Skip to Main Content

The Rockefeller University Biotechnology Forum

Past Events

Date: Wednesday, August 17th, 4PM
Title: Drug Discovery in the 21st Century – Unprecedented Challenges, Unanticipated Opportunities

Room 301, Weiss Building, Rockefeller University

Ron Newbold, PhD
Vice President of Strategic Research Partnerships at Pfizer

Drug discovery is a complicated, expensive and high-risk activity that is nonetheless a critical activity for scientists to continue to contribute to increasing improvements in healthcare worldwide. Recent economic challenges to all scientific endeavors (whether industrial or academic research) are requiring novel and thoughtful approaches to improving both efficiency and collaborative efforts between large and small discovery companies, and research universities. This talk will give an overview of the drug discovery process at a global pharmaceutical company, how the industry has changed in recent years, and what frontiers remain ahead in a more resource-constrained environment.

Ron Newbold is Vice President of Strategic Research Partnerships at Pfizer. Ron was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University and began his career as a medicinal chemist at Merck, before moving into Strategic Alliances and business development over 15 years ago. He has been Chief Business Officer for 3 start-up companies and negotiated over $1billion in total research collaborations between large pharmaceutical and small biotech companies, and recently joined Pfizer to build a team focused on a new model of industrial / academic collaborative science.

Date: Friday, June 27th, 4PM
Title: Systems Biology @IBM - Dialogue for Reverse Engineering Assessments and Methods (DREAM)

Room 305, Weiss Building, Rockefeller University

Dr. Pablo Meyer, PhD
Research Scientist at the IBM Computational Biology Center.

Date: Friday, June 10th, 12PM
Title: CodeEvolver: The Intelligent Design of Enzymes for Bioenergy & Pharmaceuticals

Room 305, Weiss Building, Rockefeller University

Michael Clay, PhD
Scientist at Codexis

Michael Clay received his B.S. in Biology and Chemistry at the University of Michigan in 1997, a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Georgia in 2002, and completed his postdoctoral work in Chemistry at Stanford University in 2005. Michael currently works as a lead scientist and at Codexis, Inc. in the Dept. of Metabolic Evolution & Engineering. His main area of research is focused on enzyme & metabolic pathway evolution, engineering & optimization for the development of fast, robust & efficient biocatalysts for commercial purposes.

Codexis, Inc. is a clean technology company that applies enzyme evolution and metabolic pathway engineering to develop optimized biocatalysts that make industrial processes faster, cleaner and more efficient. Codexis' technology is commercialized with leading global pharmaceutical companies and in development for advanced biofuels with Shell and carbon capture. Other potential markets for the company's biocatalyst-enabled solutions include chemicals and water treatment.

Date: Tuesday, June 7th, 4PM
Title: Biotech: Through The Looking Glass

Room 305, Weiss Building, Rockefeller University

Stephen Sands, MA, MBA.
Vice Chairman of Investment Banking and Global Co-Head, Healthcare Group, Lazard

Stephen Sands is Vice Chairman of U.S. Investment Banking and Global Co-Head of Lazard's Healthcare Group. He also sits on the board of Lazard Capital Markets. Sands has advised some of the largest pharmaceutical and biotechnology transactions, including Pfizer's acquisition of Pharmacia and Warner Lambert and Hoechst on the formation of Aventis. Prior to Lazard, Sands was a partner in the health-care practice of McKinsey & Company, and he co-founded two companies, Enzytech and Opta Foods. Before their sales, Sands was a director of National Imaging Associates (Magellan) and Isogen (Monsanto). A member of the Brookings/Gates Global Heath Innovative Financing Advisory Group, Sands was named The Cures Start Here Business Leader of the Year in 2008 by the New York Biotechnology Association. Sands received a B.A. from Oberlin College, a B.S. and M.S. in chemical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, and an M.B.A. in finance from New York University.

Date: Tuesday, May 3rd, 4PM
Title: TBA

Room 301, Weiss Building, Rockefeller University

Sam Zhang, Ph.D., M.B.A.
Director of Oncology Global Commercialization, Bristol Myers Squibb

Sam received his B.S. in biology from Peking University, PhD from Columbia University and an MBA from the Wharton School. Sam is a PhD scientist turned product manager in the bio-pharmaceutical industry, who has the rare experience of having worked in basic research, drug development, and sales and marketing. Over the last ten years, he has worked in various capacities at large global companies such as Pfizer, and Eli Lilly. Sam is also active in community affairs. He co-founded the New England Chapter of Sino-American Pharmaceutical Professionals Association (SAPA) while in Boston, presided over Wharton Asian Business Conference while at business school, and most recently served as Executive Vice President of Peking University Alumni Associate of Greater New York. He has appeared in mainstream media such as Asian Wall Street Journal, Boston Global, MSNBC, CNBC, World Journal, etc. Sam is an independent thinker as well. While a third year graduate student, he published in Science a solo-authored commentary on a subject outside of his bench research.

Date: Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011, 4:15PM
Title: GenScript—Transforming Biology Research

Room 305, Weiss Building, Rockefeller University

Larry Wang, Ph.D.
Co-founder and President of Genscript

Dr. Larry Wang is the co-founder and President of GenScript, a leading biology CRO headquartered in New Jersey. Prior to founding GenScript, Dr. Larry Wang worked as a Senior Principal Scientist in Schering-Plough from 1996 to 2002. As one of the key inventors working on the target identification for Zetia, he received the Presidential award from Schering-Plough, and Gallo Award from Cancer Research Institute of New Jersey. Dr. Larry Wang got his Ph.D. from Rutgers University in 1996 and has authored over 20 publications in leading scientific journals.

Date: Wednesday, January 19th, 4PM
Title: Translating Lessons Learned in the Lab to the Business of Research

Room 305, Weiss Building, Rockefeller University

Mitchell Gore, PhD

Dr. Gore earned his Ph.D. from Auburn University He held postdoctoral positions at the University of Alabama College of Medicine in Cardiology and at the University of Wisconsin in Kinesiology with research interests focusing on the transcriptional regulation of genes involved in cardiac and skeletal muscle growth and adaptation. He was previously the Director of Molecular Biology at Cruachem, Inc. and then Director of Life Science Technologies and New Business Development at Polysciences, Inc. In both of these positions he concentrated on the development and commercialization of new tools for cellular and molecular biology research. He is currently a Regional Manager and Technical Specialist at Integrated DNA Technologies where he directs commercial activities and technical efforts in the MidAtlantic states.

Date: Wednesday, December 8th, 2010, 4PM
Title: There Are Many Ways to Change the World with a Ph.D.: Advice From a Scientist Who Is in Her Fourth Career

Room 305, Weiss Building, Rockefeller University

Lauren Blum, Ph.D., M.B.A.
Managing Partner, Capital Counsel LLC

Lauren Blum is a managing partner of Capital Counsel LLC, an investment advisory firm with assets under management of $1.2 billion. She joined the firm at its inception in 1999 and researches investments and manages portfolios for clients. Prior to joining Capital Counsel, she was a Senior Scientist at Environmental Defense Fund where she worked on cooperative projects with companies to define environmentally preferable paper purchasing practices and green consumer products. Having developed the first life cycle assessment of pulp and paper manufacturing along with an economic analysis of different bleaching methods for printing and writing papers, she served as the technical expert in pulp and paper manufacturing for the environmental community during her tenure at EDF. Before joining EDF, she worked at Booz, Allen & Hamilton (now Booz & Co.) as an associate in the Energy, Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals practice. She formulated and tested products used to make integrated circuits as a Project Manager at Shipley Corporation, now a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Company. Dr. Blum graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, received a Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. from the Yale School of Management.

Date: Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010, 4:45PM
Title: Hedge Funds and Biotech Investing in the Public Markets: Case Studies of Blow-Ups and Misguided Innovation in the Healthcare Sector

Room 301, Weiss Building, Rockefeller University

Peter Kolchinsky, Ph.D.
Managing Director and Portfolio Manager of RA Capital

Dr. Peter Kolchinsky is the Managing Director and Portfolio Manager of RA Capital, a Boston-based healthcare and life-sciences fund focused on companies that develop drugs, diagnostics, and medical device products. He is a member of the National Academies Board on Global Science and Technology, serves as an advisor to companies and non-profits, and is the author of an e-book "The Entrepreneur's Guide to a Biotech Startup". Peter received a Ph.D. in Virology from Harvard University, where he conducted research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute on the entry mechanism of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and was a founder of the Harvard Biotech Club. He received his Bachelors in Biology from Cornell University. Peter also is also an owner, with his wife and friends, of The Blue Horse Inn, located in the village of Woodstock, Vermont; it is one of the few B&Bs in the world to have issues of Science magazine available to guests, and he hopes it becomes a trend.

Date: 4:00-5:00 pm, Wednesday October 13th, 2010
Title: Career Planning 101: Strategies for Scientists

Room 305, Weiss Building, Rockefeller University

Monica L. Kerr, Ph.D
Director, New York Science Alliance New York Academy of Science

Monica Kerr earned her PhD in cell and developmental biology from the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program at Harvard Medical School. Following graduation, Monica left the bench to focus on science education as an Instructor and Curriculum Fellow in the Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Department at Harvard Medical School. She taught and developed science-based curricula for undergraduate, graduate, and medical school science courses as well as new career advancement initiatives for science PhDs. Throughout her tenure at Harvard, Monica founded a new professional development series for life scientists, received two teaching awards, and was selected as a Harvard Macy Scholar for the prestigious Program for Educators in Health Professions.

Monica joined the New York Academy of Sciences in February 2010 as the Director of Science Alliance. The Science Alliance is a consortium of universities, teaching hospitals, and independent research facilities committed to advancing the careers of students and postdocs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Monica will discuss her role as director of the Science Alliance as well as the latest strategies for a successful career.

Pizza and refreshments are sponsored by IDT

Date: 4:30-5:30 pm, Wednesday September 29th, 2010
Title: Bioscience Finds Strength at a Conglomerate: Innovation Platform X-Large

Room 305, Weiss Building, Rockefeller University

Christoph Hegersberg, Ph.D
Global Technology Leader, Biosciences, GE Global Research, General Electronic Company

Dr. Hergersberg is the Global Technology Leader Biosciences at GE Global Research. He joined the General Electric Global Research Center in August 2004. Since then, he has built the Global Technology Organization for Biosciences, now comprising of a multidisciplinary team of 70 scientists and staff. Before joining Global Research, he served as the Vice President, Research, for the discovery systems group of Amersham Biosciences. Prior to Amersham, Dr. Hergersberg worked as Chief Scientific Officer at Xantos Biomedicine, Munich, Germany.

In addition to leading research labs at GE Biosciences, Dr. Hergersberg also has had vast experience in strategic technology and acquisition planning, as well as evaluation of companies and technologies in all of biotech/pharmaceuticals. Having worked and lived in Germany, as well as on the east and west coast of the US, Dr. Hergersberg has a variety of insights on how cultural and civilization backgrounds influence people’s perception and acceptance of technologies.

Early in his career, Dr. Hergersberg worked as a director of technology management within the Chief Technology Office of Roche Diagnostics division, and also as a Senior Scientist for Boehringer Mannheim. A biologist by training, Christoph received his doctorate in molecular cell biology and protein chemistry from the University of Munich and a postdoctoral training in immunology before joining Boehringer Mannheim in 1991.

Pizza and refreshments will be served from 4:15pm

Date: 5:15-6:15 pm, Wednesday May 19th, 2010
Title: Personalized Medicine: Challenges and Opportunities

Room 305, Weiss Building, Rockefeller University

Sean X. Hu, Ph.D, M.B.A.
Practice Leader of Personalized Medicine Strategy at IMS Health Inc.

Dr. Sean Hu is the leader of Personalized Medicine (PM) Strategy at IMS Health Management Consulting. He is a leading expert in the field, and has advised many companies in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and diagnostics industries on strategic issues of personalized medicine including commercialization, business model planning, and organizational strategies. Dr. Hu currently represents IMS Health on the FDA Personalized Medicine Initiative which aims to develop tools and policies for advancing PM development. His decade-long involvement in both the commercial and scientific aspects of this evolving discipline has made him a distinguished figure in the field.

Early in his career, Dr. Hu participated in the Human Genome Project and the International HapMap Project, both of which contributed to the scientific foundation of personalized medicine. In his 18-year career in the life sciences, Dr. Hu has worked with companies spanning several industries, ranging from biotechnology, to major pharmaceutical companies, to management consulting. He has served as a senior scientist and operations manager at CuraGen, as the director of business development at Illumina Inc, and has also worked at Bristol-Myers Squibb and AT Kearney, a global management consulting firm. Dr. Hu is the author of one biotechnology patent and numerous scientific and business publications. He lectures and holds adjunct professorships at several institutions, and is a former Vice President at the Chinese-American Association for Science and Technology. He holds an MBA from the Wharton School and PhD in genomics from NYU.

IMS Health is the world's leading provider of market intelligence to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. It has operations in 100 countries and $2 billion in annual revenue.

Pizza and refreshments will be served from 5:00pm

Date: Wednesday, March 17th, 2010, 5 PM
Title: Big and Small - experiences in start-up and a multinational corporation

Weiss 305

Uri Herzberg, Ph.D., D.V.M., M.B.A.
Research Fellow, Johnson & Johnson

Dr Herzberg is Research fellow at Johnson & Johnson, and a veteran of a variety of start-ups, the last of which were Neurogen and Accorda therapeutics. In J&J, His areas of expertise include inflammation, pain, immune disorders and neuroscience, and he is currently conducting interdisciplinary research in drug-device combinations, local drug delivery & regenerative medicine. In Neurogern and Accorda he set up and managed the company's in-vivo operations. Having had the opportunity of being involved in the business operations of both multinational corporations like J&J and small startups like Accorda Therapeutics, Dr Herzberg will share his experiences with us on how to formulate start-ups by big pharma standards.

Date: Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010, 4 PM
Title: Blockbusters Face the "Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune": IIb or Not IIb

Weiss 301

Larry Gorkin, Ph.D., & Eugenia Gruzglin, Ph.D.
Gorkin & Cheddar Consulting

Dr. Gorkin is president of Gorkin & Cheddar Consulting, a firm specializing in comparative effectiveness research. Dr. Gorkin draws on over 13 years of experience at Pfizer as the Director of Outcomes Research where he evaluated the cost effectiveness of Pfizer's key developmental products including different therapeutic classes for Crohn's disease, non-small cell lung cancer, pulmonary hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia, diabetes and anti-thrombotic agents.

All health care systems, regardless of whether public, private, purported single-payer or multi-payer systems, have faced rising demands for healthcare, particularly for pharmaceuticals. Although recent novel pharmaceuticals have risen markedly in price, they often fail to deliver markedly improved efficacy. There is growing resentment among consumers, physicians, payers, or regulators, in the US and internationally, toward the industry for lack of productivity and high prices. The most obvious target is the "blockbuster" drug, defined as generating global sales of >$1 billion annually, which, among recent launches, is becoming extinct. Since 2005, only four launched products have attained "blockbuster status" through 2008. Drs. Gorkin and Gruzglin will discuss some of the reasons behind the paucity of blockbusters and discuss models that will lead to improvement in drug development. According to their analysis, improvement in drug development will require a systemic change following the pressure from evidence-based medicine. That is, a greater willingness to test head-to-head against the appropriate standard of care, starting in Phase II, to weed out programs earlier for termination in development. This would then redirect precious resources, both financial and human, to drugs in development with a higher probability of success. Novel technologies including stem-cell based therapies, drug-device combinations and targeted therapies may also serve as promising sources for providing a replacement for the failing blockbuster model.

Date: Wednesday Jan. 6th, 2010, 4 pm
Title: Economic Aspects of Drug Development: Future of the Pharmaceutical Industry

Weiss 301

Andrew Plump, M.D., Ph.D.
Vice President Cardiovascular Disease Franchise Worldwide Head
Merck Research Laboratories

A 1993 Rockefeller graduate, Andrew S. Plump, M.D., Ph.D., is the Vice President of Cardiovascular Franchise Worldwide Discovery at Merck Research Laboratories. Dr. Plump leads Merck's efforts in identifying novel drug targets and discovering and developing new cardiovascular medicines. He assumed this position in late 2008 after holding a translational position, franchise integrator. Dr. Plump is a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he studied virology, political science and urban studies, followed by an MD at the University of California, San Francisco. He started a summer study program that turned into a full Ph.D. at the Rockefeller University with Dr. Jan L. Breslow, head of Rockefeller's Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism.

Date: Monday, December 7th, 5:30PM
Title: Panel Discussion - Advancing Healthcare Innovation, hosted by the University of Chicago Mid-Atlantic Bio-Life Sciences Alumni Group.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, 300 Madison Ave. (42nd St. entrance)


Richard Kollender (MBA'98)
Quaker Bio Ventures, Pennsylvania

Elliott Sigal (MD'81, PhD)
President of R&D
Bristol-Myers Squibb, New Jersey

Anne Taylor (MD'76)
Dean of Academic Affairs
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York


Jon Edelson (MD'86)
Venture Partner
Ascent Biomedical Ventures and CEO/President, Anterios, New York

Date: Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009, 4PM
Title: TBA

Weiss 301

Eve E. Slater, M.D.
Former Senior Vice President, Worldwide Policy, Pfizer, Inc.
Former Assistant Secretary for Health, United States Department of
Health and Human Services

Date: Thursday, November 5th, 2009, 4PM
Title: TBA

Weiss 305

Alan Shaw, Ph.D.
President & CEO

Date: Wednesday, October 14th, 2009, 4PM
Title: TBA

Weiss 301

Elaine V. Jones, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Venture Capital
Worldwide Business Development
Pfizer, Inc.

Date: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009, 4PM
Title: TBA

Weiss 301

Judy Lewent, S.M.
Former CFO, Merck & CO., Inc.
Director, Dell, Inc. and Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc.

Date: Wednesday, April 29th, 2009, 4PM
Title: The Global Pharmaceutical Industry — Competitive Framework, Growth Prospects, and M&A Outlook

Weiss 301

Cliff Cramer
Director, Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Management Program
Adjunct Professor, Management Division
Columbia Business School

Date: Tuesday, April 21st, 2009, 5:30PM
Title: Panel Discussion: Industry and the Ivory Tower: exploring models of the academic-industry relationship (co-sponsored by Weill Cornell Business & Medicine and RU Biotechnology Forum)
Location: Weill Auditorium

Alan Paau, Ph.D, M.B.A.
Director of Technology Transfer
Cornell University

Jeffrey Ravetch, M.D., Ph.D.
Theresa and Eugene M. Lang Professor
Rockefeller University

Geoffrey Smith, J.D.
Managing Partner
Ascent Biomedical Ventures

Moderator: Bhaven Sampat, Ph.D.
Department of Health Policy and Management
Columbia University
Date: Wednesday, April 1st, 2009, 4PM
Title: Academic Institutions as Partners for Open Innovation

Weiss 301

Alan Paau
Vice Provost for technology transfer and economic development
Weill Cornell Medical College

Date: Thursday, March 12th, 2009
Title: TBA

Weiss 305

Dan Marshak, Ph.D.
President, Greater China
Senior Vice President & Chief Scientific Officer
PerkinElmer Inc.

Date: Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
Title: Medical Devices, Diagnostics and Convergence Technologies

Weiss 301

Harlan F. Weisman, M.D.
Chief Science and Technology Officer
Medical Devices and Diagnostics
Johnson and Johnson

Date: January 20th, 2009, 4-5PM
Title: Decision Resources Inc: high-value information and insights on the healthcare industry

Weiss 301

Carlos Dedesma, Ph.D.
Decision Resources
Managing You and Careers at Decision Resources Inc which offers high-value information and insights on the healthcare industry.

Date: January 14th, 2009
Title: TBA


Jeffrey Ravetch, MD, Ph.D.
Head of Laboratory of Molecular Genetics and Immunology
Rockefeller University

Date: Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Weiss 305

Arthur Tinkelenberg, Ph.D.
Partner, Ascent Biomedical Ventures

Date: Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Weiss 305

Ramy Farid, Ph.D.
President, Schrodinger