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Innovation Month Symposium on Women and Entrepreneurial Leadership co-sponsored by TVF/Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives

  • Tuesday, March 08, 2016
  • 5:45 PM - 8:30 PM
  • WPI/MBI: 60 Prescott St., Worcester, MA


  • Advance registration is required
    College/University ID required at check-in
    There will be a $5.00 registration fee for student walk-ins

Registration is closed

March: Innovation Month

Co-hosted with MBI: Symposium on Women and Entrepreneurial Leadership: Join us for a special conversation with the most innovative women in life sciences locally and regionally. We will learn from these innovative leaders who founded and sold companies, obtained financing, invented patented healthcare breakthroughs, commercialized products, and received FDA approvals. A program of TVF's Innovation Month.

Dr. Yael Schwartz is a Massachusetts life science executive and serial entrepreneur with a 25-year broad record of achievement in pharmaceutical drug discovery and development. She built and led several research and product development areas in women’s health, dermatology, CNS disorders and respiratory diseases. Following her stint at Sepracor (Sunovion) where she worked on teams that developed Lunesta® (insomnia), Brovana® (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), Xopenex® (asthma), she founded Hygeia Therapeutics and Canterbury Laboratories. Both companies were acquired and taken public by RestorGenex (RESX). At RestorGenex she was on the Board of Directors and the Executive VP of Preclinical Development. In late 2015 she founded Or-Genix Therapeutics, a company developing non-prescription topical products for aging skin, hair and mucous membranes for women over 40 years of age.

Yael received her Bachelor’s degree from Salem State University, a Master’s in Pharmacology/Toxicology at Northeastern University, and a Ph.D. with honors in Human Physiology from a joint program at WPI and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

For the past 8 years, Yael has served on the Board of Trustees of Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives (MBI). In 2011, she co-founded a non-profit organization for executive women in the healthcare sector, the NEWISE Club (New England Women in Science Executive’s Club), Boston, MA. She is an Honorary Member of Phi Lambda Sigma, The Pharmacy Leadership Society, for her teaching and mentorship activities at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

Lenore Rasmussen, PhD, Chair of Board, Founder & CTO

As a PhD level polymer chemist with dual masters in Chemistry and Biology, Lenore has over 10 years of experience working with electroactive polymer (EAP) based materials and actuators, and she is a recognized leader in the EAP industry with multiple peer reviewed publications, patents, and the book "Electroactivity in Polymeric Materials" (http://www.springer.com/us/book/9781461408772). Previously, she worked at the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Biomaterials Center. Lenore is the inventor of Ras Labs Synthetic Muscle™, and provides additional expertise in research and development, patent writing and strategy, grant writing, and FDA roadmaps.

Anastasia Khvorova, PhD, is Professor in the RNA Therapeutics Institute and the Program in Molecular Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) in Worcester, Massachusetts. Before joining the UMMS faculty, she held leadership positions in industry, including Vice President of Research & Development and Chief Science Officer of Dharmacon (now a Thermo Fisher Scientific company), Founder and Scientific Advisor of Advirna, and Chief Science Officer and Senior Vice President of RXi Pharmaceuticals. Among the major advances with which Dr Khvorova is credited, her team at Dharmacon developed and facilitated the commercialization of the first functional siRNA collection targeting the human genome (siGENOME), and at RXi, her group made significant progress in chemically modifying RNAi compounds to create self-delivering rxRNA compounds. Dr Khvorova’s industry experience in drug discovery and development collaborations with pharmaceutical companies along with her expertise in chemistry and cell biology allowed her to establish a lab at UMMS that brings together organic chemists and RNA biologists to develop novel approaches and solutions to understanding natural and therapeutic RNA trafficking and delivery. Dr Khvorova is a member of the Board of Directors of the Oligonucleotide Therapeutics Society and sits on the editorial board of Nucleic Acid Research. She is the author of more than 150 abstracts, more than 40 peer-reviewed articles, several book chapters, and more than 250 patents and patent applications; her publications are widely cited.
Dr. Tanja Dominko obtained her PhD in Endocrinology and Reproductive Physiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a staff scientist at the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center in Portland, Oregon, she investigated mechanisms of somatic cell reprogramming in non-human primates. She continued her research in the area of cellular reprogramming as a senior research scientist with Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, MA developing strategies for autologous cell therapy. In 2002 she founded CellThera, Inc. to develop new strategies for treatment of degenerative diseases that do not rely on embryonic stem cells. Between 2003 and 2011 CellThera participated in significant research efforts in DARPA’s Restorative Injury Repair program. During this time CellThera announced its partnership with Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, MA, where Dr. Dominko holds an Associate Professor appointment.


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