Meet the BioEntrepreneurship PhD Cohort

Meet the BioEntrepreneurship PhD Cohort

Entrepreneurship at Cornell is excited to introduce the inaugural cohort of PhD students and postdocs who have been selected to participate in the BioEntrepreneurship Initiative. Over the course of a year, the BioEntrepreneurship Fellows will take part in a series of workshops and projects bridging Cornell’s campuses in Ithaca and New York City that will prepare them to lead New York State’s next generation of life science startups.  

Life science researchers (specifically doctoral candidates and postdocs) were recruited from across Cornell’s colleges, including Weill Cornell Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Engineering, and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, as well as Cornell’s Tri-Institutional partner, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. As participants in the initiative, Fellows will complement the workshops and projects with other entrepreneurship, leadership, and business courses, earning them a certificate from the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. The program is funded through Empire State Development and administered by JGSM and the Center for Regional Economic Advancement

A key feature of the initiative is the pairing of these fellows with members of the MBA BioEntrepreneurship Fellow cohort to create teams to immerse themselves in real-world startup design. Fellows will gain experience in venture design, industry structure, regulation, market entry tactics, and conduct significant customer discovery. Fellows will also hone their ability to tell the story of their customer and technology, enabling them to seek partners, investors, workers, and grants.. The program concludes with a final presentation and business pitch to a curated group of investors, partners, and advisors in March 2023. 

“The sheer number, quality, and diversity of the applicants to the BioEntrepreneurship Initiative highlights the incredible potential for impact of Cornell researchers to lead innovation in the life sciences for years to come,” said program director Gregory Ray. “The Fellows that made the cut are elite in the lab and are driven to play a role in delivering the fruits of their research in a way that touches lives beyond those who read their papers. I am keen to work with each Fellow to help them build a foundation to change the world.” 

Meet the 2022 BioEntrepreneurship Fellows:  

  • Alexandra Khlyustova, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, PhD candidate 
  • Anthony D’Amato, Biomedical Engineering, Post-Doctoral Fellow 
  • Behrooz Azimzadeh, Crop and Soil Sciences, PhD candidate 
  • Bryce Brownfield, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, PhD candidate 
  • Darius Fox, Molecular Nutrition, PhD Candidate 
  • David Specht, Biological and Environmental Engineering, Post-Doctoral Fellow 
  • Ellen Horste, Biomedical Sciences, PhD candidate 
  • Faith Carter, Nutritional Sciences, PhD candidate 
  • Gabriel Schuler, Microbiology, PhD candidate 
  • Jiacheng (Coco) Liu, Biological and Biomedical Sciences, PhD candidate 
  • Malwina Tuman, Psycho-Oncology, Post-Doctoral Fellow   
  • Milad Pourbaghi, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Senior Post-Doctoral Fellow 
  • Sabyasachi Dash, Central Nervous System Pathology, Post-Doctoral Fellow 
  • Sangwoo (Steven) Park, Biophysics, PhD candidate 
  • Sarah Ward, Center for Technology Licensing (CTL), Post-Doctoral Innovation Fellow 
  • Shagun Gupta, Computational Biology, PhD candidate 
  • Stephen Nowak, Center for Technology Licensing (CTL), Post-Doctoral Innovation Fellow 
  • Vidushi Durani, Cancer Biology, PhD candidate  
  • Xiaojing Ma, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, PhD candidate 
  • Zijian Wang, Civil and Environmental Engineering, PhD candidate     

“I have been interested in entrepreneurship since high school when I started to take my first business classes,” said Alexandra Khlyustova. “Joining the BioEntrepreneurship Initiative is a great opportunity for me to learn how to commercialize my research ideas, network and build connections through the customer discovery process, and learn more from other researchers/MBA students in the program!” 

Follow along with the progress of the BioEntrepreneurship Initiative cohort on the Entrepreneurship at Cornell website.