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A celebration of the growing life sciences ecosystem in Maine

Join BioME, BioConnects New England, and The Roux Institute as we celebrate innovation, collaboration and promotion of the life science, biotechnology and device manufacturing sectors in Maine.

This year, our annual Women in Bioscience event will be held in collaboration with The Roux institute to celebrate both women in bioscience and Maine’s growing life sciences ecosystem.

The event will feature an overview of BioConnects New England coalition and a moderated panel discussion of acclaimed female scientists and professionals focusing success stories and challenges, along with practical concepts to advance women in the bioscience industry. The panel will be followed by a networking reception with a cash bar available and light appetizers included on us.

BioConnects New England is harnessing the resources and talent across New England to advance the biotech industry, expand and localize biomanufacturing, and provide economic opportunities and pathways to the community, focusing particularly on economically disadvantaged areas, women, and marginalized populations.




Dr. Aileen Huang-Saad, Director of Life Sciences and Engineering; Associate Professor of Bioengineering, The Roux Institute

Aileen Huang-Saad is associate professor of bioengineering and director of life sciences and engineering at the Roux Institute. Huang-Saad leads the programs within the College of Science at the Roux Institute including Bioinformatics and Biotechnology.

Huang-Saad has a fourteen-year history of bringing about organizational change in higher education, leveraging evidence-based practices at University of Michigan. She created the U-M BME graduate design program, co-founded the U-M College of Engineering Center for Entrepreneurship, launched the U-M National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps Node, and developed the U-M BME Instructional Incubator. She is a canonical instructor for both the NSF and National Institute of Health (NIH) I-Corps Programs.

Huang-Saad’s current research areas are entrepreneurship, innovation, and transforming higher education. She is funded by the NSF to explore the influence of the microenvironment of entrepreneurship education on minoritized populations, entrepreneurial ecosystems, and fostering graduate student professional development.

Dr. Huang-Saad received her BSE in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania, followed by a PhD in Biomedical Engineering at John Hopkins University School of Medicine. She later completed her MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

Heather Johnson, Commissioner, Maine Department of Economic Community Development

Heather Johnson grew up in Skowhegan and graduated from the University of Maine. She began her career by building a diverse background in the private technology sector including sales, operations and general management roles at Nokia, Gateway and Toshiba. With continually expanding roles she created startup operations inside large companies, developed new products for new markets, and ran a $1.2 billion retail business.

After leaving the private sector, Heather had the opportunity to concentrate on rural economic development at Somerset Economic Development Corporation. During her time as the Executive Director she focused on key economic drivers such as; connectivity, workforce participation, and potential growth markets.

While serving as the Director of ConnectME Heather was responsible for managing a small grant program, mapping key assets, working with communities and businesses to help them identify needs and opportunities to utilize connectivity to enable their goals. Heather was able to able to make changes that positions the ConnectME to move forward into the connectivity space.

As Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development Heather continues to dedicate her career to fostering economic development, both in private companies and in rural communities across Maine.

Dr. Jared Auclair, Associate Dean of Professional Program and Graduate Affairs for the College of Science, Northeastern University

Jared R. Auclair is currently the Associate Dean of Professional Program and Graduate Affairs in the College of Science at Northeastern University and Associate Teaching Professor in the department of chemistry and chemical biology. In addition, Dr. Auclair is the Director of the Biopharmaceutical Analysis Laboratory (BATL), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Center of Regulatory Excellence in Biotherapeutics and Advanced Therapies and oversees the International Council for Harmonisation training. Lastly, Prof. Auclair serves as the Technical Supervisor for the Life Science Testing Center at Northeastern University, which is a state and CLIA-certified lab. Dr. Auclair collaborates with both academic researchers, industry, and government in the area of biopharmaceutical and cell/gene therapy development and analysis. He has expertise in mol. biology, protein biochemistry, analytical chemistry, protein crystallography, and biological mass spectrometry; and is interested in use inspired research for the biotechnology industry. Prior to joining Northeastern, Dr. Auclair received his bachelor’s degree in biotechnology from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and a PhD in Biomedical Science from the University of Massachusetts Medical. Upon graduating with his PhD, he did a post-doc under Greg Petsko, Dagmar Ringe and Jeffrey Agar at Brandeis.

Dr. Anne Breggia, Director, Maine Medical Center BioBank

Dr. Breggia is the Director of the Center for Applied Science and Technology at MHIR, the Chair of the Maine Health Precision Medicine Council, serves as a clinical coach for the MaineHealth Innovation Center, is a member of the ASCP Board of Certification for biorepository personnel and is an active member of the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories.

Dr. Breggia has over 30 years of experience in clinical laboratory diagnostics through her previous employment at the American Red Cross and at the Maine Medical Center solid organ transplant program. Dr Breggia has conducted basic science research at MHIR in ischemic kidney injury, bone metabolism and disease and is currently collaborating on research investigating novel therapeutics for pancreatic cancer. Dr Breggia is the principal investigator for the NIH/NCI Cancer Moonshot Biobank study being conducted at the NCORP/MaineHealth Cancer Care Network.

Dr. Breggia received her B.S. in Medical Technology from the University of New Hampshire, her M.S. in Applied Immunology at the University of Southern Maine and her PhD in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the University of Maine, Orono. Dr Breggia is board certified as a Medical Technologist by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP) and as a Histocompatibility Specialist by the American Board of Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (ABHI). Dr. Breggia has served as a as a member of the Adjunct Faculty at the University of Southern Maine and as an Associate Faculty Member in the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Maine, Orono.

Dr. Kimberly Hamilton, President, FocusMaine

Kim Hamilton is the president of FocusMaine. FocusMaine is a private sector-led initiative to accelerate the creation of quality jobs in Maine by investing in three of the state’s globally competitive and high-growth fields (agriculture, aquaculture, and biopharmaceuticals) and by strengthening Maine’s workforce capacity.

Prior to stepping into this role in 2017, she served as Chief Impact Officer for Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization where she oversaw their health, nutrition, research and employment portfolios. Kim spent eight years with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where she served in several senior roles, including as the Director for Strategy, Planning and Management for their Global Policy and Advocacy division, with offices in Seattle, London, D.C., Beijing, and Addis.

Kim previously held positions at NetAid, the Migration Policy Institute, the Alcoa and Howard Gilman Foundations, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Kim received her doctorate in demography from Brown University, a master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in International Economics and African Studies, and a bachelor’s degree from the Robert D. Clark Honors College of the University of Oregon in French and International Studies. Kim grew up in North Yarmouth and now lives on Chebeague Island.

Jen Lavanture, VP of Business Development & Corporate Strategy, MedRhythms

As VP of Business Development and Corporate Strategy at MedRhythms, Jennifer drives partnership strategy and execution for the MedRhythms platform and pipeline. Specifically, she leads the partner identification and evaluation processes and negotiates deals through to closure, including with technology and commercialization partners as well as biotech and pharma collaborators. She also leads alliance management and internal portfolio management functions.

Prior to joining MedRhythms in 2019, Jennifer served as Associate Director of Business Development at Rhodes Pharmaceuticals, where she led internal portfolio and product selection activities, and executed numerous deals for co-development, licensing, and distribution of ANDA products. Jennifer also served as Director of Business Development and Portfolio at Putney, Inc., where she led the portfolio product selection process. Jen began her professional career in market access, pricing, and reimbursement consulting for the biopharma industry with DRG (PharmaStrat). Jen graduated magna cum laude from Lehigh University in 2010 with a B.S. in Business Economics and a Minor in Japanese.

Dr. Marsha RolleProfessor, Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Marsha Rolle, Ph.D. is a professor of biomedical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, MA, and co-director of the Cell Engineering Research Equipment Suite (CERES@WPI), developed with the MBI biotech incubator and funded by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. She represents WPI as a co-lead of BioConnects New England, a tri-state coalition focused on growing a more sustainable, equitable biotechnology industry. She is passionate about commercial translation of biomedical technologies and cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset in her students. A native New Englander, she grew up in Freeport, Maine and earned her B.S. degree in Biochemistry from Brown University in Providence, RI. After graduation, she joined Sulzer Innotec (Austin, TX), a subsidiary of SulzerMedica, to develop drug delivery technologies for medical devices. She later earned a PhD in Bioengineering at the University of Washington, and postdoctoral training at the Benaroya Research Institute in Seattle. Since joining the WPI faculty in 2007, she published over 40 peer-reviewed articles with her students and collaborators in the fields of tissue engineering, regenerative medicine and biomaterials, and holds 4 issued U.S. patents. Her work has been funded by DAAD (faculty fellowship to Fraunhofer Institute in Stuttgart, Germany), National Institutes of Health (R15, R01), National Science Foundation (REU, IGERT, STTR Phase I and II), and Manufacturing USA Institutes.

Racelis Acosta, Plant Manager, Corning Life Sciences

Racelis Acosta was appointed Plant Manager, Corning Life Sciences, Kennebunk Plant in April 2021. In this role, Racelis is responsible for directing overall plant operations and staff functions to achieve customer, business, and corporate objectives regarding cost, quality, service, and growth while meeting all safety, health, and environmental requirements.

Racelis joined Corning in 2006 as part of the engineering team at the Corning Cable Systems Dominican Republic plant. Subsequently, over the next 15 years, she held a variety of positions in lean manufacturing, performance excellence, production, quality management, and operations management at seven Corning plants. These positions spanned locations in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and the U.S. within the Optical Communications and Life Sciences divisions.

During her time in Quality, she led and successfully achieved the ISO/IEC 17025:2005 Lab Accreditation, enabling CLS Monterrey Mexico to become one of only three worldwide glassware manufacturers with an accredited lab. As part of her contributions in manufacturing, Racelis developed and executed roadmaps to achieve record cost, quality, and service improvements at Corning’s plants. She has led capital investment projects and capacity expansions supporting business growth and customer demand. Racelis actively participates in corporate and division mentorship programs to support key talent growth and development.

She holds a Master of Science in Quality and Operations Management from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden and a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Santo Domingo Institute of Technology in the DR.

Agnieszka Carpenter, Executive Director, Bioscience Association of Maine, moderator

Agnieszka Carpenter has been the Executive Director of BioME since 2017, but with the organization for the past 5 years. Agnieszka grew up in Poland and has a dual degree in English Literature and Marketing and Management. Prior to working with BioME, she was the Trade Assistance Manager at Maine International Trade Center and worked as a teacher and college lecturer. She lives in Maine with her husband and three children.


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