entrepreneurship panel

saturday, June 9, 2018 | 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM | Auditorium

As many postdocs well know, Boston has been ranked the best city in the nation for entrepreneurship in recent years, with an unparalleled density of hi-tech and biotech startups in the area. Not surprisingly, postdocs are drivers of much of this innovation and are well positioned to be entrepreneurs being highly motivated, independent and driven subject matter experts, but what does it take to make the leap from a postdoc to becoming an entrepreneur? Is entrepreneurship right for you? We invite experts to discuss the nuts and bolts of transitioning from a postdoc to being a scientific entrepreneur.


Jasdave Chahal, PhD

Co-founder and Chief Scientist at Tiba Biotech, Co-founder and Scientific Advisor at Revela Biotech

Jasdave Chahal holds a BS with Honors in Biopharmaceutical Science from the University of Ottawa, and earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology from Princeton University under the supervision of renowned virologist Dr. S. J. Flint. With a decade of experience studying host-pathogen interactions and the underlying molecular mechanisms of viral innate immune escape, Jasdave is recognized in the scientific community for uncovering systems by which pathogens subvert host cell defense mechanisms, and for developing innovative strategies to direct the immune system to fight a broad range of challenging diseases. He began his postdoctoral research in 2013 with Dr. Hidde Ploegh at the Whitehead Institute to focus on vaccinology and immunotherapy, initiating projects to engineer RNA molecules as vectors against infectious disease and cancer. While at the Whitehead Institute, his collaborative work led to the invention of novel replicons and programmable mRNAs vital to Tiba’s vaccination platform. He transitioned to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research in 2016 to further refine the technology before co-founding Tiba Biotech. Jasdave is also a co-founding scientific and business advisor for the cancer imaging startup Revela Biotech, which arose from work pioneereed in the Ploegh lab.


Omar F. Khan, PhD

Chief Scientist, Engineering at Tiba Biotech

Dr. Omar F. Khan is Chief Scientist, Engineering, of Tiba Biotech.  He is the lead inventor of Tiba’s disruptive RNA delivery technology.  Omar’s areas of expertise include nanomaterial-based nucleic acid delivery systems, vaccination nanotechnology, organic chemistry and manufacturing. He is equally skilled in biomaterial synthesis, tissue engineering, reactor design, process engineering, translational research models, and scale-up production.  Omar is widely published on topics at the interface of materials and life science. He holds a B.A.Sc. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toronto, where he was cross-appointed with the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering. Prior to founding Tiba, Omar conducted his postdoctoral research in the labs of Robert Langer and Daniel Anderson at MIT.  At Tiba, Omar leads delivery platform development and manufacturing design, drawing upon a wide breadth of scientific and leadership experience from multiple sectors, including academia, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, petrochemical and water treatment.


Kevin Kung, PhD

founder and chief technical officer at takachar

Kevin Kung earned his Ph.D. from MIT, focusing on biofuels and renewable energy, and specializes in biomass and energy conversion systems, engineering design in resource-constrained settings, and waste industry innovation. In 2012, he co-founded a company that turns agricultural residues into carbon-negative fertilizer. This led him to recognize the technical challenges in this sector, and he continued to work on the biomass technology, which was a part of his Ph.D. research and is under commercialization now as Takachar. He also cofounded the MIT Waste Alliance, which convenes students, researchers, industrial practitioners, and policymakers around waste-sector issues. Kung received his A.B. in physics from Princeton University, M.S. in physics from University of Cambridge, and S.M. in biological engineering from MIT.


Jason Ruth, PhD

Associate at 5AM Ventures

Jason Ruth, Ph.D. joined 5AM Ventures as an Associate in 2017. He was previously a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where he studied precision medicine and high throughput screening in Levi Garraway’s laboratory as well as started the Broad Institute Biomedical Entrepreneurship course. Dr. Ruth received his Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania as an HHMI-Interfaces Fellow and received a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Predoctoral Fellowship to investigate cancer immunology with Lewis Chodosh. He received a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of California in Irvine. Dr. Ruth serves as Chief Scientific Officer and as a Scientific Advisory Board member for the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network. His work is published in journals including Science and Lancet Hematology. Dr. Ruth is based in the Boston, MA office.


Don Shobrys, PhD

Co-director of MIT Ventureship Mentor Service

Don Shobrys is a mentor and as a Co-director leads the initiative focused on serving our "alumni" entrepreneurs. Don's' career has centered on helping people make better decisions more rapidly, with a particular focus on managing the supply chain of manufacturing companies. He started his career at Exxon. He later became the third employee of Chesapeake Decision Sciences, helped it become a pioneer in supply chain decision support, and ran operations prior to its sale. He has engineering degrees from MIT and Northwestern and a PhD in Operations Research from Johns Hopkins. He has been an exceptional volunteer throughout the Institute, founding the Engineering Systems Division Alumni Advisory Council, cofounding the Friends of DAPER, and serving on the Corporation Development Committee; the Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation (DAPER) Visiting Committee; the Educational Council and on the MIT Alumni Association Board of Directors. He is a past Chair of the MIT ! Annual Fund and the next President Elect of the MIT Alumni Association. He is the recipient of the Henry B. Kane '24 Award; a Presidential Citation; and the Bronze Beaver, which is the highest honor that the MIT Alumni Association can bestow.


Avi Spier, PhD

Director, BD&L, Search and Evaluation at Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research

Dr. Spier was educated in Biological Sciences at Oxford University, received his Ph.D. in molecular neuroscience from Cambridge University at the MRC-Laboratory of Molecular Biology and trained as a postdoc at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), La Jolla, CA. In 2001, Dr. Spier co-founded Allon Therapeutics, Inc. and led the peptide therapeutic neurodegenerative disease focused company as its President and CEO through two financing rounds and up to its entry onto the Toronto Stock Exchange. In 2004, Dr. Spier joined the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF), as its Director of Business Development. Most recently, in 2012 Dr. Spier was appointed Director of BD&L in NIBR, with responsibility for search and evaluation activities for the Cardiovascular, Metabolic and Diabetes (CVM), Global Discovery Chemistry (GDC), Chemical Biology and Therapeutics (CBT), GNF Systems and the Microbiome organizations of NIBR.