2016 Whitehead Colloquium

Revolutionary Research that Changes Lives

October 15, 2016

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Whitehead Institute
Cambridge, MA

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8:30 am

Registration & Breakfast

9:00 am


Tom Ashbrook

Host of NPR’s On Point, WBUR Boston

Tom Ashbrook is the award-winning host of WBUR and NPR’s On Point. Prior to On Point, Ashbrook served as The Boston Globe’s deputy managing editor after reporting extensively from Asia. Raised on a farm in Illinois, Ashbrook graduated from Yale having studied American history. Before taking up journalism, his career span included work as a dynamiter in Alaska’s oil fields, a teaching fellow with the Yale-China association and a producer of international editions of Chinese kung fu films.

9:15 am

Sex Differences in Health and Disease

David C. Page, MD

Director, Whitehead Institute

Whitehead Institute Director Dr. David Page is a pioneer in reproductive and developmental genetics and genomics. Page has recently turned his attention to analyzing the differences between males and females at cellular and molecular levels. A better understanding of these differences will provide insight into sex-specific variation in disease susceptibility and severity and better inform diagnosis and treatment.

10:15 am

A Shortcut to Innovation: The Fellows Program

Sebastian Lourido, PhD

Fellow, Whitehead Institute

Dr. Sebastian Lourido was appointed a Whitehead Fellow in 2012. Lourido’s work focuses on neglected parasitic diseases, which represent a huge burden to global mortality and morbidity, and the development of many nations. His laboratory recently succeeded in performing cutting-edge genome engineering technology (CRISPR/Cas9) in an apicomplexan parasite related to the malaria parasite, thereby allowing them to perform screens to identify genes responsible for drug resistance.

Silvi Rouskin, PhD

Fellow, Whitehead Institute

Dr. Silvia Rouskin was appointed a Whitehead Fellow in 2015 after receiving her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Francisco. Rouskin studies the structure of RNA and is developing new technology to determine the shapes of single RNA molecules inside living cells. Rouskin has already made important contributions to this field in which progress has been slow due to the vast complexity of RNA structure.

11:15 am

Research and Entrepreneurship: Freedom to Discover

Yaniv Bejerano

Co-Founder & Former President and CEO, ImmuneXcite

Yaniv Bejerano co-founded ImmuneXcite and served as President and Chief Executive Officer from its founding to late 2015. He was instrumental in shaping the vision of ImmuneXcite as well as leading the venture from its inception, developing a unique immunotherapy platform technology and a lead program, raising over $10M, and collaborating with leading pharma companies in the immunotherapy field. Prior to ImmuneXcite, Bejerano held various product management, marketing and business development positions, the latest as Senior Director of Worldwide Product Marketing and Business Development at Enigma. Prior to that, at Biosense, he was a Product Manager leading a product from preclinical development through preclinical studies, clinical trials, and 510k submission to the FDA. Biosense was acquired by J&J for $400M. Bejerano holds an MBA from Northeastern University with distinction, and a B.Sc. from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

Michael W. Bonney

Former CEO & Director, Cubist Pharmaceuticals

Mike Bonney was the CEO and Director of Cubist Pharmaceuticals from 2003 until his retirement at year end 2014. Under his leadership Cubist grew from a struggling micro-cap to the world's leading antibiotic company. Cubist was acquired by Merck early in 2015. He joined Cubist as President and Chief Operating Officer in 2002. He was Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Biogen from 1995-2001 where he built Biogen's commercial infrastructure for the launch of the company's first product. Prior to Biogen he spent 11+ years at Zeneca Pharmaceuticals (and predecessor companies) in a range of commercial, operating and strategic roles, ending his career there as National Business Director.

Bonney currently chairs the boards of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Bates College. He is also a member of the boards of CELGENE Corporation, Global Blood Therapeutics, Revolution Medicine, Tekla Capital Management (closed end mutual fund complex), Gulf of Maine Research Institute, and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

He is an advisor to the (prime minister) Cameron Commission on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and was involved in the creation of the GAIN act (enacted in US in 2012 to encourage investment in antimicrobials with activity against resistant bacteria).

Bonney was a regional winner and national finalist (2013) in the life science segment of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year; was a finalist (2011) in DJ/Morningside CEO of the Year and was recognized as the Top CEO in Massachusetts by the Boston Globe (2008).

Ifat Rubin-Bejerano

Co-Founder & Head of Research, ImmuneXcite

Dr. Ifat Rubin-Bejerano is the co-founder and Head of Research at ImmuneXcite. She served as the Chief Scientific Officer of ImmuneXcite after co-founding the company based on discoveries she made during her postdoctoral studies at the Whitehead Institute of MIT with Prof. Gerald R. Fink. Her research, which was focused on the host-pathogen interaction of fungi with immune cells, led to the identification of a fungal carbohydrate that recruits and activates neutrophils. Dr. Rubin-Bejerano then conjugated this carbohydrate to cancer-specific antibodies to direct neutrophils to tumors. At ImmuneXcite, Dr. Rubin-Bejerano has been instrumental in translating this basic science into a commercial platform technology and has led the company’s research efforts. Dr. Rubin-Bejerano holds a Ph.D. and a B.Sc. magna cum laude from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

Robert Weinberg, PhD

Founding Member, Whitehead Institute

Bob Weinberg is a founding member of Whitehead Institute and the Daniel K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research at MIT. An internationally recognized authority on the molecular and genetic basis of human cancer, he has been credited with many breakthrough discoveries. Findings from his lab contributed to the development of Genentech’s Herceptin, a widely used targeted therapy for breast cancer. His lab is currently focused on understanding how a malicious population of tumor cells, known as cancer stem cells (CSCs), contribute to tumor invasion and metastasis, a process that accounts for 90% of all cancer-associated deaths. He is the author of The Biology of Cancer, a seminal textbook. Weinberg is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the National Medal of Science and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.

12:30 pm


2:00 pm

Dessert & Coffee Reception

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About Whitehead

Whitehead Institute is home to more than 300 scientists mentored by 17 of the world’s most accomplished principal investigators. Of these 17 faculty: 3 are National Medal of Science winners, 5 are Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators, and 11 are members of the National Academy of Sciences. Whitehead faculty also hold joint appointments in MIT’s biology and bioengineering departments. As a fully independent not-for-profit research organization, Whitehead Institute relies significantly on philanthropy to maintain its groundbreaking research programs. Gifts from individual donors, foundations and corporations directly support Whitehead researchers as they explore the most challenging questions in biomedicine en route to solving the puzzles of cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and other intractable human diseases.

Contact Us

Have any questions or would like to learn more about the 2016 Whitehead Institute Colloquium, please feel free to reach out. We'd love to hear from you!

Meg Breithaupt
(617) 258-5489

Whitehead Institute
Office of Advancement
Nine Cambridge Center
Cambridge, MA 02142

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If you have any additional questions, please don't hesitate to contact Meg Breithaupt at (617) 258-5489 or at breithaupt@wi.mit.edu.