MassBio Welcomes Six Members to Board of Directors

Kendalle Burlin O’Connell

CAMBRIDGE, MA– The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio) today announced the appointment of six life sciences executives to the organization’s Board of Directors who were formally voted in at the State of Possible Conference on Tuesday. These members will direct and support MassBio’s mission to advance Massachusetts’ leadership in the life sciences to grow the industry, add value to the healthcare system, and improve patient lives.

“The local life sciences industry has demonstrated its leadership and resolve in the face of global economic uncertainty over the past year, and MassBio stands strong as a resource and partner to support the companies working to solve the world’s unmet medical needs and advance the innovation that will deliver for patients,” said Kendalle Burlin O’Connell, MassBio CEO & President. “I am ecstatic to welcome these six new board members who come from some of the biggest names in the Commonwealth’s life sciences cluster. These men and women bring diverse perspectives that will help our ecosystem navigate the years ahead, and with our full Board, chart a bold course that grows the industry and keeps us looking beyond.”

The six industry leaders joining the Board of Directors this year are:

  • Lauren Celano, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Propel Careers (MassBioEd Seat)
  • Dennis Huang, Chief Technical Operations Officer and Executive Vice President, Gene Therapy, Ultragenyx
  • Michael Luther, Ph.D., MBA
  • Stacia Reidy MacNaught, Vice President, External and Community Affairs, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Michael Shafer, Senior Vice President and President, Pharma Services, Thermo Fisher Scientific
  • Jennifer Wipf, Head of Commercial, Ginkgo Bioworks, Inc.

In addition to the new members, the Executive Committee roster has been updated with Tamar Thompson (Alexion / AstraZeneca) elected as Vice-Chair and Jeff Elton (ConcertAI) as Clerk. The following Executive Committee members are remaining in their leadership roles: Pam Randhawa (Empiriko, Chair), Michael O’Hara (Deloitte, Treasurer), and Larry Wittenberg (Goodwin Procter, Counsel).

“Our unique Massachusetts ecosystem continues to unlock scientific possibilities and growth despite a challenging environment. I am excited that these six leaders bring their intellectual acumen and creativity to the MassBio Board of Directors,” said Pam Randhawa, Chair, MassBio Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer & Founder of Empiriko. “Their expertise and commitment to the life sciences industry and scientific innovation will guide MassBio’s focus on workforce skills development in under-resourced communities, biomanufacturing, and economic competitiveness.”

About the New Board Members

Lauren Celano, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Propel Careers (MassBioEd Seat)

Lauren is the co-founder and CEO of Propel Careers, a life science search and career development firm focused on connecting talented individuals with entrepreneurial life sciences

Lauren Celano

companies. She has recruited for > 60 innovative life sciences organizations to help them hire talent and has coached thousands of students, postdocs, medical residents and professionals to advance their careers since co-founding Propel in 2009. Lauren presents often on career development topics to inspire the next generation of talent.  Before Propel, she spent about 10 years in life sciences advancing drug molecules through SNBL USA, Aptuit, Quintiles, and Absorption Systems. She has a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Gettysburg College and an MBA (focused in the health sector and entrepreneurship) from Boston University.  She is on Boards including: MassBioEd (Chair), National Tay-Sachs & Allied Diseases Association; and Advisory Boards: the Professional Science Masters Program at Framingham State University and New England Graduate Women in Science and Engineering.  Lauren actively mentors young scientists through groups like the Association of Women in Science and The international center for professional development.

Dennis Huang, Chief Technical Operations Officer and Executive Vice President, Gene Therapy, Ultragenyx

Mr. Huang joined Ultragenyx in May 2015 and is responsible for leading the technical and pharmaceutical development, manufacturing and supply chain functions covering broad technical modalities like small molecules, recombinant proteins, nucleic acid medicines and

Dennis Huang

AAV gene therapy. This includes product approvals and launches for Mepsevii ®, Crysvita® and Dojolvi®. In addition Mr. Huang is the executive team member responsible for the Gene Therapy Platform strategy, research, product development, manufacturing and supply chain. Prior to joining Ultragenyx, Mr. Huang was Senior Vice President of Manufacturing and Supply Chain for InterMune Inc., where he led the global manufacturing and supply chain organization for the company which led to the US approval of Esbriet ®. Prior to InterMune, he served as Vice President of Biologics Manufacturing and Development for Allergan, Inc. where he held dual responsibilities in R&D and Global Technical Operations. Earlier in his career, Mr. Huang held leadership positions at Novartis AG (formerly Chiron, Inc), Genentech, Inc., and Synergen (currently Amgen), where he worked in various roles including manufacturing, quality and process and analytical development. Mr. Huang serves on the Board of Directors of two privately-held biotechnology companies; CytoDel and Ornovi. Mr. Huang earned a B.A. in chemistry from Knox College.

Michael Luther, Ph.D., MBA

For the last two years, Dr. Luther has been the Global Head of Astellas’ Search & Evaluation in Business Development leading efforts to drive deals and investments in support of Astellas drug discovery and development efforts from emerging start-ups to acquisition of late-stage clinical assets. Mike is based in Cambridge, MA.  Mike brings over 35 years’ experience as an

Michael Luther

entrepreneurial scientist and executive in the biopharmaceutical industry including various senior leadership roles ranging from biotech start-ups and global CROs and pharmaceutical companies. Before joining Astellas, Mike was the CEO and founder of Bantam Pharmaceutical, a biotech company focused clinical development of cancer therapeutics leveraging mitochondrial stress response pathway and targets. In past roles, Mike was the Senior Vice President for Drug Discovery & Development at Curio and founding CEO for the North Carolina Research Campus, a public-private partnership to accelerate bench to market activities in life sciences. Mike has over 20 years in senior executive roles in the global pharmaceutical industry including Vice President and head of drug discovery divisions for both Merck and GSK.  At GSK, he led multiple discovery teams that resulted in the successful launch of 4 novel therapeutics in oncology and metabolic disease as well as initiating the pharmaceutical industry’s initial efforts in precision medicine and drug repositioning. Dr. Luther holds Bachelor of Science degrees from North Carolina State University, a doctorate from St. Louis University School of Medicine, and an MBA from Duke University.  He was a Carl Stone Muscular Dystrophy Fellow at The Salk Institute and is the author of over 75 publications and patents.

Stacia Reidy MacNaught, Vice President, External and Community Affairs, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Eustacia Reidy MacNaught (Stacia) is Vice President, External and Community Affairs at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Stacia is responsible for developing the strategy and overseeing the execution of the company’s local government, philanthropic and community efforts, as well growing and enhancing Vertex’s reputation as a leading corporate citizen and trusted

Stacia Reidy MacNaught

community partner. She has implemented several multifaceted and strategic partnerships to address inequities and community needs. Under her leadership, Vertex created a global STEAM education program to inspire the next generation of science leaders, including a partnership with Boston Public Schools, expanded its workforce development programs to diversify the talent pipeline, and deepened its commitment to social justice and racial equity. Prior to joining Vertex, Stacia served in a similar role as the Chief of External Affairs at MassBio, overseeing all government affairs, economic development initiatives, and communications for the organization. During this time, she was instrumental in the development and passage of the $1B Life Sciences Initiative, including the creation of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. Stacia has also held senior legislative staff positions with the Massachusetts House of Representatives in healthcare policy, and specifically the Medicaid program. Deeply committed to the community, Stacia serves as board member for several nonprofit organizations, including the Boston Private Industry Council, Camp Harbor View, Boston Beyond, i2 Learning, the Massachusetts Business Roundtable and the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. She also serves as a volunteer at Milton Academy and a mentor to several first-generation Harvard College students. Stacia earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in government from Harvard College, and lives in Milton with her husband and three children.

Michael Shafer, Senior Vice President and President, Pharma Services Group, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Mike became Senior Vice President and President, Pharma Services, in October 2019. He

Michael Shafer

joined Thermo Fisher in 2009 as Vice President and General Manager of China and was named President of China in 2012. In 2015, Mike was appointed President of the Chemical Analysis business, and in 2016, following the acquisition of FEI Company, he became

President, Materials and Structural Analysis. Prior to joining Thermo Fisher, Mike worked at 3M Company for more than 15 years, managing various industrial and electronics businesses. With 3M, he spent seven years in the Asia-Pacific region, serving as APAC Business Director for the company’s Industrial & Transportation Businesses as well as APAC Electronics Market Materials Division Manager. Mike earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota.

Jennifer Wipf, Head of Commercial, Ginkgo Bioworks, Inc.

Jennifer leads Ginkgo’s commercial function, responsible for growing the cell engineering business and delivering value for customers. From bringing programs onto the platform to guiding customer success all the way through to commercial scale up and product delivery, Jennifer and her team bring synthetic biology products to life. Jennifer brings a technical background and experience in large scale biological manufacturing; prior to Ginkgo, Jennifer spent more than a decade at Merck and Co., where she worked in Vaccine development, in Plant management domestically and internationally, and U.S Market commercial roles.  Jennifer holds a M.S. in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University and a B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of Arizona.