TechSandBox: MetroWest Innovation Hub 


Life Sciences SIG
3rd Monday of the Month, unless there's a holiday.  Networking and registration at 5:30p with program proceedings 6:30p to 8:30pm. $25 early bird/ $30 until day before program/ $35 day of or at door. Includes food. Members are admitted free.

Our life sciences special interest group includes medical devices, cell biology, bio tech, pharmaceutical development, medical imaging and e-healthcare and a nice group of people.

February 27: The Human Micro biome - I Contain Multitudes

Over 150 years ago, Walt Whitman captured the timeless observation: 'I contain multitudes,' in his first edition of Leaves of Grass. Little could he have imagined the deep biological truth his commentary on the American condition would foreshadow.

Today new advances in molecular and cellular biologies along with high-fidelity sequencing methods have allowed us to begin to catalog the zoo of organisms that co-inhabit our bodies. These organisms are not coded by the human genome yet play profound roles in determining our health, well-being and medical responses. A co-evolutionary manifold of interactions has led to a dynamic world of life within us.

We as humans have just over 20,000 expressed genes. Come hear our panel of experts discuss the latest understandings of this fascinating microcosm in terms of nutrition, disease, healthcare and personalized medicines. The significance of these early findings might stand as being as important as germ theory developed in Whitman's era as Ed Young's recent book, I Contain Multitudes, has become to us and our descendents today.


  • Shrish Budree, MD MBChB DCH FCPeds, currently pursuing his PhD
  • George "Buzz" Kenney, PhD, President & CEO - EntraTympanic
  • Beth A. McCormick, Ph.D., Vice Chair, and Founding Executive Director, University of Massachusetts Center for Microbiome Research
  • David A. Sela, PhD, UMass-Amherst

Moderated by Mark Hediger, PhD

Dr. Shrish Budree   George Kinney  David Sela   Dr Beth McCormick


Shrish Budree, MD MBChB DCH FCPeds, OpenBiome, is a pediatrician and pediatric gastroenterologist from South Africa and is currently pursuing his PhD. His research is focused on the role of the intestinal microbiome in childhood disease. He completed his medical, pediatric and pediatric gastroenterology training at the University of Cape Town and the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in South Africa. He worked as a research fellow for a year on a large Gates Foundation funded pediatric cohort study based in Cape Town, South Africa. He was then awarded the Discovery Foundation research fellowship with the aim to learn how to conduct computational analysis of the intestinal microbiome and spent a year in the Xavier microbiome laboratory at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT in Boston. His interest in fecal microbiome transplantation stems from both his clinical gastroenterology background and his current microbiome research and he is enthusiastic to pursue further research in this exciting field.

David A. Sela, PhD - UMass-Amherst, runs a research group investigates molecules secreted in breast milk that are not directly digested by the infant. Instead these exogenous molecules (e.g. glycans) direct the establishment and function of the infant microbiota. Thus a central thrust of the Sela Lab's research mission examines the ecological interactions between microbiota and their host in response to shifts to dietary molecules. In addition, Dr. Sela is interested in translating fundamental science to deliver and optimize molecules to manipulate one's microbiome at several stages of development. Ultimately, Dr. Sela’s lab seeks to characterize the molecular mechanisms underlying host-microbial interactions to enhance human health through nutritional interventions.

Beth A. McCormick, PhD - UMass Medical School, is Professor and Vice Chair and Founding Executive Director of the University of Massachusetts Center for Microbiome Research. Her academic career has been dedicated to gastrointestinal research and she has made seminal contributions toward the understanding of how enteric bacteria (commensal, pathogenic, or probiotic) colonize the intestine and interact with the host. Dr. McCormick’s work provided the first evidence that epithelial cells in response to pathogen contact orchestrate a pro-inflammatory program, which recruits inflammatory cells. She has since identified new, previously unidentified and unexpected virulence mechanisms that are key to the inflammatory response, leading to both novel biological principles of host-microbe interactions and therapeutic intervention strategies for the treatment inflammatory bowel disease, and cancer. Research programs in Dr. McCormick’s are focused on Mucosal inflammation, cancer biology, and host:microbe interactions (including microbiome sciences). Her research interest in the microbiome field is centered on understanding the role of the intestinal microbiota in autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel disease. 

George "Buzz" Kenney, PhD is a serial entrepreneur and technologist, and currently the Co-Founder and President of EntraTympanic, LLC. He brings to the medical device and life science ecosystem decades of advanced materials, high tech and engineering experience at MIT and industry in developing innovative technologies and platforms. Buzz has led the development of many domestic and international partnerships, collaborations and strategies to finance R&D and its translation to commercial applications and products. His attention is currently directed to the innovative development and application of technology to address unmet medical needs, especially in underserved areas of healthcare with oversized potential for positive health benefits and economic impact. Buzz launched his first corporate start-up before graduating from MIT and has been involved in numerous startups as a co-founder, officer, advisor, mentor and director.

Educated at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he earned a BS, MS, and ScD in materials science and engineering while minoring in both economics and law. Upon graduation, Buzz remained at MIT as the co-founder of the interdisciplinary Materials Processing Center (MPC), NASA’s first sponsored Center of Excellence, where he served as its Associate Director until 2008, as well as the Director of both the MPC’s international Industry Collegium and Summer Internship Program. He is also a co-founder MIT’s Microphotonics Center and served as its Associate Director until 2008.

As a Founding Member of the Canadian Entrepreneurs in New England (CENE) in Boston, Buzz is directly involved in its programs to provide Canadian companies and entrepreneurs with directed access to the Boston and US technology and business biotope. This includes the introductory 48 Hours in the Hub program, Canadian Technology Accelerator residency program and as a Member of the Steering Committee for its Canadian Mentor Service. Additional details on the CENE are available at www.TheCENE.Org.

Most recently, Buzz is a Founding Principal of Great Dome Associates, a cohort of MIT alumni with decades of hands-on experience in innovation and entrepreneurship with small, medium and large companies. For additional details, see

EntraTympanic is focused on the later with an alternative treatment for middle ear infections which currently account for more than 50% of all pediatric and adolescent antibiotic prescriptions.  This would greatly mitigate both antibiotic resistance and disruption of the microbiome with a direct impact on the incidence of allergies, asthma, autism, obesity, Type I & II diabetes, colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and other inflammatory and neurological conditions.

CRL Sponsors TechSandBox CRO ProgramCRL Sponsors TechSandBox CRO Program is Sponsoring this Program

March 20: CRO Panel: Merger Mania & Emerging Biopharma (click link to register)

With the more recent consolidation trends in CRO/CMO (contract research and contract manufacturing) suppliers, the landscape is rapidly changing and so the relationships between the parties must adjust. 

As CROs consolidate and the small specialty providers become absorbed inside the much bigger organizations, the question is whether they will be able to be as responsive to their startup/smaller/virtual biotech clients as they are to their big pharma clients.

If you are considering launching a biotech, seeking new sourcing resources, or want to better understand how to orchestrate one or more service providers to conduct critical and complicated R&D projects, please join us and actively participate in our dialogue. 

We have gathered a cross-section of biopharma and CRO representatives that have a front seat and a vested interest in how this scenario will play out. 

Talking Points Include:

  • With these consolidation trends, will service, quality and pricing change? improve?
  • How can a smaller or virtual biopharma firms get the same level of attention and high quality support as big pharma?
  • Who do you turn to for complicated and challenging projects that cross areas of specialty?
  • How do you handle tech transfer from one CRO to another? 
  • How do you learn about the various CRO service offerings and select the one(s) that best fit?
  • What are your biggest frustrations and challenges?  What are the solutions to make these complicated situations from both sides easier and more productive?

Panel organized and led by Shelley Amster:

  • Jeffrey P Kiplinger, Ph.D., General Manager, Averica Discovery, V.P. of Science and Innovation, Neopharm Lab
  • Philip Lambert, PhD, Senior Director, Head of Discovery, Charles River Laboratories
  • Michael G. Palfreyman, PhD, DSc, SVP Drug Development, Aminex Therapeutics, Inc. and Chief Scientific Office, Amorsa Therapeutics, Inc.
  • Vipula Tailor, CEO and Founder, Azure8
  • Paul Wengender, CEO, Crow's Nest Bio

   Paul Wengender  Vipula Tailor   Michael Palfreyman  Phil Lambert, CRL  Jeff Kipplinger


Dr. Kiplinger has over 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, initially as a mass spectrometrist and analytical chemist at Pfizer and later as a strategic consultant to startup discovery organizations.  He is founder and CEO of Averica Discovery Services, an analytics Contract Research Organization (CRO) in Boston.  Averica was acquired by Neopharm Labs (Blainville, QC) in 2016, and Dr. Kiplinger serves as Neopharm’s Vice President of Science and Innovation as well as General Manager of Averica.

Dr. Kiplinger received his PhD in Organic Chemistry at Indiana University, and carried out postdoctoral research at the University of North Carolina and Ohio State University.  In 1988 he joined Pfizer in Groton Connecticut, leaving in 1998 to found the Gilson CIDT technical center.  After consulting with a number of pharmaceutical companies and entrepreneurs, he founded Averica in 2007.  Dr. Kiplinger has published over 30 research papers, in addition to several articles on high-throughput technologies and laboratory form and function.  He has a strong interest in science and entrepreneurship.

Phil Lambert, PhD is the Senior Director of Pharmacology at Charles River Massachusetts in Shrewsbury, MA and has over 25 years of experience in drug discovery and development. He brings expertise in efficient and predictive preclinical drug discovery to his role. Prior to joining Charles River, Phil co-founded and was Chief Scientific Officer at VivoPath; a contract research organization focused on in vivo proof of concept in metabolic and inflammatory disease. In both small and large pharmaceutical organizations, Phil has led in vivo pharmacology groups responsible for both in house and external drug discovery and development. He has built teams and screening programs which have effectively moved compounds through preclinical proof of concept and into the clinic. Phil has held positions at Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, Forum Pharmaceuticals, ALS Therapy Development Institute, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, GSK and Parke Davis. Phil received his Ph.D. in neuroendocrinology from Imperial College, University of London and was a faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry at Emory University School of Medicine.

Michael G. Palfreyman, PhD, DSc, President,  Palfreyman BioPharma Consulting  is a seasoned leader in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries with over four decades’ experience in leadership positions. He specializes in leading and guiding life sciences companies regarding their R&D strategy, financing, BD&L activities and product development and is President, Palfreyman BioPharm Advisors, LLC.  In this capacity, Michael serves as Chief Scientific Officer at Amorsa Therapeutics, Inc., and Chairman of the SAB at Aminex Therapeutics, Inc.  In addition, he is a Director of Oculogics, Inc and a Member of the Patent Review Board, Forsyth Dental Institute. He also serves as Senior R&D Diligence at Torrey Pines Investment & at ChemRar; as well as Scientific Advisor for Mak Sciences, Inc. NeurAegis, Inc., NeuroNascent, Inc., and Jasco Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 

Michael is a Fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and his passion lies in the CNS field where he has contributed to, and overseen several research programs in Psychiatric and Neurological Diseases.  He has also lead R&D programs in Cardiovascular, Cancer, Infectious, Metabolic and Respiratory Disorders.

Michael has previously held several key roles from Chairman of the Board, President & CSO, SVP R&D,  to Head of Biotechnology licensing, in successful Biotech and Pharmaceutical companies, such as Amakem, NV, Ophthakem, NV;  Chemical Diversity, Inc, Vitruvean, LLC, EnVivo (Forum) Pharmaceuticals, Inc., NOVACE Corporation, Psychiatric Genomics, Inc., Scriptgen (Anadys) Pharmaceuticals, Inc., as well as Marion Merrell Dow Research Institute (now Sanofi) and Beecham Pharmaceuticals (now Glaxo Smith Kline).

Michael’s own research included discovery and development of a number of psychotherapeutic compounds for treatment of psychosis, depression, stroke, epilepsy, emesis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases. Many of these compounds, including early work on cannabinoid derivatives have entered clinical development and a number have reached the marketplace. Michael is a co-inventor on 43 issued patents and co-author of more than 150 publications.

Michael holds a D.Sc. (1996) in rational design of CNS drugs; a Ph.D. (1970) degree in Neuroscience and Neuropharmacology, as well as a B.Pharm (Magna cum Laude, 1967 in Pharmacy), and MRPharmS (Pharmacy Practice, 1971), all from the University of Nottingham, UK.

Vipula Tailor, President & CEO at Azure8, is an executive and entrepreneur with over 18 years of international business development, licensing, R&D and commercialization experience in biotech, pharmaceuticals, medical devices/diagnostics, and healthcare areas. Trained Immunologist with deep expertise in strategic and operational aspects of drug discovery and development, and in forging successful, synergistic partnerships worldwide. Proven track record in developing new businesses, implementing processes, and delivering product innovation. Held Senior leadership positions at Pfizer (Wyeth), Johnson and Johnson, Merck, GSK and Vertex. She has closed highly visible deals including M&A's and managed complex collaborations with both large and small biotechnology companies, fostered strategic partnerships to deliver business results. Passionate about improving patient health and experience of care by developing holistic medical solutions, providing access to medicines and quality care, and fostering sustainable innovations. Lived and worked in the USA, UK, Germany and India.

Paul Wengender is a scientist-turned-entrepreneur and CRO leader.  He has managed external relationships as a lab manager and outsourcing coordinator at Pfizer and is the Founder of Blue Sky (now Lake Pharma), an early discovery CRO, and has recently supported business development at other early drug discovery CROs such as Strategia and Beryllium.  Paul has been Founder and CEO of Crows Nest Bio (a consulting firm) since June 2014.

Committee: Jerry Shapiro & Barbara Finer, co-chairs, Mark Hediger, Carmel Denis, Howard Lin, Bruce Rogers

    Medical Devices, to Biotech, to Pharma and Cell Biology, to eMR, imaging, medical robotics, 510K, FDA   Jerrold Shapiro, PhD FemMedical 
Carmel Denis, Medical Device project managemet   Mark Hediger, MEH  Howard Lin   Bruce ROgers, PhD          



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