Summer 2018 Cohort
Ben Bakondi co-developed a novel CRISPR-based gene editing strategy to treat inherited retinal disease as a postdoc in Cedars-Sinai's Regenerative Medicine Institute. Pre-clinical studies are underway to demonstrate long-term safety and efficacy. Dr. Bakondi holds a PhD in Cell & Molecular Biology from UVM College of Medicine and a Master's degree in Biotechnology from Columbia University.
Skylar is an incoming sophomore at Loyola Marymount University and is majoring in entrepreneurship and minoring in philosophy. She has programmed 2 iPhone apps on the App Store, has a tech blog, and has been featured on a few tech podcasts. Currently, Skylar is working on her new biotechnology startup called Galaxa Fit to help cure obesity.
Sanjay J Chauhan
Sanjay J Chauhan is the founder and director of N & S Neurology Center, Inc. He is looking to find simple but effective ways to discover new uses and indications for old, forgotten treatments, since this can have immediate applications in a clinical setting. Also, he is discovering new agents that show promise in lab studies, and he intends to put them into clinical trial as soon as possible. His focus is on neurologic diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Sanjay J Chauhan holds MBBS degree for South Gujarat University, India and MD degree from Southern Illinois School of Medicine and has been board certified in Neurology by ABPN since 2005. Sanjay J Chauhan is currently in active clinical practice and has previously participated in basic stem cell research at UC Merced from 2015-2017.
Amber Kaplan is an immunologist focused on how the immune system functions during infection, autoimmunity, and cancer. She was a Regents’ Scholar at UCSB, where she earned a B.A. in biology from the College of Creative Studies. She holds a Ph.D. in immunology from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and she completed her postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA. Amber has recently focused on the biotech industry to add to her academic background. She was the immunologist at a small startup, taking a drug from concept through preclinical stages. She currently works as an investment analyst for venture capital in biotechnology and healthcare technology.
Connor Kunihiro and his team partner Shirleen Simargi are graduate students at Cal Poly Pomona, where they study the role of obesity and diabetes in the prevention and treatment of microbial infections. The goal of their early-stage startup, “It’s Just A Phage”, is to develop novel bacteriophage-based drugs and vaccines against emerging infectious diseases.
Junjun Liu is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Melbourne, Australia. One of his research group’s interests is to develop innovative detection methods for food safety testing. Dr. Liu is joined by team members Andrew Chen, Jason Yang, and Michael Garrett.
Xiaoya (Jessie) Ma
Jessie Ma and her teammate Helen Ma are passionate about improving cancer patients recovery, cancer research and treatment via blockchain on Ethereum. Jessie received her Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology from University of Michigan and currently is a postdoc at UCLA working on cancer immunotherapy. She has deep knowledge in exercise physiology, tumor immunology and metabolic disorders. Helen is the co-founder and CEO of Ji Informatics L.L.C. She is also a senior associate at the blockchain technology platform Enzo Foundation. Helen discovers team member’s talents and connect them at the intersection of consulting, software development and data analysis.
Sunil Mangalassary is an associate professor of Food Science and Technology in the School of Kinesiology and Nutritional Science at Cal State LA. He received his Ph.D. in Food Technology from Clemson University, South Carolina. His entrepreneurial project focuses on the development of antimicrobial food packaging polymers and suitable food fermentation technologies to enhance the microbiological safety of food products.
Jordan Molina acquired his B.A. in Integrative Biology from the University of California at Berkeley. Since then he has developed a professional background as Account Executive at Apex Life Sciences, Inc., responsible for the growth and management of staffing partnerships within the Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical industries. Under Dr. Amelia Russo-Neustadt, Jordan is working towards his M.S. Biology degree at Cal State LA studying the safety and efficacy of herbal supplements for chronic and acute inflammatory conditions. His goal is to develop the wealth of herbs found in traditional medical practices into safe, affordable, and clinically-supported treatments for modern healthcare.
Suzi Sanchez received her Ph.D. in Genetics, Molecular, and Cellular Biology from the Keck School of Medicine in 2014. Prior to this, she obtained a master’s degree in biology from California State University Los Angeles (Cal State LA) and a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). She has performed research in the areas of mammalian cell epigenetics and eukaryotic cell genetics, as well as worked at an international biotechnology start-up company. Suzi is passionate about veterinary science and would like to develop medical devices for sick and injured companion and service animals.
Mehmet is the team leader of Carbon Thumbprint, a team out of Medical and Engineering Schools of USC building an affordable and easy-to-use breathing monitor for premature neaonates enabled by nanotechnology.
Amir Shaerzadeh and his team partner Negin Saberi represent an inspired group of young professionals from diverse backgrounds such as public health, psychology, engineering, computer science, financial planning, law, marketing, graphic design, and photography, to name a few. We are focused on developing a unique wellness app designed for today's modern and fast-paced society aimed at teaching users to manage stress, enhance mental focus, and improve emotional well-being, and the overall health holistically.
Jim Sonner is the founder and CEO of BraneQuest, which is developing antiepileptic drugs to treat seizures that are not responsive to today’s medications, i.e. medically refractory seizures. His years of research on anesthetic mechanisms is informing his development of antiepileptic drugs since all anesthetics suppress seizures. Dr. Sonner received his MD from Harvard Medical School and has studied at a number of other institutions, including Harvey Mudd College in LA County, Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Oxford University, Stanford University, and the University of California at San Francisco, where he is still a professor.
Walter Stewart is the founder and CEO of Stewart Solutions, LLC. The startup company is in the beginning stages of developing consumables for long-term space exploration. He has a bachelor's degree in Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a Masters in Business Administration from Governors State University.
Dr. Shuting Sun is a medicinal chemist focusing on multifunctional phosphonate based drug actives and imaging probes. She received her PhD at the University of Southern California. Dr. Sun cofounded BioVinc in 2013 where she is Chief Scientist and COO. She also works as co-PI and co-investigator on several NIH grants, focusing on the development of bone-targeted therapeutics and diagnostics. Her work has led to critical research findings in the fields of bone metabolism, dental abnormalities and cochlear abnormalities, which is accelerating BioVinc to achieve its goal to develop innovative new diagnostic tools and therapeutic agents for bone related diseases.
Tri Vu is a research scientist at Caltech working on mouse genetics. He uses molecular biology techniques to uncover the roles of protein degradation in human diseases. Tri is exploring ways to bring scientific discoveries in skin and hair care to consumers. Tri holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics from Caltech.