Speaker Information

iPSC-derived Cells & Assays Come of Age

June 13, Boston, MA, USA at the Westin Waterfront



Kevin “Kit” Parker, Tarr Family Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics at John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University

Kevin Kit Parker is the Tarr Family Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics in the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. He is a primary faculty member of both the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and the Wyss Institute for Biologically-Inspired Engineering. He received his B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University, his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering and PhD in Applied Physics from Vanderbilt University. He was a postdoctoral fellow in Pathology at Children's Hospital in Boston and in Biomedical Engineering at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Parker is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army Reserve and has served two combat tours in Afghanistan.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities at Harvard, Parker is the director of the multidisciplinary SEAS Disease Biophysics Group. His research includes cardiac cell biology and tissue engineering, traumatic brain injury, and biological applications of micro- and nanotechnologies. He is involved in projects ranging from creating organs-on-chips to developing nanofabrics for applications in tissue regeneration.


Gary Gintant, Research Fellow- Integrative Pharmacology, Integrated Science and Technology, Abbvie

Dr. Gary Gintant is a Research Fellow in the Dept. of Integrative Pharmacology, Integrated Science and Technology, at AbbVie. He is involved in multiple drug discovery and safety activities and initiatives internally; external activities include various cardiac safety initiatives (such as ILSI/HESI Proarrhythmia Models Project, the Cardiac Safety Research Consortium, and the Comprehensive in Vitro Proarrhythmia Assay Initiative) while serving on various journal editorial boards, NIH study sections, and Safety Pharmacology Society committees. Research interests include cardiovascular pharmacology, cellular electrophysiology/ion channels, arrhythmias, application of stem-cell derived cells and tissues to drug discovery efforts, and translational medicine. He gained his MA, M.Phil. and PhD. degrees from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, NY, and was on faculty at Wayne State Univ. School of Medicine in Detroit MI prior to joining Abbott/AbbVie.


Laszlo Urban, Global Head- Preclinical Secondary Pharmacology, Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research

Laszlo Urban is Global Head of Preclinical Secondary Pharmacology (PSP) at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR), Cambridge, MA, USA. He has been with Novartis since 1996, leading various global pharmaceutical research areas. As the founding leader of PSP, he developed and implemented the early in vitro preclinical safety profiling program for NIBR. Recognising the need for new tools to assess large volumes of data from different sources, he and his team are developing “decision support IT tools” for NIBR, which provide general and easy access to integrated information, not just data. Dr. Urban received his M.D. and Ph.D. in neuropharmacology from Debrecen University, Hungary. He is Honorary Lecturer of the University College London and was a visiting professor at Duke University. He has published over 160 articles, book chapters and patents, edited 4 books and has served on the editorial board of several journals while also serving as President of the European Neuropeptide Club.

Anthony Bahinski, Global Head, Safety Pharmacology, Mechanistic Safety & Disposition, In Vitro/In Vivo Translation, R&D Platform Technology & Science, GlaxoSmithKline


Morrie Ruffin, Chair- Standards Coordinating Body, Managing Director, Alliance for Regenerative Medicine, Managing Director of Adjuvant Partners

Morrie is a founder and managing director of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM), the global organization representing the interests of the regenerative medicine community. Morrie is also the managing partner of Adjuvant Partners, a boutique regenerative medicine and advanced therapies business consulting firm. Prior to joining Adjuvant Partners, he was the chief executive officer of LifeTech Innovations, LLC a business development consulting firm based in Bethesda, MD. Prior to his position at LTI, Mr. Ruffin was executive vice president of Capital Formation and Business Development at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the largest trade organization representing the biotech and drug development industries. Joining BIO in 1994 as one of its original employees, Mr. Ruffin was responsible for building the organization's global business development and investor outreach programs focused on helping companies raise capital and identify strategic partnering and licensing opportunities. This BIO business development franchise is now the largest in the world, with operations in the US, Europe, and Japan.

In addition to his business development work at BIO, Mr. Ruffin was responsible for leading the industry's capital formation advocacy efforts with a focus on economic incentives to promote investment in early stage biotech and med-tech businesses. He was also a founder and board member of the Interoperable Informatics Infrastructure Consortium (I3C), an international standards setting body for the bioinformatics industry.

Prior to joining BIO, Mr. Ruffin worked for US Senator Arlen Specter for five years as his senior legislative assistant. Prior to that, he spent approximately five years working in varying capacities, including policy analyst at Systems Planning Corporation International and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Mr. Ruffin received his M.A. in International Studies & Economics from the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and his B.A. from the University of Virginia.


Francesco Pasqualini, Senior Scientist, Scientific Management, Wyss Translational Center

Francesco S. Pasqualini obtained his PhD in Engineering Sciences from the Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (IT) working on biophysically-accurate computational models of chuman cardiomyocytes with Prof. Severi (Universita' di Bologna, IT) and Bers (Universita' di California Davis, USA) and bioengineered platforms for quality assessment in primary and stem cell derived cardiomyocytes with Prof. Kevin Kit Parker (Harvard University, USA). As a post-doctoral fellow at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, he developed image processing and machine learning algorithms for automated, user unbiased phenotyping of human stem cell derived cardiomyocytes, and on-a-chip assays for drug discovery and disease modeling applications. Francesco has recently accepted a Senior Scientist and Scientific Coordinator position at the the Wyss Translational Center and the Institute for Regenerative Medicine (ETH and University of Zurich) where he develops in-vitro and in-silico strategies to predict the quality of regenerative medicine interventions.


Huan (Sharon) Wang, Laboratory of Systems Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Huan (Sharon) Wang gained her PhD in 2013 from University of Colorado at Boulder under the co-mentorship of Dr. Kristi Anseth and Dr. Leslie Leinwand. During that time, Dr. Wang has integrated the two disciplines of molecular biology and biomaterial engineering and published several papers related to cardiac valve tissue engineering and cellular signaling. Currently, Dr. Wang is a postdoctoral research associate working for Dr. Peter Sorger and Laboratory of Systems Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School. For her postdoc research, she applies systems and quantitative biology approaches in understanding the mechanisms of cardiotoxicity towards the goal of assessing and developing safe drugs for patients.


Payal Rana, Senior Research Scientist, Investigative Toxicology, Pfizer

Payal Rana is a research scientist with over 12 years of experience in the Pfizer pharmaceutical industry. Currently, working in the investigative tox group in DSRD and responsible for developing and validating predictive derisking in vitro systems. Previously, worked in the Compound Safety Prediction Group and responsible for developing novel methods to predict mechanisms of toxicity and reduce safety related attrition of potential drug candidates. In the past, she has worked in the High Throughput Screening (HTS) group and was responsible for developing, screening, validating and data analysis of biochemical and cell based screens towards identifying lead chemical matter for drug development. Payal has authored and co-authored many papers in the area of drug-induced mitochondrial dysfunction and in-vitro assay development for prediction of toxicity.


ordan Lancaster, Principal Scientist and CBO, Avery Therapeutics / University of Arizona

Jordan Lancaster’s work explores the use of iPSC derived cell-based therapeutics for the treatment of heart failure. Current studies focus on the development and use of implantable engineered heart tissue that enhance in vivo vascularization, cell-cell interaction, tissue integration and improved functional outcomes.


Alina Berdichevsky, Investigator/Laboratory Head in the Dept. of Cellular Pharmacology, Cardiovascular Metabolism, Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research

Dr. Alina Berdichevsky is an Investigator/Laboratory Head in the Dept. of Cellular Pharmacology, Cardiovascular Metabolism, at Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research. She gained her MS in the Weizmann Institute in Israel, and came to Novartis after a 2007’ PhD degree at M.I.T. where she has studied genetics of aging and metabolism. During her eight years in NIBR, she has been involved in multiple drug discovery activities and initiatives, including leading project teams, new target identification and validation for metabolic disease, and assay development. Research interests include functional assays in complex systems, cardiovascular pharmacology, heart failure and pancreatic biology.



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