Symposium Keynotes

Role of Academia

George Daley, M.D, Ph.D.

Dean, Harvard Medical School

As the dean of Harvard Medical School, the Caroline Shields Walker Professor of Medicine at HMS, and a former investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute until he resigned upon assuming deanship 2017, George Q. Daley’s career spans basic science and clinical medicine. He is an internationally recognized leader in stem cell science and cancer biology, having served as president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (2007-08) and having testified before Congress on the ethical dimensions of stem cell research and its promise in treating disease. A full professor at HMS since 2010 and the inaugural winner of the National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award for highly innovative research (2004), his laboratory focuses on the use of mouse and human disease models to identify mechanisms that underlie blood disorders and cancer. Prior to his role as dean of Harvard medical School, he was the director of the Pediatric Stem Cell Transplantation Program at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and the Samuel E. Lux, IV Chair in Hematology/Oncology at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Bridging the Gap

Peter Kolchinsky, PhD.

Founder & Managing Director, RA Capital

Co-Founder, Harvard Biotech Club

Peter Kolchinsky (Ph.D ’01) is co-founder, Managing Director, and Portfolio Manager of RA Capital Management, a multi-stage investment manager dedicated to evidence-based investing in healthcare and life science companies. He is active in both public and private investments in companies developing drugs, medical devices, diagnostics, and research tools and serves as a member of the Board of Directors for a number of private companies. He is the author of “The Entrepreneur’s Guide to a Biotech Start-up” and the Biotech Social Contract series.

Promise of Industry


David Altshuler, M.D, Ph.D.

EVP & CSO, Vertex Pharmaceuticals

David Altshuler is the Executive Vice President, Global Research and Chief Scientific Officer at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and a Chair on the scientific advisory board of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. Previously, David was a professor of Genetics and of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an endocrinologist at Massachusetts

General Hospital. He co-founded the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in 2004 and served as its Deputy Director and Chief Academic Officer for over 10 years. As a geneticist, he was a leader of multiple large scale genetic projects, and discovered over 100 gene variants associated with type 2 diabetes and other common diseases. David is also a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was named a Champion of Change by the White House for his leadership in creating and leading the Global Alliance for Genomic and Health.

Panel Discussions

Perspectives from Entrepreneurial PIs

George Church ● Pardis Sabeti ● David Walt ● Pam Silver ● Sangeeta Bhatia

Moderated by: Meredith Fisher

George M. Church is professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, a founding member of the Wyss Institute, and director of, the world’s only open-access information on human genomic, environmental, and trait data. He is widely recognized for his innovative contributions to genomic science and his many pioneering contributions to chemistry and biomedicine. He developed the first methods for the first genome sequence and dramatic cost reductions since then (down from $3 billion to $600), contributing to nearly all “next generation sequencing” methods and companies. His honors include the Franklin Bower Laureate for Achievement in Science, the Time 100, and election to the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering. His many innovations have been the basis for 514 papers, 143 patent publications, and founder of 28 companies.

Pardis Sabeti is a computational geneticist with expertise developing algorithms to detect genetic signatures of adaption in humans and the microbial organisms that infect humans. Dr. Sabeti completed her undergraduate degree at MIT, her graduate work at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and her medical degree summa cum laude from Harvard Medical School as a Soros Fellow. Dr. Sabeti is a World Economic Forum (WEF) Young Global Leader and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, and was named a TIME magazine ‘Person of the Year’ as one of the Ebola fighters. Her awards included the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award for Natural Science, the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise, the NIH Innovator Award, the Packard Fellowship, and an Ellis Island Medal of Honor. She has served on the MIT Board of Trustees and the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Women in Science, Medicine, and Engineering. Dr. Sabeti additionally provides scientific guidance as a board member and investor of NextGen Jane, a women's health company launched by two lab alumni, and is one of the co-founders of SHERLOCK Biosciences, a company dedicated to improving health worldwide through accurate, fast and affordable testing.

David Walt is an internationally-recognized expert in nanoscience and diagnostics and has invented numerous transformative technologies that have led to major commercial successes. David has had a highly successful academic career combined with significant entrepreneurial activity. He is a member of the faculty at Harvard Medical School, a member of the faculty in Pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, is a Member of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor. Notably, he is the Scientific Founder of Illumina and served on the Board of Illumina for 18 years. David is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Medicine, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. He has published over 350 peer-reviewed papers, has over 100 issued US patents, and has received numerous national and international awards and honors

Pamela Silver is one of the founding members of the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School and was the first Director of the Harvard University Graduate Program. Her work was recognized by an Innovation Award at BIO2007 and has been recognized by an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association, a Research Scholar of the March of Dimes, an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, Claudia Adams Barr Investigator, an NIH MERIT award, the Philosophical Society Lecture, a Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is among the top global influencers in Synthetic Biology and her work was named one of the top 10 breakthroughs by the World Economic Forum. She serves on numerous public and private advisory boards including the board of the Internationally Genetics Engineering Machines (iGEM) Competition, and she is the co-founder of several biotech companies.


Sangeeta Bhatia is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Professor at MIT. Additionally, she is an Associate Faculty at the Wyss Institute, Affiliated Faculty member of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, an Institute Member of the Broad Institute, a Biomedical Engineer at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, and a board member of both Brown University and Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Trained as both a physician and engineer at Harvard, MIT, and Brown University, Dr. Bhatia’s laboratory leverages ‘tiny technologies’ of miniaturization to yield inventions with new applications in tissue regeneration, stem cell differentiation, medical diagnostics, predictive toxicology, and drug delivery. She and her over 150 trainees have contributed to more than 50 issued or pending patents and have launched more than 10 biotechnology companies to improve human health.


Meredith Fisher is a Partner with the Innovation Fund focusing on early stage investments and company creation. Previously, she was in the private/family office at Bracebridge Capital serving as Director of Private Investments where she led investments in early stage life science companies. Prior to that role she led business development for Ginkgo BioWorks- an MIT spin out- and was Senior Director of Technology and Business Development of Enlight Biosciences- a venture creation company founded by PureTech Ventures. She spent several years working as a scientist in drug discovery and assay development for Idenix Pharmaceuticals and Anadys Pharmaceuticals (formerly, Scriptgen). Meredith received her undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke College, her MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management and her PhD from Harvard University. While at Harvard, she co-founded Harvard Graduate Women in Science and Engineering (HGWISE). Meredith is a member of the Board of Directors at Metera and she represents the fund on the boards of Nocion and Mediar Therapeutics, and as a board observer at Lyndra. She is the 2019-2020 co-chair of WEST (Women in the Enterprise of Science and Technology) and serves as an advisor to Takeda HATCH.


Human Genetics as the Gateway to Industry-Academic Collaborations

Ana Greka ● Sek Kathiresan ● Caroline Fox ● Morgan Sheng

Moderated by: Anthony Philippakis

Anna Greka is a physician-scientist and associate professor at Harvard Medical School and an institute member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where she directs the institute’s Kidney Disease Initiative. She is also an associate physician in the Renal Division in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH); and the founding director of Kidney-NExT, a Center for Kidney Disease and Novel Experimental Therapeutics at BWH and HMS. She is also a cofounder at Goldfinch Bio, a Third Rock Ventures-funded early stage biotech focused on the development of therapeutics for severe kidney diseases. At the Broad Institute, her team focuses on understanding the mechanistic underpinnings for development of targeted therapeutics.

Sek Kathiresan is the CEO of Verve Therapeutics, a GV and Verily funded biotech startup focused on developing therapeutics for heart disease risk. Previously, he was a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an institute member at the Broad Institute, where he directed the Cardiovascular Disease Initiative and co-directed the Program in Medical and Population Genetics. During this time, he was also the director of the Center for Genomic Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. Sek is widely regarded as a leader in developing statistical methods to study the genetics of heart diseases. His laboratory’s work has highlighted mechanisms underlying heart attack, discovered mutations that protect against heart attack risk, and pioneered the use of polygenic risk scores to identify individuals at high-risk for heart attack.

Caroline Fox is the Vice President and Head of Genetics and Pharmacogenomics at Merck Research Laboratories in Boston, where she works on drug discovery using human discovery genetics and molecular profiling in immuno-oncology. Prior to joining Merck, Caroline worked at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where she was involved with the Framingham Heart Study, studying metabolic risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and was an associate editor at Circulation. In addition to her role as VP at Merck Research Labs, she has also been as associate professor in Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital since 2010.

Morgan Sheng has extensive research experience in both industry and academia, having spent several years as a faculty member at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School before becoming appointed as the Menicon Professor of Neuroscience at MIT and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He then moved to and spent nearly a decade as the vice-president of neuroscience at Genentech, where he led research and drug discovery efforts for major diseases of the nervous system. Morgan Sheng returned to academia in 2019, and is currently a professor of neuroscience in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and an institute member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where he serves as co-director of the Broad’s Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research.


Anthony Philippakis is a physician, geneticist, and data scientist. He is currently a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a venture partner at GV, and the chief data officer at Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. Anthony studied mathematics as an undergraduate at Yale University, followed by a master’s in mathematics at Cambridge University. He completed an M.D. at Harvard Medical School and a Ph.D. in biophysics at Harvard, working to develop computational methods for understanding transcriptional regulation. He completed his medical residency and cardiology fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Anthony is committed to bringing genome sequencing and data science into the practice of clinical medicine. As a clinician, he specializes in the care of patients with rare genetic cardiovascular diseases. He co-chairs the Scientific Advisory Board of Global Genes, is a strategic adviser to the American Heart Association, and sits on the Clinical Working Group of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health.