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Scroll for Speaker Bios
9:00 - Welcome
Westchester Biotech Project:
Michael Welling
Partner, Meridian Risk Management
Joanne Gere
Executive Director

Community Partners
Amy Allen
Vice President, Westchester County Association
Suzanne Kessler, Ph.D.
Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences,
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Purchase College


9:10 - Alliance Partnership Announcement
Deborah Novick
Director, BioInc@NYMC
Salomon Amar, DDS, Ph.D.
New York Medical College

9:15 - Biotech Cluster Update
Surprise Guest

9:30 - Building Companies that Target Aging
Keynote: Nir Barzilai, MD
Director, Institute for Aging Research
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

10:00 - The Need for New Therapeutic Approaches
     for Chronic Neurological Diseases
Dianna E. Willis, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Burke Neurological Institute

11:00 - Dreaming Big: Westchester Rare Disease Hub
Antonio Molina, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO, GenCo Pharma

“It was my pleasure to meet you at Innovation in Research 2018. It was such an Awesome and Dynamic experience! It was tremendously engaging and I gained great insight into all of the innovative initiatives taking place within biomedical sciences for the future.

The information that I gathered will be shared throughout our medical and health careers department with my colleagues. I established excellent contacts and met esteemed scholars and educators who I will keep in touch with. Thank you for sharing the invitation to participate in the Roundtable: Educators and Employers meetings as well. I look forward to them.”

- Glenetta Phillips, Program Specialist
Center for Career Education and Applied Learning
Westchester Community College


11:20 - Big Pharma Perspective:
External Search and Evaluation Strategies
Anton Xavier
Senior Scientist and Scout, Pfizer
Boris Shor, Ph.D.
Founder, BioIDEA; CEO, Manhattan BioSolutions

1:00 - On the Horizon:
All Claims Database for Researchers
Paul Savage
Health Care Program Director, Iona College Business School

1:20 - Cells, Mars and the Bomb
Karine Kleinhaus, Ph.D. 
Divisional Vice President, North America
Pluristem Therapeutics

1:40 - How Medical is Cannabis?
Stephen Dahmer, MD
Chief Medical Officer, Vireo Health

2:30 - The Case for In Silico Research
Asghar Shah
Visiting Scholar, Computational Research
Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai

2:50 - Microbiome Research at Purchase College, SUNY
Stephen Harris, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology, Purchase College, SUNY

3:10 - Opportunities in Biotechnology Beyond Healthcare
Karl Schmieder
CEO, messagingLAB

3:40 - Fireside Chat: Investors’ Perspective
Sergei Petukhov, DVM, Partner, Enso Ventures
Michael Welling, Partner, Meridian Risk Management

4:10 - Final Comments/Adjourn

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Speaker Bios

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Nir Barzilai, MD, Director, Institute for Aging Research
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Dr. Barzilai is a world-renowned expert and scholar on the biochemistry and genetics of aging, with over 230 peer-reviewed papers, reviews, and textbook chapters. He discovered the first longevity genes in humans, gene variants of HDL and LDL cholesterol, linked to healthy aging. He has also identified numerous gene variants in various metabolic and growth pathways that protect against age-related health symptoms. 

We have the potential to live a healthier life, and we are on the way to realizing this promise.
— Dr. Nir Barzilai

He is a founding member of CohBar, a company at the forefront of mitochondrial peptide research and discovery with a mission to increase healthy lifespans. In addition to CohBar, Dr. Barzilai leads The Longevity Genes Project at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, a project identifying longevity factors in the genomes of centenarians with the potential for translation into healthy aging therapeutics. Alongside this work, he leads an international effort to approve drugs targeting age related conditions.

Selected Speakers:

Stephen Dahmer, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Vireo Health

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Dr. Dahmer is a board-certified family doctor whose passion for health and healing has taken him around the globe. A fellow of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, for over a decade he has studied the relationships between plants and people, working closely with diverse cultures and documenting their uses of plants.

Aspiring to understand ethnomedical systems as well as the plants and traditional beliefs that support them, he has worked in divergent settings including Umbanda terreiros in the heart of Brazil’s second largest slum, Maori clinics in New Zealand, native healers on the Palauan Islands, and as a hospitalist to the Navajo (Dine) Tribe in Chinle, Arizona. Prior to starting full time work for Vireo Health of New York, Dr. Dahmer was most recently Assistant Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai where he passionately provided innovative primary care for over seven years in New York City where he lives and resides with his family.

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Stephen Harris, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology, Purchase College, SUNY

Dr. Harris uses genomics and bioinformatics to study the evolution, ecology, and behavior of natural populations in response to environmental change. He has performed field work in urban ecosystems in New York City, coral reefs in the Florida Keys and Belize, and tropical forests in Indonesia, which has led to a passion for democratizing science by using the latest innovations in biotechnology to build portable, low-cost, and user-friendly sequencing labs for research and education.  In pursuing this mission, he recently co-founded and is Director of Science-Corps,  which sends recent PhD graduates abroad to teach science and build science capacity globally.

Karine Kleinhaus, MD, Divisional Vice President, North America, Pluristem Therapeutics

Dr. Kleinhaus is an experienced executive in the biotechnology industry who draws on an extensive background in medicine, research, and database analysis to design innovative strategies and implement effective solutions to complex problems.

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She has worked with multiple public and private biotechnology companies in both public and investor relations. Prior to her current position, she was an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. At NYU, Dr. Kleinhaus conducted medical research funded under a multi-year NIH grant. She published more than 25 papers in leading peer-reviewed journals such as the Annals of the New York Academy of ScienceAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics, and the American Journal of Epidemiology. Before that Dr. Kleinhaus practiced obstetrics and then completed two fellowships at Columbia University.

Dr. Kleinhaus received her medical degree from Tel Aviv University, earned a Master of Public Health from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, and a bachelor’s degree, cum laude, from Princeton University.

Antonio Molina-Pachon, Ph.D., Founder and CEO, GenCo Pharma

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Dr. Molina-Pachon is an entrepreneur developing solutions for rare diseases and cancer. He is collaborating with the Westchester Biotech Project and international partners to develop a regional hub for researchers who are addressing the most complex, and promising, discoveries.

Since 1997 he has held many executive positions, including Director of Discovery, Director of Business Development, CSO, and CEO positions. He has been the founder of 6 companies, all of which are still running today. 

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Sergei Pethukov, DVM, Partner, Enso Ventures

Dr. Petukhov leads Enso's biotechnology investments and holds several board positions in Enso portfolio companies including Seres Therapeutics, Galera Therapeutics, Cavion, NeuroVia and Cellectar Biosciences. He has been the Managing Director at CLS Capital, worked at RUSNANO investment fund, and was an advisor at Kaye Scholer LLP for number of US pharmaceutical companies.

He has worked and studied at The Rockefeller University, The University of Edinburgh, The University of Cambridge, Moscow 1st Medical Academy, and Moscow State Academy of Veterinary Medicine and Biotechnology.

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Paul Savage, Healthcare MBA Program Director
Iona College, Hagan School of Business

Mr. Savage has had a long career in Healthcare Administration, largely in the New York region at such prestigious institutions as Mt. Sinai Medical Center, Columbia-Presbyterian and St. Vincent's; before joining academia.  He has been the Program Director of the Healthcare Management program at Iona College as well as adjunct faculty for Hofstra University and New York Medical College focusing on the field of Analytics and Population Health.  Mr. Savage also supports 'Big Data' applications with the resources of HealthCare Intelligence, LLC extending his expertise into competitive intelligence, clinical decision support, product-line management and operations Improvement across the healthcare field, embracing the many disciplines of Data Science.

Karl Schmieder, co-author, What's Your Bio Strategy?: How to Prepare Your Business for Synthetic Biology. 

Synthetic biology – the rapidly developing field that makes biology easier to engineer – is quickly transforming industries and changing the rules of business. 

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Thought leader Karl Schmieder has been working with life science leaders for decades, observing the massive advances making biology accessible to researchers, engineers, and data scientists.

“The last 50 years have been dominated by microprocessors and information technology,” he writes. “The next 50 will be dominated by living systems engineered to function as biological machines”. 

In his book, Schmieder interviewed the entrepreneurs and innovators who are currently disrupting trillion-dollar industries: George Church (Harvard University), Andras Forgacs (Modern Meadow), Christina Agapakis and Jason Kelly (Ginkgo Bioworks), Andrew Hessel (Autodesk), Suzanne Lee (Biofabricate), Pamela Silver (Harvard University), J. Craig Venter and many others. 

messagingLAB partners with life science leaders to create strategic content marketing programs that drive the industry forward.

Asghar Shah, Visiting Scholar, Computational Research, Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai

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Mr. Shah's research is concentrated on understanding the efficacy of computational molecular modeling and in-silico small molecule docking in predicting and identifying potential angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. He is interested in the advancement of in-silico research that will lead to novel and cost-effective breakthroughs in the pharmaceutical industry.

In addition to his role as a computational researcher, he is also a member of the Junqian Xu Lab at the Translational and Molecular Imaging Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Prior to his current position, Mr. Shah was a researcher in the Institute for Cancer Research and Education at the State University of New York at Old Westbury.

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Dianna E. Willis, Ph.D., Associate Director, Burke Neurological Institute

Dr. Willis's research is focused on understanding how local protein synthesis within axons contributes to the proper function of neurons and to their ability to respond to injury or insult. Her lab is interested in how aberrant axonal biology may lead to sensory and motor neuropathy in diseases such as diabetic peripheral neuropathy, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, SMA, and ALS.

In addition to her role as Associate Director, she is also Lab Director of the Laboratory for Axonal and RNA Biology, Co-Director of the Center for Pain and Sensory Research, and an Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at the Brain and Mind Research Institute of Weill Cornell Medicine. 

Anton Xavier, Senior Scientist and Scout, Pfizer


Anton Xavier is involved in early (through to) late-stage development of targeted therapeutic modalities for oncology indications. In addition, he is involved with the Scouting and External R&D Innovation divisions within Pfizer: searching and evaluating novel technologies that align with Pfizer’s internal needs, initiating collaborations and alliances with external ventures.

Prior to Pfizer, Anton’s experience was within a wider field of bioscience, including regenerative medicine, infectious disease, and cardiovascular biology where he developed multiple therapeutic, platform, and diagnostic innovations for military and industrial needs.

He is currently a mentor and adjunct faculty member for early-stage life science ventures with E-Lab NYC, NSF’s I-Corps program, the British Consulate NYC, and Cornell / Columbia University, where he provides critical industry-based science, strategy, and business development input for bio-venture development.

Nezih Cereb MD ,   CEO, Histogenetics -  Advances in Genomic Technologies in Research as the Foundation for Precision Medicine (from Innovation in research 2017)

Nezih Cereb MD, CEO, Histogenetics - Advances in Genomic Technologies in Research as the Foundation for Precision Medicine (from Innovation in research 2017)

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