2019 SPEAKER BIOGRAPHIES
Scott Berry, PhD, Associate Scientist, University of Wisconsin-Madison; CSO, Salus Discovery, LLC
Dr. Scott Berry completed his PhD in Mechanical Engineering and his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Louisville in 2009. His PhD research focused on leveraging fundamental physical principles to generate novel micro- and nanoscale components. Dr. Berry is currently an Associate Scientist in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he continues to apply the principles of miniaturization toward the development of new molecular assays targeting a myriad of diseases including cancer and HIV. In 2013, Dr. Berry also co-founded Salus Discovery, where he currently serves as Chief Scientific Officer, driving the commercialization of technologies derived from his academic research.
Jadwiga Bienkowska, PhD, Senior Director, Computational Biology, Oncology Research and Development, Pfizer
Dr. Bienkowska leads Computational Biology at Pfizer, Oncology Translational Research. OTR is focused on development and identification of biomarkers, new targets and combination therapies for cancer. Dr. Bienkowska worked in pharma and biotech industry for over 18 years applying computational methods to understand molecular drivers of disease and advance personalized new therapies. Dr. Bienkowska joined Pfizer in 2014 from BiogenIdec where she was a Principal Investigator and led computational biology group supporting new drug target and biomarker discovery for Oncology, Immunology and Neurology. Dr. Bienkowska continues active involvement in academic research through academic collaborations and is currently serving as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Medicine, Genetics at UCSD. Her prior academic appointments include Visiting Scientist at CSAIL, MIT and an Adjunct Professor in Biomedical Engineering Department at Boston University. Dr. Bienkowska obtained her PhD degree in Physics from the University of Chicago in 1993 and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard and Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
Jack Challis, PhD, Director, Healthcare Analytics, Lucence Diagnostics
Jack Challis is the Director of Healthcare Analytics at Lucence Diagnostics, a genomic medicine company focused on personalizing cancer care. Lucence invents a full spectrum of cancer diagnostics covering early-stage screening to late-stage treatment selection with a special focus on common cancers in Asia.
Jack is responsible for organizing the diverse data streams that empower cancer patients and providers to make the best treatment decisions possible. Based in San Francisco, Jack helps Lucence maximize research and commercial opportunities in the United States.
An entrepreneur at heart, Jack previously founded CliniCast – a startup that helped providers in the US and Singapore organize complex cancer information for research and patient treatment. After Elekta acquired CliniCast in 2015, he helped grow Elekta’s operation and analytics portfolio to a global customer base. Jack holds a PhD in physics from Yale University.
Milana Frenkel-Morgenstern, PhD, Head, Cancer Genomics and BioComputing of Complex Diseases Lab, The Azrieli Faculty of Medicine, Bar-Ilan University
Milana Frenkel-Morgenstern completed her PhD at the age of 32 years from Weizmann Institute of Science and postdoctoral studies from Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO). She has published more than 20 papers in reputable journals and served as an editorial board member of repute. She is a founder of the Art in Science competition at the ISMB conference since 2008, a chair of the ISCB affiliated Israeli Bioinformatics group, and a head of the Cancer Genomics and BioComputing group in the Azrieli faculty of Medicine, Bar-Ilan University.
Guoliang Fu, PhD, Chief Scientist, R&D, GeneFirst
Dr. Guoliang Fu, Chief Scientist of GeneFirst Ltd, has a track record of developing commercially valuable patented technologies in the biotechnology and diagnostic sectors. Guoliang has a PhD from Moscow State University, a BSc from Peking University, and has worked at the University of Cambridge, Imperial College, and Oxitec Ltd. Prior to founding GeneFirst, Guoliang was a co-founder of 360 Genomics, a molecular diagnostics company. He is an inventor of 20+ patents and has publications in Nature, Biotechnology, and PNAS.
Christopher D. Gocke, MD, Associate Professor, Pathology and Oncology; Director, Division of Molecular Pathology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Dr. Christopher Gocke is an Associate Professor of Pathology and Oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is Director of the Division of Molecular Pathology, Deputy Director of Personalized Medicine for the Department of Pathology, and co-director of Johns Hopkins Genomics.
He received his BA in Chemistry from Princeton University and his MD in 1985 from Rutgers Medical School. His residency training in pathology was at the University of Rochester and Stanford University, where he was Chief Resident. He completed a fellowship in pathology at Stanford.
Dr. Gocke has co-authored over 125 peer-reviewed publications in the area of cancer diagnostics. He is a past Councilor on the Program Directors’ Council of the Association of Molecular Pathology and a member of the NCI’s Investigational Drug Steering Committee. He is co-principle investigator on two NIH research project cooperative agreements. He is board certified in Molecular Genetic Pathology and Anatomic Pathology.
Yoshiya Horimoto, MD, PhD, Lecturer, Department of Breast Oncology, Juntendo University School of Medicine
I am a breast cancer surgeon and a pathologist. My mission is to bridge basic research and clinical medicine. My main research themes, arisen from daily clinical practice, are mechanisms of breast cancer dormancy and how to prevent invasion of early breast cancer cells.
Chris Karlovich, PhD, Associate Director, Molecular Characterization & Clinical Assay Development Laboratory, Leidos BioMedical Research, Inc., Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research
Chris Karlovich is Associate Director of the Molecular Characterization (MoCha) Laboratory at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR). Dr. Karlovich provides supervisory support for Research and Development and clinical testing performed at MoCha. The mission of MoCha is to develop and perform genomic assays for research and clinical studies, including NCI-MATCH, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. Prior to coming to FNLCR, Dr. Karlovich was at Clovis Oncology, where he provided scientific and operational oversight over molecular diagnostics and companion diagnostic development for rociletinib, a mutant-selective inhibitor of EGFR, and for rucaparib, a PARP inhibitor. Dr. Karlovich also spent nine years at Roche Molecular Diagnostics in biomarker discovery and in vitro diagnostic (IVD) test development.
Walter Koch, PhD, VP, Global Research, Roche Molecular Systems, Inc.
Walter H. Koch, PhD is Vice President and Head of Global Research for Roche Molecular Systems. He is responsible for all research and early development activities, including biomarker discovery and validation, the development of new molecular technologies with diagnostics potential, and expanding the use of PCR for clinical applications in the areas of infectious diseases, genetics, Oncology companion diagnostics and “liquid biopsy” cancer tests. Prior to joining Roche he held several positions at the US FDA, including Acting Lab Chief of Immunochemistry in CBER’s Division of Transfusion Transmitted Disease. He received a BS in Chemistry from Memphis State University, a PhD in Toxicology and Pharmacology from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health.
Samuel Levy, PhD, CSO, Bluestar Genomics
Dr. Samuel Levy has extensive background and experience in the application of genomic methods for the development of molecular diagnostic tests. Early work on the human genome project (Celera) and sequencing individual human genomes (J. Craig Venter Institute) established broad methodologies widely employed in human genomic analysis. At Scripps Research Institute he worked on defining cardiovascular disease characteristics using patient derived stem cells. At Genomic Health, he led the development of methods for identifying mutational signatures from patient blood samples. Using patient derived tumor models, he established experimental methods and analytic approaches for the single cell analysis of tumor response to novel small molecule therapeutics (Quanticel Pharmaceuticals).
Chih Long Liu, PhD, Research Scientist, Department of Medicine/Oncology, Stanford University School of Medicine
I am currently a research scientist and laboratory manager for Dr. Alizadeh in the Department of Medicine/Oncology at Stanford and maintain a secure LIMS that I have built for accrual, retention, and clinical annotation of the human subjects, their associated specimens, and metadata, as well as analytical pipelines of liquid biopsies analyzed with next generation sequencing. My work and experience span numerous technological developments and their application to diverse fields, including microarray fabrication and their use to profile an important immunological process (T cell activation), the application of protein and peptide arrays to profile the chromatin of neutrophil extracellular traps as immunogens of systemic lupus erythematosus, and development of CIBERSORT, a highly-cited computational method for characterizing cell composition of complex tissues from their gene expression profiles. My recent work involves biomarker discovery from sequencing-based methods for the detection and analysis of circulating tumor DNA in plasma samples from cancer patients.
Christina Lockwood, PhD, Associate Professor, Director of Genetics and Solid Tumors Lab, Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington
Dr. Lockwood is Director of the Genetics and Solid Tumors Laboratory and an associate professor of Laboratory Medicine at the University of Washington Medical Center. She is board-certified in clinical molecular genetics and clinical chemistry and received her Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Lockwood completed clinical postdoctoral fellowship training at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis where she was also a faculty member.
Dr. Lockwood’s clinical expertise is the application of molecular methods to advance precision medicine for prenatal screening, genetic disorders, and molecular oncology. Her research focuses on the development and implementation of innovative genomic methods to guide patient care. She has most recently fostered clinical deployment of cell-free DNA diagnostics in pregnancy and oncology.
Bradon R. McDonald, PhD, Computational Scientist, Center for Non-invasive Diagnostics, Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen)
Dr. Bradon McDonald is a computational scientist in the Murtaza lab, part of TGen’s Center for Non-invasive Diagnostics. He has driven development of TARgeted DIgital Sequencing (TARDIS), a personalized highly sensitive circulating tumor DNA assay. Using TARDIS, he hopes to enable non-invasive monitoring of treatment response and clonal evolution, to enable rapid and real-time adjustments in cancer treatment and improve patient outcomes. Prior to his current position, Dr. McDonald received his PhD in Microbiology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied evolutionary dynamics in the antibiotic-producing bacterial genus Streptomyces.
Pashtoon Murtaza Kasi, MD, MS, Assistant Professor, College of Medicine and Oncology, Mayo Clinic
Dr. Kasi is an Assistant Professor in the College of Medicine/Oncology at University of Iowa. His research focus under the umbrella of individualized medicine is on integrating the use of ctDNA testing and pharmacogenomics for patients with GI malignancies. Within GI malignancies, Dr. Kasi’s primary focus is on colorectal cancers and development of clinical trials incorporating novel therapeutics.
Rajiv Raja, PhD, Director, Translational Medicine and Pharmacogenomics, MedImmune
Dr. Rajiv Raja has over twenty years of experience in molecular biology and molecular diagnostics and is currently the Director of Translational Medicine and Pharmacogenomics at MedImmune/AstraZeneca. At MedImmune, Dr. Raja’s team develops and implements new genomic technologies and biomarker assays to support clinical development programs in oncology, CVMD, auto-immunity and respiratory disorders. Prior to MedImmune, Dr. Raja was a group leader in Oncology Biomarker Development at Genentech, where he developed biomarker assays and companion diagnostic tests to support clinical development programs in oncology.
Dr. Raja received his PhD in Molecular Genetics from Oklahoma State University and did his post-doctoral training at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to joining Genentech, he has worked at UCSF, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Arcturus Biosciences and Molecular Devices.
Janusz Rak, MD, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics, Experimental Medicine and Biochemistry, McGill University
Janusz Rak, MD, PhD trained in Poland, United States and Canada and is currently a Professor of Pediatrics, Experimental Medicine and Biochemistry at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He is also a Principal Investigator at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre and Jack Cole Chair in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology. His research interests in extracellular vesicles concentrate on their role in cancer, particularly as biomarkers and mediators of aberrant intercellular communication and vascular pathologies, such as angiogenesis and thrombosis. His laboratory investigates how extracellular vesicles and other mediators contribute to the onset, progression and dissemination of brain tumors and other malignancies, including in children, and under the influence of disease-causing genetic and epigenetic oncogenic triggers. Dr. Rak published over 150 scientific papers and is currently supported by grants from Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute and other agencies.
Mark Routbort, MD, PhD, Professor, Department of Hematopathology, Division of Pathology/Lab Medicine, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center
Dr. Mark Routbort is a practicing molecular pathologist at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he develops and supports the computational pipelines and reporting tools for next generation sequencing in the clinical Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory. Joining the MD Anderson faculty in 2004, he has focused his informatics efforts on initiatives directed at improving pathologist and lab workflow, and on improving the generation, storage, reporting, and retrieval of pathology and laboratory data. In these roles, he publishes and maintains several open source pathology informatics-related toolsets (http://github.com/routbort ). He currently serves as Director of Computational and Integrational Pathology for the Division of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, facilitating the transactional and integrational use of genomic data both internally and with large scale multi-institutional collaborations like NCI-MATCH and AACR Project GENIE.
Caitlin Stewart, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Genomics, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Caitlin Stewart is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow working in Dana Tsui’s lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She works on technical development and optimization of sequencing and PCR based methods for cell-free (cf) nucleic acids and translation of cfDNA assays for use in the clinic. She is particularly interested in understanding the underlying biology of cfDNA and exploring ways we can use this information to improve assays and ultimately, patient care. Caitlin did her PhD at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute focusing on transcriptomics and small RNA and is using her knowledge of RNA methodology to explore and develop cfRNA assays.
Mark Stewart, PhD, Vice President, Science Policy, Friends of Cancer Research
Mark Stewart serves as a Vice President, Science Policy at Friends of Cancer Research (Friends). Friends is an advocacy organization based in Washington, DC that drives collaboration among partners from every healthcare sector to power advances in science, policy, and regulation that speed life-saving treatments to patients. During the past 20 years, Friends has been instrumental in the creation and implementation of policies ensuring patients receive the best treatments in the fastest and safest way possible.
At Friends, Mark leads the development and implementation of the organization’s research and policy agenda as well as overseeing the conduct of research projects to inform ongoing policy discussions. Mark establishes unique partnerships to help develop innovative policy proposals and consensus-driven solutions to address challenges and accelerate cancer drug development. He regularly participates in policy discussions and meetings throughout the year to help catalyze meaningful change for oncology healthcare.
W. Andy Tao, PhD, Professor, Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Purdue University
Dr. W. Andy Tao received his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 2001, under the supervision of Prof. R. Graham Cooks. After a postdoc with Drs. Leory Hood and Ruedi Aebersold at Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle, Dr. W. Andy Tao joined the Department of Biochemistry in 2005 and was promoted to rank of Professor in 2014.
Current research in the lab of Dr. W. Andy Tao focuses on developing novel chemistry to solve important biological questions, with a special emphasis on characterizing proteins involved in signaling transduction and diseases using state-of-the-art analytical tools.
Dr. Tao holds courtesy appointments at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry & Molecular Pharmacology and Department of Chemistry, Purdue University, and has also been adjunct Professor in the Center for Plant Stress Biology, Chinese Academy of Science and Southeast University in China. He is an active member in Purdue University Center for Cancer Research.
He has won multiple awards, including Damon Runyon Fellowship (2003-2005), American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS) Research award (2006), NSF-Career Award (2007-2012), and Purdue Faculty Outstanding Commercialization Award (2017).
He is an elected Board member (2017-2020), US Human Proteome Organization (HuPO) and President (2017-2019), Chinese American Society for Mass Spectrometry (CASMS). He has served on multiple committees, including ASMS Education Committee (2010-2012), ASMS graduate award committee (2017-2019), HUPO Awards Nomination Committee (2018-2020).
Muneesh Tewari, MD, PhD, Professor, Internal Medicine and Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan Medical School
Dr. Muneesh Tewari is a physician-scientist and Professor of Internal Medicine (Hematology-Oncology Division) and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan Medical School. His laboratory is focused on developing and applying non-invasive approaches for early detection of cancer and disease- and treatment-related complications. This includes research on circulating microRNAs, circulating cell-free tumor DNA, exosomes/extracellular vesicles as well as research using wearable sensors in patients for monitoring physiology dynamically with high time resolution, including cancer patients receiving immunotherapies. He is involved in multi-disciplinary research that bridges between human biology, new technologies, bioinformatics and data science, and translation to the clinic, with collaborators that range from chemists and engineers to busy clinicians. He also has an incipient interest in applying the biomarker and wearable sensor approaches his team has been developing, to the domain of mind-body interactions and how these can positively influence health.
Theral Timpson, Host & Producer, Mendelspod.com
Theral Timpson hosts and produces Mendelspod, one of precision medicine’s most popular podcasts. Theral is a regular blogger and frequent speaker, emcee and advisor for life science conferences and related events. In 2018, Theral began producing The Beagle Has Landed, a new podcast about genetic counseling hosted by renowned educator Laura Hercher. Theral actively mentors in Silicon Valley those seeking careers in life science and media. Mr. Timpson has over 20 years of experience establishing and growing companies in the life science industry.
Andrew Z. Wang, MD, CEO, Capio Biosciences
Andrew Z. Wang, MD, is CEO of Capio Biosciences. He is also Associate Professor and Director of Clinical and Translational Research, Department of Radiation Oncology, UNC-Chapel Hill. He is also the co-Director of the Carolina Cancer Nanotechnology T32 training program. Dr. Wang earned his undergraduate degrees from Indiana University and medical degree from the HST program at Harvard Medical School. He completed his radiation oncology training in the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program.
Dr. Wang’s research program is focused on the clinical translation of engineering sciences, including Nanomedicine, to oncology. His research spans a wide spectrum of translational research, from preclinical research to early phase clinical trials. His research has been supported by grants from the NIH/NCI and Department of Defense. He is cofounder of Capio Biosciences, a biotech startup that is translating a nanotechnology-based circulating tumor cell capture assay. Dr. Wang is on the editorial board of several journals, including Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Pamela Ward, PhD, Associate Professor, Pathology, University of Southern California
Min Yu, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California
Min Yu received her medical degree from China and PhD in genetics from Stony Brook University and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL). She pursued postdoctoral training with Dr. Daniel Haber at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, where she characterized circulating tumor cells isolated from the peripheral blood of cancer patients. Dr. Yu joined the Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center as an assistant professor in 2014, and her lab focuses on the mechanisms of cancer metastasis. In addition to the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, she received the NCI career transition (K22) award, the STOP CANCER Research Career Development Award, the Pew-Stewart Scholar for Cancer Research award, and the Donald E. & Delia B. Baxter faculty fellowship.
Haiying Zhang, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology in Pediatrics, Weill Cornell Medicine
I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Peking University in China, and PhD in Oncological Sciences at University of Utah (supervised by Dr. Bradley Cairns). My postdoctoral trainings were focused on developmental biology (Rockefeller University, supervised by Dr. Elaine Fuchs) and tumor metastasis (Weill Cornell Medicine, supervised by Dr. David Lyden). My recent work reported the identification of exosomal DNA secreted by tumor cells and demonstrated their translational potential. By employing the technology of asymmetric flow field flow fractionation (AF4), our team identified a novel population of nanoparticles secreted by both tumor and normal cells, termed exomeres. Comprehensive characterization has illustrated their promising potential as a novel biomarker of lipid biopsy. My current research interest includes technology development for extracellular particle/vesicle identification and characterization, understanding their functional roles in tumor metastasis, and evaluating their translational potential as diagnosis/prognosis biomarkers.
Xianghong Jasmine Zhou, PhD, Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles
Jasmine Zhou is a Professor of Pathology and Lab Medicine at UCLA. Her team developed innovative methods for genome-based diagnostics, network biology, as well as novel approaches to analyze multi-dimensional genomics data. For four years her lab has been focusing on early cancer detection using liquid biopsy. She currently serves as the contact PI of the NIH-funded UCLA Center for the Early Detection of Liver Cancer. Previously she served as the contact PI for the NIH Knowledge Base and Coordination Center of the Mechanism-based Disease Connections, and was a standing member of the NIH Biodata Management & Analysis grant review panel (2010-2016). She has previously served as the Head of the Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Program at University of Southern California. She has also served on the program committees and organizing committees of many international conferences. She was a recipient of several awards including an Alfred Sloan fellowship and an NSF Career award.