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Novel Therapeutic Strategies for Cancer and Age-Related Diseases

Evripidis Gavathiotis, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Departments of Biochemistry and Medicine
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Dr. Gavathiotis’ research focus on elucidating mechanisms in cell death and cell survival signaling that cause cancer and age-related diseases and the discovery and optimization of small molecule modulators with the goal of developing new therapeutics. He leads an interdisciplinary group working at the interface of chemistry and biology, and his research has yielded novel signaling mechanisms and pharmacological strategies for critical proteins to cell death regulation illustrated in numerous scientific publications and patent applications. He has received prestigious awards including the Sidney Kimmel Scholar Award, the 2014 Young Chemical Biologist Award and the Pershing Square Sohn Prize.


Host Welcome:
Westchester Community College

Belinda S. Miles, Ed.D., President

Dr. Miles is President of SUNY Westchester Community College serving more than 25,000 in one of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas. Prior roles include Provost/EVP and Eastern Campus President at Cuyahoga Community College (OH) among others. Dr. Miles serves on several national and regional boards at organizations focused on expanding economic and workforce development: American Association of Community Colleges; American Association of Colleges and University President’s Trust; Higher Education Resource Services (HERS); Westchester-Putnam Workforce Investment Board; and Business Council of Westchester. She is the recipient of numerous service and leadership awards, and a well-respected speaker on community college advocacy, student success, and leadership development.

Bringing together scientists, engineers, and clinicians from many companies and institutions is the best way to stimulate future research collaborations.
— Dr. Carla Romney, Boston University

Event Partners:

Colleen O’Connor, Director, BioMed Realty

Colleen O’Connor is BioMed Realty’s Director of Leasing for the MA and NY markets. Colleen leads the company’s leasing efforts for the Cambridge MA market and has completed over 2.4M SF of commercial leasing transactions for lab and office space.  She has been instrumental in completing lease transactions from the initial underwriting all the way through to the execution of the lease, bringing a unique blend of life science real estate experience with a strong financial background.  Prior to her role at BioMed, she worked for both Fidelity Investments and PriceWaterhouseCoopers in investment and advisory services.  Colleen holds her Master of Business Administration Degree from Babson College and is also a Registered Certified Public Accountant in the state of Massachusetts.


Richard Zottola, P.E., C.E., Partner, LERA Consulting Structural Engineers 

Richard Zottola, P.E., C.E. is a Partner at LERA Consulting Structural Engineers. With the firm since 1982, he has experience with a broad spectrum of public and private project types, with expertise in new designs and renovations of laboratories, healthcare facilities and academic buildings across the world. Rick is currently the Partner-in-Charge for NYC EDC’s new Public Health Lab. He previously worked on Biotechnology Incubator Facility at SUNY Farmingdale and the award-winning CUNY Advanced Science Research Center. Rick serves as Vice Chair of the American Council of Engineering companies (ACEC) NY Executive Committee on the NY State Board of Directors.


Jonathan Bandel, Assistant Vice President of Strategic Service Lines, White Plains Hospital

Dr. Bandel has over 14 years of healthcare strategy and operations experience. He is the founder of the White Plains Hospital Accelerator and is responsible for establishing its vision, goals, and strategic imperatives. The current areas of focus include digital health technologies and medical devices, supporting use cases identified by key stakeholders across the WPH care delivery continuum. Jonathan is also active in establishing a network of collaborators, including local incubators, county government, and industry thought leaders. Before joining White Plains, Jonathan worked at the Hospital for Special Surgery as the Senior Director of Strategic Ventures and Alliances, after having been the Senior Director of Adult Reconstruction and Joint Replacement. While at HSS, Jonathan raised a $5M venture fund.

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Orest Blaschuk Ph.D., Founder and President, Zonula

Dr. Blaschuk leads Zonula, a privately held biotechnology company located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Zonula has discovered a family of small molecules that target and inhibit the function of a cell adhesion molecule, called N-cadherin. This cell adhesion molecule is expressed on the surface of several cell types including tumor cells, cancer-associated fibroblasts, and cells comprising tumor blood vessels (endothelial cells and pericytes). Zonula’s small molecule inhibitors of N-cadherin function (N-cadherin antagonists) disrupt cancer-associated fibroblast, tumor and endothelial cell adhesion and cause apoptosis of these cell types. Zonula is developing these small molecules as oncology therapeutics to treat pancreatic cancer.

Ronald Bloom, Ph.D., Dean of Health Careers, Technology, and Applied Learning
Westchester Community College

Dr. Bloom’s scholarship has been in the area of acquired disorders of language in adults. He has edited two books on the topic, written numerous book chapters, and has over 40 published peer-reviewed articles and presentations at national and international conferences, many with student coauthors. He has also written and lectured on teaching evidence-based practices using a case based approach. Dr. Bloom is Professor Emeritus at Hofstra University, where he taught classes in Research Methods, Aphasia, Neuromotor Disorders, and Aging.

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Roman Fleck, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, Janpix

Dr. Fleck is the CEO of Janpix, Ltd., as well as a Venture Advisor to Medicxi (formerly Index Ventures Life Sciences). Previously, he was a Principal at Index Ventures where among others he invested in and represented Index Ventures on the boards of GlycoVaxyn (sold to GSK), Versartis (NASDQ: VSAS), and Novocure (NASDQ: NVCR). Earlier at Index Ventures he was also involved with Funxional Therapeutics (sold to Boehringer Ingelheim) and Micromet (sold to Amgen). He started his career at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals in Connecticut where he led drug development projects in oncology, inflammation and cardiovascular disease, advancing several compounds from pre-clinical to clinical stage.


Kevin Freiert, Principal, Salem Oaks Consulting

Kevin is a seasoned drug developer with outstanding people skills.  During his 30-year career with Pfizer, Kevin held many varied roles that have given him a broad and deep understanding of the Drug Discovery and Development Process.  During much of his career he has educated colleagues and others about Pharmaceutical R&D, including establishing and running Pfizer Research University

After retiring from Pfizer, Kevin started Salem Oaks® Consulting.  Our purpose is to empower patients to shape the future of medicine® by providing educational programs about Drug Discovery and Development. 

Raymond Houston, Ed.D., Dean, School of Mathematics, Science, and Engineering
Westchester Community College

Dr. Houston has been a member of the Westchester Community College community since 2010, with most of that time as a full-time faculty member in the Mathematics Department and part of that time as Assistant Chair or Co-Chair of the department.  Much of his professional career has focused on working with underprepared students, helping them become successful in mathematics and science courses.  He was named Interim Dean in January 2018 and became the incumbent in August 2018.

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Brian Hsing, Senior Partner, First Principle Group

Mr. Hsing is a management consulting leader with experience across all aspects of project delivery and business transformation. He is a subject matter expert and partner for C-suite and executive leaders in the life science, healthcare, and general manufacturing industries. He creates focus around true business constraints, driving and embedding organizational change, and implementing modern innovation methodologies.

Terence Kelly. Ph.D., President and Founder, Kelly Pharma Research Consulting

Dr. Kelly is an experienced executive with a record of success in both pharma and biotech. He is a recognized scientific expert in medicinal chemistry, who is also well versed in disease biology and the enabling technologies needed for effective and efficient drug discovery. He has a demonstrated ability to work internationally and across cultures.

Glenetta Phillips, Program Specialist, Center For Applied Learning, Westchester Community College

Glenetta Phillips is committed to building the infrastructure of the WCC Center for Applied Learning by collaborating and coordinating non-credit internships, service-learning, and research studies for students across disciplines, with a focused priority to assist all students with hands-on career exploration of authentic and intentional Applied Learning opportunities. She has been a member of Westchester Community College since 2013, beginning as an Adjunct Professor in Foundations for Reading, Understanding Mass Media Communications, and Speech Communications, along with Co-Chairing for the Annual Black History Month Committee. Glenetta was also a candidate for the Dr. Carol Russet Award and her current Dissertation Research is student-based and transformative for the multiplicities of the diverse learner. 

Carla Romney, D.Sc., Adjunct Research Assistant Professor
Medical Sciences and Education, Boston University School of Medicine

Dr. Romney has devoted her professional career to inspiring people to advance their understanding of the STEM fields, with a particular emphasis on the biomedical and health professions workforce. Since 2000, she has helped to lead Boston University’s CityLab biotechnology learning laboratory program and served in a variety of faculty and administrative roles at the University. From 2014 to 2019, she served as the Associate Dean for STEM and Pre-Health Education at Fordham College at Rose Hill in Bronx, NY.

Jim Rotolo, Ph.D., Head of Research, Sapience Therapeutics

Dr. Rotolo is a biotechnology professional specializing in preclinical and non-clinical biologic drug development. At Sapience, he is leading the discovery and development of peptide therapeutics addressing previously ‘undruggable’ cancer targets. His expertise includes in vitro and in vivo pharmacology, including efficacy models, mechanism of action and investigative- and immuno-toxicology studies. Prior to Sapience, Dr. Rotolo was Director of Pharmacology at ContraFect Corporation, directing in vivo studies supporting progression of the Company's lead candidate from proof of concept to clinical development, including PK/PD assessments to inform dose selection for Phase 1 and 2 studies.


Vahideh Vakil, Ph.D. Student, WINLAB, Rutgers University

Vahideh Vakil is a PhD student at Rutgers University, department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, working in Wireless Information Network Laboratory (WINLAB). Her current research interests lie in the area of mathematical modeling and networking techniques in systems pharmacology and systems biology. Prior to joining Rutgers, her main research focus was in the area of technologies in mobile communications and networks. She worked as a faculty member of electrical engineering till 2013 after she got her first PhD from Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic) in Iran on the same research topic. 



Innovation in Research 2018 In The News: Westchester County and the International Biotech Boom

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Nezih Cereb MD, CEO, Histogenetics - Advances in Genomic Technologies for precision medicine

Nezih Cereb MD, CEO, Histogenetics - Advances in Genomic Technologies for precision medicine

Our hero changes lives wherever he goes

Our hero changes lives wherever he goes