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Carpenter has been named an NSF CAREER awardee, an NIH MIRA awardee, a Massachusetts Academy of Sciences fellow (its youngest at the time), a Genome Technology “Rising Young Investigator”, and is listed in Deep Knowledge Analytics’ top-100 AI Leaders in Drug Discovery and Advanced Healthcare.

Dr. Carpenter is an Institute Scientist and Merkin Fellow at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. Her research group develops algorithms and strategies for large-scale experiments involving images. The team’s open-source CellProfiler software is used by thousands of biologists worldwide (www.cellprofiler.org). Carpenter is a pioneer in image-based profiling, the extraction of rich, unbiased information from images for a number of important applications in drug discovery and functional genomics.

Stephen J. Gatto

Stephen J. Gatto is an experienced entrepreneur, investor and leader in the creation, management, financing, and exit of, public, private, domestic and international companies with marketed and R&D-stage products.  He has extensive Investment, M&A, general management, business, and corporate expertise. He is a recognized leader in the development and commercialization of new bio based products having founded several technology companies involved in biofuels, bio products and biobased specialty chemicals. Throughout his career, Mr. Gatto has raised more than $1 billion dollars in equity and debt financing.

Prior to Entrinsic Health Solutions, Inc., Mr. Gatto was the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Myriant Corporation, the first renewable chemicals company in North America to manufacture and commercialize bio-succinic acid, a high-value, green chemical intermediate. Under his leadership, Myriant secured two precedent-setting government financings by securing a $50.0 million cost sharing grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as a $25.0 million Business and Industry loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”). Prior to Myriant, Mr. Gatto founded the first second generation biofuels company in North America and served as the Chairman and CEO of BC International Corp. (later known as Verenium Corp; Nadaq:VRNM), and recently acquired by BASF.

Martha Gray

Martha Gray, PhD, has a multifaceted career in which she has built programs to drive biomedical technology innovation, conducted research to better understand and prevent osteoarthritis, led a preeminent academic unit, and served the profession through work with organizations and institutions. Trained in computer science and electrical and biomedical engineering, and serving as an MIT faculty for three decades, she has held numerous leadership positions. For 13+ years, she directed the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST), an academic unit with multiple research and training programs for careers in medicine, business, and research. Dr. Gray currently directs MIT linQ which operates several multi-institutional ventures focus on accelerating and deepening early-career researchers’ potential for impact. Over the course of these efforts, she and her team have established a principled methodology for needs identification and opportunity development, and an organizational model that fosters a vibrant multi-stakeholder community necessary for sustained local and global impact.

Jeannie T Lee, MD PhD

 Is a Professor of Genetics (and Pathology) at Harvard Medical School, the Blavatnik Institute, and the Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Lee specializes in the study of epigenetic regulation by long noncoding RNAs and uses X-chromosome inactivation as a model system. Growing knowledge of X-inactivation mechanisms and RNA biology is currently being translated to treat various human diseases, including Rett, Fragile X, and CDKL5 Syndromes.  ​She is a Member of the National Academy of Sciences, the 2016 recipient of the Lurie Prize from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, a 2016 awardee of the Centennial Prize from the Genetics Society of America, the 2010 recipient of the Molecular Biology Prize from the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Lee was also named a Distinguished Graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 2013 and was an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. From 2013-2018, she co-launched the Epigenetics Initiative at Harvard Medical School and served as its Co-Director. Serving on the Board of Directors of the Genetics Society of America (GSA), Dr. Lee spearheaded the TAGC (The All-Genetics) Conference in 2016. As GSA’s President, Dr. Lee established a Strategic Plan and a Development strategy for the society in 2018. She received her A.B. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Harvard University and obtained M.D.-Ph.D degrees from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Dr. Lee then carried out postdoctoral work at the Whitehead Institute & MIT and became Chief Resident of Clinical Pathology at the Massachusetts General Hospital prior to joining the Faculty at Harvard Medical School. As a new investigator, she received the Basil O’Connor Scholar Award from the March of Dimes and the Pew Scholars Award. As a champion of translational science, she played a major role in the founding of Translate Bio and Fulcrum Therapeutics with technology and know-how from the lab.

Beth McCormick

Dr. McCormick earned her Ph.D. in Microbiology in the topic area of intestinal ecology, and completed postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School. She remained on the faculty of Harvard Medical School where she was an Associate Professor of Pediatric Gastroenterology, and Director of Research for the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2008, she joined the University of Massachusetts Medical School where she is Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Physiological Systems. Dr. McCormick is also the Founding Executive Director of the University of Massachusetts Center for Microbiome Research, which she established in 2014. Dr. McCormick is one of the original pioneers in the field now known as Cellular Microbiology. Her work provided the first evidence that epithelial cells in response to pathogen contact orchestrate a pro-inflammatory program, which recruits inflammatory cells. Dr. McCormick has since identified new, previously unidentified and unexpected virulence mechanisms that are key to the inflammatory response, leading to both novel biological principles of host-microbe interactions and therapeutic intervention strategies for the treatment inflammatory bowel disease, and cancer. Her work continues to identify novel ways in which microbes interact with the intestinal epithelium, publishing over 100 original research papers and opinion pieces in this area. Dr. McCormick is an elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, is a member of the Board of Editors for the Journals Gastroenterology, and Gut Microbes, and serves as member of four Editorial Review Boards. She also is a permanent member of the GMPB NIH study section, and an advisor to several private foundations.

Elisabeth O’Day

Dr. Elizabeth O’Day is CEO and Founder of Olaris, a precision medicine company that identifies “biomarkers of response” (BoR) to stratify patients into optimal treatment groups, increasing survival rates, decreasing adverse events, and reducing unnecessary healthcare costs. She is the co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Biotechnology, also serving on the advisory board for the Precision Medicine Initiative, and routine speaker at the annual meeting in Davos. She is on the Steering Committee and contributor for Scientific American’s annual “Top 10 Emerging Technologies”. As a “nominated change maker,” she was invited to the first United State of Women Summit convened by the White House. Dr. O’Day founded Lizzard Fashion, an apparel company using fashion to promote science, and Proyecto Chispa (Project Spark), a 501c3 non-profit that recycles electronics and uses the resale of parts to build computer centers in orphanages worldwide.  Shestarted Women in Science & Technology, which in 13 years, has brought hundreds of female high school students to the Boston College campus to be mentored by female undergrads pursuing science degrees.  Dr. O’Day, who mentors scientists and entrepreneurs, started PhiSB, a female-only networking group that connects and celebrates females across the globe that strive to make a positive impact.  As adjunct faculty at Boston College, she teaches metabolism and entrepreneurship.

Dr. O’Day received her PhD from Harvard University, where she was a National Science Foundation fellow. She was one of 11 America scientists awarded a Winston Churchill fellowship and received a Master’s of Philosophy in Chemistry from the University of Cambridge. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from Boston College in Biochemistry, where she was awarded the Rev. Finnegan Award, the most prestigious award bestowed to an undergraduate, and nearly all of the nation’s top undergraduate research honors (Beckman Scholar, Goldwater Scholar, Churchill Fellow, NSF Fellow, National Institute of Chemistry Excellence Award).

Drew Volpe

Drew Volpe is a founding partner of First Star Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund. First Star partners with entrepreneurs solving real-world problems using data, machine learning, and decentralization, focusing on applications of frontier technologies such as AI, computational bio, AR/VR, and blockchain.

Prior to moving into venture capital, Drew was an accomplished entrepreneur and technologist. Most recently, he was the founding VP of Product Development for conversational AI startup Semantic Machines. He cofounded Locately and, as CTO, led the development of its location-based analytics technology from founding through successful acquisition. Prior to Locately, Drew was Director of Product Development at Endeca Technologies, a pioneer in search and unstructured database systems, acquired by Oracle for $1.1 billion. Drew is an active speaker and mentor for startups at MassChallenge, Techstars, MIT, Harvard, and other innovation centers. Drew holds an AB in Computer Science from Harvard University.

Keynote: David R. Walt

David R. Walt is an internationally-recognized expert in nanoscience and diagnostics and has invented numerous transformative technologies that have led to major commercial successes. Dr. Walt has had a highly successful academic career combined with significant entrepreneurial activity. He is Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Bioinspired Engineering at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, is a Core Faculty Member of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor. Previously, he was University Professor at Tufts University. His laboratory pioneered the development of microwell arrays, which revolutionized the field of genetic analysis. Dr. Walt’s laboratory also introduced the idea of digital protein detection by developing a high throughput technology for performing single molecule analysis.

Dr. Walt is the Scientific Founder of Illumina and served on the Board of Illumina for 18 years.  He is the Scientific Founder and a Director of Quanterix Corporation (Lexington MA), which is the market leader in single molecule protein analysis. He is also a founder and Director of Ultivue Inc. (Cambridge MA). Dr. Walt is a Director of Ultivue, Inc., Exicure, Inc., Arbor Biotechnologies, and Sherlock Biosciences.  Dr. Walt is also one of the founders of Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute, a non-profit entity focused on marine and fisheries genomics. He has published over 350 peer-reviewed papers, has over 100 issued US patents, and has received numerous national and international awards and honors for his fundamental and applied work in the field of optical arrays and single molecules. Dr. Walt is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Medicine, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, and was inducted in the US Inventor’s Hall of Fame.

Dr. Walt received a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in Chemical Biology from SUNY at Stony Brook.