Skip to main content

2017 Symposium Speaker Information

We are pleased to welcome excellent speakers in various fields and experience levels.


Laurent Audoly, PhD
Head, Research and Development, Pierre Fabre Pharmaceuticals 

Lunch Speakers

Erin Henry, PhD
Medical Science Director/Medical Team Leader, US Medical Affairs, Genentech

Victor Torres, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Inflammation Graduate Training Programs, New York University School of Medicine


Meredith Brown, PhD
Senior Manager, Intellectual Property, Metabolon

Dario Guiterrez, PhD
Immuno-biology Lead, Merck Research Labs Cambridge Exploratory Science Center

Amy Halseth, PhD
Vice President, Clinical Development and Medical Affairs, Orexigen Therapeutics

Mark Hansberger, PhD
Senior Intelligence Specialist, Defense Threat Reduction Agency 

Kristen Herring, PhD
Health Scientist, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) Division of Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) Countermeasures

Janina Jeff, PhD
Global Bioinformatician, Illumina

Diane Kanter, PhD
Scientific Content Liaison, Education and Training Systems

Kim Lickteig, PhD
Associate Director, Global Regulatory Affairs, Takeda

John Lowe, PhD
Patent Examiner, USPTO (United States Patent and Trade Office)

Cyrus Martin, PhD
Senior Scientific Editor, Current Biology

Lori Rudolph-Owen, PhD
Vice President, Portfolio Management and Assessment, TESARO, Inc.

Ray Price, PhD
Vice President, Business Development, DiscoverX Corp

Tara Gower Ruest, PhD
Vice President, Scientific Services, Scientific Pathways


Laurent Audoly, Head, Research & Development, Pierre Fabre Pharmaceuticals

Dr. Laurent Audoly heads Research and Development at Pierre Fabre Pharmaceuticals for both novel medicines in Oncology, Dermatology, CNS, and Consumer Healthcare products.  Laurent is also Managing Partner and Founder of the Fund for Innovation.  In addition, he is president of the Medical Devices unit and Managing Director of the Pierre Fabre Research Institute.  Prior to this role, he was Chief Scientific Officer in biotech focused on next generation therapeutic proteins in oncology, immuno-oncology, and inflammation where he led the growth of the pipeline from no drug candidates prior to his arrival to a high value pipeline and multiple strategic partnerships with big pharma ultimately leading to a successful exit.

Laurent has held positions of increasing leadership responsibilities in the pharmaceutical industry (Pfizer, Merck, MedImmune) contributing to the identification of new drug projects and the development of five approved drugs in inflammation, dermatology, cardiovascular diseases, and oncology as well as leading large teams across the pharma value chain. 

Throughout his career, he has championed high impact collaborations and established a world-wide network of academic and company-based partnerships. Many of these collaborations have resulted in drug candidates that have transitioned into clinical development. Laurent studied chemistry for his Bachelor’s degree and graduated with a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Vanderbilt University. He was awarded a fellowship from the American Heart Association during his post-doctoral training at Duke University. Laurent has maintained strong ties with the academic world as an Associate Professor (Adj) at Duke NUS Graduate Medical School. He has also served on NIH study sections, presented on science and pharma sector dynamics at multiple international venues, and published > 70 peer-reviewed papers and patents. He is on the board and an advisor for several healthcare organizations across the world aimed at improving healthcare and accelerating the discovery and advancement of novel therapies for patients and their families.


Meredith Brown, Senior Manager, Intellectual Property, Metabolon

After receiving her PhD in Cancer Biology from Vanderbilt, Meredith pursued postdoctoral work at UNC-Chapel Hill.  While at UNC, Meredith was awarded a Fellowship from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center with the goal of transitioning to a career in industry. For her Fellowship, Meredith worked in the area of Intellectual Property at Metabolon, Inc., a biotechnology company in Research Triangle Park, NC.  Meredith has been with Metabolon for over six years and currently serves as the company’s Senior Manager, Intellectual Property. At Metabolon, Meredith is responsible for engaging with company employees to identify potential intellectual property, drafting and prosecuting patent applications, and managing the company’s patent docket.

Meredith is actively involved with the RTP chapter of Women In Bio, a professional organization for women in the life sciences and served as the Chair for the organization’s mentoring program.  She also serves on the Alumni Association Board of Directors for Lenoir-Rhyne University.  Meredith resides in Durham, NC with her husband and two young children.


Dario Guiterrez, Lead, Immuno-biology, Merck Research Labs

​Dr. Dario Gutierrez is the Immuno-biology Lead for the Merck Research Labs Cambridge Exploratory Science Center.  Previously, he led the Immune Tolerance group at Evelo Biosciences in Cambridge MA. He received a bachelor of science in Chemistry from California State University, San Bernardino, a PhD from the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics in the laboratory of Dr. Alyssa Hasty at Vanderbilt University, and performed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Hans-Reimer Rodewald at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, Germany.  He has authored multiple publications on the role of the immune system in metabolic and autoimmune diseases, and current work focuses on the immune-microbiome axis. 


Amy Halseth, Vice President, Clinical Development and Medical Affairs, Orexigen Therapeutics

Amy Halseth, PhD, is the Vice President of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs at Orexigen Therapeutics in La Jolla, CA, a small biopharmaceutical company focused on the treatment of obesity. In her role, Dr. Halseth provides strategic input and day-to-day oversight of medical and scientific activities in collaboration with clinical operations, regulatory affairs, and commercial partners. Dr. Halseth entered the pharmaceutical industry as a discovery scientist, working on activities related to target validation and characterization of early lead molecules, primarily for metabolic diseases, before moving into a role as a clinical scientist for Amylin Pharmaceuticals, where she was able to work on various mid- to late-stage clinical programs.  Dr. Halseth then moved into a position in medical affairs at Roche/Genentech, serving as a Disease Education Research Manager and Medical Science Liaison. Dr. Halseth completed her PhD and postdoctoral training in the Molecular Physiology and Biophysics Department at Vanderbilt University, working with David Wasserman on in vivo regulation of skeletal muscle glucose uptake. 


Mark Hansberger, Senior Intelligence Specialist, Defense Threat Reduction Agency

Dr. Mark Hansberger has been a Senior Intelligence Specialist and Biological Subject Matter Expert within the Threat Intelligence Division at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency since 2010. He was formerly an Intelligence Analyst at the Counterproliferations Support Office in the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2006-2010. I have spent ten years in the Department of Defense identifying current and future trends in biosecurity and biotechnology, analyzing potential biological threats to domestic and international assets, and coordinating efforts within the public health community to help support global disease events.  Dr. Hansberger received his PhD from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Vanderbilt University in October 2006 where he studied virus/host cell interactions and the resulting cell signaling pathways that are initiated following viral infection. Prior to his graduate degree, Dr. Hansberger received his BS in Microbiology from Mississippi State University in May 2000.


​​Erin Henry, Medical Science Director/Medical Team Leader, US Medical Affairs, Genentech

Erin leads the U.S. Medical Affairs strategy for lampalizumab which is currently being investigated as a potential treatment for geographic atrophy secondary to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in a large, global Phase III program. 

Erin has a B.S. in Biochemistry from Virginia Tech, a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Vanderbilt University and has worked at Genentech in the Ophthalmology group since 2007.


Kristen Herring, Health Scientist, Biomedical Advanced Research & Development Authority (BARDA), Division of Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Countermeasures

Kristen D. Herring, Ph.D is a Health Scientist with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) Division of Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) Countermeasures.  Specifically, Dr. Herring works on the advanced development of medical countermeasures against chemical threats.  Prior to joining BARDA Dr. Herring served as the Government Laboratory Manager and Quality Manager for the White House Mail Screening Facility at the United States Secret Service.  She entered government service as a 2008 Presidential Management Fellow where she served as a Program Manager at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency-Chemical and Biological Threats Directorate and managed early science and technology for medical countermeasures against chemical threats.

Originally from Lumberton, NC Kristen obtained her BS in Biochemistry from Spelman College in 2003, her PhD in Biochemistry from Vanderbilt University in 2009, and a Masters in Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Studies from Missouri State University in 2014.  Kristen was part of the inaugural Department of Defense CWMD Fellows at Missouri State. 

Kristen is a member of The Life where she sings in the choir, the Northern Virginia Urban League Young Professionals and Xi Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and she is on the board of the Restoring Lives Community Development Corporation.  Kristen enjoys karaoke, reality TV, and speaking to youth about STEM and their futures.  


Janina Jeff, Global BioinformaticianIllumina

Janina M. Jeff, PhD, MS, is a human geneticists, educator, and minority science technology engineering math (STEM) activist. She received her PhD in Human Genetics and a Masters in Applied Statistics from Vanderbilt University and her BS in Biology from Spelman College. Dr. Jeff recently finished her postdoctoral training with Drs. Eimear Kenny and Erwin Bottinger at Mount Sinai hospital in population genetics and pharmacogenetics and now works at Illumina as a Bioinformatician.

Dr. Jeff is an expert in statistical design and interpretation of large-scale genomic data. Her research career has been largely focused on the discovery of genetic loci that impact admixed populations, Hispanics and African Americans, for complex common diseases. Additionally, she is known for her expertise in population genomics, specifically in developing and implementing pipelines to handle complex genetic ancestry for genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in electronic medical records.  

Dr. Jeff has taught a breadth of undergraduate and graduate courses in biology, genetics, and statistics. She is currently an adjunct professor at Grand Canyon University in the College of Arts and Sciences. She has also taught K-12 STEM courses. During her graduate career, Dr. Jeff served as the 1st grade scientist for the Scientists in the Classroom Partnership with Nashville Public Schools and Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Jeff is a product of the New Orleans Public Education School System and has been passionate about serving her community as early as high school. As a junior at McDonough #35 High School, Dr. Jeff and her peers started a non-profit, Initiating a Circle of Education, ICE. Dr. Jeff ‘s commitment to the community continues today, as she is dedicated to educating her community about STEM careers to ultimately change the face of STEM for generations to come.


Diane Kanter, Proposal Content Liaison and Project Leader, Education and Training Systems

Dr. Kanter joined ETSI in 2015 as a medical writer and editor.  A year later she was promoted to her current position, where she prepares project proposals and communicates the information to the project team for development.  Her previous experience includes 4 years in healthcare as a neurophysiologist monitoring the integrity of neural tissue – including brain activity, conduction through the spinal cord, peripheral nerve activity, etc. – and alerting the surgeon to functional changes in real time.  Additional experience includes creating and presenting training material to teach new neurophysiologists, as well as to provide education and supporting information for hospital staff.  Her dissertation research at Vanderbilt University focused on DNA replication, specifically in the disruption of normal replication processes and the implications in genome instability and cancer.


Kim Lickteig, Associate Director, Global Regulatory Affairs, Takeda

​Kim Lickteig is an Associate director in the Global Regulatory Affairs group at Takeda Pharmaceuticals. She received her PhD in Cell Biology from Vanderbilt University under the mentorship of Dr. David Miller.

Upon receiving her degree, Kim worked as a Scientist at Exelixis in South San Francisco, California studying human diseases using invertebrate systems including C. elegans. During her tenure at Exelixis, she transitioned into a commercial role assisting with selection of drug candidates in several disease areas and assessing business development opportunities. Kim has additional roles in commercial development of early stage compounds while at Celera Genomics and Abbott/Abbvie. While at Abbott/Abbvie, she also worked on the Humira and the dyslipidemia products commercial teams.  

In 2012, Kim joined Takeda Pharmaceuticals as a member of the Regulatory Affairs group. As a regulatory professional, she has been working on several Immunology compounds including Entyvio. She led the labeling and the negotiation of studies to fulfill post-marketing commitments for Entyvio with the FDA. Kim collaborates with cross-functional teams to ensure the successful filing of clinical trial applications, maintenance of INDs and BLA, and preparation for global registration of a new formulation. 


John Lowe, Patent Examiner, United States Patent and Trade Office

John Lowe is a patent examiner at the USPTO in Alexandria, Virginia, where he assesses multiple technological documents and claims for intellectual property rights. Dr. Lowe began his career in science working in a laboratory SNP mapping melanocortin receptors in the domesticated chicken as an undergraduate at the University of Arkansas.  Given his keen interest in Immunology, Dr. Lowe worked in the Molecular Immunology laboratory of Dr. Wasif Khan for a few years before deciding to go to graduate school.  

John earned his PhD in Cellular and Molecular Pathology from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine where he studied the cellular and molecular role of ankyrin-g in cardiac myocyte physiology and arrhythmic diseases in the laboratory of Dr. Peter Mohler.  

John did a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Dan Roden where he studied human arrhythmic disease genes associated with the voltage-gated sodium channels Nav1.5 using transgenic animal models. John participated in the First Annual Vanderbilt Tech-Venture Challenge and developed a new interest in the development of great ideas into products as well as using analytical skills in addressing problems for immediate benefit to all. Dr. Lowe worked at the Eskind Biomedical Library as an information scientist before deciding to move to Washington DC. John joined the USPTO in 2014. 


Cyrus Martin, Senior Scientific Editor, Current Biology

Cyrus Martin studied transcription regulation as a graduate student at Vanderbilt University, moving on to the University of North Carolina where he investigated gene silencing by the Polycomb proteins. In 2007, he joined the editorial team of Current Biology, handling papers in a range of areas including gene regulation, chromosome segregation, plant development, and circadian biology. Cyrus also is a regular contributor to Current Biology’s news feature section, writing articles on a number of topical science issues, including climate change, the environment, and research funding.


Ray Price, Vice President, Business Development, DiscoverX

Ray Price is Vice President, Business Development, at DiscoverX, a leader in drug discovery services and products in the in vitro pharmacology space.  Ray has 15+ years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, implementing business strategies for both lead therapeutic compounds and proprietary assay systems, including the scientific due diligence as well as financial modeling of potential partnerships. He completed his executive MBA at INSEAD in Paris, France, and has work experience in Japan (Fujisawa/Astellas), the US, and France. He has a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Vanderbilt University and extensive R&D and drug development experience, including being lead investigator on two SBIR (small business) grants from the NIH. He was principal consultant in his own company doing business development and medical writing for industry and academic investigators, where he wrote or edited over 2000 scientific, regulatory, and business documents in a wide variety of therapeutic areas. He is a native English speaker, has functional Japanese fluency, and beginning French ability.


Lori Rudolph-Owen, Vice President, Portfolio Management and Assessment, TESARO, Inc

Dr. Rudolph-Owen is currently the Vice President of Portfolio Management and Assessment at TESARO, Inc. where she oversees the development portfolio and manages the Program Team Leaders, Program and Portfolio Managers as well as the Competitive Intelligence team.  She is responsible for portfolio inputs and alignment with Finance and Commercial for strategic business planning, quarterly, annual and long range operating planning and for providing development program updates to the Board of Directors, Executive Leadership Team and the companywide Operating Committee.

Lori received her PhD in Cell Biology from Vanderbilt University and began her career in Oncology Drug Discovery at Millennium Pharmaceuticals (now Takeda Oncology).  She moved into Development Program Management at Vertex where she supported the progression of the first Cystic Fibrosis compound (KALYDECO) from Research to Clinical Development and went on to lead late stage oncology clinical development assets at MGI Pharma/Eisai (DAGOGEN) and Abraxis BioScience/Celgene (ABRAXANE).  Lori transitioned to functional line leadership in Program and Portfolio Management at AMAG Pharmaceuticals before moving on to Pfizer where she led and managed portfolio and strategic alignment between the Oncology Research and Business Units.

Lori resides in Medford, Massachusetts with her husband JJ Owen (also a Vanderbilt Cell Biology Alumni), 12 year old son Cole, 9 year old daughter Olivia and their two very active cats, Pepper and Nugget.  She is an active vegetable gardener and has recently established a propensity for fresh water kayak fishing.


​Tara Gower Ruest, Vice-President, Scientific Services, Scientific Pathways 

​Tara received her PhD from the Vanderbilt University Department of Microbiology and Immunology in 2001. After completing a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University, she started a career in Medical Education/Communications as a Medical Writer at Integrated Communications Corporation. Tara has been working in Medical Communications for nearly 15 years and has worked with a number of large Medical Communications Agencies during that time. In her current role as VP, Scientific Services and Scientific Pathways a Division of Nucleus Global she leads a team of Medical Writers and Scientific Directors in the development of numerous type of educational materials with a focus on Hematology and Oncology. During the course of her career, Tara has worked with various Pharmaceutical Clients and world renowned medical experts to develop content for publications (primary data and reviews), internal training materials, strategic planning, digital venues (websites, apps, 3D graphics and mechanism of action videos), and marketing materials. 


Victor Torres, Associate Professor, Microbiology, New York University

Dr. Torres received his B.S. degree in Industrial Microbiology in 2000 from the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez campus. In 2000, he enrolled in the PhD program at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where he obtained a doctoral degree in Microbiology and Immunology by studying toxin biology under the supervision of Prof. Timothy Cover. From 2005 to 2008, he completed postdoctoral training on S. aureus pathogenesis under the tutelage of Prof. Eric Skaar, also at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. In late 2008, he joined the faculty of the Department of Microbiology at New York University School of Medicine, where he is currently a tenured Associate Professor of Microbiology. Over the past eight years Prof. Torres has contributed extensively to the fields of S. aureus pathogenesis and toxin biology. He is also an Editor of several journals in Microbiology, Infectious diseases and Immunology, and a regular panel member on major funding agencies in the US and throughout Europe.