The Healthcare Technology Report is pleased to announce the Top 25 Women Leaders in Biotechnology of 2021. As we have seen in recent years and months, biotechnology plays a critical role in the well-being of our global society. With the COVID-19 pandemic shining a spotlight on the importance of life sciences, both private and public organizations are providing unprecedented levels of funding and support to companies in the biotech space. The accomplished women selected for this year's awards have distinguished themselves through their professional achievements and contributions to their organizations. They represent a diverse range of positions, specialties, and backgrounds. This includes women building new companies, women unlocking revolutionary ways to treat deadly diseases, and other top female executives who are helping their companies navigate market expansion, legal considerations, and brand awareness, among other areas.
These exceptional leaders were selected based on hundreds of nominations and comprehensive analysis of professional milestones achieved, longevity in the biotech field and demonstrated domain expertise. Further research was conducted using a broad set of data including feedback from colleagues, industry influence, key company events milestones, previous honors and recognition, and numerous other metrics. Please join us in recognizing the achievements of the Top 25 Women Leaders in Biotechnology of 2021.
1. Eun Young Yang, Samsung Biologics
Title: Vice President and Head of Global Sales
Eun Young Yang is the Vice President and Head of Global Sales at Samsung Biologics, a leading contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO). With over 25 years of extensive industry experience in various fields, Yang plays a significant leadership role in overseeing the company’s global sales activities and business development to serve the evolving needs of the biopharmaceutical market. Yang joined Samsung Biologics in 2011 as Head of Business Development for the Asia and Pacific regions. At Samsung Biologics, she has held positions of increasing responsibility, including Head of CDO Business. Under Yang’s expertise and leadership, her team spearheaded about 50 CDO projects within two years of CDO business launch.
As a registered pharmacist both in the United States and in South Korea, Yang has built her career in marketing, sales, and business development at global pharmaceutical companies including Roche and Eli Lilly. Processing excellent insight with profound clinical experience, Yang has also demonstrated outstanding achievements in joint venture formation and management, pipeline asset valuation, licensing in/out deals, and newly-approved-drug market launches. She currently serves as a board member for Archigen Biotech. Eun Young acquired her Bachelor of Pharmacy from Seoul National University.
2. Stephanie Gutendorf, GRAIL
Title: Senior Vice President of Enterprise Partnerships
Stephanie Gutendorf is the Senior Vice President of Enterprise Partnerships at GRAIL, a healthcare company seeking to develop an early cancer screening test for people who do not have symptoms. Gutendorf joined GRAIL earlier in 2021, ahead of the commercial launch of Galleri®, GRAIL’s first-of-kind multi-cancer early-detection blood test. Currently, she is spearheading the company’s efforts to deploy Galleri across the United States.
Prior to GRAIL, Gutendorf was the senior vice president of Health Services at Teladoc Health. At Teladoc she was responsible for leading the company's sales and commercial strategy. Before Teladoc, Gutendorf helped lead Livongo—a pioneering chronic condition management platform—to unicorn status by spearheading its commercial expansion into the Medicare market. She also held commercial strategy roles at Optum and The Advisory Board Company, where she served health system and medical group clients to advance equity and improve operations. Gutendorf holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations and diplomacy from Seton Hall University.
3. Qiutang Li, PhD, Neurophth Therapeutics
Title: Chief Scientific Officer
Qiutang Li is the Chief Scientific Officer at Neurophth Therapeutics, which is heralded as China's first gene therapy company for ophthalmic diseases and is dedicated to the innovation and development of gene therapeutics for patients with those diseases. At Neurophth, Li has directed more than ten R&D pipelines and successfully promoted the company's first product into the IND stage. As CSO, she is actively expanding the company’s development pipelines for ophthalmic disease, blood disease, and central nervous system disease treatment. Li has been integral in the rapid growth of the company into a global leader in ophthalmic gene therapy and an innovative, internationally-competitive technology company.
Li has over 30 years of experience in basic and applied biomedical research. She joined Neurophth from the University of Louisville School of Medicine, where she was a tenured professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences for over 14 years. Throughout her career, Li has penned more than 45 publications in journals including IOVS, PNAS, Nature Review Immunology, and Science. Her work has been supported by multiple NIH grants. Li earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in genetics from Peking University, China, and her doctoral degree in molecular cell biology from Washington University, St. Louis.
4. Mariola Fotin-Mleczek, PhD, CureVac
Title: Chief Technology Officer
Mariola Fotin-Mleczek, PhD, is the Chief Technology Officer of CureVac, a global biopharmaceutical company in the field of messenger RNA (mRNA) technology with more than 20 years of expertise in developing and optimizing the versatile biological molecule for medical purposes. The principle of CureVac’s proprietary technology is the use of optimized mRNA as a data carrier to instruct the human body to produce its own proteins capable of fighting a broad range of diseases. Based on the technology, the company has built an extensive and diversified pipeline in the areas of prophylactic vaccines, cancer therapies, and antibody therapies.
Fotin-Mleczek brings decades of experience in scientific innovation. She has invented multiple patented mRNA technologies and authored more than 30 scientific publications on the subject. As a scientist trained in immunology and cell biology, she joined CureVac in 2006 to lead the development and preclinical testing of mRNA technology in various therapeutic areas including oncology, infectious diseases, and protein therapy. In her previous role as CureVac’s CSO, she was responsible for everything related to the company’s scientific functions, which required extensive knowledge across fields such as molecular biology, chemistry, and oncology. She received her degree in biology at the University of Stuttgart.
5. Alice Chen, GRAIL
Title: Vice President of Product and Head of Program Management Organization
Alice Chen is the Vice President of Product and Head of Program Management Organization at GRAIL, a healthcare company seeking to develop an early cancer screening test for people without symptoms. At GRAIL, Chen led several cross-functional teams from concept to the launch of the company's flagship multi-cancer early-detection test, Galleri™. Chen now oversees a team of product and project managers who are responsible for GRAIL’s on-market, in-development, and emerging products.
Before GRAIL, Chen held a number of leadership roles in the healthcare space. Previously, she was Director of Product Management at Natera, Director of Biomedical Research at Progyny, and Co-Founder and CSO at Sienna Biopharmaceuticals. Chen has been recognized with several prestigious awards for innovation, including awards from the National Inventors Hall of Fame, National Science Foundation, Research & Development Magazine, MIT-Lemelson Foundation, and Wall Street Journal. Chen received a Bachelor of Science in bioengineering from the University of California, Berkeley, a Master of Science in engineering sciences from Harvard University, and a PhD in medical engineering and medical physics from MIT and Harvard.
6. Jaimie Augustine, COPAN Diagnostics
Title: Vice President of Sales
Jaimie Augustine is the Vice President of Sales at COPAN Diagnostics, a leading manufacturer of collection and transport systems and microbiology laboratory automation. Having worked for the company for ten years, Augustine has spearheaded many projects that have had national and global impact, and her expertise and leadership have been critical during the global pandemic. This year, one of Augustine's most significant accomplishments has been her initiation and maintenance of a strategic partnership between COPAN and Apple Inc. to develop and ramp up critical infrastructure to provide tens of millions of viral testing kits to clinicians and laboratories across the United States during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Augustine also served as a liaison with the government on Operation Warp Speed, ensuring that COPAN’s UTM™ sample collection kits were available for the research and development of vaccines and drugs for COVID treatment and prevention.
Augustine has had many years of experience in clinical sciences. She earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California, later returning in 2010 to complete pre med and microbiology courses. She also managed a neuroendocrinology clinic at the Swedish Hospital Clinic in Seattle, WA, where she published several peer-reviewed scientific papers.
7. Angela Cacace, PhD, Arvinas
Title: Vice President of Neuroscience and Platform Biology
Angela Cacace is the Vice President of Neuroscience and Platform Biology at Arvinas, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing new therapeutics for cancers and other difficult-to-treat diseases. Cacace brings more than two decades of pharmaceutical and biotechnology research experience, contributing to four marketed drugs and over 18 development candidates. At Arvinas, she is currently responsible for building the neuroscience pipeline and leading targeted-degradation platform biology.
Before joining Arvinas, Cacace led Biology at Fulcrum Therapeutics, building the company’s rare disease biology platform and pipeline, and leading the team to deliver their first development candidate for the treatment of facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD). In previous roles, Cacace was responsible for the discovery of a novel anti-angiogenic antibody development candidate. Furthermore, Cacace’s passion for innovation and STEM extends well beyond the walls of Arvinas. She devotes herself to mentoring, volunteering in support of patient advocacy groups, and sharing her knowledge with colleagues at conferences and with students interested in STEM. Cacace received her Bachelor of Science in biology from Fairfield University, a PhD in pharmacology from Columbia University, and later completed her postdoctoral research in oncology at Bristol-Myers Squibb and the National Cancer Institute.
8. Erin DeRuggiero, TI Health
Title: Chief Executive Officer
Erin DeRuggiero is a fast-rising healthcare IT entrepreneur who continues to open doors for women within the digital industry. She currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of TI Health, a New York-based data-driven marketing and analytics company focused on creating real-time healthcare event triggers designed to engage professionals and patients. As the CEO of TI Health, DeRuggiero has developed innovative precision targeting and analytics products that service over 25 of the top pharmaceutical manufacturers. During the pandemic, she continued to add team members, growing the headcount by 17% while focusing on diversity and inclusion.
Prior to the creation of TI Health, DeRuggiero had more than 20 years of experience in using digital advertising to improve the healthcare experience. Most notably, DeRuggiero was a co-founder of SRAX, an ad tech company with a business unit devoted to healthcare marketers which successfully up-listed to NASDAQ two years after launch in 2012—a milestone for a female-led startup taking a company public. Finally, DeRuggiero also spends time mentoring youth at risk while volunteering with GLAAD, a role which has truly made an impact on the world around her. She received her degree from Macalester College in St Paul.
9. Foteini “Fay” Christodoulou, PhD, Miroculus (tie)
Title: Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer
Foteini Christodoulou is the Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Miroculus, a venture-backed company headquartered in San Francisco, California. Miroculus was founded in 2015 with the vision of making the most complex protocols easily accessible to scientists everywhere. Miroculus has developed a novel digital microfluidics technology to automate and miniaturize a range of genomic protocols, such as sample preparation for next-generation sequencing, synthetic biology, cell editing, and combinatorial chemistry, all in a compact, user-friendly system.
As CSO, Christodoulou has led all R&D efforts to take Miroculus’ first product—the Miro Canvas—from concept to preparation for commercial launch. She and her team have filed over 25 patent applications along the way. A noted researcher, Christodoulou’s work has been published in Nature, Cell, and Science. In 2012, she was awarded an EU postdoctoral fellowship to investigate the role of microRNAs in thyroid carcinogenesis at the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens, Greece. Christodoulou received her PhD in evolutionary developmental biology from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany.
9. Elaine Chiquette, Gelesis (tie)
Title: Chief Scientific Officer
Elaine Chiquette is the Chief Scientific Officer at Gelesis, a biotechnology company using biomimicry to develop therapies to target obesity and other chronic GI-related diseases. Chiquette joined Gelesis in 2017 to lead medical affairs, regulatory, and pre-clinical efforts. Notably, she was instrumental in helping the company gain FDA clearance of its novel weight management treatment Plenity, while also leading expansion efforts in foreign markets.
Chiquette has over 20 years' experience as an accomplished leader and expert in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical devices industries. In 1998, she co-authored the first evidence-based obesity guidelines published by the National Institute of Health (NIH). Throughout her career, Chiquette has led the development of medical strategies for first-in-class launches such as orlistat, GLP-1 agonist, amylin analog, endobarrier device, metreleptin at Hoffmann La Roche, Amylin Pharmaceuticals, GI Dynamics, and Aegerion. Her work has been published in Obesity (Silver Spring), American Journal of Cardiology, and the Archive of Internal Medicine. Chiquette received her pharmacy degree at Laval University in Quebec and her Pharm.D. at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in epidemiology.
10. Melanie Goldey, TMRW Life Sciences
Title: Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer
Melanie Goldey is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of TMRW Life Sciences, a life sciences technology company that has developed a next-generation system for the safe storage, management, and monitoring of the precious frozen eggs and embryos used in IVF.
Goldey is an accomplished executive with nearly 20 years of experience leading strategy, finance, people, and corporate operations in the technology sector. Prior to TMRW, Goldey was CFO at Refinery29, where she led the company’s merger with Vice Media Group—creating the largest digital media company in the world, valued at over $4 billion. In addition, Goldey is a member of the Fast Company 2021 Impact Council and was 2015's Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association Rising Star. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Wellesley College and completed executive programs at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and New York University’s Stern School of Business.
11. Nancy Johnson, BillionToONE
Title: Senior Vice President of Sales and Commercial Operations
Nancy Johnson is the Senior Vice President of Sales and Commercial Operations at BillionToONE (BTO), a precision diagnostics company with the mission to make molecular diagnostics more accurate, efficient, and accessible for all. The flagship product, UNITY, is the only cfDNA test to assess fetal risk for recessive conditions and aneuploidies from maternal blood. Johnson's leadership is critical to the company’s phenomenal growth. She built a sales and commercial operations powerhouse from the ground up. Her technical background in prenatal testing and oncology, coupled with her customer-first focus, makes her uniquely suited to drive BTO’s commercial organization forward.
Before joining BTO, Johnson was with Foundation Medicine, where she held a sales leadership role. She had previously filled commercial leadership roles with Roche Tissue Diagnostics and Genoptix. While her first role in a corporate environment was with Abbott Laboratories as a hematology specialist, she began her career as a medical technologist with the University Medical Center. Johnson received her degree in medical technology from Creighton University. This commercial and technical experience allows Johnson to integrate technical product features into strategies that drive sales growth.
12. Marguerite Hutchinson, JD, Plexxikon, a member of the Daiichi Sankyo Group (tie)
Title: Chief Operating Officer & General Counsel
As Chief Operating Officer & General Counsel at Plexxikon Inc., a member of the Daiichi Sankyo Group, Marguerite Hutchinson, JD, oversees all financial and operational aspects of the company, including IT, facility, business development, legal affairs, intellectual property, and project management. Since joining Plexxikon in 2013, Hutchinson has directed and supervised numerous initiatives, including the building and opening of a new 50,000-square-foot lab and office space valued at $15 million. She also managed a high-level patent infringement case, which resulted in a jury verdict in Plexxikon’s favor in July 2021. Hutchinson was also a key member of the development team for a first-in-class drug for the treatment of tenosynovial giant cell tumor, a rare and potentially severe chronic disease with very few treatment options.
Hutchinson started her career at University of California, San Francisco, representing the university in its collaborations with industry. She holds degrees from the University of San Diego School of Law and Harvard. In her spare time, she serves on the board of Community Resources for Science, a non-profit organization that designs science curriculums for K-8th grade students in California.
12. Swati Deshpande, Datar Cancer Genetics (tie)
Title: Chief Executive Officer, Co-founder, and Director of Operations
Swati Deshpande is the Chief Executive Officer and Director of Operations at Datar Cancer Genetics, a company engaged in advanced cancer diagnostics research with operations in the United Kingdom and India. Datar Cancer Genetics is recognized as a pioneer in the innovative method of detecting and utilizing circulating tumor cells for cancer diagnosis and therapy guidance worldwide. A member of the founding team, Deshpande has been instrumental in setting up the company’s operations from inception, building a team of more than 200.
Deshpande has also led the effort to establish high-quality benchmarks leading up to various quality accreditations, including UKAS, NABL, CAP, CLIA, and ISO standards for medical investigations. Datar's laboratories in India and the U.K. are already serving as major hubs for cancer patients across several countries in the EU, Australia, Middle East, and South Africa. Far removed from setting up and running a cancer research facility, Deshpande was originally trained as a lawyer, with rich experience in practicing law at the Bombay High Court and Supreme Court of India. She has completed a Healthcare Management Program at the Indian School of Business and holds a Bachelor of Science from Mumbai University.
13. Jessica Baker Flechtner, PhD, Genocea Biosciences
Title: Chief Scientific Officer
Jessica Baker Flechtner is the Chief Scientific Officer of Genocea Biosciences, a company focused on identification of the correct tumor targets to develop life-changing immunotherapies for people suffering from cancer. In that role, Flechtner leads efforts to develop T cell-directed vaccines and immunotherapies that fight cancer. She is widely recognized as a pioneer in the development of novel vaccines directed toward T cell immunity.
Flechtner has more than 20 years of experience in immunology, cancer, infectious disease, and vaccine development. Prior to joining Genocea, she served in a variety of roles developing vaccines and immunotherapies for cancer, infectious disease, autoimmunity, and allergy at companies including Mojave Therapeutics and Antigenics (now Agenus). She is a member of Women in Bio, the American Association of Immunologists, the American Association for Cancer Research, American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, and the President’s Council of Cornell Women. She is also an inventor with numerous pending and issued patents, and the author of multiple peer-reviewed scientific publications. Flechtner received her Bachelor of Science in animal science and a PhD in cellular immunology from Cornell University, and performed her postdoctoral work at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School.
14. Dr. Lea Hachigian, Be Biopharma (tie)
Title: Co-founder and Vice President of Strategy and Operations
Dr. Lea Hachigian is Co-founder and Vice President of Strategy and Operations at Be Biopharma, a company founded in 2020 to develop B-cell medicines designed to unleash the potential of cell therapies in applications beyond cytotoxicity. Dr. Hachigian has driven all aspects of company creation, including private financings, scientific strategy, business development, team building, and early operations. Prior to joining Be Bio, she was a principal at Longwood Fund, where she co-founded ImmuneID (founding CEO and current director), TScan Therapeutics (founding President and director), and Immunitas Therapeutics (founding President and director).
Dr. Hachigian received her PhD in molecular and cellular neuroscience from MIT, where she was a NSF Graduate Research Fellow. As a graduate student in the Heiman Lab at the Broad Institute, she studied the determinants of neuronal identity and vulnerability in disease. Prior to her doctorate, Dr. Hachigian received an A.B. from Harvard University, where she graduated magna cum laude with highest honors in neurobiology. In addition, she has received numerous fellowships for her research and multiple teaching awards for her work with both undergraduate and graduate students. She was also named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for healthcare due to her work as a co-founder of TScan Therapeutics.
14. Sofia Elizondo, Brightseed (tie)
Title: Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer
Sofia Elizondo co-founded biotechnology startup Brightseed and serves as its Chief Operations Officer. Brightseed is a startup that uses AI to detect plant-based nutritional bioactivities and integrates them into commonplace food items. Elizondo founded the San Francisco-based company in 2017 with the help of CEO Jim Flatt and CTO Lea Chae. Brightseed's AI platform Forager is a unique solution capable of mapping Earth's molecules and predicting which will have the most substantial impact on critical health areas. At this point in time, Forager has already analyzed the health properties of over 7000,000 compounds, and the platform is projected to have handled a total of 10 million by 2025.
Prior to originating Brightseed, Elizondo served two years as an advisor for natural nutrition company Exo Protein, which produces protein bars made from cricket flour. Preceding that, she spent three years with plant-based protein product maker Hampton Creek (now Eat Just) as its VP of Corporate Strategy and Business Development. Elizondo also made an international impact by working as a special advisor to United Nations Global Impact in 2010. As part of an externship from Boston Consulting Group, she helped launch a global engagement program for the leading 50 socially responsible corporations which was featured in Davos' World Economic Forum in 2011. Elizondo graduated from Stanford with a Master of Business Administration and a Certificate of Public Management and Social Innovation. She also earned her Bachelor of Arts in philosophy, politics, and economics from the University of Pennsylvania.
15. Meredith James, Flagship Biosciences
Title: Chief Commercial Officer
Meredith James is the Chief Commercial Officer at Flagship Bioscience, a leading provider of data-centric pathology services and tissue analysis. Founded in 2009 and headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado, Flagship is revolutionizing tissue analysis to improve drug development and diagnostics using the power of AI. The company’s patented technology and proprietary workflow significantly improves on the data and interpretation from traditional pathology methods.
Since joining Flagship in July of 2019, James has held positions of leadership in both operations and sales/marketing, supporting the continued delivery of the highest quality data to Flagship’s clients and bringing Flagship’s unique capabilities to market. With a 20+ year career in the pharmaceutical industry spanning laboratory operations and clinical program and project management, James previously led translational programs at Precision for Medicine. She also held leadership positions at PPD Laboratories and Quintiles (now part of IQVIA) where she helped to develop, manage, and organize processes and vendor relationships. James’ additional years in laboratory, IT, and account and project management make her an incredible asset to Flagship. James received her Bachelor of Science in biology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and her Master of Science/Master of Business Administration degree (matriculated); BS; and BA in biotechnology from The Johns Hopkins University.
16. Juliette Han, PhD, Cambrian Biopharma
Title: Chief Operating Officer
Juliette Han is the Chief Operating Officer at Cambrian Biopharma, a multi-asset biotechnology company that combines the advantages of a biotech business, a venture capital fund, and an incubator to create a platform for developing multiple new therapeutics. As COO, Han establishes institutional infrastructure and capability across Cambrian’s corporate functions and investment processes to maintain its fast growth trajectory. Utilizing her strengths in the finance and biopharma industries, she deploys cutting-edge portfolio management techniques, valuation modeling, and risk management methods. Under her leadership, Cambrian has progressed from a Series A to a Series C company, doubled its portfolio to over 14 R&D programs (including a publicly traded affiliate), and progressed several programs to their milestones in under two years.
Before joining Cambrian, Han refined her leadership and management skills in investment and consulting firms such as Two Sigma, Citadel, and McKinsey. She was honored by Moves magazine as a mentor and leader in shaping the next generation of women in the workforce and serves as a member of the Alumni Advisory Council of Harvard Medical School’s Division of Medical Sciences. Han received her PhD in neuroscience from Harvard University. She also earned a Master of Science in physiological science and a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience and physiological science from the University of California, Los Angeles.
17. Dr. Natalie Breakfield, NewLeaf Symbiotics (tie)
Title: Vice President, Research & Discovery
Dr. Natalie Breakfield is the Vice President of Research & Discovery at NewLeaf Symbiotics, a biotechnology startup based out of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Missouri. With 15 years of research experience with pink pigmented facultative methylotrophs (the microbe NewLeaf exclusively focuses on), her expertise has been invaluable in the discovery, development, and commercialization of this technology, which is available today under the brand name of Terrasym.
Breakfield joined NewLeaf in its infancy as a staff scientist in 2014. Her ability to collaborate across teams and bring forward and implement new ideas while remaining adaptable has been instrumental to NewLeaf’s commercial success as a small startup. Natalie received her Bachelor of Science in biological sciences from Quincy University (Quincy, IL), Master of Science in molecular biology from University of Missouri (Kansas City, MO), and her Ph.D. in genetics and genomics from Duke University (Durham, NC). She is a Board of Directors member of the International Phytobiomes Alliance Board and a recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award postdoctoral fellowship. Over the course of her career, Natalie has been featured in 12 peer reviewed papers and granted 3 patents.
17. Cynthia Seidel-Dugan, PhD, Werewolf Therapeutics (tie)
Title: Chief Scientific Officer
Cynthia Seidel-Dugan is the Chief Scientific Officer of Werewolf Therapeutics, an innovative biopharmaceutical company pioneering the development of therapeutics engineered to stimulate the body’s immune system for the treatment of cancer. At Werewolf, Seidel-Dugan leads the company’s efforts to leverage its proprietary PREDATOR™ platform to design conditionally activated INDUKINE™ molecules, with the goal of addressing the limitations of conventional proinflammatory immune therapies.
Previously, Seidel-Dugan served as chief scientific officer of Potenza Therapeutics until its acquisition by Astellas Pharma in 2018, and also contributed to start-ups Tizona Therapeutics and Trieza Therapeutics. Prior to that, Seidel-Dugan served as vice president of Biology for CoStim Pharmaceuticals. Earlier in her career, Seidel-Dugan built a strong reputation as a research leader and developer of small and large-molecule drugs over two decades at Ariad Pharmaceuticals, Exelixis Pharmaceuticals, Schering-Plough Research Institute, and Merck Research Laboratories. Seidel-Dugan received her Bachelor of Science in biology from the College of William and Mary and her PhD in microbiology and molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania, also completing a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Joan Brugge at the University of Pennsylvania.
18. Christine Maurer, Autobahn Therapeutics
Title: Senior Vice President of Development Operations and Regulatory Affairs
Christine Maurer is the Senior Vice President of Development Operations and Regulatory Affairs at Autobahn Therapeutics, a San Diego-based biotechnology company focused on improving life health and restoring hope for people affected by CNS disorders by driving the regenerative power of the human body. At Autobahn, Maurer brings substantial senior leadership experience in the management of multi-million-dollar R&D portfolio programs in the life sciences industry. Prior to joining Autobahn, Maurer was SVP of program management at Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals, where she served as a key contributor in building a start-up company with an advancing pipeline of four clinical stage assets focused in rare autoinflammatory and autoimmune disease areas.
Prior to Kiniksa, Maurer held roles of increasing responsibility in project, program, and alliance management at Synageva BioPharma, Biogen Idec, Molecular Insight (Progenics), Globomax (ICON), and US Surgical Corporation (Medtronic). She also served as a project management consultant for Integrated Project Management Corporation. Ms. Maurer holds a Bachelor of Arts in business administration from Pace University in New York and a Master of Science in project and program management from Brandeis University in Massachusetts.
19. Dr. Milena Kanova, Palladio Biosciences
Title: Vice President of Clinical Operations
Dr. Milena Kanova is the Vice President of Clinical Operations for Palladio Biosciences, a Centessa Pharmaceuticals company. Dr. Kanova is a global leader with more than two decades of experience in clinical research in multiple therapeutic areas. At Palladio, she is currently leading the global Phase 3 studies for lixivaptan, an investigational agent in development for autosomal polycystic kidney disease. Before joining Palladio, Dr. Kanova was with Nuvelution Pharma INC as senior vice president, head of operations, and chief compliance officer.
Previously, Dr. Kanova also worked for 21 years at IQVIA in numerous positions with increasing responsibility. This includes serving as senior director of Project Management; therapeutic strategy Lead in Internal Medicine, Immunology, and Rare Diseases; Global Operations Head for General Internal Medicine; and Clinical Operations Manager and Country Manager. She was also in charge of setting up new offices and clinical research services in Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Dr. Kanova acquired her M.D. from the Medical University of Sofia and held a residency position in neurosurgery at the Medical University of Pleven, Bulgaria.
20. Nicole Wagner, PhD, LambdaVision (tie)
Title: President and Chief Executive Officer
Nicole Wagner is President and Chief Executive Officer of LambdaVision, a biotechnology company developing a protein-based artificial retina to treat patients blinded by retinal degenerative diseases. Wagner has secured $8.75 million in funding to accelerate research, development, and commercialization of the technology. Her research has recently involved the production of artificial retinas on the International Space Station (ISS), which is establishing new commercial opportunities to manufacture products in microgravity with direct clinical benefit.
Wagner obtained her PhD in molecular and cell biology from the University of Connecticut in 2013. During the course of her PhD research, she spent her graduate career working on optimizing light-activated proteins for applications in devices and played a critical role in the proof-of-concept experiments which helped to found LambdaVision. Her accolades include the Connecticut Technology Council’s Women of Innovation Award, Connecticut Magazine’s 40 Under 40, and the 2020 Women in Aerospace (WIA) Achievement Award. In her spare time, Wagner serves on the Board of Directors of the New England Women in Science Executives’ Club, the Connecticut Technology Council, and CTNext. She also recently joined the ISS National Lab User Advisory Committee.
20. Padideh Kamali-Zare, Darmiyan (tie)
Title: Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer
Padideh Kamali-Zare is a Co-founder and the Chief Executive Officer of Darmiyan, a San Francisco, California-based company that develops an AI-powered software platform for early detection, monitoring, and stratification of Alzheimer's disease. Under Kamali-Zare's leadership, Darmiyan raised seed funding led by Eisai, IT-Farm, and Y-Combinator and secured U.S. and Japanese patents for BrainSee, its predictive AI-powered SaaS for Alzheimer’s Disease diagnosis. BrainSee was granted FDA Breakthrough designation in 2021 and achieved widespread recognition in the biomedical and life science communities, including being a 2021 UCSF Health Awards finalist.
Kamali-Zare is well-regarded globally for her geometrical modeling expertise, cross-cultural understanding, and visionary approach to complex problems. Prior to launching Darmiyan, Kamali-Zare was an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the New York University School of Medicine, where she completed postdoctoral training in biophysical neuroscience under Professor Charles Nicholson, the pioneer of brain microstructure modeling. She was a 2020 Fortune 40 Under 40 global healthcare leader/influencer and a 2018 TEDMED Hive Innovator. Kamali-Zare received her PhD in biological physics from Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden in 2010. Her PhD thesis laid a foundation for her company’s novel work in creating a virtual microscope of the brain.
21. Valerie Morisset, Eliem Therapeutics
Title: Executive Vice President of R&D and Chief Scientific Officer
Valerie Morisset is Executive Vice President of R&D, Chief Scientific Officer, and Co-founder of Eliem Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on developing novel therapies for neuronal excitability disorders. As one of the industry’s leading clinical translation scientists in the field of neuroscience, she combines an enormous depth of scientific and clinical knowledge when overseeing and leading the drug discovery process. Throughout her career, Morisset has regularly proven her ability to bring the best and brightest together by continually motivating a team of leaders that have worked together for a decade, while also fostering the growth of female leadership at the companies for which she’s worked.
Prior to Eliem, Morisset held several senior executive roles spanning a 20+ year career in the pharmaceutical industry that includes working with Novartis, GSK, Convergence, and Biogen. Most recently, she was a founding venture partner at Bridge Valley Ventures and co-founded Convergence Pharmaceuticals, where she led the Biology and Translational Medicine team and was instrumental to the company’s acquisition by Biogen in 2015. With extensive experience across several therapeutic areas from neurology to sensory biology, she has delivered high-quality clinical candidates and contributed to advancing drug discovery and development. Morisset received her PhD in electrophysiology from the University of Bordeaux.
22. Kristin Martin, Poseida Therapeutics
Title: Chief People & Administration Officer
Kristin Martin is Chief People & Administration Officer at Poseida Therapeutics, Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company utilizing proprietary genetic engineering platform technologies to create cell and gene therapeutics with the capacity to cure. Since joining Poseida in 2019, she has built and scaled the Human Resources function and team to support the fast-growing company. Most recently, Ms. Martin has also assumed responsibility for Facilities and Information Technology at Poseida, broadening her leadership of the infrastructure of the organization.
Ms. Martin has more than 25 years of experience spanning biotechnology and other industries. Before joining Poseida, she served as VP of Human Resources, Facilities, and IT at Ardea Biosciences and held previous human resources leadership roles working with research and development, operations, and pharmaceutical manufacturing at Amylin Pharmaceuticals. Ms. Martin serves on the Board of Trustees for a Life Sciences Benefits Trust and is an active member of the human resources community in San Diego. Ms. Martin received a Bachelor of Arts degree in interpersonal communication and human resource management from Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
23. Teresa McCarthy, Avidity Biosciences (tie)
Title: Chief Human Resources Officer
Teresa McCarthy is the Chief Human Resources Officer at Avidity Biosciences, a biopharmaceutical company committed to delivering a new class of RNA therapeutics called Antibody Oligonucleotide Conjugates (AOCs™). McCarthy is an essential part of Avidity’s executive leadership team and is instrumental in developing and executing human resource strategies across the company. Most recently, McCarthy has played a key role in defining Avidity’s values, with a particular focus on tackling gender and racial inequality in the biotech industry by building an inclusive workforce from the top down.
McCarthy has worked with organizations and clients through various large-scale change, organization design, and effectiveness efforts, fueling her passion for helping scientific and health care companies nurture strategic, bold, and forward-thinking leaders. McCarthy's experience and ability to have a lasting impact is broad: through her successful consulting practice McCarthy Consultants, her influence is felt throughout each of the companies she has supported. Prior to consulting, McCarthy held leadership positions at Edwards Lifesciences, Baxter Cardiovascular Group, and IVAC Corporation, and received a Master of Arts in organizational communication with an emphasis in international business from San Diego State University.
23. Dianne Whitfield, Tarsus Pharmaceuticals (tie)
Title: Chief Human Resources Officer
Dianne Whitfield brings more than 20 years of experience in human resources, including over a decade of life sciences industry management and leadership. Prior to joining Tarsus, Dianne served as Vice President and Head of Human Resources for Evolus, Inc. (NASDAQ: EOLS), where she led efforts to support the commercialization of the start-up company’s first approved product. While at Evolus, she focused on recruiting top talent, building a positive culture, and fostering an effective employee experience in order to drive engagement and business results.
Prior to Evolus, Dianne held positions of increasing responsibility at Allergan (an AbbVie company), progressing to Director of Global Human Resources. Her experience there spanned a variety of human resources business partnership and leadership roles, where she supported both the Commercial and Research & Development organizations and led enterprise-wide initiatives in Global Talent Management. She has broad experience building organizations and supporting product launches in multiple therapeutic areas, including eye care, as well as expertise in developing culture and talent programs. Dianne holds a BA in psychology and social behavior from the University of California, Irvine and a Masters in social work from California State University, Long Beach.
24. Diane Tager, Volastra Therapeutics
Title: Vice President of Strategy and Operations
Diane Tager is Vice President of Strategy and Operations at Volastra Therapeutics, a West Harlem-based biotech that is challenging the field’s traditional approaches to cancer treatment by leveraging unique insights into a basic biological process: chromosomal instability. Since joining Volastra in 2019, Tager has been instrumental in growing the company and launching several high-profile partnerships, including inked collaborations with Microsoft and Dewpoint Therapeutics.
Tager came to Volastra with deep business experience in the pharma and biotech space. For seven years, she worked at Celgene, where she managed a $2 billion portfolio of strategic equity investments. Prior to starting her career in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, Tager worked as a community health nurse. Currently, she also serves on the Board of Directors at World Hope International, a relief and development organization working with vulnerable and exploited communities to alleviate poverty, suffering, and injustice. Tager was honored this year with New York Business Journal’s Women of Influence award for her professional and community impacts. Tager received her MBA from UVA’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration and her Bachelor of Science in nursing from Georgetown University.
25. Amanda Wagner, Immunitas Therapeutics
Title: Chief Business Officer
Amanda Wagner is the Chief Business Officer at Immunitas Therapeutics, a single-cell-genomics drug discovery company that modulates oncology targets. Wagner joined the company in October 2019 as one of its earliest employees and now fulfills her role as CBO, planning and leading strategies for clinical operations and integration with business and corporate development. During her time at Immunitas, she has helped lead the company to a $58 million Series B financing and facilitated several key agreements for the company, including license agreements and collaborations with leading academic institutions.
Prior to joining Immunitas, Wagner played a prominent role in the milestone achievements of many companies, including contributions to Q32 Bio's $46 million Series A financing during her tenure as VP of Corporate Development. The Boston Business Journal named Wagner a 40 Under 40 honoree in recognition of her accomplishments with Concert. Since January 2019, Wagner has served on the Board of Directors of the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF), a non-profit organization supporting and finding treatments for those with alopecia and raising awareness of the disease. In 2006, Wagner obtained a Master of Business Administration from the Simmons School of Management.