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WIB-San Francisco Bay Area: Aging - New Perspectives, August 29, 2019

Posted By Madhuja Samaddar and Barbara Celona, Monday, September 16, 2019

On August 29, Calico Life Sciences hosted an event featuring a panel discussion on the latest directions in aging research. The panelists included Cynthia Kenyon (Calico Life Sciences), Judith Campisi (Buck Institute on Aging Research) and Danica Chen (UC Berkeley); all leading aging experts from the San Francisco Bay Area research ecosystem. The vibrant discussion was moderated by Elcin Unal from UC Berkeley.

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There were over 75 guests in attendance at this much-anticipated event. Calico generously provided WIB with the use of the event space alongside an array of food and drinks. The program started with an initial networking mixer, followed by the panel discussion which engaged with the very enthusiastic audience. Aging is an inevitable and multifaceted process that affects every individual. Research in this field has gained momentum and relevance in recent years, given that populations around the globe are aging at unprecedented rates. The panelists discussed some of the key discoveries and ideas that shape modern aging research and interventions that have shown promise in delaying the onset of age-associated disease. An important feature of the aging process is its plasticity, and this was discussed in detail. For example, single genes can modulate lifespan, and calorie restriction (CR) extends lifespan and delays age-related diseases in a variety of experimental species. Relatively recent insights from studies involving parabiosis were also discussed. In these studies, the circulatory systems of a young and an old mouse are joined together, and they reveal that circulating factors in young blood are able to ‘rejuvenate’ the older individual, particularly its brain. The panelists also talked about various challenges in aging research including the heterogeneity of aging (between individuals and between organs of the same individual), the need for detailed population-level datasets, and the complexities of following aging longitudinally throughout individual lifetimes. Finally, the ethics of aging research was questioned by the audience: do we really need to extend lifespan and is it ultimately good for human society? The panelists elaborated on the fact that aging research is fundamentally about increasing healthspan (the number of healthy and disease-free years) rather than absolute lifespan. The goal is to add life to years, not years to life!

The discussion continued into the second round of informal networking where attendees could interact with the panelists and mingle with other guests. Overall, it appeared that the guests enjoyed attending the event, making new connections, and engaging in stimulating conversations. A special shout out to Calico for being a wonderful host and to all volunteers at WIB who contributed to making the event so successful!

Tags:  2019 

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WIB-San Francisco Bay Area: Paradigm Shifts in Infectious Diseases, January 10, 2019

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Thursday, August 1, 2019

On January 10, 2019, approximately 70 attendees gathered at the new VIR headquarters and networked for about an hour,  while enjoying a colorful and delicious buffet and drinks generously provided by VIR. After, everyone was seated at small group tables to welcome an impressive panel of experts.

Wonderful moderator, Ann Arvin of VIR and Stanford, introduced the three participating experts from the infectious disease field – Amy Espeseth, who is an Executive Director, ID/Vaccines development at Merck, Myriam Theeuwes, recently at DURECT, with extensive experience in infectious disease compound development, and Sangeeta Bhatia of MIT, where she is leveraging micro and nanotechnologies, to improve medical diagnostics, drug delivery, tissue regeneration, and disease

Attendees were engaged in the discussion. They asked questions about the use of AI and machine learnings in the development of new technologies targeted to tackle the infectious disease outbreaks and mutational potential. Other topics that the audience brought up for discussion were the use of advertising to increase awareness, community engagement in vaccination, and the speed of development and interventions during outbreaks that receive a lot of news attention such as the last Ebola outbreak.

The event focused on the challenges that are converging around the health impact of infectious diseases as it relates to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The discussion commenced by each panelist describing the main challenges they see having the largest impact on the current state of infectious diseases in the world. Topics ranged from novel vaccination technologies involving an innovative delivery of antibodies to the role of public-private partnerships in making infectious disease
interventions available to communities in low resource countries.

The evening continued into a lively, informal networking session where the attendees could personally interact with the panelists and moderator, while mingling with each other. Overall, the evening was very engaging and memorable, thanks to the efforts of our event host and sponsor VIR,  and a wonderful moderator and expert panelists. A special shout out to Eric Schlezinger, Bolyn Hubby, and Ann Arvin for helping organize the event! Many thanks to all volunteers of Women In Bio who worked in the background and to all our attendees for a successful event!

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Tags:  2019 

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EWIB-San Francisco Bay Area - Women on Boards: Tips and Strategies for Being on a Board and Being Effective, May 23, 2019

Posted By Yasmin Chandrashekhar, Kristine Mechem, and Martina Doleshal, Thursday, June 20, 2019

On Thursday May 23, approximately 45 executive women came together to discuss the role of women on corporate boards. The event was hosted by Vir Biotechnology. With the recent passage of legislature in California requiring more female board participation for public companies headquartered in California, this topic was timely and well-received. The evening was focused around a panel discussion. The panel was moderated by Gail Maderis, President and CEO of Antiva Biosciences, Inc and Board Member at NovaBay Pharmaceuticals.   

  • The panel was comprised of women with extensive boardroom experience and included:Grace Colon (President, CEO and Director InCarda Therapeutics, Executive Chairman, ProterixBio, Board Member for Paradigm Diagnostics; Cocoon Biotech; and PerceptiMed, Inc.)
  • Mary Haak-Frendscho (CEO Spotlight Therapeutics, Board member Sirenas; Compugen USA and formerly Northern Biologics_
  • Shehnaaz Suliman (Board member Ultragneyx Pharmaceutical, Inc and Parvus Therapeutics, Inc)


The panelists addressed strategies on how to get on a board and how to be more effective on a board. Feedback that was given included:

  • Reminders that you often need to ask for a seat at the table, don’t assume that they know you are interested in board positions.
  • Suggestions that first time directors should not have expectations around the existing board accommodating you – if it has been all male board in the past, you may need to “go with the flow.”
  • Comments that working on a non-profit board doesn’t always prepare you for a corporate board. Many non-profit board positions are focused around fund raising not the core business of running the company.
  • Importance of networking and remembering other qualified women when an opportunity doesn’t fit your skill set or timeframe.
  • Discussion around boardroom preparation programs with comments that they run the whole gamut and some are more valuable than others. EWIB’s own Boardroom Ready program not only prepares qualified women for board service, it connects you to a cohort of women committed to supporting each other.

EWIB of the San Francisco Bay Area is planning more programs like this as well as networking events for senior leaders. If you are a senior leader and would like to be on the contact list for these invitation only events, please email

Tags:  2019  EWIB 

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WIB-San Francisco Bay Area: New Innovations and Applications for Microbiomes, May 21, 2019

Posted By Marsha Morgenstern, Wednesday, June 12, 2019

On May 21, 2019, WIB-San Francisco Bay Area hosted a much-anticipated panel discussion about the current state of microbiome research and recent innovations and applications at Nektar Therapeutics. This event was attended by more than 40 guests who enjoyed an opportunity to network and listen to a moderator-led discussion with panelists who shared the exciting and challenging aspects of working with the microbiome.  Our distinguished moderator and panelists included Sheila Adams-Sapper from Resilient Biotics, Elisabeth Bik from Habers-Bik LLC, Luisa Chan from Thermo Fisher, Roxana Hickey from Phylagen and Vanessa Ridaura from Verily.  The panel discussion was followed by a stimulating Q & A on the microbiome and its applications.  

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Here is what some of the attendees had to say:

“I liked their enthusiasm!”
“Nice that they were all personable and enthusiastic!  Great role models.”
“Should have had more time for Q & A!”

Tags:  2019 

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WIB-San Francisco Bay Area: Young Women In Bio at the WiSE Fair at the Athenian School in Danville, CA, May 24, 2019

Posted By Leah Makley, Sarah Odeh, and Barbara Troupin, Wednesday, June 5, 2019

On May 24th, YWIB-San Francisco Bay Area volunteers participated in the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Fair at the Athenian School in Danville, CA. This annual, student-organized event encourages students’ interest in STEM fields through a series of booths with hands-on science and engineering activities, a keynote speaker, and a panel discussion from women working in STEM fields.


YWIB had a hands-on activity booth with three different activities. Attendees worked with volunteers to build edible models of DNA, using different colors of candies to represent different nucleotide bases and licorice ropes to represent a double helical backbone. This activity was meant to illustrate base pairing and the structure of DNA, and it was a big hit with the younger attendees. A second activity illustrated chemical polymerization, using Borax and glue to create bouncy balls, which was fun for both the students and their parents. Lastly, students watched the change in color of solutions containing a pH-sensitive universal indicator as a response to their exhaled breaths. The exhaled carbon dioxide slightly lowers the pH of the solution, causing the color change. 


While making bouncy balls or models of DNA, several students also took the opportunity to interact with the YWIB volunteers and get to know them. The students asked thoughtful questions about careers in science, practiced their networking skills, and asked for advice on choosing college majors and even graduate degrees.


The hands-on activities were followed by a keynote address given by Bindu Garapaty of Gilead Sciences, and a panel discussion in which five Bay Area women, including Barbara Troupin, MD, MBA, CMO at ERX Pharmaceuticals and YWIB-SF co-chair, shared insights on their career trajectory and experiences. Both the keynote speaker and the panel members spoke to the importance of mentorship, challenges and disparities women may face in the workplace, and advice on how to navigate difficult situations.


YWIB looks forward to participating in the WiSE Fair again in future years!

Tags:  2019  YWIB 

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WIB-San Francisco: Young Women In Bio - "How to Get into the Brain” - The Science behind Antibody Engineering and Design, April 18, 2019

Posted By Karen Ring and Jennifer Kim , Thursday, May 30, 2019

On April 18, 2019, the San Francisco Bay Area YWIB chapter (led by Jennifer Kim and Yasmin Chandrasekher) hosted an event at Genentech in South San Francisco titled “How to Get into the Brain - The Science Behind Antibody Engineering.” About 40 high school students from all over the Bay Area were in attendance. The event kicked off with an icebreaker where YWIB volunteers walked students through an exercise where they learned about bispecific antibodies and how scientists are using them to develop medicines that can cross the blood brain barrier and be delivered to the brain. The exercise was followed by two brief presentations by Genentech scientists on their protein purification protocols and the applications of these proteins in targeting neurodegenerative diseases. The students also got a tour of the pilot purification plant and the Genentech campus. The event concluded with a panel discussion featuring 10 Genentech employees. They discussed their career paths and gave students advice on how to pursue careers in STEM through internship opportunities, being persistent and staying curious.

“I really enjoyed the Q&A panel and hearing the panelists’ stories helped me realize that there’s not just one set path. I want to start exploring more while I’m still in high school.” - Tina

Tara, a high school senior interested and curious about different areas of science, especially enjoyed the lab tours and getting to learn about the different things that go on in a research lab.

Tags:  2019  YWIB 

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WIB-San Francisco - Taking Your Innovation From Idea to Startup

Posted By Robyn Rosenfeld , Wednesday, May 1, 2019

On April 17, 2019, WIB-San Francisco hosted a panel of three brilliant female entrepreneurs and two investors at Illumina’s Foster City site to talk about how companies evolve from ideas to startups. The event moderator was Tina Amirkiai, M.S. (Public Relations Manager at Illumina) and the speakers included Emma Taylor, M.D. (CEO & Co-founder at Naked Biome), Ridhi Tariyal, M.B.A. (CEO & Co-founder at NextGen Jane), Christine Du, M.B.A. (CBO & Co-founder at Algen Biotechnologies), Amanda Cashin, Ph.D. (Co-founder & Head of Illumina Accelerator), and Melina Mathur, Ph.D. (Principal at Asset Management Ventures).

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The guests and panelists networked over refreshments and the event commenced with a series of introductions and Q&As. 

“How did you find your co-founders and team?”
“What are some hurdles you faced?”
“How do you navigate working with mostly men on your team?”
“What do investors look for when investing in companies?"

These were some the questions that sparked interesting discussions among the panelists, hosts, and attendees. The panelists talked about finding co-founders that complement their skills and personalities, pitching to investors who had a hard time understanding women’s healthcare needs, and much more. 

Of all the lessons and stories shared, one thing was clear: while women are still under-represented at the executive level, we do a great job supporting each other with organizations and events that aim to help women network and make their voices heard. 

If you are interested in learning more about women and entrepreneurship, Ridhi, one the panelists, wrote an insightful article in the Washington Post that relates to her experiences and observations as a female CEO in Silicon Valley.

We would like to thank the event chairs, WIB volunteers, and Illumina for making this event possible! And if you would like to continue networking with other like-minded women who are also in the life sciences field, please be sure to join us at future  WIB events! 

Tags:  2019 

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WIB-San Francisco: YWIB Comparative Anatomy at ViewPoint Therapeutics, April 12, 2019

Posted By Leah Makley, Tuesday, April 16, 2019
On April 12, 2019, ViewPoint Therapeutics hosted a small group of five high school students from Capuchino High School. The students were referred by their science teachers as being highly interested and talented in different aspects of science. The event started with a lunch and a series of introductions and Q&As about ViewPoint’s research. Then, the students spent about two and a half hours in the ViewPoint lab facility, dissecting a bovine eye, rabbit eye, and porcine heart. Each student was able to dissect her own tissue with guidance from volunteers at ViewPoint and YWIB. Students identified various parts within the ocular anatomy and compared the sizes of different structures between the rabbit and the bovine eye, and further discussed the differences in visual requirements for each species. Next, students learned how to dissect the porcine heart, identifying the ventricles, atria, valves, and the major artery and vein. The event concluded with an orientation and tour and of ViewPoint’s laboratory facility, where the students learned about the different pieces of equipment and how they are used to conduct research.

Tags:  2019  YWIB 

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WIB-San Francisco: YWIB AVID Mock Career Fair 2019 at Mountain View/Los Altos High School, January 20, 2019

Posted By Xuejing Chen. , Monday, April 15, 2019

On Jan 30, 2019, Mountain View and Los Altos High School held their annual mock career fair for around 150 junior and senior students in the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Development) program. Three volunteers representing Women In Bio participated in the event.

The AVID program aims to serve highly motivated, under-resourced students, many of whom are immigrants or would be the first generation in their families to go to college. The program provides exposure to students, who don't have the means otherwise, to see the scope and variety of diversity, skill sets, educational pathways and mindsets needed for today's jobs.

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Prior to the event, the students learned how to prepare resumes and research the companies with help from the teachers. At the career fair, the students were expected to act professional, present their interests and goals, as well as ask the recruiters relevant questions, just like a real career fair. The volunteers, in turn, acted as recruiters and gave students feedback on their resume and advice on their goals. The students were then introduced to various types of jobs from ten different organizations, including biotech jobs represented by WIB volunteers. The professionals were impressed by the students’ accomplishment, enthusiasm, and dedication to their goals. The event was a great success that helped the students to practice talking to professionals and prepare for future interviews.

Student Testimonial

Through this experience, I learned the importance of eye contact and body language and how those little things can make a huge impact on one's first impression. This was an amazing opportunity to talk to professionals in various workforces that will help me with my future interviews and elevator pitches. Each individual had a unique personality and way of communicating that was very welcoming and helped to create a comfortable environment. Thank you!

Tags:  2019  YWIB 

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WIB-San Francisco: (YWIB) June Jordan High School visits Amgen, March 20, 2019

Posted By Xuejing Chen, Tuesday, April 9, 2019

On March 20th 2019, fifteen 10th grade students from June Jordan High School visited Amgen to learn about careers in biotechnology.

June Jordan is a small underserved public high school in San Francisco with a high percentage of minority students. Young Women In Bio (SF) has been making an effort to reach more underserved students and this event was a perfect opportunity to connect the local community to the booming biotech industry in their backyard. The students had not visited any companies before, and the amazing volunteers with Amgen’s WE2 organized a fun and informative event to introduce the students to STEM careers.

The event kicked off with an introduction to biotechnology and Amgen. The presenting volunteer also talked about her own journey from school to industry, and her transition from science to business development, showcasing the possibilities in the STEM field.

Another scientist introduced the concept of diffusion and osmosis in a lively presentation. Then the students observed plant cells under microscopes and watched the live cells change shapes through osmosis.

Next the students toured the offices and labs, observed fluorescent cells on a high content imaging microscope, and they even got to practice using different pipets like real scientists! Finally, the students sat down to have lunch and continued to chat with the professionals.

We are very excited to connect with the students who normally have few opportunities like this and show them how diverse and interesting STEM careers can be. Despite not having a deep background in biology, the students were engaged and the activities sparked their interest. We thank the Amgen volunteers for planning such a wonderful event, CLSI for connecting YWIB with the schools, and the June Jordan teachers for making the event possible!



Tags:  2019  YWIB 

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