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Rare Disease Research Symposium 2019


Purchase College, SUNY 735 Anderson Hill Rd, Purchase, NY 10577
Red Room and Lobby, First Floor - Student Services Building
Click for Agenda

With more than 7,000 rare diseases identified, next generation treatments are required to meet the needs of diverse patients.

Across our region, researchers and providers are developing precision approaches to diagnostics and treatment for rare conditions. National and international collaborations are leveraging data science to repurpose exiting drugs, new delivery mechanisms, and emerging technologies.

Click to Register for our Evening Reception with NY Bio Pharma Networking Group
5pm-8pm at The Pub at Doral Arrowwood

Coordination of International Research on Rare Diseases

David A Pearce, Ph.D., President of Innovation and Research, Sanford Health
Vice Chair, Consortium Assembly, International Rare Disease Research Consortium (IRDiRC)

Dr. David A. Pearce’s rare disease background emanates from publishing over 100 research papers on Batten disease.

In his role as President of Innovation and Research at Sanford he is responsible for overseeing the development of research programs across Sanford’s nine-state footprint, including more than 450 researchers, eight research centers and more than 300 ongoing clinical trials. This includes a national registry for rare diseases, Coordination of Rare Diseases at Sanford (CoRDS).

The International Rare Disease Research Consortium comprises more than 50 international entities.

Key participants include:
• The NIH
• International government research organizations
• Pharmaceutical companies
• Rare Disease focused Consortia
• Advocacy groups
• and, more..

David A Pearce, Ph.D.  , President of Innovation and Research,  Sanford Health  Vice Chair, Consortium Assembly,  International Rare Disease Research Consortium (IRDiRC)

David A Pearce, Ph.D., President of Innovation and Research, Sanford Health
Vice Chair, Consortium Assembly, International Rare Disease Research Consortium (IRDiRC)

Representatives come from India, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Japan, China, Netherlands, France, and more.


  • Research on new mechanisms for rare disease treatment

  • Strategies for bringing repurposed drugs to the market

  • Regulatory considerations


  • Orphan Drug Sales and marketing approaches

  • Intellectual Property considerations for expiring patents

  • Building Trust to accelerate innovation


Dalfoni Banerjee, Principal Consultant & CEO, 3Sixty Pharma Solutions

Dalfoni Banerjee is an award-winning, solution-focused entrepreneur. Beginning her career over 25 years ago in academic, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology research laboratories, she went on to lead inspection-readiness efforts, drive clinical research and clinical operations, manage relationships between pharma and key opinion leaders, develop marketing strategies/tactics, and launch new drug products – across 12+ therapeutic categories. Dalfoni is an invited speaker and moderator on a variety of topics, has authored and co-authored several publications, and has received over 30 awards.

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Antonio Biancardi, Senior Manager, Technical Architect, Genpact

As a technology and operations leader, Antonio has a track record of accelerating business outcomes for international enterprises and Fortune 500 companies. His achievements include the turn-around of under-performing organizations to: restore profitability, increase efficiency, and develop leading-edge software applications – from concept through release.

Antonio led the team that developed DataForm Software's flagship product, Planet Life Cycle – a robust work management application that merges strategic and financial planning with execution. As a direct result, customers that are global leaders, such as Allergan Pharmaceutical, have leveraged the solution to enhance their competitiveness. Antonio is consistently striving to enable customers to achieve operational excellence. In his words, “When our customers win, we win."


Ross Daly, Associate Professor of Journalism, Interim Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Purchase College

Life as a journalist has taken Ross everywhere from a small weekly newspaper in rural Minnesota to the capitals of Central Europe as communist governments crumbled. At Newsday, on Long Island, he was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997 for Spot News Reporting on the crash of TWA 800. Among the positions Ross held at Newsday were News Editor and National Editor. In 2007, he joined the journalism faculty at Purchase College.


Joanne Gere, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Westchester Biotech Project

Coming from a number of years working on programs for discovery scientists and entrepreneurs, Ms. Gere co-founded the Westchester Biotech Project to stimulate transformative resources for researchers, engineers, and data scientists. By providing a flexible and enjoyable platform for collaborations and partnerships, the WBP listens for emerging challenges and opportunities affecting preclinical, translational, and clinical professionals.

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Bethany Hills, Esq., Partner, Morrison & Foerster, LLP

Bethany Hills has dual specialties in FDA and health care law making her uniquely qualified to shepherd FDA-regulated companies through complex domestic and foreign compliance matters, and also to provide invaluable counsel regarding positioning, reimbursement, pricing and other strategic decisions. Bethany’s solid understanding of the current landscape and the relevant issues impacting the health care delivery system (collaborations, incentives, legal limitations, reimbursements, etc.) enable her to provide her diverse portfolio of clients with top-tier strategic advice regarding product launches and, thereby, boost their value proposition and ROI.

Dynamic and passionate about her work and clients,—who include American and foreign medical device manufacturers, life science and pharmaceutical companies, and hospitals, physicians, and collaborative delivery system organizations—Bethany provides excellent service with a great spirit of enthusiasm, energy, and collaboration to ensure successful results.

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Rick Huntress, Director of Business Development, Commercial Strategy, The Jackson Laboratory

Rick is Business Development professional with over 25 years of experience in the preclinical drug discovery field.

Rick’s early research experience includes traditional molecular biology and g-protein receptor cloning. His experience working with mouse models began in 1990 and initially focused on genetically modified mouse (GMM) development and characterization. That gradually expanded to include the management of studies in oncology, neurobiology, inflammation and other murine models systems.

In his current role at The Jackson Laboratory Rick works with BioPharma companies to develop business and collaboration relationships that center around early phase drug discovery with a translation focus, to aid in the development of new and better drug candidates for clinical trials.

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Bill Levine, Director, Digital Media and Marketing, GEN/ClinicalOMICs

Bill Levine rolls up his sleeves to build digital businesses by developing integrated content products and innovative business models. He has a specialty in rethinking print legacy. Bill is an architect of highly profitable product mixes, trains and supports sales teams to achieve a high digital IQ, develops behaviorally targeted database services, and provides leadership that unifies efforts of silo'd organizations.

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

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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Rajiv Ratan, MD, Ph.D, Executive Director, Burke Neurological Institute

Rajiv (“Raj”) Ratan received his B.A. in Neuroscience (Magna Cum Laude) from Amherst College in 1981 and received the John Woodruff Simpson Fellowship in Medicine. He completed an M.D. and Ph.D. at the New York University School of Medicine where he graduated as a member of AOA in 1988. He completed his Ph.D. with Dr. Michael Shelanski (Chair of Pathology at Columbia University) and Dr. Frederick Maxfield (Chair of Biochemistry at Cornell) where he focused on novel methods to monitor calcium gradients in living cells. He completed an Internship in Medicine at the University of Chicago and was a Neurology resident and then Chief Resident in Neurology at Johns Hopkins (1991-1992). He was awarded the Jay Slotkin Award for excellence in research while a resident; and subsequently received the Passano Foundation Clinician Scientist Award while completing a fellowship in Neurorehabilitation and a post-doc in the Department of Neuroscience at Hopkins. In 1994, he was promoted to Assistant Professor of Neurology and Rehab Medicine at Hopkins and he started his own lab with the help of his post-doc mentor, Jay Baraban. In 1996, he was recruited to set up the Neuroprotection Laboratory in the Department of Neurology and Program in Neuroscience at Harvard Medical School (Harvard Institutes of Medicine and Beth Israel Hospital). He became an Associate Professor at Harvard in 1999. In 2002, Dr. Ratan moved to Burke to Direct the Research Institute. He was formally appointed the Winifred Masterson Burke Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience at Weill Medical College in 2004 and named an Associate Dean for the medical college in 2011.

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Anil Vaidya, Associate Director, Global Submission Medical Writing, Pfizer

Anil is an innovative Scientist/Regulatory Medical Writer with a professional goal to effectively utilize his qualifications and experience acquired in the pharmaceutical industry to facilitate the discovery, development, and marketing of medicines/vaccines that benefit the patient’s needs.

He has extensive experience in drug discovery, early development, project management, business development/licensing due diligence, strategic alliances and collaborations management, and technical/scientific/regulatory medical writing.

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Michael Welling, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Westchester Biotech Project

Michael Welling is a father whose healthy 13-year-old son received two separate unrelated anonymous stem cell transplants at the age of 1. After their family’s 6 month stay at Sloan-Kettering and watching firsthand how cutting-edge medical research saved his child’s life, Michael set out to support scientific progress in any way that he could for the purpose of helping save more lives. This led to Michael founding and launching the Westchester Biotech Project in 2017.

Currently a White Plains resident, Michael grew up in Westchester and then returned after living and working abroad. Having been part of the Westchester Business community for years, Michael is currently a Partner with Meridian Risk Management in Pelham.


Antonio Molina-Pachon, Ph.D., Founder and CEO, GenCo Pharma
Anil Vaidya, Associate Director, Global Submission Medical Writing, Pfizer CV/Metabolic/Rare Diseases
Joanne Gere, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Westchester Biotech Project



Click for Agenda from 2018 Symposium
Visit our YouTube Channel for recordings
Rare Disease Research Symposium 2018.

October 30, 2018 - Dr. Bruce Bloom of Cures Within Reach
Repurposing Drugs Through Computational Biology

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Rare Disease Research Symposium 2018
July 18
, 2018 at Iona College • Click for More Detail

In the News:

Rare Disease "Hub" Draws Support from Drug Developers (Genetic Engineering News)
Westchester Biotech Project Aims to Become Rare Disease "Hub" (ClinicalOMICs)
- July 18 Symposium At Iona College Brings Together Global Thought Leaders to Discuss Medical Possibilities, Potential Breakthroughs (White Plains Patch)


Antonio Molina-Pachon, Ph.D., Founder and CEO
GenCo Pharma
David Zuckerman, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology 
Iona College

2018 Speakers:

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