MALSI+ 2021: The Hub at Warp Speed

From Lab to Jab to Beyond



Swarna Balasubramanian, Emerging Innovations Program Lead at AstraZeneca

Swarna has close to a decade of experience in developing business strategy, market and competitive analysis, sourcing product opportunities, performing due-diligence, and negotiating contracts. Previously at Acidophil, she was primary contributor and a key member of multinational leadership teams that created, financed and managed 3 biotechnology start-ups in human health, animal health and agriculture. She holds a B.Tech from Anna University and a Ph.D. in biochemical engineering from the University of Maryland.


Christine Brennan, Partner, MRLV

Christine has over 15 years in the life-science industry including business development, corporate strategy and venture investing. She also serves on the boards of Entrada Therapeutics, Tallac Therapeutics and Therini Bio. She was previously on the board of Alector and an observer on the board of Translate Bio. Prior to joining MRLV as Partner, Christine was Principal at the Novartis Venture Fund from 2013-2017 where she was on the board of Altimmune and an observer on the boards of a number of companies. Prior to Novartis Venture Fund, she was Chief Business Officer at Vitae Pharmaceuticals from 2010-2013. She also held positions in business development and marketing at small and mid-size biopharmaceutical companies. Christine received her Ph.D. in neuroscience from Dartmouth Medical School and post-doctoral research in developmental neurobiology from the National Institutes of Health.


Kendalle Burlin O’Connell, President & COO of MassBio

Kendalle leads the strategic direction, global expansion, and business operations of the organization. She started at MassBio in 2008 as Director of Purchasing and Strategic Alliance, was promoted to Vice President of Member Services and General Counsel in 2012, then promoted to the organization’s first-ever Chief Operating Officer in 2019. Kendalle has played a critical role in the growth of MassBio’s membership, supporting its expansion to become the largest life sciences trade association in the world with over 1,400 members. Kendalle was named a 2019 Boston Business Journal 40 under 40 honoree. Currently, she serves as a Board of Director for the Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation and the New England Chapter of the March of Dimes. She graduated cum laude from Sacred Heart University with a B.A. in Economics and Political Science and received her Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School.


Barbara S. Fox, CEO, Rheos Medicines, PhD

Dr. Fox is a biotechnology executive with extensive leadership expertise in starting up and building clinical-stage biotech companies. She is currently CEO of Rheos Medicines, a biopharmaceutical company developing novel medicines that modulate immune cell metabolism with an initial focus on treating patients with severe autoimmune diseases and cancer. Dr. Fox was previously CEO of Tilos Therapeutics, a company developing antibodies for the treatment of cancer, fibrosis and autoimmune disorders that was acquired by Merck in 2019. Dr. Fox has previously served as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Partners Innovation Fund, founder and CEO of Avaxia Biologics, founder and CSO of Recovery Pharmaceuticals, VP Discovery and Immunology at ImmuLogic Pharmaceutical Corp., and Associate Professor of Rheumatology at the U. Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Fox received her AB in chemistry from Bryn Mawr College, her PhD in chemistry from MIT and trained as a post-doc in cellular immunology at the NIH.


Andrea Jackson, Director, Northpond Ventures

Andrea leads the firm’s work in convergent technologies. She is a board director at Codex DNA; Current Health; Deep Lens; GALT: General Automation Lab Technologies, Inc.; NanoView Biosciences; Octave Bioscience; Outcomes4Me; Refeyn; Scitara Corporation; Syapse; VieCure; and Vizgen. Previously, Andrea was the commercial lead at Farcast Biosciences, an oncology clinical diagnostic company. Prior to Farcast, Andrea held various senior commercial leadership roles in life science startups and large companies such as PerkinElmer (NYSE: PKI) and Millipore. Before her operating roles, Andrea worked in JPMorgan’s Healthcare Investment Banking team and focused on life science tools, diagnostics, and biotechnology companies. Andrea received an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a B.A. with honors from Washington University in St. Louis.


Avak Kahvejian, General Partner, Flagship Pioneering

Avak is a life sciences inventor, entrepreneur, and CEO. Since 2011, he has been a partner at Flagship Pioneering, where he leads a team to invent and launch new therapeutic platforms. His work has led to the creation of multiple high-value public and private companies including Cygnal Therapeutics, Codiak BioSciences, Rubius Therapeutics, and Seres Therapeutics. Avak also serves as a board member at Laronde, Codiak, and as CEO of multiple FlagshipLabs companies. He also serves on the boards of the International Institute of New England, and the Canadian Entrepreneurs of New England, an organization dedicated to assisting Canadian entrepreneurs build ties with the Boston life sciences and technology ecosystems. Avak earned his Ph.D. and B.Sc. in Biochemistry from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.


Anjali Kumar, External Innovation Search and Evaluation, Eastern US

Anjali is responsible for developing an external early-stage innovation pipeline aligned with Johnson & Johnson’s business strategies, with a primary focus on pharmaceuticals. Previously, Anjali worked for four years at Shire in Corporate Development where she led cross-functional due diligence teams performing integrated assessments for incoming M&A and in-licensing opportunities, and helped navigate opportunities through necessary approvals to close transactions. Prior to Shire, Anjali  worked for 20 years at both large and small companies, including The Upjohn Company, Genetics Institute/Wyeth, Critical Therapeutics, Clinquest Inc. and Flexion Therapeutics. She holds a PhD in Bioengineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, and a Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, India. She holds an Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership from the MIT Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, MA.


Lizabeth Leveille, Vice President and Head, BD&L Boston & European Innovation Hubs, Merck & Co., Inc.

Liz brings over 17 years of industry experience, with the past 14 in business development at large pharmaceutical companies. She is Head of the Merck Boston Innovation Hub, which is a Business Development & Licensing team focused on early-stage therapeutics as well as accessing innovative research and technologies through collaboration, licensing, or M&A in the academic, pharma, and biotech community. Previous to Merck, she spent nine years at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR) in the Strategic Alliances department.  At NIBR, her roles included search and evaluation activities as well as leading the negotiation of licensing, collaboration, and M&A transactions. She holds a B.S. and M.S. in Biotechnology from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an M.B.A. from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College.


Steven R. London, Partner, Troutman Pepper

Steve advises corporate clients on finance, securities, M&A and general corporate advice, with particular depth representing life sciences and health care clients, as well as emerging growth companies and middle-market businesses across all industry sectors. He represents, as general and special counsel, publicly traded corporations, emerging growth companies and entrepreneurs in the initial start-up and development stages of business. He also represents foreign companies entering the U.S. market. Steve has extensive experience in negotiating licensing, manufacturing, marketing and distribution agreements, joint ventures and strategic alliances. He has a B.A. from Brandeis University and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.


Tom Mastrobuoni, Chief Investment Officer at Big Idea Ventures

Tom is a Venture Partner with Big Idea Ventures, a New York and Singapore-based firm focused on solving the world’s greatest challenges by backing the world’s best entrepreneurs. Previously, Tom was a Founding Partner and Chief Financial Officer of Tyson Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Tyson Foods. While at Tyson, Tom led investments in Beyond Meat, FoodLogiQ, New Wave Foods and BIV’s New Protein Fund. Tom has over fifteen years of experience in alternative asset management and prior to joining Tyson, held a number of CFO positions at New York investment firms. He received a B.S. in Accountancy from Villanova University. Tom is a Certified Public Accountant (NY) and holds the Chartered Global Management Accountant designation from the AICPA.


Imran Nasrullah, Vice President & Head, Open Innovation Center North America - East at Bayer Pharmaceuticals

Imran is responsible for forging business relationships within the Boston/Cambridge life-science ecosystem among venture capital, family funds, angel investors, academia, biotech and other stakeholders. He brings over 20 years of life sciences business development, intellectual property and licensing, and policy experience. Previously, at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals (BI), Imran created and oversaw several novel programs centered on business mentoring and early technology access, and was awarded BI’s President’s Award. Imran also founded MassConnect & Pharma Days, while the CBO of MassBio. He also has experience working for blue chip organizations like Millennium Pharmaceuticals (now Takeda) and Genzyme Genetics (now LabCorp), as well as Mayo Clinic and Dana Farber Cancer Institute. He holds a B.S. from the University of Massachusetts, a M.Sc. from the University of Colorado and a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School.


Kate Sheridan, General Assignment Reporter, Boston Globe STAT

Kate Sheridan is a general assignment reporter at STAT, covering biotech startups and the venture capital firms that back them. Prior to joining STAT in 2018, she was a science writer at Newsweek and completed internships at STAT and the Montreal Gazette. Kate graduated from McGill University with a bachelor’s degree in cognitive science in 2014.


Wendi Yajnik, Global Head of Academic Partnerships and External Innovation at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research

For 30 years, Wendi has been building partnerships between academia and industry. At the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), she leads a team that is responsible for bringing new discoveries and technologies into Novartis from academia. Wendi is also Industry Chair at UIDP. Previously, she was Senior Director at R&D Transactions in the department of Strategy, Science Policy & External Innovation at Sanofi, and Executive Director, Innovation, at Partners Healthcare (PHS).  Under her leadership at PHS, the licensing team spun out a large number of start-ups, many of which were acquired by Pharma. Before joining PHS, Wendi was an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pathology at New York University School of Medicine. Wendi received her Ph.D. and M.S in Biology from the Graduate School of Arts and Science at New York University.


MALSI+ 2021 Sponsors

Platinum: MassBio, Novo Nordisk

Gold: Bayer; Massachusetts Life Science Center; McDermott, Will & Emery; Troutman Pepper

Silver: Burns Levinson, Goldcast

Supporter: Boston Entrepreneur's Network, Eli Lilly & Company, Explora Biolabs, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, J.P. Morgan

Your cart

We value your privacy

We use cookies to customize your browsing experience, serve personalized ads or content, and analyze traffic to our site.