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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Life Science

Biocom California and its members commit to real and lasting change

Biocom California convened a task force to inform Biocom California’s strategic DE&I plan, and to support with the development of DE&I resources, opportunities to get involved, and benefits for companies of all sizes. Biocom California leadership and the Task Force identified goals and strategies which will guide meaningful action to advance and promote DE&I throughout the life sciences industry.

Task Force Co-Chairs

Carin Canale-Theakston
Chief Executive Officer, Canale Communications Inc.
Carin Canale-Theakston
Chief Executive Officer, Canale Communications Inc.

Carin Canale-Theakston is a senior life science executive with over 25 years of experience helping companies navigate a myriad of complex business strategies. As a seasoned life science executive, she has had a strategic seat at the table in over 400 life science companies, having helped shape countless strategies – and often business models – over the two plus decades she’s been working in the sector.

Carin is the founder and CEO of Canale Communications, one of the largest life science strategic communication firms in the US. Carin founded Canale Communications in 2010 after serving as president of the life sciences division of international public relations firm Porter Novelli. In addition to running Canale Communications, Carin is actively involved in public and nonprofit boards. Carin is a director for Cidara Therapeutics; vice chair of the board of directors for Biocom California and chair of its nominating-governance committee; a member of the executive committee of the board of directors for Connect/San Diego Venture Group; a Trustee for Francis Parker School and advisors for Abintus Bio and Epitracker Inc.

Richard W. Pascoe
President and CEO, Histogen Inc.
Richard W. Pascoe
President and CEO, Histogen Inc.

Richard W. Pascoe was named President and Chief Executive Officer of Histogen Inc. (NASDAQ: HSTO) in January of 2019. Mr. Pascoe has spent 28 years in the biotech industry where he has held a series of senior management roles to include leading two other public biotech companies as CEO through an exit.

Mr. Pascoe is a member of the board of directors and lead independent director of KemPharm, Inc. He also serves as a member of the board of directors of Seelos Therapeutics, Inc. He is the chair of the board of directors of Biocom California and a member of the Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund, a charity for military veterans.

Mr. Pascoe served on active duty as a commissioned officer with the U.S. Army where he earned fourteen awards and decorations including the Bronze Star Medal. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point Class of 1986.

Task Force Members

Julie Ames
Vice President, Corporate Communications, Biocom California
Julie Ames
Vice President, Corporate Communications, Biocom California

As Vice President of Corporate Communications, Julie develops communications strategies and programs to drive awareness surrounding Biocom California’s strategic priorities.

Prior to joining Biocom, Julie held executive communications and investor relations roles at companies ranging from global life science giants to early-stage biotechnology companies, including Life Technologies and CancerVax. She previously held financial services & operations analyst roles in Washington, D.C. at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Julie is the recipient of numerous awards: Military Spouse of the Year from the Military Spouse Business and Professional Network and IR/PR Leader of the year from BioFusion, among others. She holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a B.A. degree in economics from the University of Virginia.

Kristin D. Ashcraft
COO, Genome Medical
Kristin D. Ashcraft
COO, Genome Medical

Kristin is the Chief Operating Officer at Genome Medical, a privately-held venture-backed telegenomics company. Kristin is a proponent of creating and maintaining effective organizational culture and strives to build strong relationships with colleagues through mentorship, partnership and valuing people.

Kristin has spent over half her career in the healthcare industry at companies ranging in size and maturity from start-up to the Fortune 500. Prior to Genome Medical, Kristin led Alliance Management at digital health start up, MyHealthTeams. She also led Commercial Operations at Counsyl Inc and was there through its acquisition by Myriad Genetics. While at DaVita Inc, Kristin was on the leadership team and played numerous roles in bringing a nephrology-focused EHR to the market. She also worked in a second business unit at DaVita, a mail order pharmacy geared toward serving patients with chronic kidney disease, DaVitaRx. Kristin started her career at retail giant, Gap Inc.

Kristin holds an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and a BA in Biology and Environmental Science and Policy from Duke University. In addition to serving as a board member for WISER International, Kristin has advised several biotech start-ups, is a proud member of Chief, serves on the Biocom DEI Taskforce and is on the Alumni Board for UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Anne Benge
CEO, Cultura
Anne Benge
CEO, Cultura

As the owner and CEO of Cultura, Anne is a dynamic leader that empowers the Cultura team to be bold in its creativity, fostering a culture of innovation. She challenges the status quo in search of ingenious solutions, always curious of emerging trends in business and how these relate back to clients. Her background in Cultural Anthropology and Economics from her Alma Matter, University of Michigan, is indicative to how she approaches projects; intrigued by the people and processes that make a company unique and how Cultura can impact these organizations, enabling them to do their best work.

Founded in 2017, Cultura was named San Diego’s 4th largest Woman Owned Business by the San Diego Business Journal. Anne is a visionary that adds value by applying a “what if” mentality to drive a team forward and open new opportunities, which is reflected in Cultura’s 99% positive employee engagement rate. The company has been awarded San Diego Business Journal’s Best Places to Work 2019 as well as Haworth’s Best in Class level of distinction five times.

Cultura was created to support a progressive style of service the staff and clients helped to envision and has partnered with almost 900 companies nationwide to build spaces together that support their business, people and ultimately culture. Cultura stops at nothing to deliver the best for their clients; a place where their culture can thrive.

With over 30 years in the commercial real estate industry, Anne has an invaluable wealth of resources that strengthen and broaden the capacity for providing inventive and results driven solutions, ultimately giving culture a place. Cultura is passionate about creating places where people love to work, live, learn, and play, so that everyone can #lovewhereyouwork.

Amy Buono
Vice President, People and Culture, Genomatica, Inc.
Amy Buono
Vice President, People and Culture, Genomatica, Inc.

Amy has served as Vice President, People and Culture since August 2018. Since joining the firm in 2001 she has served multiple roles within Human Resources and Administration. Amy helps ensure a keen, team-wide focus on our culture and values, while driving processes for a high-performance organization. Amy is a founding member of the Company’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team (“GenoForAll”) ensuring an inclusive workplace that welcomes different minds, perspectives, and backgrounds and where every employee feels a sense of purpose and belonging. Amy is a member of Women in Bio Executive Roundtable and Director’s Rising, where she actively mentors a group of talented women to advance their careers into leadership roles in life sciences. She graduated from University of California, San Diego with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.

Cheri Curry
Senior Director of Procurement and Facilities, GRAIL Inc.
Cheri Curry
Senior Director of Procurement and Facilities, GRAIL Inc.

Cheri Curry is Senior Director of Procurement and Facilities at GRAIL Inc., which operates Menlo Park, CA as a biotechnology company focusing on combining science, technology and clinical studies to reveal early-stage cancers. Cheri has worked as a procurement professional in the life sciences industry for global biotechnology and pharmaceutical organizations as well as at an international biomedical research center. She provides leadership and support to the scientific research community by devising sustainable, solution-driven procurement strategies, systems optimization integration, maintaining strategic relationships, and managing various negotiations for startup and R&D activities. Ms. Curry works to actively negotiate and manage multi-million-dollar contracts and agreements. She has managed strategic purchasing integrations during various stages of mergers, acquisitions and rapid organizational change. Her strategic relational collaborations range from major industry players and clinical study partners such as Illumina, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, University College London, Thermo-Fisher Scientific, VWR, and many others. She has lived and worked in the MENA region as Director of Research Laboratory Operations and Acting Co-Chief of Administration (CAO) for the Research Administration Division at the Sidra Medical and Research Center in Doha, Qatar. Sidra is the first women and children’s medical center of its kind in the Middle East. Additionally, Ms. Curry is proud to have founded and served as president of the SEEDs Alliance, a La Jolla, CA based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving environmental sustainability within the life sciences community. Between 2010 and 2016, SEEDs brought together over 600 members from the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, governmental agencies, NGOs and various other private sector organizations to green the life sciences.

Denise (DeeDee) DeMan
Founder, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Bench International
Denise (DeeDee) DeMan
Founder, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Bench International

Denise (DeeDee) DeMan is the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Bench International. With an indefatigable, pioneering spirit, DeeDee has taken Bench from its founding in 1974 to its eminence today as one of the most successful companies “shattering” diversity ceilings bringing women, people of color, as well as those who “think” and “do” differently to leadership roles in life science companies. She has an unwavering commitment to, “One Global Team, One Budget, No Borders, No Boundaries,” mitigating any internal competition, thus providing Bench’s clients with Best in Class “Athletes” who bring them closer to changing the course of diseases. Being cause-motivated and giving back is critical to DeeDee, and she has devoted decades to serving as a member of multiple non-profit boards. She is a founding board member of Learning Forum International (LFI). Recently, DeeDee was appointed to the Advisory Board of BIOCOM. DeeDee is also a Board member of The Maple Counseling Center (TMCC). DeeDee holds double Master’s degrees in Auditory and Speech Pathology.

Michael Farrington
Vice President, Corporate Marketing, Brand and Communication, NuVasive
Michael Farrington
Vice President, Corporate Marketing, Brand and Communication, NuVasive

Michael Farrington currently serves as Vice President, Corporate Marketing, Brand and Communication, for NuVasive, the $1B, San Diego-based leader in spine technology innovation. Michael is responsible for leading the Company’s marketing strategy, customer experience, digital and marketing technology, brand, public relations, corporate and internal communication. Responsibilities for marketing strategy include supporting Global Implant Systems, Surgical Intelligence, Clinical Services, Specialized Orthopedics, Clinical Professional Development and all NuVasive commercial functions.

Prior to joining NuVasive, Michael was Global Marketing Director, Medication Management Solutions, at Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD), leading the marketing team for the $2B division supporting evidence generation, competitive intelligence, brand, global messaging and communication, and global registration within BD Medical.

Prior to BD, Michael held numerous marketing leadership roles at CareFusion, Inc., including Head of Corporate Marketing and Brand, and Director of Marketing, Dispensing Technologies, and led the global brand roll-out in more than 120 countries for the new publicly traded company (CFN).

With experience in the medical device industry since 2005, Michael began his career co-founding an integrated brand and marketing communication company, Third Floor Media, Inc. in Los Angeles.

Michael received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Pepperdine University, currently serves on the Point Loma Nazarene Fermanian School of Business Marketing Advisory Board and coaches the Fermanian School of Business Marketing Principles course. He lives in Encinitas with his wife and three children.

Stephen Ferruolo
Partner, Perkins Coie LLP
Stephen Ferruolo
Partner, Perkins Coie LLP

Stephen C. Ferruolo focuses his practice on the life sciences sector, representing private and publicly held biotech, pharmaceutical, medical device, and digital health companies, as well as technology companies, investors, and venture capitalists. Widely known and regarded for his exemplary representation of his clients, Stephen has earned an international reputation in the life sciences.

Stephen’s extensive experience includes guiding life science clients through private and public financings as well as mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance issues, licensing, collaboration and commercial agreements, and compliance matters. Stephen has worked on hundreds of private financings during his legal career, with a broad range of venture capitalists and other investors and handled IPOs ranging from $6 million to $1.1 billion.

Stephen most recently served as the dean of the University of San Diego School of Law, where he was also a professor of law in business and corporate law, contracts, and securities regulation. Prior to that, he held a variety of senior law firm positions in Southern California, and he currently serves as vice president and secretary and on the board of directors of BIOCOM, the association representing the California life science industry.

Dr. Michael Fino
Dean, Mathematics and Sciences, MiraCosta College
Dr. Michael Fino
Dean, Mathematics and Sciences, MiraCosta College

Mike worked in the biotechnology industry for eight years in various bioprocess engineering capacities from research, product development, and manufacturing support for tissue engineered medical products. Mike joined MiraCosta College in 2004 to lead the development of a new Bioprocess Technology program and, in 2014, authored the first-of-its-kind bachelor’s degree in biomanufacturing. This degree program has had better than 95% success rates for students from backgrounds that have been historically underserved in STEM higher education. As a dean, Mike now carries this passion for social justice, access, and success across all the STEM disciplines at MiraCosta College and the communities we serve.

Aileen Gipson
Executive Director, People & Culture, Biocom California
Aileen Gipson
Executive Director, People & Culture, Biocom California

Aileen is responsible for defining and implementing the HR strategy and direction and managing the daily HR operations. She partners with the executive team to plan and develop programs that foster organizational excellence and Biocom’s culture and values. Priorities include providing HR services that support a positive working environment where our employees thrive and are engaged so they may effectively support our members.

Aileen holds a Bachelor’s in Psychobiology from University of California, Riverside. She brings over 20 years of human resources experience with companies ranging from health care organizations to most recently, Head of HR for a San Diego global technology company, Maxwell Technologies, Inc.

Stephanie Hsieh
Executive Director, Los Angeles, Biocom California
Stephanie Hsieh
Executive Director, Los Angeles, Biocom California

As Executive Director of the Los Angeles office, Stephanie is at the leading edge of transforming the greater Los Angeles area into a premier life science hub, devising and executing on impactful strategies and initiatives for ensuring growth and sustainability for our members and the industry generally.

Stephanie has spent almost 30 years in biotech, most recently as CEO of an immune-oncology start-up in the Los Angeles area. She holds B.A. in biochemistry from Wellesley College, a J.D. from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

Dr. Enoch Kariuki
Board Director: Zentalis Pharmaceuticals and Imago Biosciences
Dr. Enoch Kariuki
Board Director: Zentalis Pharmaceuticals and Imago Biosciences

Dr. Enoch Kariuki is an accomplished biotech executive with over a decade of experience in healthcare strategy, life sciences investment banking, venture capital and business development. He most recently served as the Chief Financial Officer of VelosBio (acquired by Merck for $2.75 billion) where he led all finance-related and investor relations functions. Prior to VelosBio, he served as Senior Vice President, Corporate Development at Synthorx, where he led the company’s $151 million IPO, managed relationships with bankers, sell-side equity analysts and investors, and headed the business development process that concluded with the sale of Synthorx to Sanofi for $2.5 billion. Before Synthorx, Dr. Kariuki was Vice President at H.I.G. Capital, a $40 billion private equity firm, where he invested in and served on the boards of multiple life sciences companies. His other previous roles include Senior Associate at Leerink Partners and Associate Director at UBS Investment Bank. At Leerink and UBS, Dr. Kariuki advised healthcare companies on equity capital financings, mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, and recapitalizations.

Dr. Kariuki completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in R&D Strategy and Analytics at Bristol Myers Squibb and was a Pharmacist at CVS Caremark. He holds an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and a PharmD from Texas Southern University.

Jeanette Kilo-Smith
Global Diversity and Inclusion Director, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Customer Channels Group
Jeanette Kilo-Smith
Global Diversity and Inclusion Director, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Customer Channels Group

Jeanette Kilo-Smith is a Global Diversity and Inclusion strategy and activation leader. She brings 20+ years of broad human resources professional solutions experience for Fortune 100 companies. She has held senior level roles in diversity and inclusion, talent acquisition/management, strategic planning, leadership development, employee relations, organization development and human resources EEO/AA government compliance.

Jeanette has held senior level human resources positions, including serving as the Global Director, Diversity and Inclusion, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Customer Channels Group, where she leads the Diversity and Inclusion including the development and implementation of the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. Prior to this role, she served in senior level roles at Walgreens Boots Alliance, where she was responsible for diversity strategy development and implementation and the HR Government Compliance (EEO/AA) programs for 250k employees. She has also served as Vice President, Global Diversity and Inclusion at Walmart Stores, Inc., where she led the development and implementation of the company’s comprehensive Diversity and Inclusion strategy. As Vice-President Diversity and Inclusion at Motorola, Jeanette was responsible for the global development, implementation, and assessment of Diversity and Inclusion strategies, techniques, and programs for the corporation. Prior to this role, she was responsible for the company-wide EEO/AA Center of Expertise, supporting 35,000 employees and ensuring compliance with state and federal laws. She has also held senior Human Resources Business Partner positions, where she was aligned with the Chief Financial Officer and the Chief Legal Counsel.

Jeanette holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business with a specialization in Human Resources from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois; completed graduate course work from Keller Graduate School. She is also a certified diversity professional and is recognized as a Cornell Certified Diversity Professional (CCDP). Jeanette serves on the Boards of Directors for the YWCA – Chicago.

Jeanette is married and has one daughter.

Jennifer Landress
Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Biocom California
Jennifer Landress
Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Biocom California

Jennifer Landress is a visionary leader who inspires great people to do great things. As Chief Operating Officer for Biocom California, she has a track record of supporting life science companies doing cutting edge research to grow, evolve, scale, secure funding and transfer their knowledge to the world. She leverages 20+ years of operational and management experience leading state-wide operations (offices in multiple cities) with a focus on the impact on future growth and influencing direction for the largest statewide life science association in the world.

In her role as COO, she is a well-connected leader within the life science industry. She has strong expertise in strategic planning, having led the development of the organizations last three multi-year strategic plans and building successful partnerships, she has negotiated and executed over 15 MOUs with different organizations. She oversees all operations including Finance, Conferences and Meetings, Capital Development and International development and partnerships. As a catalyst for change, she has led the development and creation of programs geared towards connecting life science companies to VCs and strategic partners which have generated over 900 introductions.

Jennifer is an active member of Orangetheory Fitness (completing 600+ classes), has traveled to all seven continents and is a wife and mother of three children and an adorable Corgi named Piper.

Hilda Mwangi, Esq., MBA
Lead, Communications and Operations at Takeda California, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Ltd.
Hilda Mwangi, Esq., MBA
Lead, Communications and Operations at Takeda California, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Ltd.

Ms. Hilda Mwangi is Research Communications and Operations Lead at Takeda California (TCAL) and a member of Takeda’s Global Research Strategy and Operations team. In addition to this role, she is a passionate DE&I leader and ally who has served on Takeda’s R&D DE&I Advisory Committee, Rapid Response Team, and led on multiple strategic and leadership projects relating to DE&I. She is also TCAL’s representative on local San Diego-based DE&I committees and taskforces.

A licensed attorney, Hilda also has a rich background in international business development, legislation and policy, having served as the Legislative Aide for Maryland Senator, Norman R. Stone Jr., a Vice-Consul for International Trade and Investment for the British Government, and as Director of the World Trade Center, San Diego.

Hilda received her Bachelor’s Degree from Towson University (Towson, MD) and her Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration from American University (Washington, DC). In 2018, she was appointed to the San Diego International Affairs Board and served two years on the Executive Committee and was also named a finalist in San Diego’s 2018 NEXT Top 40 under 40 of Business Leaders by the San Diego Business Journal.

Paul Mola
President, CEO & Founder, Roswell Biotechnologies, Inc.
Paul Mola
President, CEO & Founder, Roswell Biotechnologies, Inc.

Mr. Mola is CEO, President and board member of Roswell Biotechnologies, Inc., a company he co-founded in 2014. Previously, he was Head of Global Solutions at Human Longevity, Inc., working with genome sequencing pioneer Craig Venter to establish international precision medicine partnerships. Prior to that, he spent over a decade at Life Technologies / Applied Biosystems (now part of ThermoFisher
Scientific), the global leader in life science tools, and the historical market leader in DNA sequencing technology, where he was President of the Enterprise Genomic Solutions Business Unit and Head of Strategy and Chief of Staff for the Genetic Systems Division. Mr. Mola received the Life Technologies’ “Game Changer” award, the company’s highest honor for work that transforms the company, for his accomplishments, which included supporting the commercialization of the SOLiD
sequencing platform, driving the acquisition of the Ion Torrent sequencing platform and engagement with the Genia sequencing platform (later acquired by Roche). Paul was also responsible for driving adoption of population scale sequencing at a global scale, which included the establishment of the national genome sequencing program for the government of Saudi Arabia.

Innovation

Michelle Nemits
Executive Director, Bay Area, Biocom California
Michelle Nemits
Executive Director, Bay Area, Biocom California

As Executive Director of Biocom’s South San Francisco office, Michelle is responsible for building the framework for enabling the creation of a strong, well-connected life science community in the Bay Area. She leads Biocom’s programming and benefits efforts and helps raise awareness of the region’s innovations and accomplishments.

Michelle has spent over 20 years in Bay Area life science sales, marketing and business development. She has held leadership roles at a large lab supply distributor and at a biotech tools startup, which fostered her broad view of the Bay Area market, its challenges and its opportunities.

Karmin Noar
Executive Director, Biocom California Institute
Karmin Noar
Executive Director, Biocom California Institute

Karmin oversees strategies, programs and staff and drive initiatives focused on STEM education and workforce development. Her priorities include serving job seekers and employers as well as leveraging community partnerships to prepare the emerging workforce talent and advance the incumbent workers of the life science industry.

Noar has more than a decade of volunteer and work experience in the nonprofit sector, working on issues from public health and education to youth and workforce development. A leader in education and workforce development fields in San Diego, Noar is experienced in building partnerships to provide employers with a highly skilled workforce and expanding access to careers in San Diego’s priority sectors for underrepresented individuals.

Noar holds two bachelor’s degrees in political science and ethnic studies from the University of California, San Diego and a master’s degree in education from Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education & Psychology.

Deborah Wafer, PA, RN, NP
PA, RN, NP, Medical Affairs, Gilead Sciences, Inc.
Deborah Wafer, PA, RN, NP
PA, RN, NP, Medical Affairs, Gilead Sciences, Inc.

Deborah Wafer, NP, PA, currently works on the HIV Prevention at Gilead Science, Inc. In this role she provides education to healthcare providers on PEP, PrEP and other prevention modalities. She has also worked on the Gilead HIV and HCV Community Marketing teams, and she is an accomplished marketing professional with demonstrated experience in developing innovative programming and tools designed to engage healthcare provider’s staff, patients and communities. Deborah has been at Gilead 15 years she has broad experience engaging cross-functional teams, colleagues, Healthcare professionals, community, advocates both National and local resulting in novel partnerships that advance patient educations and business objectives.

Prior to working in pharma, Deborah was a clinician at UCLA Medical Center in the Clinical AIDS Education and Research Center (CARE Center) where she provided primary care and coordinated clinical trials for people living with HIV. While at UCLA she was instrumental in translating clinical research to the community and patients. One of her career highlights was being a part of the research protocols that decrease HIV transmission from mother to infants, this research implemented HIV screening for all pregnant women and resulted in decrease to almost zero newborns born HIV positive.

Deborah also worked at the King/Drew Medical Center in the Department of Family Medicine, Community Medicine and Ob/GYN.

Deborah lives in Los Angeles, she enjoys, cycling, cooking and traveling to explore different cultures.

Joseph Panetta
President and CEO, Biocom California
Joseph Panetta
President and CEO, Biocom California

Since 1999, Joseph Panetta has been President and CEO and a member of the Board of Directors of Biocom California, the state’s largest and most-experienced leader and advocate for the life science industry. Biocom California works on behalf of over 1,400 members to drive public policy, build an enviable network of industry leaders, create access to capital development, introduce cutting-edge STEM education programs, and create robust value-driven purchasing programs. Mr. Panetta works with an experienced professional staff of 70, with offices located in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Tokyo, and Washington, D.C, as well as a strong presence in Sacramento. Together with a very engaged Board of Directors and Board of Governors, he leads initiatives that help members produce novel solutions that improve the human condition.

Mr. Panetta is co-founder of the Biocom Political Action Committee; the Biocom Institute for education and workforce development; and the California Biotechnology Foundation, a joint initiative to inform legislators and the media about the life science industry in the state, of which he is Chairman. Since 2014, Mr. Panetta has been a member of the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee, which serves as the governing and oversight board for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and is responsible for providing grant funding under the $5.5 billion California Stem Cell Initiative.

Bernard Parker
Managing Partner, Caligen Bio LLC
Bernard Parker
Managing Partner, Caligen Bio LLC
Susan Windham-Bannister, Ph.D.
President and CEO, Biomedical Growth Strategies LLC
Susan Windham-Bannister, Ph.D.
President and CEO, Biomedical Growth Strategies LLC

Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in biopharma innovation, market access and market optimization strategies. She has been recognized by the Boston Globe as one of the “10 Most Influential Women in Biotech,” by Boston Magazine as one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Boston” and by Biosphere as one of the 10 most prominent African American life science leaders. She is Chair of the National Governing Board of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS), a Director of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a Director of Aridis Pharmaceuticals and a Director of Histogen Inc.

From 2008-2015 Dr. Windham-Bannister served as President and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), which administered a $1-billion (USD) Life Sciences investment fund created to catalyze innovation in all sectors of the Massachusetts life sciences community – biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, medical diagnostics and bioinformatics/analytics. She was a member of the Center’s Board of Directors with Boston life sciences luminaries that include Joshua Boger Ph.D., founder of Vertex; Abbie Celniker Ph.D., the first female partner of Third Rock Ventures; Edward Benz, M.D., former President of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and Peter Slavin, M.D., President of Massachusetts General Hospital. Since completing her tenure with the Massachusetts Life Sciences Initiative, Dr. Windham-Bannister serves as President and CEO of Biomedical Growth Strategies, LLC, serving as an advisor to innovation initiatives in the U.S. and internationally.

Dr. Windham-Bannister received a B.A. from Wellesley College, a Doctorate in Health Policy and Management from the Florence Heller School at Brandeis University, and a Doctor of Science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (honoris causa). She completed her doctoral work at the Heller School under a Fellowship from the Ford Foundation and was also a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School. Dr. Windham-Bannister also served as a Fellow in the Center for Science and Policy (CSAP) at Cambridge University, Cambridge, England.

Dr. Gentry Patrick, PhD
Professor of Neurobiology, University of California San Diego
Dr. Gentry Patrick, PhD
Professor of Neurobiology, University of California San Diego

Dr. Patrick is a Professor in the Neurobiology Section of the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of California at San Diego. His lab studies the role of protein turnover in synaptic plasticity and neurodegenerative disease with a particular interest in ubiquitin-dependent trafficking and turnover of synaptic membrane protein including AMPA-type glutamate receptors. He additionally is the Director of Mentorship and Diversity for the Division of Biological Sciences at UC San Diego and served as the Associate Director of the Neurosciences Graduate Program (NGP) here at UC San Diego from 2013 to 2019. Dr. Patrick was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles (where he attended King/Drew Medical Magnet high school in Watts, CA). Dr. Patrick received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1999 after working in the laboratory of Dr. Li-Huei Tsai. He was a Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation and a United Negro College Fund/Merck postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Erin Schuman at California Institute of Technology. Dr. Patrick joined the UC San Diego faculty in 2004.

In 2018, Dr. Patrick he created and launched the PATHSways to STEM (PATHS) thru Enhanced Access and Mentorship scholars program. The purpose of the program is to “increase the number, persistence, and success of under-resourced and underrepresented minority (URM) students in STEM in San Diego.“ The integrated approach adopted by the PATHS Program leverages dynamic, multilateral partnerships to systematically address historic challenges facing students from socio-economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in San Diego and across California. The PATHS Program’s all-access model for support, empowerment, and professional exposure will mobilize a new, diverse generation of STEM leaders.

Tim Scott
CEO, TEGA Therapeutics
Tim Scott
CEO, TEGA Therapeutics

Mr. Scott is co-founder and CEO of TEGA Therapeutics, a glycobiology company focused on lysosomal storage disorders and recombinant heparan sulfates. He previously was co-founder and President of Pharmatek Laboratories, a contract development and manufacturing company (sold to Catalent Pharma Solutions in 2016). Prior to that, he was Senior Vice President at Active.com (IPO 2011). Mr. Scott serves on the Board of Avelas, a bioscience company working to create better outcomes for cancer patients with its activatable cell-penetrating peptide technology. He also serves on the board of DTx, a biotechnology company using fatty acid motifs to deliver RNA therapeutics. He previously served on the board of Zacharon Pharmaceuticals (sold to Biomarin 2014). Mr. Scott is immediate past Executive Board Chair of CONNECT, a non-profit organization helping to create and scale innovation companies in San Diego. He also serves as Chair of the Board of Governors, Chair of COVID-19 Task Force, and Chair-elect for BIOCOM, a non-profit organization supporting the needs of bio/pharma companies in California. At UC San Diego, he serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Division of Biological Sciences. In the community, Mr. Scott is chair-elect of the San Diego Blood Bank. He is a trustee for the La Jolla Playhouse, a Tony-award winning regional theatre. And he serves on the board of Outside the Lens, a non-profit providing photography and digital media programs for underserved youth. Mr. Scott earned his B.A. in Biochemistry from the University of California, San Diego. He earned his J.D. from the University of San Diego and is a member of the California Bar.

Linda Sierra
Sr. Vice President, Business Development, Bench International
Linda Sierra
Sr. Vice President, Business Development, Bench International

Linda’s career in Life Sciences spans nearly 30 years. She has been in executive search since 2010, the first 7 years as a top executive recruiter, and in business development since 2017. Prior to working in executive search, Linda spent 18 years in four biotech companies and one AIDS/HIV diagnostic company. She has lived and worked in both the San Diego and South San Francisco biotech hubs. She focused her time in industry in human resources and recruiting. Linda has hands-on experience in all stages of companies including: start-up/pre-clinical, IPO, product launch/commercial, M&A, rapid growth and reductions-in-force.

Linda is passionate about Diversity Equity & Inclusion and has held several events on the subject to raise awareness. She is a tireless advocate and ally for people of color and women in executive leadership. Linda is heavily involved in her community and sits on the BIOCOM Diversity & Inclusion Task Force, Advisory Board for Life Science Cares San Diego, LifeHR Network Board, is Co-Chair of the MANA de San Diego Advisory Council and a member of Women in Bio and Women Give San Diego.

Lisa Toppin
VP, Global Diversity & Inclusion, Illumina, Inc.
Lisa Toppin
VP, Global Diversity & Inclusion, Illumina, Inc.

Dr. Lisa M. Toppin is an experienced Human Resources Executive and currently serves as the Chief Diversity Officer for Illumina. Lisa has held HR leadership positions with firms nationwide, including LPL, where she served as the Chief Diversity Officer, and Charles Schwab, where she led the firm’s diversity and inclusion and learning and development programming as well as the executive recruiting function. Prior to that, Lisa served in HR business partner roles with Phillips Petroleum, Sherwin Williams and Montell USA. She is a member of the Forbes HR Council and a world-renowned leader when it comes to engaging D&I change in a manner that is meaningful and sustainable.

Jens Vogel
Senior Vice President and Global Head of Biotech, Bayer Pharmaceuticals Product Supply
Jens Vogel
Senior Vice President and Global Head of Biotech, Bayer Pharmaceuticals Product Supply

Dr. Jens Vogel is SVP & Global Head of Biotech, Bayer Pharmaceuticals Product Supply, leading biologics operations, development and strategy across five sites, including cell & gene therapy industrialization. Jens has more than 20 years of professional and leadership experience in biologics development, operations, program management and regulatory affairs. Before rejoining Bayer in March 2020, he was President and CEO of Boehringer Ingelheim Fremont and member of BI’s Biopharma Executive Committee. Prior to his years at BI, Jens held various roles of increasing responsibility in Biologics Development at Bayer in Berkeley. He holds a PhD in Biochemical Engineering.

Meredith Wesley
VP, Talent and Culture, Boundless Bio
Meredith Wesley
VP, Talent and Culture, Boundless Bio

Meredith Wesley has over 20 years diverse human resources experience in biotech as well as technology, marketing, and manufacturing industries. She is currently VP, Talent and Culture at Boundless Bio. Prior to Boundless, Meredith was head of human resources at Ignyta, where she was responsible for leading human resources from its start-up phase with rapid growth through its $2 billion acquisition by Roche. Prior to that, Meredith served as Senior Director, Human Resources at Santarus, a specialty biopharmaceutical company, where she was responsible for multiple commercial scale-ups during launches in addition to providing HR leadership to commercial and R&D. She also served as Director of Human Resources at iPass, a SaaS platform company.

Meredith holds a Bachelor’s degree from University of San Diego and a Human Resources Management Certification from the University of California, Irvine.

Gaylene Xanthopoulos
Founder and President, The Leadership Edge
Gaylene Xanthopoulos
Founder and President, The Leadership Edge

Gaylene Xanthopoulos, Founder and President of The Leadership Edge, has a passion for assisting people to reach their highest potential. Through their work with over 7,500 Board Members, Executives and Scientific and Engineering Leaders, The Leadership Edge has dramatically improved the pace, performance and cultures of the most dynamic and innovative pharmaceutical, biotech and med-tech companies in the country.

Gaylene holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her personal accomplishments include being awarded Athena San Diego’s Pinnacle Award in the category “Individual in Services” for her role in the development and advancement of skilled and talented women within the San Diego life science and technology communities, “World Sales Leader of the Year” by Leadership Management, Inc. two years in a row, being named a winner of the San Diego Business Journal’s “Business Management Award” in their Women Who Mean Business competition; and in the following year, the San Diego Business Journal also named her company as one of the “Top 50 Companies in San Diego”. Gaylene is an in-demand speaker for national and international business conferences, as well as, a published author.