Minh-Ha Do, PhD

Director, Pre-Clinical Innovation, Lumos Pharma

Minh-Ha Do has been working on non-clinical and translational aspects of therapeutics development for rare diseases for the past 12 years.  In her roles she has been responsible for driving projects through critical inflection points, including from discovery into early clinical phase.  Her roles included oversight of pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, and toxicology.  She has represented these functions in interactions with the FDA, collaborators, business partners, and members of the board.

Currently, Dr. Do is Director of Pre-Clinical Innovation at Lumos Pharma, where she oversees non-clinical and translational drug development and evaluates assets for potential in-licensing.  She previously was Program Scientific Lead and Associate Director of Physiology at aTyr Pharma, a biotechnology company.  There, she led non-clinical development and oversaw cross-functional groups to advance projects.


Dr. Do completed her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at the University of California, San Diego and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Star Jahansouz, PhD

Structural Analysis Military Aircraft, Collins Aerospace
Star Jahansouz.jpg

As a young woman in Iran, the aerospace industry was off limits to her since it was open only to men. To pursue her passion, Jahansouz immigrated to the United States, completing both her MS and PhD with honors at the University of California, Riverside. Jahansouz has pursued a career in the industry while completing her degrees, raising a family, and helping many young women get started in the engineering field. Jahansouz is an active member of the Air Force Reserve in the fields of avionics and systems.  Jahansouz has led a number of initiatives to support the progress of women in engineering. A SWE member since 2013, Jahansouz helps professional and academic development organizations support women in achieving their full potential in careers as engineers and leaders. ​Star Jahansouz has led an exemplary life as engineer, researcher, and community organizer as well as wife and mother. She is a role model for many girls in the STEM fields and an important advocate for inclusion and innovation in engineering. 


Shih-Chi Hsu, PhD

Scientist II, Synthetic Genomics

Shih-Chi received her bachelor's degree in Zoology from National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan. She came to the States for graduate research and became interested in plant biology, especially chloroplast biology. After receiving her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from UC Davis, Shih-Chi moved to the east coast and started her postdoctoral research on microalgae genetic engineering for biofuel production at the Boyce Thompson Institute, an affiliate of Cornell University. She came back to California in 2017 and joined a San Diego startup company, MicroSynbiotiX, to develop fish and shrimp vaccines from engineered algae. In 2019, she joined Synthetic Genomics to continue her pursuit of algal biofuel advancement using genetic engineering techniques.

Pam Bhattacharya, PhD

Lead Data Scientist, Mitre

Pam Bhattacharya is a Lead Data Scientist at MITRE, where she leverages expertise in data analytics, machine learning, and other modeling approaches, for a variety of projects spanning areas such as computer vision, data architecture, systems engineering, causal analysis, quantum computing, and neuromorphic computing. Prior to MITRE, Pam was a postdoctoral scholar at UC San Diego, where she was an active member of the Postdoctoral Association. She earned her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Bioengineering from UC San Diego. 


Heather Estrella, MS

Principal Scientist, Takeda

Heather has over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry in both large pharma and small biotech spanning multiple modalities, including small molecules, oligonucleotides and antibodies. Her background is in computational biology from Johns Hopkins University and her career has focused on supporting pharmacology and toxicology. She has developed expression signatures for target pharmacodynamics, as well as approaches for target and indication identification, off-target assessment and toxicity risks. She has helped develop several applications for target assessment merging internal and external, omics and biological data sources. She is currently a Discovery Toxicologist at Takeda Pharmaceuticals where she is using bioinformatics to assess target and modality risks. 

Sara Mills, BS 

Senior Consultant, Dark Horse Consulting

Sara has spent over 10 years working with biotech companies and academic labs focusing on applications of human primary cell cultures and autologous and allogeneic cell therapy products for therapeutic applications. She entered industry by way of UCSF where she was a CIRM funded, Junior Specialist in the Costello Lab of the Helen Diller Cancer Center studying Glioblastoma and epigenetics. She joined Dark Horse Consulting in 2016 bringing her expertise in aseptic and cGMP manufacturing process development, risk analysis, CMC and regulatory filings, facility design and project management to advise growing cell and gene therapy companies. During her time at DHC she has been fortunate enough to work with over 40 clients on over 45 different products and originate from at least 8 different countries. 


Vickie Sheckler

Vickie received a Bachelor's degree in Microbiology from San Diego State University in 1980, completed a 1-year clinical laboratory internship and was licensed as a Medical Technologist/Clinical Laboratory Scientist. She moved to industry, working in small and large companies, developing medical devices, biologics and cellular therapies regulated by the FDA, including medical devices for apheresis and hematopoietic stem cell enrichment for treating leukemia/cancer; encapsulated pancreatic islets and stem cell-derived treatments for diabetes; and a porcine liver perfusion device for treating acute liver failure. These positions provided diverse experiences in product/process development, preclinical/clinical studies, quality assurance, regulatory affairs, and project management. 


In 2010, Vickie joined UCSD for project management of a California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) funded project developing stem cell-derived neural cells for treating ALS; and now advises faculty investigators on therapeutic product development, regulatory strategies and grant applications. 

Sharon Gao, PhD

Senior Director, CMC Analytical & Formulation Development, Synhtorx

Dr Gao is a senior director of CMC Analytical and formulation development at Sanofi, San Diego. She has over 20 years of pharmaceutical industry experience, spans from research and development to quality control and regulatory submissions. She held leadership roles as a senior director at La Jolla Pharmaceutical, the head of Analytical Chemistry at Alere San Diego and principal scientist at Biogen. Dr Gao specializes in biopharmaceutical and small molecule analytical, formulation development and drug product manufacturing.  She earned a PhD in Chemistry from the University of California, San Diego and completed post-doctoral training at Washington University in St Louis.

Lead Research Strategic Advisor, UC San Diego CIRM Alpha Stem Cell Clinic

Laura Sanchez, PhD

Laura started her independent lab in the Fall of 2015 at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Department of Pharmaceutical sciences. In the Winter of 2021, the Sanchez Lab relocated to the 

University of California, Santa Cruz Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Her team specializes in using and adapting imaging mass spectrometry and tandem mass spectrometry for small molecule analyses in complex systems. She was a K12 BIRCWH Scholar (2016-2017) which supported the translation of the techniques to women's health. She was the Rising Star in the Life Sciences in 2019 at UIC.

Associate Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry, UC Santa Cruz

Michelle Nolasco, PhD

Michelle Nolasco's curiosity focuses on communicating scientific and technical information to professional audiences, primarily scientists who work in molecular biology and genetics. Her current position is as a Technical Writer at Agena Bioscience where she works on a variety of projects related to applied genetic testing systems. Michelle’s projects span from writing mass spectrometer engineering documents to creating product packaging graphics. Prior to Agena, Michelle held technical writing positions at Alere, Illumina, and Dassault Systèmes. She started her career in molecular biology R&D and product development at a variety of San Diego biotechnology companies. Michelle’s educational background includes a BS in Biochemistry from UC, Riverside, an MS in Biology from the University of Oregon’s Molecular Biology Institute, and a PhD in Science Education from the joint program at San Diego State University and UC, San Diego. Michelle is an avid volunteer and was a panelist on Comic-Con’s first all-scientist panel.

Technical Writer, Agena Bioscience

Adriana Bankston, PhD

Adriana Bankston is a Principal Legislative Analyst in the University of California (UC) Office of Federal Governmental Relations, where she serves as an advocate for UC with Congress, the Administration, and federal agencies. Prior to this position, Adriana was a Policy & Advocacy Fellow at The Society for Neuroscience (SfN), where she provided staff support for special and ongoing projects, including SfN’s annual lobby event and the society’s annual meeting. In addition to working at UC, Adriana also serves as Policy Taskforce Co-Leader on the Board of Directors at Future of Research (FoR), and is Chief Outreach Officer at the Journal of Science Policy and Governance (JSPG). Adriana obtained her PhD in Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology from Emory University.

 Principal Legislative Analyst, UC Office of the President

Chadia Robertson, PhD

Dr. Chadia Robertson is an experienced drug discovery thought leader with a passion for improving lives through scientific discovery. She is a scientist and Program Lead, GI drug discovery at Takeda with expertise in gastrointestinal and neurological disorders and more than 12 years of experience leading clinical and preclinical discovery programs. Chadia is a seasoned program director with a proven track record of leading cross functional teams and driving successful delivery of R&D objectives and IND milestones.

Scientist and Program Lead GI Discovery, Takeda