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Biocom California Catalyst Awards

Please join us in recognizing the winners of our 6th annual Catalyst Awards from San Diego, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area. Our industry would not be the same without young leaders like this year’s winners who help to ignite innovation and fuel the growth of our industry, and we thank all our 2021 nominees for their hard work and dedication.

Congratulations to our 2021 Catalyst Award Winners

Elinne Becket, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor in Biological Sciences and Faculty Director of Innovation at California State University San Marcos
Elinne Becket, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor in Biological Sciences and Faculty Director of Innovation at California State University San Marcos

Dr. Elinne Becket is an Assistant Professor in Biological Sciences and Faculty Director of Innovation at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM). Dr. Becket received a BS in Biochemistry from UCLA in 2008 and completed her PhD in 2012 in the UCLA Jeffrey H. Miller laboratory as a Whitcome Fellow, focusing on elucidating molecular pathways involved in spontaneous and drug-induced mutagenesis in Escherichia coli. She went on to do postdoctoral research as an AP Giannini Fellow in the Peter Jones laboratory at the University of Southern California (USC), developing assays to uncover epigenomic drivers in clear cell renal cell carcinoma. Dr. Becket then became an Assay Development Scientist at Zymo Research Corporation where she led research teams developing epigenomic diagnostic assays, before returning to academia to pursue her calling in teaching and mentoring budding scientists. She joined CSUSM in 2018, where she leads an undergraduate-focused laboratory that examines the effects of anthropogenic and stormwater runoff on the evolution of antibiotic resistance in southern California coastal microbiomes. Drawing on her varied experiences, Dr. Becket is committed to connecting first generation STEM students with industry mentors and role models to diversify and strengthen our life science community.

Chris Bostick, Ph.D.
Partner, OCV Partners
Chris Bostick, Ph.D.
Partner, OCV Partners

Chris Bostick is a General Partner at OCV Partners with over a decade of interdisciplinary research experience. Chris joined OCV in 2018 and has provided his expertise and leadership to all of OCV’s healthcare investments as well as contributing to many of OCV’s non-healthcare investments. Chris Co-led investments including Praxis Precision Medicines (NASDAQ:PRAX), Finch Therapeutics  (NASDAQ:FNCH), Precision Biosciences (NASDAQ:DTIL), and Rad AI. Chris currently serves on the board of directors of Rad AI and is a board observer for Ossio and TORL Biotherapeutics.

Prior to OCV, Chris completed postdoctoral work at the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Columbia University where he studied precision medicine-based approaches for treating genetic neurological disorders. Before that, he completed research for his Ph.D. spanning drug metabolism, bioelectronics/biosensors, and nanotechnology. He has a broad interdisciplinary background including publications in top journals across Drug Metabolism, Physics, Neuroscience, and Chemistry. Chris holds a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Business from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences from West Virginia University.

Joshua Britton, Ph.D.
CEO and Founder of Debut Biotechnology
Joshua Britton, Ph.D.
CEO and Founder of Debut Biotechnology

Joshua is the CEO and Founder of Debut Biotechnology, a Series A biotech company located in San Diego. Joshua is a proven leader in business and holds a PhD in biochemistry. He developed the fundamental technology at Debut and has grown the company over the past three years to ~30 FTE with multiple partners including DSM, DIC and Battelle. Joshua has authored over 25 publications, a book, and has received multiple awards for his contributions to science and business. In his spare time, Joshua enjoys debating interest rates in discount cash flow models and NPV calculations while building operational models combining scientific inputs and business outputs.

Kathryne Cooper
Investment Advisor, The West Coast Consortium for Technology & Innovation in Pediatrics
Kathryne Cooper
Investment Advisor, The West Coast Consortium for Technology & Innovation in Pediatrics

Kathryne Cooper, MBA is a native Angeleno passionate about growing and funding early-stage companies and creating an ecosystem to support entrepreneurs. She believes in applying a growth mindset to startup challenges and is interested in the integration of technology in settings that are traditionally analog. Since 2017, Kathryne has served The West Coast Consortium for Technology & Innovation in Pediatrics (CTIP) first as Co-Director and subsequently as Investment Advisor.

Kathryne advises CTIP’s investment arm, where she selects medical device companies with commercialization potential, high clinical impact, and proprietary technology for investment and support. Kathryne engages the investment community at large – building relationships with Venture Capitalists, Angels, and strategic partners to advance MedTech innovators within the CTIP portfolio.

Kathryne holds a BA in Human Biology from Stanford University, an MBA from the University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business and a Certificate in Venture Capital Finance from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. She began her career in medicine, attending medical school at the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine before transitioning to the business side of healthcare. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Bertran F. Cooper, M.D. Scholarship Fund via the Howard University College of Medicine, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force at the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies via the USC Marshall School of Business, and the Advisory Board of the Los Angeles City WiSTEM (Women in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math [STEM]) initiative via the Office of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Kathryne nerds out connecting innovative people, products, and ideas.

Fabian Gerlinghaus
Co-Founder & CEO of Cellares
Fabian Gerlinghaus
Co-Founder & CEO of Cellares

Fabian Gerlinghaus is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Cellares. He is driven by a strong sense of purpose and is passionate about building the future of cell therapy manufacturing. With 10+ years of experience as an innovator and a leader, Fabian has established a track record of assembling top-performing teams to successfully drive novel bioprocessing technologies from ideation to commercial readiness. Prior to co-founding Cellares, Fabian served as Chief Innovation Officer at Synthego, where he co-invented the company’s proprietary RNA synthesizer technology and helped grow the company from five to more than 230 employees.  He earned a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Technical University of Munich, and an honors degree in technology management from the Center for Digital Technology and Management, Munich.

JJ Kang, Ph.D.
CEO and Co-Founder of Appia Bio, Venture Partner at The Column Group
JJ Kang, Ph.D.
CEO and Co-Founder of Appia Bio, Venture Partner at The Column Group

JJ Kang, PhD, is co-founder and CEO of Appia Bio and a venture partner at The Column Group since 2020. JJ held roles of increasing responsibility on the investment team at The Column Group since joining in 2015 and last served as a partner prior to founding Appia Bio. Previously, she worked at FibroGen in project management and corporate strategy. She serves on the boards of directors of Tenaya Therapeutics and Escient Pharmaceuticals. JJ earned a PhD in chemical biology at Caltech and a BA in chemistry from Harvard University.

Hallie Kuhn, Ph.D.
Vice President – Science & Technology, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. / Alexandria Venture Investments
Hallie Kuhn, Ph.D.
Vice President – Science & Technology, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. / Alexandria Venture Investments

Hallie Kuhn, PhD, is Vice President – Science & Technology at Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc., an S&P 500® urban office REIT (Alexandria), and Alexandria Venture Investments, the company’s strategic venture capital platform. In her role, Dr. Kuhn oversees venture investments, tenant underwriting, and business development in Alexandria’s San Diego and Greater Los Angeles clusters. Through Alexandria Venture Investments, Dr. Kuhn has led and manages more than 25 early- and growth-stage Southern California life science investments spanning therapeutics, research tools, and molecular diagnostics. Alexandria Venture Investments has been recognized by Silicon Valley Bank as the most active biopharma corporate investor by new deal volume for the last four consecutive years.

Formerly, Dr. Kuhn was a Principal at LS Polaris Innovation Fund, a Boston-based VC fund specializing in early-stage life science investments. She concurrently served as Chief of Staff for Polaris Partner Amy Schulman, supporting business development and operations for multiple companies, including Olivo Laboratories (acquired by Shiseido) and Lyndra Therapeutics. Prior to Polaris, she was a Senior Consultant at Clearview Healthcare Partners, where she engaged biopharma companies on strategic projects covering the full cycle of drug development and commercialization. Dr. Kuhn holds a PhD in Systems Biology from Harvard University and was a Churchill Scholar at Cambridge University. She is a recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, National Defense Science and Engineering Fellowship, and Harvard Ashford Fellowship. She holds a BS from Harvey Mudd College.

Benjamin Oakes, Ph.D.
Co-founder, President, and CEO at Scribe Therapeutics
Benjamin Oakes, Ph.D.
Co-founder, President, and CEO at Scribe Therapeutics

Benjamin L. Oakes is the co-founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer at Scribe Therapeutics, a molecular engineering company focused on creating best-in-class in vivo therapies that permanently treat the underlying cause of disease. Scribe has built an evergreen CRISPR by Design™ platform for creating custom CRISPR molecules specifically for therapeutic use within the human body. Ben has contributed to over 25 publications and patent applications on topics including synthetic biology, molecular engineering, CRISPR and zinc finger-based genetic modification, and was named to Endpoints 20 Under 40 in biopharma and Business Insider 30 Under 40 transforming healthcare. Previously, as an Innovative Genomics Institute Entrepreneurial Fellow, he focused on the holistic engineering of genome editing technologies to build novel genome editing molecules. Ben received a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from UC Berkeley in 2017, where he worked in the Doudna Lab and Savage Lab developing CRISPR-Cas9 molecules with enhanced characteristics.

Joshua Yang
Co-founder and CEO, Glyphic Biotechnologies
Joshua Yang
Co-founder and CEO, Glyphic Biotechnologies
  • Joshua Yang co-founded Glyphic Biotechnologies with the mission to fundamentally change the underlying engine of biomedical discovery through development and commercialization of a next-generation protein sequencer.
  • He is an inventor on six issued/filed patents and author on 18 research articles as of October 2021. He was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Healthcare list in 2021.
  • Josh earned his BS from UC San Diego, his Master of Translational Medicine from UC Berkeley and UCSF, and his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is on leave of absence from the combined MD-PhD program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Alice Zhang
CEO & Co-founder, Verge Genomics
Alice Zhang
CEO & Co-founder, Verge Genomics

Alice Zhang is the CEO and Co-founder of Verge Genomics. Alice has been named a Forbes 30 Under 30 Featured Honoree, MIT Technology Review’s Innovator Under 35, and SF Business Times’ 40 Under 40. Prior to Verge, she spent seven years at the forefront of systems biology research at the National Cancer Institute, the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University, and UCLA. She spent five years in the UCLA-Caltech MD/PhD program, where she helped author several papers on gene networks involved in neuroregeneration. Alice received her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in Molecular Biology and was a recipient of the prestigious Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. In her spare time, Alice also is an angel investor and advisor for startups at the intersection of technology and biology.

“Thanks to advances like gene editing, therapies are increasingly sophisticated and targeted, patients can hopefully have access to medicines that are better targeted for their disease, their health and their biology.”

Rachel Haurwitz, Ph.D., 2019 Winner

About

The Biocom California Life Science Catalyst Awards are an annual celebration of the most inspiring and driven young minds who are sparking meaningful change to human health through their research, discovery and entrepreneurship.

Who is eligible?

The awards are open to accomplished and up-and-coming academics, entrepreneurs, investors, corporate leaders and business advisers who are making their marks on the Bay Area, San Diego and Los Angeles life science communities before reaching their 40th birthdays.

Winners

Winners will be highlighted in the Biocom California LifeLines digital magazine, recognized in a social media campaign and celebrated at the Biocom California Annual Dinner in the fall of 2021. Winners are also announced in an accompanying news release.

History

The Biocom California Life Science Catalyst Awards were created by Biocom California in conjunction with the San Diego Venture Group in 2016. The inaugural program attracted a stellar array of accomplished young professionals. A committee of executives and board members from both Biocom California and the San Diego Venture Group selected 10 winners and 10 honorable mentions for the 2016 class. Since then, the awards evolved to encompass rising leaders from throughout the state of California.

“The convergence of scientific disciplines is transforming the way we approach human health. Data-driven personalized medicine is an exciting wave of the future.”

Shannon Mumenthaler, Ph.D., 2019 Winner

View previous years’ winners here.