Board of Directors

Executive Committee

Renee Connolly, Chair

Renee ConnollyRenee Connolly is Head of Communications at MilliporeSigma. Ms. Connolly oversees the MilliporeSigma brand strategy, internal and external communications and the division’s Corporate Responsibility and employee engagement initiatives. She also oversees tradeshows and events for MilliporeSigma.

Prior to joining MilliporeSigma, Ms. Connolly served as Vice President of US Communications at MilliporeSigma affiliate, EMD Serono, Inc., where she was responsible for all external and internal communications, including public relations and community affairs.
Under Ms. Connolly’s leadership, EMD Serono was awarded several prestigious community and employee awards, including the Boston Business Journal’s Best Places to Work; The Scientist Magazine’s Best Places to Work; Science Top Employer; the Boston Business Journal’s Corporate Philanthropy Award; and the Mass High Tech Citizenship Award.

In 2011, Ms. Connolly was named as a recipient of a Working Mother of the Year award by Working Mother magazine. Ms. Connolly sits on the board of the Massachusetts Conference for Women. She is a member of the Healthcare Businesswoman’s Association, and is active in PhRMA, BIO, and the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council. She received her undergraduate degree from Ithaca College in NY.

Christopher Murphy, Vice Chairman


Christopher Murphy has more than 25 years of operational and leadership experience in biopharmaceuticals with expertise in manufacturing, process development, facility design and quality system remediation. Chris started his career at American Cyanamid (now Pfizer) in Pearl River, New York, where he held positions in Quality Control, viral vaccine development and bulk manufacturing. In the late 90s he joined Bioreliance in Rockville, Maryland, where he was responsible for US Contract Manufacturing operations, focused primarily on viral vector manufacturing and cell banking in support of gene therapy pre-clinical and clinical studies.  In 2001, Chris joined Genzyme (now sanofi) to develop manufacturing processes and analytical methods for Adenovirus and Adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapy vectors.  Since joining he has been responsible for clinical manufacturing of Genzyme’s gene therapy products and commercial manufacturing at multiple Genzyme biomanufacturing facilities. In 2009, Chris transferred from San Diego to Allston, Massachusetts to oversee decontamination of the site following the viral contamination and has since led bulk manufacturing and plant operations. Chris helped lead the site through its consent decree transformation and held the position of General Manager of the Allston Landing operation.  Chris currently serves as the Chief Manufacturing Officer at Brammer Bio based in Cambridge, MA.

Chris holds a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from Rutgers University – Cook College and a master’s degree in Biochemistry from New York Medical College.


Stacie Sawchak Aarestad, Clerk

Stacie AarestadMs. Stacie Aarestad is a partner in Foley Hoag's Securities Practice Group and M&A Practice Group. She focuses her practice on corporate and securities law matters, public company representation and merger and acquisition transactions. She represents issuers in a broad range of capital market transactions, including public and private offerings of debt and equity securities and also advises companies with respect to tender offers, exchange offers, debt repurchases and stock buybacks. Ms. Aarestad received her B.A. magna cum laude from Colgate University in 1991 and her J.D. magna cum laude from Boston University School of Law in 1997. 



Colleen DeSimone, Treasurer

Colleen DeSimone

Ms. Colleen DeSimone is a Consultant at Third Rock Ventures. Most recently, she served as VP of Finance and Controller at Syros Pharmaceuticals.  Ms. DeSimone joined Syros in April 2015 from Takeda Pharmaceuticals where she served as Senior Director, Finance and Controller, responsible for all aspects of financial reporting, accounting and internal controls of Takeda’s oncology business unit in Cambridge, MA. She held several positions of increasing financial and operational responsibility at Millennium Pharmaceuticals before its acquisition by Takeda in 2008. Ms. DeSimone has more than 18 years of financial analysis, accounting and management experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. She began her career at Deloitte LLP in Boston, where she worked with a variety of public and private audit clients. Ms. DeSimone is a Certified Public Accountant. She is a current member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, MA Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, an organization where she was recognized as a 2012 Rising Star. She received a B.A in Economics-Accounting from the College of the Holy Cross. 


Board of Directors

Joan Abrams, Ph.D.

Joan Abrams has worked for ten years as licensed high school biotechnology teacher committed to engaging students in science and technical and employability skills training. Joan is a demonstrated leader of science education in the classroom, school, and professional community. Over her academic career she has cultivated an extensive network of scientists and industry professionals to design professional development programs. She is a Co-author of Massachusetts Biotechnology Framework, instructor training, and licensure requirements. Joan also has Industry experience working at Genetics Institute (now Pfizer) and Millennium (now Takeda) in protein sciences including formulation and protein purification.

Joan has a B.S. and M.S in Biochemistry and a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Physiology.

Benjamin Benton, Ph.D.

bbBen Benton is Associate Professor of Biology and the Biotechnology Program Coordinator at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester.  As coordinator, Ben has worked closely with MassBioEd and other Massachusetts community colleges to improve biotechnology curriculum to match the skill sets needed by local biotechnology companies as well as working with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education to develop transfer pathways for biology majors between community colleges and public four-year institutions. Additionally, he serves on the advisory board of Worcester Technical High School and has developed articulation agreements between local high schools and the QCC biotechnology program.

Prior to his appointment at QCC, Ben spent over a decade at several small biotechnology companies in the New York and Boston areas directing programs in target validation and drug discovery in the fields of inflammation, diabetes, and cancer.  He received his Ph.D. in Tumor Cell Biology from Northwestern University and did his postdoctoral studies at Osaka University and Rockefeller University on the genetics of yeast cell cycle regulation.  

Lauren Celano

lcLauren Celano is the co-founder and CEO of Propel Careers, a life science search and career development firm focused on connecting talented individuals with entrepreneurial life sciences companies.  Propel works with current leaders and actively cultivates future leaders through full time placement, internships, mentoring, career coaching, and networking.  Propel Careers is engaged  across all areas of life sciences, including therapeutics, medical devices, healthcare IT, diagnostics, consulting, venture capital, and investment banking. Prior to Propel Careers, Lauren was a senior account manager for SNBL USA where she worked with emerging biotech companies in Europe, Asia, and the US to help characterize and advance their drug molecules. Prior to SNBL USA, she held business development positions with Aptuit and Quintiles, where she focused on IND enabling studies to advance therapeutics from discovery into the clinic.  Earlier in her career, Lauren held positions as a marketing manager and account manager at Absorption Systems, where she was responsible for managing life sciences companies in the northeastern United States.  She has a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Gettysburg College and an MBA with a focus in the health sector and entrepreneurship from Boston University.  Lauren serves on the programming committee of the Capital Network. 

William F. Ciambrone

William CiambroneMost recently, Mr. William Ciambrone served as Senior Vice President of Technical Operations at Shire HGT in Lexington, MA.  He is educated in Biology and Environmental Policy from Saint Anslem College  and Brown University.  He has more than 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical, device, and biopharmaceutical industry and served at Shire for over 10 years. 

At Shire, Mr. Ciambrone oversaw the company's regional expansion highlighted by over $470M capital investment and the creation of hundreds of jobs.  As part of that expansion, he worked with Commonwealth and local officials on economic development issues and with local educational institutions on workforce development.  Under his guidance, Shire developed relationships with several area institutions including WPI, Middlesex CC, and Minuteman Tech.

Ryan Cohlhepp, PharmD

rcDr. Cohlhepp is a scientifically trained professional with over 15 years of experience in the biotech and biopharma industry.  He is currently the Senior Vice President of R&D Strategy and Operations for Rheos Medicines, Inc. Ryan recently transitioned from Takeda Oncology where he was Vice President of Marketing, Operations & Analytics, which included responsibility for leading Takeda’s commercial oncology portfolio in the US that included four compounds across various tumor types. Ryan also worked in the Global Development Division for Takeda as a Global Team Leader, overseeing the development of Takeda’s prostate cancer portfolio, in addition to several early stage molecules.  Prior to Takeda, Ryan started his career with Roche Pharmaceuticals (currently Genentech) in their commercial organization. He held positions of increasing responsibility for Roche in both the sales and marketing organizations (U.S. and Global). 

Ryan received his Doctorate of Pharmacy from Purdue University in 2000. He continues his involvement with the University as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council for the College of Pharmacy.  He seeks to contribute to the biotech community to ensure students have ample opportunity to enrich their scientific knowledge, as a passionate advisor and advocate for sciences.

Robert Coughlin

Robert CoughlinRobert Coughlin is President and CEO of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council He is very familiar with all areas of the Massachusetts life sciences super cluster and is a passionate advocate for research and the biotechnology community. Mr. Coughlin has spent his career in both the public and private sectors, most recently serving as Undersecretary of Economic Development within Governor Deval Patrick's administration.  Prior to that, he was elected as State Representative to the 11th Norfolk district for three terms. In the legislature both healthcare and economic development were his priorities. 

In the world of business he specialized in the environmental services industry and moved on to capital management and venture capital.  He has held senior executive positions in both fields.

He is a graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy where he majored in Marine Engineering, and is a Lieutenant in the United States Naval Reserve.

Mr. Coughlin has also been active in the community, having served on the boards of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital. He has served as the honorary chairman of the Great Strides Cystic Fibrosis Walk since 1996.  In years past, he co-chaired the Children’s Hospital Boston signature event, Champions for Children’s.

Debbie Durso-Bumpus

Debbie Durso-BumpusDebbie Durso-Bumpus is the Senior Vice President, Human Resources with Blueprint Medicines.  In this role she has responsibility for defining the organizations human resources strategy.  She manages the overall delivery of human resources services, programs and policies (including workforce planning, employee relations, recruitment/staffing, performance management, leadership and development, compensation, benefits administration and organization development) in support of the organizations goals.  Additionally, Ms. Durso-Bumpus works closely with the Board of Directors, executive and management teams on change management initiatives as the organization experiences significant growth. 

Ms. Durso-Bumpus is involved in many community outreach activities associated with STEM education and served on the Corporate Giving Committee during her tenure as a HR leader at Cubist Pharmaceuticals prior to joining Blueprint Medicines.

In 2013, Ms. Durso-Bumpus received the “Rising Star” award by Healthcare Business Women’s Association. Over the past three years, she has been published in C&EN magazine on multiple articles related to career and employment trends. Ms. Durso-Bumpus earned a B.S. degree in Business Management from Bentley College and continues to be active with Alumni Relations by serving as a Mentor to the Emerging Leaders MBA program. Currently, she is a member of Healthcare Business Women’s Association (HBA), Human Resource Leadership Forum (HRLF) and Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Kristin Goppel

K Goppel

Kristin Powers Goppel is a Senior Program Development Manager for Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Corporate and Professional Education group.  She works closely with WPI faculty and industry partners to identify and develop opportunities for online and customized graduate education in biotechnology, biomedical and chemical engineering and the life sciences.  Prior, as Associate Director of WPI’s Summer Programs, she successfully led WPI’s efforts to build and diversify their pre-collegiate enrichment programs though faculty engagement, strategic programming for girls, need-based tuition-assistance programs, and community and industry partnerships. 

Kristin earned her B.S. in Chemical Engineering cum laude from Cornell University.  She began her engineering career in product design and development at Procter & Gamble and Arthur D. Little Inc. before focusing on her biotechnology interests with roles in process and project design engineering at Anika Therapeutics and Genzyme Corporation. 

Through her collaboration with both industry and higher education, Kristin continues to be an avid supporter of both the life science industry and STEM education for students and professionals.  She serves on the BioTeach Program Steering Committee and as an advisor to WPI’s Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society.

Robert Gottlieb 

rgRobert Gottlieb, who is the Principal at the communications and strategy consulting firm, RMG Associates,  has more than 30 years of experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries as a consultant on strategy and communications, in-house communications director, and journalist. He has substantial experience and a strong track record in work with well over 100 companies and organizations ranging from start-ups in and outside of the U.S. to multi-nationals. Robert and RMG Associates bring particular expertise in corporate positioning, external and internal communications strategy, and preparation for financing and partnering.  He has helped more than 20 clients develop business plans to support venture and public financings.  

Robert co-founded Feinstein Kean Healthcare (now a division of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide), a Massachusetts-based communications and business consulting firm focused exclusively on biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and related healthcare organizations. Robert has been an active member of the biotechnology community in Massachusetts for more than 25 years. Robert served as an advisor to the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council for over 15 years. He also participates as a mentor in MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service and as a member of the Board of Directors of the New England Israel Business Council. 

Robert holds a B.A. degree from Trinity College (Connecticut).

John Hodgman

jSince his retirement in 2001 as President and CEO of the Massachusetts Technology Development Corporation (MTDC), Mr. Hodgman has focused his professional activities on teaching entrepreneurship and assisting nonprofit organizations that deal with education and career development.

Mr. Hodgman is a Professor of the Practice in Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies (ELS) at the Tufts University Gordon Institute. He has taught ELS courses at Tufts since 1997. He also serves with several nonprofit organizations in the following capacities: Governor's STEM Advisory Council, Executive Committee; Board of Directors of the Mass Biotechnology Education Foundation; Board of Directors of JFYNetWorks, Inc.; Board of Trustees of the Brookline Community Foundation; and Board of Overseers of the Brookline Educational Foundation, Inc.

Mr. Hodgman earned a B.A., magna cum laude, from Boston College in 1966 and attended the University of Virginia Law School from 1966 to 1967.  He served in the United States Air Force Reserve from 1967 to 1973.

Melissa Manganello

MM headshot

Melissa Manganello is Senior Director of Strategic Planning at Boston Medical Center. Previously, she held the role of Associate Director of US Corporate Communications at EMD Serono, where she was responsible for positively positioning the company with external and internal audiences, driving the positive reputation of the company through digital, media and advertising support and setting the communications strategy to enable the business to achieve its business and scientific leadership goals.

Prior to joining EMD Serono, Ms. Manganello was the Director of Strategic Communications at Boston Medical Center (BMC), New England’s largest safety-net hospital and trauma center.  At BMC she managed the media relations and internal communications for the hospital and was responsible for developing and implementing broad, pro-active internal and external communications strategies in support of BMC’s key priorities.  Earlier in her career, Ms. Manganello was a Senior Vice President at Rasky Baerlien Strategic Communications, where she managed the firm’s healthcare practice working with a range of high profile healthcare companies and organizations.

A graduate of Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications, Ms. Manganello serves on the Board of Healthworks Community Fitness, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing high-quality fitness opportunities and health education for women and children in low-income neighborhoods to prevent and treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases, improve health and fitness, and promote well-being and empowerment.

Sridaran Natesan, Ph.D.

srDr. Sridaran Natesan is the Vice President of External Innovation and Partnering. He is also a member of the leadership team of the Prospective Strategic Initiative group at Sanofi-aventis. From 2005-2009, he served as the co-leader of the stem cell initiative and Distinguished Scientist at Sanofi-aventis.

Dr. Natesan received his Ph.D degree in Molecular Genetics from the University of Calgary and pursued his post-doctoral work at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories in New York. Dr. Natesan joined Ariad Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, MA in 1994 as a Senior Research Scientist in its Gene Therapy Division. Later, he joined Aventis Pharmaceuticals as a Principal Scientist and led a group focused on cell based screens and stem cell biology. Dr. Natesan is one of the founding members of the Aventis Cambridge Genomics Center and played a key role in the development of the center serving as its Head of the Scientific Programs and as a member of the senior management for several years. He also served as the Head of Molecular Pharmacology at the center during this time.

Dr. Natesan is a member of the Industry Committee of International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR). He is also member of the Outreach committee of the US India Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Natesan is responsible for setting up major academic alliances at Sanofi-aventis alliances including those with MIT and Harvard.

David Reif, Ph.D.

David ReifDr. Reif serves as an Associate Director of Cancer Research at AstraZeneca.  David  received his B.S. in Microbiology from the University of  Michigan, and his Ph.D. in 1990 in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Utah State University in the laboratory of Dr. Steven Aust.  He completed his post-doctoral training with Dr. Roy Simmons at Fisons Pharmaceuticals (a predecessor company to AstraZeneca) in Rochester, NY. Dr. Reif then joined the staff at Fisons where he led drug discovery project teams in the areas of Parkinson’s Disease, ALS, and stroke in addition to leading the biochemistry group. In 2000, he was the first to join a new cancer discovery group within AstraZeneca at their facilities in Waltham. Dr. Reif is currently an Associate Director and Operations Manager within the cancer department and works as a member of the cancer management team in managing the portfolio of novel projects for cancer therapy.

David is also intimately involved in many community outreach activities.  He is a key liaison for AstraZeneca’s involvement with the New England chapter of the American Cancer Society (Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk and the Hope Lodge).  He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Academies of Science as well as the Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation (the last four as Chairman).   He also recently ended 10 yrs of service on the Lunenburg School Committee (7 total years as Chairman).   Dr. Reif lives in Lunenburg, MA with his wife Trish and their three children (two in college and one in high school).

Steven Richter, Ph.D.

srDr. Richter is CSO  at Avista Pharma Solutions (formerly Microtest) Inc. Dr. Richter received his BS/MS degrees from the University of Massachusetts in public health/microbiology and biological sciences. His career in regulatory microbiology commenced with the FDA in Boston. The agency trained Dr. Richter in testing consumer and health care products. He then worked in medical device manufacturing as Vice President of two medical device companies before founding MicroTest in 1984.

Dr. Richter has extensive experience in the fields of regulatory microbiology, laboratory testing, plant auditing, and specification development. He is a committee member of ASTM and AAMI orzanizations as well as membership afficiations with SIM, ASM, ASCP, and AOAC. He has held positions in quality control and regulatory affairs.  His expertise is in regulation areas, such as sterility testing, preservative testing, disinfectant testing, clean rooms, sterilization validation, bioburdens, and toxicology.

Mary Ellen Wiltrout, Ph.D.

mewMary Ellen Wiltrout is the MITx Curriculum Development Specialist//Digital Learning Scientist for the MIT Department of Biology. Mary Ellen completed her undergraduate degree in biological sciences from Carnegie Mellon University and her biology studying translesion synthesis at MIT. From 2009 to 2013, she co-taught the molecular biology course at Harvard University as a preceptor. She also developed several of her own courses at Harvard Extension School.

In 2013, Mary Ellen moved to the Broad Institute to be part of the core group with Michelle Mischke and Brian White to create Eric Lander's MITx course, 7.00x Introduction to Biology - The Secret of Life. Mary Ellen now oversees the execution and evolution of MIT Department of Biology’s digital learning strategy with her group of two postdoctoral scholars along with several graduate and undergraduate contributors. The group develops digital learning content for MIT students and advises evidence-based teaching practices. They also implement these practices in the creation of world-wide bound MITx on edX MOOCs. Mary Ellen’s group completes research on the design of digital learning content as well.