Innovation Studio

MALSI Day 2022

Learn more about the speakers who will be participating in our two panel discussions during the day and the 25 poster pitch presenters.

Panel 1: From Froth to Fragile: Investing in an Uncertain Environment

10:00 AM – District Hall Assembly Room

Compared to 2021, funding for early-stage life science companies has been much scarcer this year. Our panel will explore how this shift in the financing landscape effects investors when they are considering new opportunities, and how they support their current portfolio companies.

Vera Schroeder

Partner, Safar Partners

Vera brings broad experience in the fields of chemistry, nanoscience and materials science to the Safar team. As a graduate student, she worked in the laboratory of Professor Tim Swager at MIT focused on carbon-nanotube based chemical sensing. While at MIT, she also spent her time at Sloan and HBX learning about venture creation and strategy as well as interning at MP Healthcare Venture Management fund. She holds a BS and MS in Chemistry from RWTH Aachen University and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from MIT. She also acts as a Global Talent Fellow at the Open Avenues Foundation where she develops and leads technology transfer products, helping students gain skills that are valued in spinning out technology companies from universities. Vera serves as a Board Director on the Boards of 5×5 Technologies and Concerto Biosciences and a Board Observer on the Board of Xibus Systems.

Debra Peattie, PhD, MBA

Managing Partner, SV Bio Ventures

Debra Peattie, PhD, MBA, is a veteran life sciences entrepreneur and business executive. As Managing Director of SV Bio Ventures, a Boston-based venture capital fund, she focuses on company creation and early stage investments in life sciences and healthcare. Before joining SV Bio Ventures, Dr. Peattie led business development and licensing at Valo Health, a technology company using human-centric data and artificial intelligence to accelerate drug discovery and development. Prior to that, she led future pipeline activities at GlaxoSmithKline and business development efforts in the Office of Technology Development at Harvard University. Dr. Peattie has also held executive positions at Cubist Pharmaceuticals and Valeo Medical, a company she co-founded to develop a non-invasive diagnostic for endometriosis. She also founded and led RCT BioVentures NE, a life sciences seed fund, after several years sourcing and transacting investments at MPM Capital, where she co-led the raise and launch of the company’s initial fund. Dr. Peattie holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a PhD in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology from Harvard University, where she studied with Walter Gilbert, PhD, 1980 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry. She was a Helen Hay Whitney post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University and received her BA in Chemistry from Hollins University. Dr. Peattie has numerous peer-reviewed scientific publications and currently holds board positions at GRO Biosciences, Harvard Business School, and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.

Shaan Gandhi, MD, DPhil

Director, Northpond Ventures

Shaan C. Gandhi is a Director at Northpond Ventures, where he leads the firm’s work in biotechnologies, and a board director for Candel Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CADL), DICE Therapeutics (NASDAQ: DICE), Vigil Neuroscience (NASDAQ: VIGL) and multiple private companies. Previously, Dr. Gandhi was a Principal at the Longwood Fund, where he created life sciences companies, including Pyxis Oncology (NASDAQ: PYXS), which he co-founded and served as President. He started his career as a hospitalist at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he did his residency in internal medicine. He holds an MD and MBA from Harvard University, where he was a Baker Scholar; a DPhil from the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar; and a BS from Case Western Reserve University. He also serves as President of the Suffolk District Medical Society, the professional medical society of Boston, and a Trustee of the Boston Medical Library.

Vinit Nijhawan

Managing Director, MassVentures

Vinit intentionally pivoted his career from technology entrepreneur and CEO to helping other entrepreneurs, with a focus on academia. He began teaching Entrepreneurship at Boston University and subsequently led the Office of Technology Development (OTD) from 2010-2016, where he published a peer reviewed paper on that experience: Maximize Collisions, Minimize Friction. Vinit applies the success of launching 8 VC backed spinouts from BU to all of Massachusetts at MassVentures, the Commonwealth’s venture organization.


Danielle Silva

Assistant Vice President, Capital Advisors Group

Danielle Silva is Assistant Vice President at Capital Advisors Group (CAG). CAG is an institutional investment advisor that helps companies manage their corporate cash. Additionally, the firm assists companies in securing debt funding. Danielle focuses on business development in the Northeast and Mid Atlantic regions for life science and tech companies. Prior to CAG, Danielle led life science business development for SVB Analytics, which was the buyside advisory and valuations group at Silicon Valley Bank. Danielle was also one of the founders of Life Science Nation, a company that helps early-stage life science companies raise equity funding. Danielle began her career at Brighton House Associates where she raised capital for alternative investment vehicles such as venture capital, private equity, and hedge funds.

Panel 2: Building Beyond the Froth

2:00 PM – District Hall Assembly Room

The frothy investment climate of 2021 that captured the imagination of the life science ecosystem appears to have sobered off during the first half of 2022. Yet, creative, industrious, inspirational entrepreneurs keep going. Our panelists will share their insights on strategies to keep building the dream in an evolving financing environment.

Camille A Martin, PhD

Co-Founder and CEO, Seaspire

Camille A. Martin, PhD is the Founder and CEO of Seaspire Skincare, a technology backed beauty company that develops innovative products using ingredients inspired by nature to make the world healthier, safer, and more sustainable. Dr. Martin’s research journey began as an enthusiastic college freshman fascinated with cosmetic chemistry and fueled by her desire to blend the worlds of beauty and science. After completing her undergraduate studies, Martin went on to continue her education at Northeastern University where she pursued a doctoral degree in Analytical Chemistry and Biomaterials Science. Her work focused on reimagining natural materials as ingredients that can be applied to treat cosmetic and chronic skin conditions. In 2019 Professor Leila Deravi (Co-Founder) and Dr. Martin launched Seaspire Skincare with the goal to design the next generation of skincare products that are safe for all people and the environment.

Nele Van Dessel, Ph.D

CEO, Ernest Pharmaceuticals

Dr. Nele Van Dessel is the CEO of Ernest Pharmaceuticals since 2018. Ernest Pharmaceuticals is a biotech startup that seeks to create a novel bacterial platform to revolutionizes the treatment of solid tumors through innovations in intracellular protein delivery. Dr. Van Dessel created the platform during her postdoctoral fellowship in the Forbes Lab at UMass Amherst. She co-founded Ernest Pharmaceuticals to develop this technology into a clinical therapy and has received up to $2M in non-dilutive funding. She received her M.S. in Bioengineering and her Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from KULeuven in Belgium.

Cheri Ackerman

CEO, Concerto Biosciences, Inc.

Cheri is a leader of scientific innovation with a unique mix of scientific expertise and project management. A winner of the Emerging Women Founder Award, Cheri co-founded Concerto Biosciences, successfully spinning it out of MIT by raising an oversubscribed seed investment round. Cheri’s leadership transcends fundraising: She has built a strong company culture centered around rigorous science, intent listening, and compassion. Cheri holds a PhD in Chemistry from UC Berkeley (Hertz Fellow), where she worked with Prof. Chris Chang to measure and manipulate copper in biological systems. Cheri did her postdoctoral fellowship (NIH Kirschstein Fellow) with Prof. Paul Blainey at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where she developed a high-throughput diagnostic tool.

Paulo Garcia

CEO & Co-Founder, Kytopen

A scientist by training and entrepreneur by DNA, Dr. Garcia is deeply motivated by their ongoing efforts to help patients suffering from devastating diseases worldwide. As CEO and Co-Founder of Kytopen, Dr. Garcia is committed to increasing patient access to engineered living medicines through their proprietary Flowfect® technology for non-viral gene delivery into immune cells to enable cost-effective cell and gene therapies. Dr. Garcia co-invented the Flowfect® technology while he was a Research Scientist in the Mechanical Engineering department at MIT to realize high-throughput, automated, and scalable cell engineering. He earned his Ph.D. from the Virginia Tech – Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences in 2010.


Rachele Ryan

Director Partnerships, LabCentral

Rachele Ryan is the Director of Partnerships at LabCentral, a Massachusetts non-profit organization, founded in 2013 as a launchpad for high-potential life sciences and biotech startups. In this role she is responsible for business development strategy, resident company growth and development, and leading entrepreneurship programming for LabCentral’s newest initiative, LabCentral Ignite.  Rachele’s professional career has revolved around connecting startups to the Boston/Cambridge innovation ecosystem. Prior to joining LabCentral, Rachele led the MassCONNECT mentoring program at MassBio, the Massachusetts biopharma industry association. In that role, she matched life sciences entrepreneurs and founders with seasoned life science professionals to catalyze and commercialize innovation. Previously, as a part of the International Business Development team at the Consulate General of Canada in Boston, she assisted Canadian companies with their expansion efforts into New England and supported fast-growing startups participating in the Canadian Technology Accelerator in Boston (CTA@Boston).

Poster Pitch Presenters

Join us to hear each participants 60-second pitch at 11 AM and stop by their table throughout the event to learn more. Attendees will have the opportunity to vote for their audience favorite and the winner will take home $2,000!

  1. Anna Jagielska – Artificial Axon Labs
  2. Pamela Yelick – RegendoDent, Inc.
  3. Shelley Amster – 3Daughters
  4. Jean Pham – Cellens Inc
  5. Murugappan Muthukumar – Curing & Preventing Cataracts and Presbyopia
  6. Adrianna Shy – Tumor X
  7. Bonnie Fendrock – Cyta Therapeutics
  8. Joseph Jerry – E2-Path
  9. David Medina Cruz – SynCell Biotechnology
  10. Rosana Pochat Garcia – PUPSystem
  11. Craig Martin – Novel RNA Manufacturing
  12. Peter Gwynne – Lyme Disease Initiative
  13. Adam Grabell – EarlyScreen: Detecting Preschool Psychological Disorders from a Mobile App

14. Seun Araromi – MyoExo
15. Anujan Ramesh – Quaesar Therapeutics
16. Elizabeth DiLoreto – Rescue of Neuropeptides by Feeding
17. Ranan Aktas – Cellorama
18. Simin Meydani – VF24
19. Zijing Chen – Lumilin Therapeutics
20. Haichong Zhang – Medical FUSION Lab
21. Greg Mannix – Novaurum Bioscience
22. Alexander Suvorov – Method for Sperm Epigenome Rejuvenation
23. Ahmet Can Sabuncu – SomaDevices
24. Connor MacFarlane – MacFarlane Medical
25. Jan Skerswetat – PerZeption Inc.



The 15th annual Massachusetts Life Sciences Innovation (MALSI) Day is the biggest day for life sciences startups and innovation in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This is a high-energy, hands-on, global event which brings together scientific leaders and business experts to mingle with scientists, post-docs, professors, entrepreneurs, innovators, and venture capitalists.

The day features panel discussions, emerging technology poster competition, Innovators’ Marketplace, and networking reception with leading life sciences CEO’s. 

It is the flagship event of life sciences in Massachusetts, jointly and actively put together by Innovation Studio, in partnership with MassVentures, and all the major organizations that are involved in starting and supporting the life sciences start-up ecosystem in the Commonwealth.