President 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.
Vice-President 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.
Treasurer Mareshia Donald, Ph.D.
Mareshia Donald, Ph.D. is Education & Diversity Manager for the NSF Center on Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems at MIT. She holds bachelor’s degrees in Neuroscience and Behavior and Language Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Brandeis University. While pursuing her graduate degree at Brandeis University, she served as Programming Director for the Women in Science Initiative, where she advocated to bring the issues women encounter in the STEM fields to open forums. Mareshia has participated in MASS AWIS as a Deputy Treasurer and in mentoring circles both as a mentee and a mentor.
Administrator Janice Kranz, Ph.D.
Jan is Head of Preclinical Discovery and Operations at KDAc Therapeutics (an early-stage startup at Atlas Venture spun out of the Broad Institute) and an independent consultant, helping startup biotech companies with project and grant strategy, management, and writing. Jan holds a BS in Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and a PhD in Biology from Harvard University. After receiving her PhD, she was one of the first scientists at Cubist Pharmaceuticals. Being bitten by the ‘startup bug’, she continued to pursue similar opportunities in different settings: a startup company focused on scientific databases (Proteome) and two non-profit research institutes–ALS Therapy Development Institute and the Broad, where she was Assistant Director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, working with Ed Scolnick to create and build the Stanley Center. Recognizing that organizations like AWIS would have been especially beneficial earlier in her career, Jan is now taking advantage of, and giving back to, the many local opportunities: along with involvement in WEST, HBA, WIB, and MassBio, she has been an active member of, and cheerleader for, MASS AWIS since 2012, volunteering with the Events Committee. In her free time, one of her favorite pastimes is hiking with her husband and 3 dogs.
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.
Membership committee co-chair Ayesha Islam, Ph.D.
Ayesha grew up in a multicultural family in Montreal and received her BSc and MSc in Biology from McGill University. She stinted as an Research Assistant at Harvard MCB and Oxford (UK) for a few years and went on to obtain her PhD in Infection 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 sexually transmitted infections. She mentored students in the lab and in MASS AWIS Mentoring Circles program and currently teaches Microbiology at Bunker Hill Community College. She has enjoyed MASS AWIS programs since 2013.
Events-East committee chair Laure Deflube-Owen, Ph.D.
After more than 10 years of academic biomedical research, Laure has recently moved to an industry position as a Research Scientist in Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ Protein Sciences group. Ultimately Laure is looking to transition to a position in pre-clinical and clinical studies. She earned a BS in biology from Université Paris XI (France), a Master’s degree in Molecular biology and Virology from Université Paris VI and a PhD in Molecular Biology and Virology from Université Paris VII. Her academic work focused on studying negative strand RNA viruses, especially the causing agents of hemorrhagic fever. She worked in containment laboratories, BSL-3 and BSL-4 with Ebola and Rift Valley fever viruses. She joined MASS AWIS and the event east committee in January 2015. She is focusing her time as a co-chair of the Events East committee to develop small group networking opportunities for MASS AWIS members. She is also volunteering with Seeding Labs as an external reviewer for their Instrumental Access Program.
Events-West committee 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 Daniela Vecchio, Ph.D.
Daniela is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Her research interests focus on developing an affordable and portable platform for rapid detection of antibiotic resistance. Daniela received her BS/MS Biology and later her Ph.D. in Cellular Biology and Pathophysiology from Siena University, Italy. Daniela has been a member of the MASS AWIS Mentoring Committee, as volunteer and mentee, since 2015. She also serves as a member of Mass General Postdoc Association (MGPA) since 2013 and she is currently serving as volunteer in Industry Club Exposure (ICE) Subcommittes and she recently found a Pilot Mentoring Program for MGH postdocs.
Mentoring committee co-chair Adelajda Zorba, Ph.D.
Adelajda is a postdoctoral fellow at Pfizer where she works on protein degraders. Adelajda grew up in Albania, moved to New Mexico to complete high school (United World College – USA) and later to Maine for college (Colby College) where she graduated in 2006 with a B.A. in Chemistry and French Studies. Her interests in both Chemistry and French led her to pursue a fellowship at the Pasteur Institute (Paris, France) where she discovered a passion for biophysics. She continued her education at the University of Cambridge (Cambridge, UK), University of Tsukuba (Tsukuba, Japan), University of Pittsburgh and Brandeis University where she obtained a Ph.D. in Biophysics and Structural Biology in 2013. Adelajda joined the mentoring circles in 2014 first as a volunteer and later as a mentee and connector, and is looking forward to another great year in AWIS!
Communication committee co-chair Christine Oslowski, Ph.D.
Christine is a Social Media Content Specialist with Thermo Fisher Scientific, a Biotech Communications Specialist with AsisChem Inc., and a Visiting Assistant Professor at Bridgewater State University where she teaches biology. She also periodically gives talks on career development and visual communication within the context of the sciences. In addition, she volunteers for the Academics for the Future of Science as a graphic designer to spread the word on the academic research funding crisis. 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. Additionally, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Boston University School of Medicine. Her research efforts focused on endoplasmic reticulum stress induced pancreatic beta cell death. Christine has been an active member of MASS AWIS since 2013, volunteering with the Communications and Membership Committees where she was involved with event photography, social media marketing, and designing marketing materials. Currently as co-chair, she aims to fine tuning MASS AWIS’s communications efforts on all fronts, increasing our network and visibility. During her free time, she enjoys painting, photography, and hiking.
Communication committee co-chair Karen De Ceunynck, Ph.D.
Karen is a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Thrombosis and Hemostasis at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School. She is originally from Belgium where she received her Master’s degrees in Biomedical Sciences and Molecular Biotechnology from Ghent University and her PhD in Biochemistry & Biotechnology from the Catholic University of Leuven. Her research has been focused on understanding processes involved in hemostasis and thrombosis and using that knowledge to guide the development of novel therapeutics. She is currently conducting translation research to evaluate how endothelial therapies can reduce uncontrolled blood clotting in the setting of infectious disease. Karen has been a volunteer in the communication committee since January 2015. Outside of work, Karen enjoys working out and having good Belgian beers and chocolates.
Sponsorship committee co-chair Cristina Gutierrez, Ph.D.
Cristina is currently a Principal Scientist at PerkinElmer and she provides technical lead on the development of new molecular assays for newborn screening. She holds a BS in Cell Biology and Genetics, a Masters degree in Reproductive Genetics, and a PhD with a thesis on Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Spain). In 2005 she moved to the US and joined the company Reprogenetics, where she developed and run screening and diagnostic tests to clinically identify normal embryos and aid infertile couples or couples at risk of transmitting genetic disorders to their offspring. Most recently, she was a Senior Scientist at NetBio, where she developed a highly multiplexed STR assay on a proprietary rapid DNA analysis platform. Cristina has over fifteen years of experience with nucleic acid assay development, a track record of publications and is an ad hoc reviewer for major journals in the field of Reproductive Genetics and PGD. She enjoys nature, traveling, a good book, and spending time with her favorite people, her husband Jorge and her children Marc and Gisela.
Sponsorship committee co-chair Lynes Torres, Ph.D.
Lynes is a Life Sciences Consultant Analyst at PA Consulting Group in Cambridge. Over the years, Lynes has become a strong advocate for connectivity within the Boston area scientific community, promoting networking initiatives, events and blogging. She received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Stonehill College in Easton, MA and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Boston University. Prior to graduate school, Lynes was chemistry teacher and Director of Student Activities at Wilbraham & Monson Academy, a New England boarding school. She has been a member of MASS AWIS since 2013 and has spent those years serving on the Events East Committee where she helped drive creative, new event ideas and venues.
Scholarship committee chair Ilaria Lamberto, Ph.D.
Ilaria is currently a postdoc at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The focus of her study is to identify and characterize new inhibitors of the deubiquitylating enzymes (DUBs) and use them to pharmacologically validate members of the DUB family as new targets for cancer treatment. She received her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from University of Parma, Italy in 2010. Before moving to Boston, Ilaria continued her training at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (now Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute) in La Jolla, California, where she identified and characterized inhibitors of the Eph tyrosine kinase receptors for the treatments of cancer and neurological diseases. In her free time she enjoys, taking pictures, traveling and cooking for her friends.
Past 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.