President Tooba Cheema, Ph.D.
Tooba is a Senior Scientist at Unum Therapeutics working to advance cellular immune therapy for cancer. She received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Tufts University and her Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Prior to Unum, she was a Scientist at Momenta Pharmaceuticals working on oncologic and autoimmune indications. Tooba received her post-doctoral training at Massachusetts General Hospital under the fellowship from the American Brain Tumor Association. She has also served as a science policy fellow at the National Academies. Tooba has been an active member and volunteer of MASS AWIS since 2008 serving to mentor, lead committees and enhance the awareness and participation of women in science.
Vice President Christa Van Dort, Ph.D.
Christa is an Instructor at Massachusetts General Hospital and research affiliate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Christa is a neuroscientist studying the brain circuitry involved in sleep-wake regulation. Christa received her B.S. in Biology and Chemistry from Hope College in Holland, MI and her Ph.D. in Molecular and Integrative Physiology from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. Christa has been an active member of AWIS since 2010 working with the mentoring circle program and events committee. She has also helped bring group mentoring circles to Harvard faculty and staff through Harvard’s Joint Committee on the Status of Women.
Treasurer Yoojin Chung, Ph.D.
Yoojin is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Harvard Medical School. Her research interests include auditory neuroscience and new approaches to treating hearing loss and deafness. Yoojin received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Seoul National University in Seoul, Korea and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University. She has been a member of the MASS AWIS Events Committee since 2011. She also served as a member of Steering Committee of student, postdoc and medical resident chapter of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology. Yoojin has been an active AWIS member since 2007.
Administrator Maria Bartolini
Maria received her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY and M.Sc in Biomedical Engineering from Columbia University in New York, NY. Her experience includes a Communications role at iGEM Foundation creating and executing a marketing communication plan to increase awareness and attendance of Regional and Championship Jamborees. She has over six years experience in the Life Science industry working as a Global Product Manager for protein sample preparation products and as a Technical Support Scientist troubleshooting cell signaling reagents and kits. She is an active member of MASS AWIS and has been a volunteer in the mentoring circle program for the past 2 years.
Membership Committee Co-Chair Rana Awwad, Ph.D.
Rana is currently a Production/QC manager at Stemgent, Inc. a subsidiary of Reprocell, Japan, insuring the delivery of high quality reagents to researchers in the stem cell and cancer fields. Rana completed her bachelors’ degrees in Biology at the University of Toledo in Ohio. She then attended The Medical College of Ohio, completing her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Prior to Stemgent, Rana was a post-doctoral research fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Her research interests were focused on understanding the mechanism of cancer promotion and progression and identify potential diagnostic and therapeutic targets. Rana has been a member of AWIS since 2012 and served as a volunteer on the sponsorship committee.
Membership Committee Co-Chair Cinzia Metallo, Ph.D.
Cinzia currently works in the Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR) practice at Analysis Group, an economic, financial, and strategy consulting firm. She holds a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University in Boston, MA. As part of her Ph.D. research, she developed a novel platform technology aimed at monitoring bioelectrical signals such as neural and muscle activity. Her academic background includes a Master’s Degree in Physics from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN. During her MS, she used X-ray and neutron diffraction to study superconductors. Cinzia has also entrepreneurial experience, having started a medical device company based on her Ph.D. research. In 2013, she won the Tufts $100K Business Plan Competition and, in 2014, she was selected to participate in MassChallenge, the world’s largest startup accelerator. She has been a Membership Committee member since February 2015 and she looks forward to further contributing to the MASS AWIS mission as co-chair.
Events-East Committee Co-Chair Ayesha Islam, Ph.D.
Ayesha grew up in a multicultural family in Montreal, Canada and studied there at McGill up until her MSc in Biology. She stinted as an Research Assistant at Harvard and Oxford (UK) for a few years and went on to obtain her PhD at King’s College, London. She relocated to the area to undertake a Postdoc at Boston University Medical Center, studying innate immunity in the female genital tract under the influence of hormones with respect to HIV and sexually transmitted infections. She mentored students in the lab and in MASS AWIS Mentoring Circles program and currently teaches Microbiology at Pine Manor College. She has enjoyed MASS AWIS programs and membership since 2013.
Events-East Committee Co-Chair Laure Deflube-Owen, Ph.D.
Laure earned a BS in biology from Université Paris XI, France and a Master’s in Molecular biology and Virology from Université Paris VI. To pursue her interest in negative strand RNA viruses, specially the causing agents of hemorrhagic fever, she moved to Galveston, TX to conduct research at the University of Texas Medical Branch, one of the leading centers for research in infectious diseases where she worked in containment laboratories, BSL-3 and BSL-4. During her time at UTMB, she was enrolled in the Université Paris VII PhD program. After completing 3 years of research at UTMB, she went back to France to write her dissertation and received her PhD in Molecular Biology and Virology. She subsequently came back to the USA for her postdoctoral training, first at Virginia Tech, then, at Boston University, still focusing her research on the molecular mechanisms of negative strand virus transcription and replication. After 8 years of postdoctoral training and the development of successful projects, including the co-writing of a funded R03 NIH grant, Laure decided to leave academic research and is currently making the transition toward a career in clinical trial management. She joined MASS AWIS and the event east committee in January 2015. She would like to focus her time as a co-chair of the event committee to develop small group networking opportunities for AWIS members. She also volunteers with Seeding Labs as an external reviewer for their Instrumental Access Program.
Events-West Committee Co-Chair Kristie Kapinas, Ph.D.
Kristie is currently a Medical Science Liaison for Vertex Pharmaceuticals in the Northeast US, responsible for disease education. She is originally from Pennsylvania, where she first became interested in science as a competitor in Science Olympiad. She received her B.S. in Biochemistry/Biophysics and Biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she first became involved in research, specifically in oncology. She received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences and Cell Biology from the University of Connecticut Health Center, where she focused on the molecular mechanisms of bone formation and osteoporosis. Prior to leaving academia, she completed her postdoctoral training in two labs at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, identifying mechanisms of embryonic stem cell pluripotency and differentiation. Kristie has been an active member and volunteer of MASS AWIS since transplanting to MA, and looks forward to an amazing 2016 as a Board member!
Events-West Committee Co-Chair Lauren Laidlaw
Lauren is the Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at Safety Partners, Inc., a firm which provides environmental health and safety programs and services to life science companies in Massachusetts. Lauren leads the organization’s strategic marketing efforts as Safety Partners continues to grow. Lauren ensures that all marketing and communications initiatives take into account the unique needs of the greater Boston life sciences community. Previously, she was Director of Innovation Services at MassBio, the nation’s oldest biotechnology trade association. She most recently served as Director of Membership and Institutional Support at T1D Exchange, a non-profit organization focused on type 1 diabetes research. She formerly held marketing and communications positions at Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a global energy consulting firm. Lauren volunteers with several organizations, serving on the planning committee of the Massachusetts Life Science Innovation Day annual conference, she is co-chair of the membership committee for the I2SL New England Chapter, and a member of the board of directors for the Revere Beach Partnership and Revere Chamber of Commerce. As co-chair of Events West, she looks forward to working across her network of biotech and pharma business developers and R&D professionals to deliver the most relevant content for this region. She hope to bring events to the area that appeal to both students and professionals. In addition, she plans to work with community leaders to strengthen the AWIS brand in the greater Worcester area and bring new “champions” to the organization. Lauren holds a B.A. degree in communications and organizational development from Suffolk University.
Mentoring Committee Co-Chair Lesley Mathews Griner, Ph.D.
Lesley is an Investigator in the Oncology Group at Novartis in Cambridge, MA where she leads a high content imaging screening group in the Molecular Pharmacology department. Her main role is to support new and existing project teams by building robust and novel assays to be utilized for SAR compound expansion and screening. Prior to her transition back to industry, Lesley was a research scientist in the Biomolecular Screening and Profiling/Probe Development group at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). At NCATS her research focused on the investigation of new probes against diverse biological targets using quantitative high throughput screening (qHTS) and miniaturization of cell based assays into a 1536 plate format. She joined NCATS in December 2010 after completing her postdoctoral research training at NCI-Frederick working in the lab of Dr. William Farrar studying the genetic and epigenetic regulation of cancer stem cells. Prior to her graduate work, Lesley worked at Shire Biologics and Cetek where she learned the basics of the drug discovery process. During her scientific career Lesley has always demonstrated her ability to act as a mentor and leader maintaining an active involvement in teaching and tutoring at all educational levels. Her education includes a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a BA in Biology from Clark University in Worcester, MA.
Mentoring Committee Co-Chair Sarah Sherlock, Ph.D.
Sarah is an Associate Director in the Clinical and Translational Imaging Group at Pfizer. In this role she manages medical imaging aspects of clinical studies, specializing in incorporating MRI, CT, x-ray and DXA endpoints into clinical studies. Sarah grew up in Vermont, but headed south for college and received her B.A. in Chemistry from New College of Florida in 2006. She continued her studies at Stanford University and received her Ph.D. in Chemistry in 2011. Sarah was initially a mentee through the Stanford AWIS mentoring program, which inspired her to get involved with MASS AWIS after relocating. She has been involved with the mentoring circles since 2014 as a volunteer, connector and mentor. When not working, Sarah enjoys baking, travelling, spending time with pets and outdoor activities.
Communications Committee Co-Chair Kiki Chu, Ph.D.
Kiki is a Scientist in the Translational Research group at Verastem, investigating novel drugs to target cancer stem cells. Kiki attended Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI for her undergraduate study and received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI. She continued on with a postdoctoral training at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, investigating cellular signaling pathways in cancer biology and metabolism. She joined MASS AWIS in 2012 and immediately became active in both the Communications and Membership Committees as a volunteer. She has been the co-Chair of the Communications Committee since 2014 and hopes to continue improving and building the MASS AWIS website and social media outlets to better serve the women in science and spread the work of the organization. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, gardening, and exploring the culinary delights of Boston, as well as running through the Minuteman Bikeway and doing yoga.
Communications Committee Co-Chair Christine Oslowski, Ph.D.
Christine is a Social Media Content Specialist with Thermo Fisher Scientific and a Visiting Assistant Professor at Bridgewater State University. She received her bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and biochemistry at University of Massachusetts Amherst and her doctorate in molecular cell biology at University of Massachusetts Medical School. Prior to her current roles, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Boston University School of Medicine. Christine has been an active member of MASS AWIS since 2013 volunteering with the Communications and Membership Committees. During her free time, she enjoys painting, photography, and hiking.
Sponsorship Committee Co-Chair Haifa Ghandour, Ph.D.
Haifa is a Biochemist and Molecular Biologist, obtained her BSc. in Biology, MSc. and PhD. in Medical Sciences at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. Haifa completed postdoctoral trainings at the USDA-HNRCA of Tufts University and at the Pathology Department of Brigham’s and Women Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Haifa moved to Seattle to work as a Senior Scientist at AMRI, where she led several integrated drug discovery programs aimed at identifying small molecules therapeutic candidates targeting GPCRs, MAP Kinases, small GTPases and NFkB. Later Haifa joined GnuBio, a startup biotech company in Cambridge, as a Senior Principal Scientist and Group Leader where she worked on developing a novel next generation sequencing platforms and applications for cancer diagnostics. Haifa’s scientific interests are focused on Personalized Medicine, identifying companion diagnostics to develop safe therapeutics that target genes and pathways tailored to patients genomics and genetics. Haifa has been involved with AWIS since 2007, she had served on both boards of MASS AWIS and Seattle AWIS. She established and coordinated the “Group Mentoring” program for the Seattle chapter in 2008 and chaired the Mentoring Committee for two years. At MASS AWIS, Haifa has been a co-chair of the Sponsorship Committee since 2011, and serves as a mentor for the MASS AWIS “Mentoring Circles” program. Haifa is passionate about developing women careers, and on her free time she enjoys nature through traveling, hiking, running and dining.
Sponsorship Committee Co-Chair Karen Yee, Ph.D.
Karen is a Research Lab Manager/Medical Specialist II at MIT and oversees the operations and administration of an academic research laboratory. Previously, she was a Research Lab Manager at Harvard University, and Instructor and a post-doctoral fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. Karen obtained a B.A. degree with honors in biological science from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. degree in molecular and cellular biology from University of Washington. Karen was involved in the Seattle chapter of AWIS while at the University of Washington and chaired the Scholarship Committee for two years as well as held many different positions on the AWIS-Seattle Chapter Board including Treasurer. She helped revive the Massachusetts chapter of AWIS in 2004 when she came to Boston to complete her post-doctoral fellowship. Since then she has participated in the chapter in various capacities including being the chair of the Leadership Workshop Committee, member of the Mentoring Committee, member of the Events Committee and chair of the Membership Committee. Karen was also Treasurer in 2012 -2014, part of the 10th Anniversary Committee in 2014 and has been Co-Chair of the Sponsorship Committee since 2015. When Karen is not in the lab, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Lewis, and her two daughters, Sofia and Athena.
Scholarship Committee Chair Elif M. Sikoglu, Ph.D.
Elif is currently a Principal Scientist at PAREXEL. She provides medical and scientific leadership for clinical trials where imaging data is utilized. Prior to her current role, Elif was Post-doctoral Associate at Center for Comparative NeuroImaging, Massachusetts Medical School Psychiatry Department. She investigated various neuropsychiatric disorders using multi-modal neuroimaging techniques in clinical and pre-clinical settings. Elif received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Isik University, Istanbul, Turkey and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University. She has been taking part in MASS AWIS mentoring circles since 2011 and involved in organizing events around Worcester area since 2012. Elif enjoys cooking, hiking and traveling.
Past President Beth M. Hovey, Ph.D.
Beth completed her bachelors’ degrees in Molecular Cellular Developmental Biology (MCDB) and Biochemistry with a minor in Chemistry at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She attended Boston University School of Medicine, completing her Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine. Over the years, Beth has worked as a research associate in biotech, science editor and editorial director in science publishing, as a market research analyst and now in operations. Beth has been a member of AWIS for many years, first joining as a graduate student. She has been a board member for MASS AWIS since 2011.