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Our Team

  • The Belfer Office for Dana-Farber Innovations is staffed by a skilled and experienced team of business development / licensing professionals and interns drawn from Dana-Farber’s post-doctoral community. Please contact any one of us to begin a conversation.

    Leadership

    Lesley Solomon, MBA
    Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer
    lesley_solomon@dfci.harvard.edu

    Lesley Solomon

    Lesley Solomon, MBA, became Dana-Farber's Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer in 2017. She has served as the founding Executive Director of Brigham and Women's Hospital's Innovation Hub, and as Director of Strategy and Innovation at the Brigham Research Institute.

    Lesley has more than 20 years of experience as an executive working in business development, strategy, and marketing at startups, early-stage, and large companies such as the Food Network, Barnes & Noble.com, and Yoga Works. She received her MBA from Harvard Business School and has a BA in English from Cornell University. She is a co-founder of the Food Allergy Science Initiative at The Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, which brings together experts across disciplines to unlock the biology of food allergy and change the field to develop new treatments and more.

  • Emy Chen, PhD
    Senior Director of Innovation and Licensing Lead, Team 1
    emyc_chen@dfci.harvard.edu

    Emy Chen, PhD

    Emy Chen, PhD, is the new Senior Director of Licensing at the Robert and Renée Belfer Office for Dana-Farber Innovations (BODFI). In this role, she has oversight over the Innovations Licensing team as a whole. A primary focus for her will be to further refine and optimize the team's ability to provide excellent partnership and collaboration both with clinicians and research scientists at Dana-Farber and with external stakeholders in industry. Prior to joining BODFI, Emy was most recently a Director of Licensing at Partners HealthCare Innovation, where she spent 13 years supporting investigators and building relationships with biotech and pharma companies, primarily for innovators in the disciplines of Medicine, Neuroscience and Dermatology. Emy holds a PhD from Harvard University in Molecular and Cellular Biology, a BA from University of California, Berkeley in Molecular and Cell Biology, and is a registered patent agent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).


    Kate Strayer-Benton, MBA
    Senior Director of Business Development
    kathrynn_strayer-benton@dfci.harvard.edu

    Kate Strayer-Benton, MBA

    As Senior Director of Business Development, Kate Strayer-Benton's goal is to accelerate the time it takes for breakthrough science to get to patients – working with investigators and companies to identify new opportunities for collaboration; building a robust BD pipeline; and developing and driving the BD process. Kate was formerly Director of Strategy and Corporate Development at Momenta Pharmaceuticals. Prior to Momenta, she spent a decade at Health Advances as a strategy consultant, working with health care leaders to bridge technical and business objectives and advance medical innovations with the greatest impact on patient lives. Kate received her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, where she focused on healthcare, strategy, and innovation; she has a BA in Psychology/Neuroscience from Dartmouth College.


    Licensing Team 1

    Jing Zhang, PhD
    Licensing Manager
    jing_zhang1@dfci.harvard.edu

    Jing Zhang

    Jing Zhang, PhD, joined BODFI as a Technology Transfer Specialist in 2014. She is responsible for negotiating agreements, as well as monitoring financial post-agreement compliance.

    Prior to joining BODFI, Jing worked in the Fellows Program at Harvard University's Office of Technology Development to conduct early commercialization assessment of inventions. Jing received her BS in Biological Science from the University of Science and Technology of China, and earned her PhD in Chemical Biology from Harvard University. She conducted her graduate and postdoctoral research on oncogenic kinase signaling at Dana-Farber.


    Nicole Kousmanidis, JD
    Licensing Associate
    nicole_kousmanidis@dfci.harvard.edu

    Nicole Kousmanidis, JD

    Nicole Kousmanidis joined BODFI in 2018. She is responsible for drafting, reviewing, and negotiating a variety of research agreements among industry sponsors, universities, and other collaborating institutions. Prior to joining BODFI, Nicole worked as an Associate at a law firm, drafting and negotiating a number of agreements. Nicole earned a JD from the University at Buffalo Law School, and was an Associate of the Buffalo Intellectual Property Law Journal. She also received a BS in Health Services Community Health Assessment from the University of Pittsburgh.


    Aruna Ramachandran, PhD
    Broad Alliance Manager
    aruna_ramachandran@dfci.harvard.edu

    Aruna Ramachandran, PhD

    Aruna Ramachandran, PhD, is the Dana-Farber-Broad Alliance Manager, in which role she will work to facilitate collaborative research between Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Broad Institute. Many Dana-Farber faculty members and clinicians have strong and long-standing ties to the Broad Institute, going back to the time when the Broad Institute was founded. Aruna's efforts will focus on strengthening and growing this historically close and fruitful partnership, to enable transformative advances in cancer research and care. Aruna holds a PhD in Life Sciences; prior to this position, she was Senior Scientist in the laboratory of Matthew Meyerson, MD, PhD, at Dana-Farber and the Broad Institute, where she contributed to scientific program management, research and financial planning and development, and scientific communications.


    Licensing Team 2

    Janet Ralbovsky, PhD
    Innovation and Licensing Lead, Team 2
    janetl_ralbovsky@dfci.harvard.edu

    Janet Ralbovsky, PhD

    Janet Ralbovsky, PhD, is currently the Innovation and Licensing Lead, Team 2 in BODFI, and manages chemistry-related Dana-Farber technologies. Previously, she was a Licensing Associate at the University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF), where she was responsible for the commercialization of a broad portfolio of intellectual property developed at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Prior to joining UTRF, Janet worked in drug discovery as a medicinal chemist and project leader at Johnson & Johnson and Cara Therapeutics, Inc. Janet holds a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the Pennsylvania State University, a MS from the University of Rochester, and a BA from Smith College. She is a registered patent agent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).


    Aida Herrera, PhD
    Senior Licensing Manager and Market Strategist
    aida_herrera@dfci.harvard.edu

    Aida Herrera, PhD

    Aida Herrera, PhD, joined BODFI in 2019 and is a member of Team 2, which is responsible for managing and commercializing inventions arising from chemistry-related Dana Farber technologies. Prior to joining BODFI, Aida worked for both Boston Children’s Hospital and The Schepens Eye Research Institute/Massachusetts Eye and Ear, where she spent nine years supporting investigators across various departments, including Ophthalmology, Otolaryngology, Cardiac Surgery, Gastroenterology, and Endocrinology, and was responsible for the commercialization of a broad range of technologies. Earlier in her career, Aida worked as a technology specialist focused on patent prosecution in the biotechnological, chemical, and mechanical arts. She holds a BS in chemistry from the University of Chicago, a PhD in chemistry from Tufts University, and completed postdoctoral research work in both the Biological Engineering Division at MIT and the Chemistry Department at Northeastern University.


    Renatus Sinkeldam, PhD
    Licensing Associate
    renatusw_sinkeldam@dfci.harvard.edu

    Renatus Sinkeldam, PhD

    Renatus Sinkeldam, PhD, conducted his undergraduate research (BSc and MSc) in inorganic and organic chemistry labs at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where he worked on small molecule synthesis and their characterization. He obtained his PhD from Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands, completing his doctoral thesis in the areas of macro- and supra-molecular chemistry. As a postdoctoral fellow and later a project scientist at the University of California, San Diego, Renatus designed and synthesized non-perturbing fluorescent nucleosides for the study of nucleic acid structure, stability, lesions, and interactions with small molecules. After his move to St. Louis, he joined the Biotechnology and Life Science Advising Group (BALSA) for exposure to the possibilities of a career away from the bench. While at BALSA, he obtained consultancy experience working on short projects in small diverse teams. This led to a marketing internship, and later, a tech transfer trainee position at the Office for Technology Management at Washington University in St. Louis. The latter was quickly followed by a position as Licensing Associate, where he managed a diverse technology portfolio. In 2018, Renatus joined BODFI as a Licensing Associate. He enjoys the exposure to new and exciting Dana-Farber technologies and assisting Dana-Farber investigators with all facets of technology commercialization.


    Zachary Rothman, JD
    Research Contracts Associate
    zachary_rothman@dfci.harvard.edu

    Zachary Rothman

    Zackary Rothman, JD, joined BODFI as a Research Contracts Associate in 2018. He is responsible for drafting, reviewing, and negotiating a variety of research agreements with corporate sponsors and collaborating institutions.

    Prior to joining BODFI, Zack worked in the Clinical Trials Business Office at Boston Children's Hospital, preparing written agreements with both for-profit and non-profit organizations for the purposes of conducting and furthering clinical research. Zack earned a JD with a concentration in Health Law from the Boston University School of Law, and a BS from Florida State University.


    Licensing Team 3

    Jenna Matheny
    Innovation and Licensing Lead, Team 3
    jennan_matheny@dfci.harvard.edu

    Jenna Matheny

    Jenna Matheny, JD, joined BODFI in 2017 and is currently the Innovation and Licensing Lead at Dana-Farber for immunology and virology; software, data sciences, and computational biology; prevention and early detection; population sciences; molecular biology; and cellular therapies. Previously, she was a Licensing Associate at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she managed the protection and commercialization of intellectual property developed across the university — ranging from life sciences to clean energy. Prior to Tulane, Jenna worked with the New Orleans BioInnovation Center to support the development of startups based on technologies licensed from New Orleans-area universities.

    Jenna received her JD degree from Tulane University Law School and her SB in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from MIT. She is a member of the Board of Directors of LouisianaBio, and is active in the Association of University Technology Managers.


    Jodi Hecht, PhD
    Senior Licensing Manager and Market Strategist
    jodi_hecht@dfci.harvard.edu

    Jodi Hecht

    Jodi Hecht, PhD, joined BODFI in 2017. She negotiates transactions between industry and Dana-Farber to support research activities, and she manages the intellectual property portfolio for multiple principal investigators at Dana-Farber. She is also an alliance manager for several alliances between Dana-Farber and industry.

    Prior to joining BODFI, Jodi worked as a Licensing Associate in the Technology Ventures office at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Jodi received a PhD in Molecular Biology from Boston University, and an MSc in Biology and Vision Science and a BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Waterloo.


    Ayan Pal, PhD
    Licensing Specialist
    ayan_pal@dfci.harvard.edu

    Ayan Pal, PhD

    Ayan Pal, PhD, joined BODFI in 2018, and is currently the Licensing Specialist for immunology and virology-related technologies. He is responsible for drafting, editing, and negotiating a variety of academic and corporate agreements. He also manages the IP portfolios developed by multiple principal investigators at Dana-Farber.

    Before joining BODFI, Ayan worked with the IP Department of Partners Innovations office, evaluating the patentability and patent landscape of various inventions. He also reviewed claims for chemistry-related technologies at Partners. He worked as a Research Associate at HHMI and MGH after receiving his PhD in Chemistry from Boston College. He received his MSc in Chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India.


    Office Administration

    Liza Summa
    Office Manager
    liza_summa@dfci.harvard.edu

    Liza Summa

    Liza Summa joined BODFI in 2008 and has been in the administrative field for over 12 years. Liza's responsibilities as Office Manager include handling the day-to-day office administrative duties to ensure that the office runs smoothly. Liza is also assistant to Emy Chen, Senior Director of Licensing. Before joining Dana Farber, Liza worked as a PCA and has worked in the accounts payable/receivable field for many years.


    Stephanie Brown
    Administrative Support Specialist II
    stephanie_brown@dfci.harvard.edu

    Stephanie Brown

    Stephanie Brown joined BODFI in 2014 as an Administrative Support Specialist. She assists with tracking invoices and royalty distributions in our intellectual property database. Stephanie has previous experience working as a financial counselor at Geiger Gibson Community Health Center and as an administrative assistant at Athena Health.


    Finance and Operations

    Kathleen Copson
    Senior Finance and Operations Manager
    kathleenm_copson@dfci.harvard.edu

    Kathleen Copson

    Kathy Copson joined BODFI in 2015 as the Financial Systems Specialist. She has extensive experience as a revenue manager in the facilities services, software, and media licensing industries, with a focus on financial business process improvement and enhanced systems utilization. Her roles have included being a core member of an Enterprise Resource Planning system upgrade team and subsequently, a trainer for ERP Financials. Kathy has a BA from Boston University.


    Peter Hodges, PhD
    Senior Agreement Associate
    peter_hodges@dfci.harvard.edu

    Peter Hodges, PhD

    Peter joined Dana-Farber’s BODFI in 2012 and manages IP from multiple departments.

    After teaching at several Boston-area colleges, Peter joined Proteome, Inc., a start-up bioinformatics company. Following the acquisition of Proteome by Incyte Corporation, Peter moved to business development, and was involved in out-licensing Incyte's vast patent portfolio. Peter transitioned to technology transfer at Boston Children's Hospital in 2004, and handled a wide range of technologies, including research tools, bioinformatics and software, genetics, genomics and proteomics, cardiology, oncology, and stem cell technologies.

    Peter received his PhD in Human Genetics from Yale University School of Medicine; he did post-doctoral work in RNA biology at the Clinical Research Centre, Harrow, UK, and at the University of Edinburgh.


    Ali Mbaye, MS
    Senior Technology Transfer Accountant
    alioune_mbaye@dfci.harvard.edu

    Ali Mbaye, MS

    Ali Mbaye joined Dana-Farber in 2018 as a Senior Technology Transfer Accountant. He is responsible for the review and approval of all Sponsored Research Agreement (SRA) budgets; maintenance of the financial records in the database; and submittal of the awards to Dana-Farber Research Accounting. He works closely with the Institute's departmental grant managers and licensing staff to monitor SRA financial obligations.

    Prior to joining BODFI, Ali worked at Youthbuild USA as a Financial Grants Manager, providing monthly financial reports and forecasting, reviewing and approving budgets, preparing and completing drawdowns, and closing both federal and private awards. Ali earned a Masters degree in Economics from Suffolk University and a Masters degree in Industrial Organization from Cheith Anta Diop University in Senegal.


    Irina Plesnyk
    Technology Transfer Accountant
    irina_plesnyk@dfci.harvard.edu

    Irina Plesnyk

    Irina Plesnyk joined Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 2018, and is currently BODFI's Staff Accountant. Irina has more than 10 years of experience with considerable financial and accounting knowledge. Prior to joining BODFI, Irina worked as a Staff Accountant at a large business process outsourcing company, where she assisted in the monthly closing process for multiple real estate entities and trusts, and helped prepare and reconcile the company's quarterly financial reports. Irina received her Bachelor's degree in Accounting from Bridgewater State University.


    Linda Baldwin, JD, MBA
    Compliance Specialist
    linda_baldwin@dfci.harvard.edu

    Linda Baldwin, JD, MBA

    Linda Baldwin joined BODFI in 2018. Assisting Brendan Mahoney, Linda performs intellectual property compliance reporting to federal and foundation sponsors for Dana-Farber's inventions and patents. Linda received an MBA from Northeastern University and a JD degree from New England Law-Boston.

    Previously, Linda worked as a litigation support specialist on various legal cases, including an IP non-joinder action to correct inventorship, and as a staff attorney for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.


    Brendan Mahoney
    Business and Compliance Analyst
    brendan_mahoney@dfci.harvard.edu

    Brendan Mahoney

    Brendan Mahoney joined BODFI in June 2014, maintaining Dana-Farber's invention and intellectual property reporting obligations to federal research sponsors in accordance with the Bayh-Dole Act. Brendan creates initial Dana-Farber invention disclosure records and completes invention and intellectual property statements for National Institutes of Health awards' Research Performance Progress Reports. Brendan also assists BODFI in data management, maintenance, and reporting for intellectual property matters.


    Business Development and Innovation Strategy

    Robert Distel, PhD
    Technology and Business Development Manager
    robert_distel@dfci.harvard.edu

    Robert Distel, PhD

    Robert Distel, PhD, joined BODFI in 2015 as a Special Advisor for Technology Development. Robert acts as a point person in the ongoing program to bring novel and innovative early-stage technologies and products – as well as collaborative opportunities – to Dana-Farber's scientists and physicians. He also works with investigators interested in developing research tools. Prior to joining BODFI, Robert was a member of the Center for Clinical and Translational Research at Dana-Farber and director of its Translational Research Laboratory. He was also the associate director of the Laboratory for Innovative Translational Technology at Harvard Catalyst. Robert earned his PhD in Biology from Tufts University, and completed post-doctoral training with Bruce Spiegelman, PhD, at Dana-Farber. He maintains close ties to the research community as an active visiting member of the Novina Laboratory in the Department of Cancer Immunology and Virology.


    Maya Espada, MS
    Innovation Strategy Manager
    mayam_espada@dfci.harvard.edu

    Maya Espada, MS

    Maya Espada, MS, joined BODFI in 2018. In her role as Innovation Strategy Manager, she aids in both the prioritization and the tactical execution of Dana-Farber's Innovation efforts. Her responsibilities include managing the initial planning of leading-edge programs, providing operations, communications, and continuous improvement support for Chief Innovation Officer Lesley Solomon, while interfacing with multiple departments to carry out Dana-Farber's vision for Innovation.

    Prior to her role at BODFI, Maya was a Business Development Manager in Clinical Planning and Business Development, and was the 2015-2016 Administrative Fellow for Dana-Farber. She holds a BA in Social Studies from Harvard College and an MS in Health Policy and Management from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.