Speakers 2020

Martijn Bijker


Dr. Martijn Bijker is the founder of from SCIENCE to PHARMA, the only Medical Science Liaison (MSL) training platform. The startup enables the scientists to transition into the pharma industry. He started his academic journey with Bachelor’s in Chemistry followed by a master’s in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. His PhD work focused onimmuno-oncology and cancer vaccines. After finishing his postdoctoral research, he started his MSL career. In his more than nine years long MSL career, he worked at AbbVie, Amgen, Merck, and Theramex. In his workshop, Dr. Bijker will enlighten young scientists about career prospects in pharma industry as an MSL.


Maria Chatzou Dunford

Dr. Maria Chatzou is a bioinformatitics expert, biotech innovator, passionate enterpreneur, and CEO & Founder of Lifebit AI (London, UK). Maria holds a PhD in Biomedicine, MSc in Bioinformatics and BSc in Computer Science and Biomedical Informatics. As a researcher at the Centre for Genomic Regulation, in Barcelona, Spain, she designed and deployed tools that facilitate the analysis of Big Biomedical Data, allow for biological discoveries, and promote personalised medicine. She was also part of the developing team of Nextflow, a programming framework that is revolutionising the computational analysis of genomic data. Now she is putting all her effort in Lifebit AI to bring this revolution to a next level. Lifebit is using Nextflow and artificial intelligence to provide easy, reliable, and smart cost-saving cloud computing solutions for bioinformatic pipelines at a new scale. Apart from that, Maria is a frequent visitor of confernces and symposiums. She loves to talk about industry, HPC, Cloud & Big Data, Genomics Workflows, Personalized Medicine, Women in Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Start-Ups and Deep Tech Innovations.


Grace Hsu 

Grace Hsu brings science to life with stunning animations: As a scientific animator, she knows how to communicate science and medical topics to patients, but also to investors and executives of the  pharma industry, and designs user interfaces for applications as well  as illustrations to for scientific journals. She is currently a member of the animation lab of Dr. Janet Iwasa at the University of Utah as well as a freelance medical Illustrator and Storyboard artist. She obtained her BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Waterloo, Canada, a master’s degree  in Biotechnology from Harvard University and a master’s degree in Biomedical Visualization from the University of Illinois at Chicago. 


Feodora Lenz

The Innovation Campus SNIC (Start-up + Network + Innovation + Campus) is a unique network that links science, business and municipal business support services. Lea Feodora Lenz will as part of this year's Career Fair talk about the opportunities for young scientists with great ideas and how these ideas can be set into action in the form of a start-up or an academia-industry collaboration. SNIC's main focus is the transfer of knowledge and bridging the gap between research instiutions and companies, taking the expertise of both worlds und ultimately strenghthening entrepreneurial dynamics. SNIC is providing a platform for innovation and development in the region of southern Lower Saxony, a vision of course applicable anywhere!  


Daniela Maisel

Daniela Maisel is a scientist with diverse working experience both as a researcher as well in leadership at Roche, one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies. She received her diploma in Bioinformatics from the Eberhard-Karls university in Tübingen, Germany and her PhD in Molecular Biomedicine from the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Germany. After her PhD, she joined the pharmaceutical research unit of Roche in Penzberg, one of the largest biotech centers in Europe. There, she was the first bioinformatician by training and helped to establish the bioinformatics unit. She later moved into leadership positions and is now Site Head of the Roche Innovation Center in Munich (RICM) as well as Head of RICM Site Operations. She thus knows a lot about the manifold career opportunities that exist for young scientists who are considering to move to industry  - and by the way, also how to reconcile family life with a succesful career.


Richard Sever

Richard Sever is Assistant Director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press in New York and Co-Founder of the preprint server bioRxiv. He obtained his PhD in Molecular Biology from University of Cambridge. He moved to the editorial field afterwards. After serving as an editor at Current Opinion in Cell Biology and Trends in Biochemical Sciences, he became an executive editor of Journal of Cell Science. Later on, he moved to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. The use of preprints has become widespread in the field of biology recently after the launch of bioRxiv, which is a great initiative for communicating science at a much higher speed than before.


Erika Shugart

 When the concepts of transitioning from academia and alternate careers were quite nascent, Erika Shugart decided to venture head on into the arena of science policy and communication directly after obtaining her PhD from the University of Virginia. She went ahead with interviewing scientists in various fields from policy to tech and built a blog on alternate career paths, during a time the idea of blogs didn’t exist. This novel idea landed her an internship at the National Research Council (NRC) at the National Academy of Science (NAS). From there on, it was an upward journey to a full time communications job at the NAS and finally making director. She then moved on to be an integral part in the conception of the ‘Marian Koshland Science Museum’ dedicated to the memory of Marian Koshland. Currently, she heads the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), focusing on molding it into an umbrella organization that provides a broad platform for engaging, scientific collaborations. 


Shama Sograte-Idrissi

Shama Sograte-Idrissi is a molecular biologist with a strong interest in the fight against scientific misinformation. She spent her studies between Casablanca, Padova, Leicester and Göttingen where she recently obtained her PhD at the International Max Plank Research School for Molecular Biology. Besides her research on the development of probes for super resolution microscopy, she is the co-founder of authentiSci, a browser extension that allows scientist to provide feedback on the validity of online science related news.  


Christian Tidona

A biotech entrepreneur, Christian Tidona is the founder of BiomedX Institute in Heidelberg, Germany. He studied biology and received his PhD from the University of Heidelberg. Envisioning an innovative ecosystem at the interface of academia and industry, he has tremendous experience in startup and leadership of biotech companies such as, Multimetrix in Regensburg, Cytonet near Heidelberg, and HI-STEM. He also worked with Biotech Cluster Rhine‐Neckar (BioRN) where he co-founded the Health Axis Europe alliance between the European health innovation clusters in Maastricht, Copenhagen, Leuven, and Heidelberg. He is also chairman of the Weizmann Young European Network (WYEN) and member of the International Board of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. He is also a member of the Responsible Leaders Impact Circle for Social Innovation of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, and teaching entrepreneurship at the University of Heidelberg. In Horizons, Dr. Tidona will talk about Career perspectives beyond academic research.



Spencer Wells 

Spencer Wells is a geneticist, anthropologist, Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society, founder and executive director of the nonprofit The Insitome Institute. He has started his academic career at the University of Texas at Austin studying Biology. He then took up postgraduate studies at Harvard University, working with Drosophila genetics. His true interest, however, lay in the population genetics of humans and not fruit flies. So soon after receiving his PhD, he moved to Stanford University to conduct postdoctoral studies in human anthropology. This is where his journey of exploring human history started. He conducted his first field trip in 1996 to Central Asia, collecting DNA samples from indigenous populations, but since then has visited more than a hundred countries. Especially instrumental in mapping the historic migration of humans around the globe was his launch of the Genographic Project, which he led from 2005 to 2015. Spencer Wells has a special talent for engaging with the public – be it through numerous documentaries, the insight podcast he co-hosts or through one of the books he has written. And just when you thought that this scientist could not get any more interesting, he owns a blues club.