Speaker Biographies

Opening Remarks

Joe Robertson
Joe Robertson, MD, MBA
President, OHSU

Joe Robertson has been president of Oregon Health & Science University since September 2006, the culmination of a 30-plus-year career at OHSU.

As President, one of Dr. Robertson's first actions was to lead OHSU's strategic planning process. The plan has put OHSU at the leading edge of academic health centers nationally in terms of readiness for health care reform and a changing economic landscape. The emphasis on partnership has led to a strategic alliance with Portland State University; construction of the Collaborative Life Sciences Building, the first building on OHSU's Schnitzer Campus, in conjunction with PSU, Oregon State University and the Oregon University System; and a partnership with Intel Corporation to develop next-generation computing technologies that advance the field of personalized medicine.

Dr. Robertson has been deeply involved in the State of Oregon's health care Transformation project, serving on the Oregon Health Policy Board since its creation in 2009. The nine-member board is nominated by the Governor and serves as the policy-making and oversight body for the Oregon Health Authority. During his time as President, Dr. Robertson has also reasserted OHSU's statewide role, serving a 96,000 square mile campus.

Dr. Robertson received his bachelor's degree in neuroscience from Yale University and earned his M.D. from Indiana University. In 1997 he completed an executive M.B.A. program at the University of Oregon, graduating as co-valedictorian. He serves on the Boards of the Portland branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Oregon Health Policy Board, the Ford Family Foundation, and the Oregon Business Council.

Dan Dorsa
Daniel Dorsa, PhD
Senior Vice President for Research, OHSU

Daniel Dorsa, Ph.D., received his degree in Endocrinology and Physiology at the University of California, Davis. He completed his postdoctoral training at the Rudolf Magnus Institute for Pharmacology in the Netherlands and in Reproductive Biology at Stanford University. Dr. Dorsa’s research has focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms which underlie the effects of steroid hormones in the brain and nervous system. Of particular interest have been neuroprotective and behavioral actions of estrogens and related agents.

After an extensive academic and administrative career at University of Washington, Dr. Dorsa joined OHSU in 2001 as Vice President for Research. In this role, he administers and coordinates academic research and ensures compliance at OHSU’s three schools and several free-standing research institutes and centers. He works closely with the leaders of those entities to set the agenda for building OHSU’s research capacity. His office also manages core facilities associated with university shared resources program. As senior vice president for research, Dr. Dorsa oversees several NIH-funded research entities including the Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute and the Oregon National Primate Research Center.

In these roles, Dr. Dorsa also serves as the key interface between investigators and OHSU’s Executive Leadership Team and represents the interests of the research community at the highest level.

Mark Richardson
Mark Richardson, MD, MScB, MBA
Dean, School of Medicine, OHSU

Mark A. Richardson, M.D., MScB, MBA, was appointed Dean in the OHSU School of Medicine in July 2007. He is also President and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Faculty Practice Plan. From 2001 until he was appointed Interim Dean in 2006, Dr. Richardson served as Professor and Chair of the OHSU Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery. Dr. Richardson joined OHSU from Johns Hopkins University, where he was the Bordley Professor of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins in 1995, he spent 15 years on the faculty at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Abhijit Banerjee
Abhijit Banerjee, PhD, MBA
Director of Business Development, OHSU

Dr. Banerjee received his PhD from the India Institute of Chemical Biology, in India and his MBA from Suffolk University in Boston. Dr. Banerjee completed his post doctoral training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has worked as researcher at Imperial College, London and Boston University. Prior to joining OHSU, Dr. Banerjee previously worked in Pfizer in their strategic alliance group and at Deloitte Consulting.

In his current role at OHSU Dr. Banerjee oversees the Business Development function at OHSU as an interface between OHSU investigators and pharmaceutical/biotech industry, helping develop strategic alliances with industry, foundations & government. Dr. Banerjee is also responsible for supporting OHSU's startup companies and participate in strategic initiatives related to commercialization of OHSU's assets and technologies.


Rob Wiltbank
Rob Wiltbank, PhD
CEO, Galois, Inc.

Rob is CEO of Galois, a computer science R&D firm headquartered in Portland OR, focused on the trustworthiness of systems. Prior to joining Galois, Rob was a professor at Willamette University for 10 years, where he continues to run an angel investing fund with 2nd year MBA students that was selected as one of the top 10 entrepreneurship courses in the country by Inc Magazine. Rob has served on the boards of two acquired companies, Veriwave and Max-Viz, and currently serves on the board of Galois, Tozny, and the Angel Resource Institute. 

In 2013 Rob received the Hans Severeins Award, a national award from the United States angel investment community, for his academic research and service to the field of angel investing. He is co-author of two books, Effectual Entrepreneurship and The Catalyst, as well as many academic articles. As part of the Angel Resource Institute board he leads the Halo report and Investment returns data projects. He completed his PhD in Strategic Management at the University of Washington, and undergraduate work in finance and accounting at Oregon State University. 

John Watson
John Watson, PhD
VP and Head of Pfizer Strategic Transactions Group

John Watson heads the Strategic Transactions group within Pfizer’s World Wide Business Development organization. He has extensive transactions experience spanning acquisition, in-licensing and out-licensing. Prior to joining Pfizer’s business development organization in 2001, he served on and led drug discovery and development teams in Pfizer’s R & D division for 14 years. Dr. Watson received his Ph.D. degree from the University of California, Davis, and completed a 3-year postdoctoral research fellowship at Harvard Medical School. He is an author of 48 peer reviewed scientific publications and chapters in 3 books.

Afternoon Remarks

Joseph Carroll
Joseph Carroll, PhD
Director of Business Development, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

Joseph has a background in commercializing and translating genomic technologies in various disease settings. Over his 15 year career initiating and managing research efforts in biopharma and biotech (with companies such as Genetics Institute (acq. by Wyeth), Wyeth (acq. by Pfizer) and Millennium Pharmaceuticals), he has worked to utilize genomics to improve drug development and clinical trial design. In 2004, Joseph co-founded a successful (acquired) startup with a researcher at Columbia University (Skinetics Biosciences, Inc.) and moved to oversee research at Sirna Therapeutics (acq. by Merck) after the Skinetics acquisition. After leaving Sirna, Joseph moved to the academic sector (University of Colorado (Boulder, CO), Biomedical DiagnosticsInst (Dublin, Ireland)) to work on facilitating greater academic-industry partnership and new venture creation. In his role managing business development for the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, Joseph helps establish key alliances, partnerships and new ventures to help the fulfill the Knight's mission of "ending cancer as we know it."

Panel I - Corporate Venture Investment

Asish Xavier
Asish K. Xavier, PhD
Vice President, Venture Investments, J&J Development Corporation

Asish is based in the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center in Silicon Valley, California. Asish focuses on venture investments in biotechnology and diagnostics. Asish joined Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation in 2004, and has invested in over a dozen biotech and diagnostics deals.

Asish previously worked in business development at BioRexis Pharmaceutical Corporation (King of Prussia, PA) which was acquired by Pfizer in 2007. While at BioRexis, he assisted the company in raising a $30 million round of financing. Asish has worked in business development at Structural GenomiX, Inc. (San Diego, CA), acquired by Eli Lilly in 2008, and was a project leader at Message Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Malvern, PA).

Asish received a Ph.D. from the University of Houston and a MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated with honors. He received a Bachelor of Technology in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India. Asish was a postdoctoral research Fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the Johns Hopkins University.

Alex de Winter
Alex de Winter, PhD, MBA
Director, GE Healthcare Ventures

Alex de Winter invests in life science instrumentation and clinical diagnostics, leading GE Ventures' investment in Veracyte (VCYT) and RainDance Technologies. Alex joined GE Ventures from Mohr Davidow Ventures, where he served as a board director with On-Q-ity and board observer for CardioDx, Corventis, Crescendo Bioscience, DVS Sciences, and Personalis. He started his career as a research scientist with 454 Life Sciences (acquired by Roche) and Pacific Biosciences (PACB). Alex has an MBA from UC Berkeley, a Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford, and graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College with a BA in English and Chemistry.

Juan Harrison
Juan Harrison
Vice President, New Frontier Science, Takeda Pharmaceuticals International, Inc.

Mr. Harrison is Vice President, New Frontier Science and is responsible for engaging healthcare innovation emerging from academia and scientific centers of excellence.  Among other projects, he led Takeda's entry into the Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Initiative in New York.  He was previously Vice President, Takeda Ventures, Inc, from 2008 to 2012 and was responsible for 4 investments. Mr. Harrison brings more than 27 years of biopharmaceutical R&D, product licensing, business development and strategy experience. Prior to joining Takeda, Mr. Harrison was a partner with ProPharma Partners International, where he specialized in developing and implementing business and licensing strategy for emerging and established biopharmaceutical companies. Before this, he was Vice President Business Development at XenoPort Inc., and held senior licensing positions at PowderJect Inc., Connetics Corporation and Alza Corporation. In addition, Mr. Harrison held product development management and research positions at Alza, where he began his career in 1985. Mr. Harrison received his Bachelor of Sciences in Combined Sciences from Santa Clara University in California, USA.

Nag Rayapureddi
Nag Rayapureddi, PhD, MBA, CPA
Senior Associate, Lilly Ventures

Nag Rayapureddi has been with Lilly Ventures since 2011. Nag brings over 13 years of experience in life sciences research and healthcare investments to the team. Previously, he was an Associate at CHV Capital, the venture capital arm of IU Health, and a Biotech equity research associate at Rodman & Renshaw. Nag's previous experience also includes working in the New Product Planning at Elanco.

Nag's post-doctoral and junior faculty work included studying eye development proteins, thyroid cancer dynamics and mitochondrial protein transduction at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, University of Cincinnati and Indiana University School of Medicine respectively. His research findings were published in may peer-reviewed scientific journals including a first author publication in Nature.

Nag received his PhD in Biochemistry from Visva-Bharati University and his MBA and MSA from Indiana University, Kelley School of Business. Nag is also a CPA and CFA level III Candidate.

Samuel Wu
Samuel Wu, MD, PhD 
Managing Director, MedImmune Ventures

Sam joined MedImmune Ventures as managing director of their West Coast office in September 2010, covering biopharmaceuticals, medical devices and diagnostics.  He had previously been a principal at SV Life Sciences, where he invested in, worked with and served on the boards of a broad range of biotech, platform and device companies for eight years.  Prior to SV, he was an Engagement Manager with McKinsey and Company's Pharmaceuticals and Medical Products practice, where he led teams of consultants serving clients on M&A, portfolio analysis and other strategic issues.

Sam holds an A.B. magna cum laude in Biochemistry from Harvard College, attended Stanford University School of Medicine where he earned an M.D. and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry as a Howard Hughes Predoctoral Fellow, and trained in Internal Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Panel II - Traditional Venture Capital Investment

Thomas Desouza
Thomas DeSouza
Managing Director, Allegory Venture Partners

Thomas has been working with entrepreneurs and allocating capital to promising companies for over a decade.  Having founded multiple start-ups and working with management of many exciting young companies, Thomas is no stranger to the issues that early stage companies face.  Prior to Allegory, Thomas was a partner of the DeSouza Perez Group at Robert W. Baird & Co.  He joined Baird after his time at Morgan Stanley as a Portfolio Manager. Thomas is a Board Director of SemanticMD. Thomas attended Portland State University with degrees in Finance and Political Science.  He has been responsible for the development of two non-profit organizations within the last six years. He is an active member in the Keiretsu forum where he is a member of the life sciences sub-committee. Thomas also serves on the Board of Directors and Investment Committee for Willamette View Foundation.

Diane Fraiman
Diane Fraiman, MBA
Partner, Voyager Capital

Diane is a Partner with Voyager and focuses on software and digital media investments in the Pacific Northwest, particularly Oregon. Prior to Voyager, Diane had 25 years of technology company experience in leading marketing, strategy and business development teams for both private and public companies. Diane is on the boards of Act-On Software, Chirpify, Elemental Technologies, Lytics, Skyward, Attensa and Ubix. She also is active in Portland  on the boards of TiE Oregon, Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN), and the Providence Child Center. She graduated with a Bachelor's degree from Vanderbilt University in Biomedical Engineering, and received an Executive MBA from Insead in Fountainebleau, France. Diane lives in Portland, Oregon.

Nick Pliam
Nick Pliam, MD, PhD
Venture Partner, Decheng Capital

Nathan (Nick) B. Pliam, MD, PhD, an orthopedic surgeon and endocrine physiologist, serves as venture partner at Decheng Capital, a Shanghai-based investment fund focused on life sciences. He has also been a venture partner with Bay City Capital since 2006, focusing on medical technology investments, including IDev Corporation, which was recently acquired by Abbott, and Nevro Corporation, of which he is a director. He is a co-founder of Ketai Medical Device Ltd, a China-based orthopedic implant company. He has founded, managed, and advised biopharmaceutical and medical technology companies.  He holds an MD from Dartmouth and a PhD from the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Pliam completed his surgical training at UCSF and Stanford University. He completed his undergraduate studies in German literature at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Georg August Universität in Germany.

Maurizio Vecchione
Maurizio Vecchione
Senior Vice President of Global Good & Research, Intellectual Ventures

Marurizio Vecchione is the Senior Vice President of Global Good and Research at Intellectual Ventures (IV). In this role, he oversees IV's collaboration with Bill Gates to invent and deploy technology specifically focused on improving life in developing countries, as well as the Intellectual Ventures Laboratory and Institute for Disease Modeling. Mr. Vecchione most recently served as CEO of Arrogene, which is commercializing a new nanotechnology platform for cancer therapeutics and diagnostics, and as CEO of telemedicine pioneer CompuMed.

Mr. Vecchione has nearly 30 years of experience in the technology sector. He has contributed to building nine start-ups and helped launch more than 50 commercial products, resulting in more than $1 billion in shareholder value. His work spans the software, internet, wireless and life sciences sectors, primarily in connection with technologies incubated by government and university R&D efforts. As an inventor himself, Mr. Vecchione is named on multiple U.S. patents and patent applications related to imaging, image processing, non-bio-polymer and telecommunication technologies. He was twice a finalist for the E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year award, received a DEMO God award from the prestigious DEMO organization and is a member of ACM and IEEE.   

Panel III - Things to Know before you start a company

John Friess
John Friess
Executive Director, StarveUps

John is focused on the process of founding and building the marketability, viability and exit ability of idea and emerging stage companies. The current company that he and his team are building towards a positive exit is journey gym (www.journeygym.com).  

Before co-founding journey gym, he co-founded wired.MD (www.wired.MD) in 2000 with his brother Mark Friess, which is a leading health education company.  wired.MD creates and delivers patient and consumer health education videos and was taken from concept to completion through being acquired and fully integrated in 2008 into the industry leading patient education company, MediMedia Corporation (now Krames StayWell), for $7.4M or 2.5 times the funds invested. 

Also in 2000 John co-founded, sits on the board of, and is the Executive Director of Starve Ups (www.StarveUps.com), which was Oregon’s first accelerator supporting solely founders of innovative and disruptive startups.  Starve Ups in the last 14 years has an 82% survival/success rate amongst its 93 membership companies, has raised over $510M in funding amongst membership companies, has had 9 membership companies positively acquired and 1 IPO.

Denis Burger
Denis R. Burger, PhD
Chairman of the Board, AMES Technology

Denis R. Burger, Ph.D. retired in March 2007 after 11 years as Chairman and CEO of AVI BioPharma, the pioneer company in the emerging field of RNA therapeutics.  During his biotech career he has taken four companies through the IPO process and secondary financings on the NASDAQ stock exchange. Dr. Burger is currently on the Board of Directors of three publicly traded biotechnology companies and is chairman of a private medical device company.  He was a faculty member at OHSU and a Career Scientist at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Portland. Dr. Burger has published over 100 manuscripts on the regulation of the immune response.  Denis Burger is the founder and President of Yamhill Valley Vineyards, an Oregon vineyard and winery dedicated to producing distinctive Pinot Noir.

Jerry Carleton
Jerry Carleton, JD
Founder & Principal, Immix Law Group

Jerry Carleton, founder and principal of the Immix Law Group, is an attorney who counsels companies on corporate, finance, and securities issues. He focuses on pre-formation planning, entity formation, raising capital, securities compliance, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, leasing and contractual issues, and general day-to-day business advice.

He adds value as a strategic business partner to entrepreneurs and is able to provide clients not only counseling on legal issues, but also advice from a business perspective. In 2001, Jerry co-founded Keen Mobility, a company that develops, produces and distributes innovative, functional and attractive assistive medical devices intended to enhance mobility.

David Farrell
David Farrell, PhD, FAHA
Founder & Chief Scientific Officer, Gamma Therapeutics, Inc.

David H. Farrell, PhD, FAHA, is a Professor of Surgery at OHSU, and has joint appointments in the Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics and the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. He is the OHSU Director of the Health Science Entrepreneurship Certificate Program. Prof. Farrell is on the Editorial Board of the journal Thrombosis, is Co-Chair of the Thrombosis 2 Committee of the American Heart Association, and was elected a Fellow of the American Heart Association. He is Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Gamma Therapeutics, Inc., an Oregon biotech company developing biopharmaceuticals and diagnostic tests for the cardiovascular disease industry.

Klaus Fruh
Klaus Frueh, PhD
President & Chief Scientific Officer, TomegaVax

Over 30 years of experience in vaccine research, virology and immunology. PhD from the University of Heidelberg, post-doctoral training at the Scripps Research Institute; Principal Scientist at Johnson & Johnson. Directs successful and internationally recognized research program at OHSU with more than 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals including seminal work on viral immune evasion. Member of multiple editorial boards, scientific advisory boards and review panels. Founded TomegaVax together with world-renowned immunologists and virologists to translate basic research into novel vaccines and immunotherapies.

Panel iv - Startup models & business incubators at other universities

Jennifer Fox
Jennifer E. Fox, PhD
Exectutive Director, OTRADI

As one of the founding scientists, and now Executive Director, of the Oregon Translational Research and Development Institute (OTRADI), Jennifer E. Fox, Ph.D., helped to define OTRADI's scientific mission and establish Oregon's only high-throughput screening laboratory. Under Dr. Fox's leadership, OTRADI opened Oregon's first and only bioscience-specific incubator—the OTRADI Bioscience Incubator (OBI) in June 2013. The OBI has been at capacity since opening, with six bioscience client companies and a growing waiting list.  Dr. Fox is currently establishing a Biomentoring program and statewide incubator/accelerator network to provide mentoring and help to bioscience entrepreneurs across the State of Oregon.

Maryann Guerra
MaryAnn Guerra, MBA
CEO & Chairman of the Board, BioAccel

MaryAnn Guerra, MBA is Chairman of the Board, CEO, and co-founder of BioAccel. Ms. Guerra is known for creating novel programs to accelerate the transfer of technology from the lab into new business opportunities. Prior to founding BioAccel, Ms. Guerra served as President of TGen Accelerators, LLC and Chief Operating Officer at (TGen). She has also had an impressive career at the National Institutes of Health having held various senior level positions, including: Executive Officer, NHLBI and Deputy Director of Management & Executive Officer at the NCI, two of NIH's largest Institutes. Ms. Guerra has received numerous awards and recognition including most recently being named as one of Arizona's top 50 Most Influential Women in 2014 and one of Arizona Top Business Leaders in Healthcare: Biosciences for 2013 and again in 2014.

David McElligott
David McElligott, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer, Accelerator Corporation

Dr. David McElligott joined Accelerator in March of 2012 as its Chief Scientific Officer. Previously, he served as the founding CSO at Groove Biopharma, a microRNA therapeutics company. Prior to founding Groove, Dr. McElligott served as Senior Director of Biological Sciences at ICOS Corp. where he led drug discovery projects in oncology, inflammation, and urology. Before joining ICOS in 1997, Dr. McElligott held academic appointments at The Scripps Research Institute and The Salk Institute for Biological Sciences. Dr. McElligott received his Ph. D. and B.S degrees in Immunology from the University of Iowa. He also serves on the advisory boards of the NYU Office of Therapeutic Alliances and Rockefeller University's Robertson Therapeutic Development Fund.

Patrick Shelby
Patrick Shelby, PhD
Director, New Ventures, University of Washington

At the UW Center for Commercialization, Patrick Shelby directs the New Ventures group, which is focused on helping UW start-up companies. Prior to joining the Center for Commercialization team in 2007, Patrick was a founder of a UW-based cancer diagnostics start-up company that studies cancer metastasis. Originally a transplant from the Midwest, he spent eight years as a project engineer in the aerospace industry. For his doctoral research in analytic chemistry at the UW, Patrick used microfluidics to study biological systems. Postdoctoral work focused on a systems biology approach to studying yeast cell differentiation. He also earned BS degrees at Purdue and Seattle University.

Andrew Watson
Andrew Watson, PhD, CLP
Director of Technology Transfer, OHSU

Andrew R.O. Watson, PhD, CLP, is the Director of Technology Transfer at Oregon Health & Science University. He received a BS in Biology from Whitworth University in Spokane, WA and a PhD in Biomedical Sciences with a research emphasis in immunology and infectious diseases from the State University of New York at Albany in New York. He previously served as a Technology Development Officer in the Office of Technology Development at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA from 2003-2006 and in technology transfer roles with Health Research Inc. and the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, Inc, both in New York from 2001-2003. He came to OHSU in 2007 as a Technology Development Manager before being promoted to Director in 2012. 

In his current role, Dr. Watson manages the licensing, intellectual property protection, and industry collaborations aspects of the office. He is also responsible for the day-to-day management of the office and technology transfer staff as well as preparation and management of departmental budgets. He is involved in developing and implementing university policies, providing leadership in developing strategies for corporate collaborations, and serves as an OHSU spokesperson for matters relating to intellectual property, commercialization and economic impact of OHSU research. He has first authored several scientific publications and technology transfer articles, and also been an invited speaker at both scientific and technology transfer conferences. He is a Certified Licensing Professional through the Licensing Executives Society. Dr. Watson is an active member of the Association of University Technology Managers, the Licensing Executives Society and the Oregon Bioscience Association.