In this article we want to highlight entrepreneurs and innovators who represent some of the brightest minds in the biotech space. Included are founders and CEOs of small, mid-sized, and large companies.

If you have your own picks you'd like to add, please tell us in the comments.

This article is part of a series about the changemakers in the biotech space. Stay tuned!

Sandra Shpilberg

CEO & Co-Founder of Adnexi

Sandra Shpilberg

A serial entrepreneur, biotech executive and active investor, with M&A experience, Sandra Shpilberg brings an entrepreneurial mindset to all she does. She's currently the Founder, CEO and Board Director at Sanaby Health SPAC, a special purpose acquisition company devoted to accelerating healthcare innovation to benefit patients. She's also the CEO & Co-Founder of Adnexi, a key opinion leader discovery platform for biopharma.

In 2015, Shpilberg founded Seeker Health®, a breakthrough patient finding platform. The company grew rapidly to serve 60+ biopharmaceutical companies with clinical trial enrollment, while revenue doubled and profit tripled each year. In 2018, EVERSANA®, a large life sciences services conglomerate, acquired Seeker Health for an undisclosed sum. Morgan Stanley recognized Seeker Health as a Healthcare Innovator in its 2019 report “Incubators of Innovation."

Q: What motivated you to get started with Adnexi?

I started Adnexi because I saw another problem slowing down treatment development, which was begging for a technology solution. The problem is that biotech companies often struggle to discover, connect and manage relationships with researchers and clinicians that could accelerate treatment development, especially when it comes to rare diseases. I saw the opportunity to use technology to build a platform that would search, find, organize and track data on these key clinicians. With Adnexi, biotech companies immediately gain access to the universe of researchers and clinicians for a given disease and obtain detailed profiles that include published scientific papers, clinical trials, NIH grants, and even payments received.

Q: What are your goals for the future?

My goals for the future are to continue to use problem solving, efficiency tools and technology to improve health outcomes around the world. I believe that when individuals become healthy - of body, mind and spirit - their communities become healthy too. To this extent, I'm currently working on Sanaby Health SPAC to accelerate health innovation and impact through expert management and efficient funding.

Nivatha Balendra

CEO and Founder of Dispersa

Nivatha Balendra

Nivatha Balendra started the research at the heart of Dispersa at the age of 17 after being motivated to find an enviromentally-friendly solution to oil contamination. She was inspired to start this work after the Lac-Megantic train crash in which millions of gallons of oil were spilled into the rural town. Nivatha collected soil samples across Montreal and began developing her research at L’Institut national de la recherche scientifique. Her work has garnered numerous scientific awards internationally and she is recognized as a sustainable leader for her work. She has also shared her work and passion for science as a keynote speaker on various stages, such as TEDx and MUSE.

Nivatha has always had one goal with her research: to develop it into a solution that can benefit society. With this in mind, she founded Dispersa in November 2018.

Q: What motivated you to get started with Dispersa?

Dispersa stemmed from my passion to create impactful solutions using science. When I was 17, I started a project for my local science fair after hearing about a local oil spill, the Lac Megantic train crash in 2013. This inspired me to delve into my science project to find sustainable remediation methods for contaminated sites using microbiology. Through this project, I learnt about microbes and these interesting soapy compounds they produce, known as biosurfactants. What started off as a science fair project turned into something much more than I could have imagined. This research is now at the heart of Dispersa and my motivation is to create an impactful and sustainable difference across industries using our technology.

Q: What are your goals for the future?

I'm excited for what the years to come hold for Dispersa! We're in the process of scaling up our production process and launching pilot projects with our very first partners. I look forward to continue building Dispersa with my team and harnessing our sustainable technology to deliver nature-based solutions across diverse industries, starting with that of consumer packaged goods.

Dr. Theanne Schiros

Co-founder and the Chief Science Officer of Werewool

Dr. Theanne Schiros

Theanne Schiros, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at FIT and a Research Scientist at Columbia University. She is a co-founder and the Chief Science Officer of Werewool, women-owned, and women led biotech start-up developing biodegradable textile fibers with DNA-programmed color and performance. Her research focuses on development and characterization of advanced materials for climate action, including clean energy technology and biodegradable performance textiles. Schiros’ research has been recognized with international awards, including the 2017 National Geographic Chasing Genius Award (Sustainable Planet-Algiknit), the 2018 Postcode Lottery Green Challenge (Algiknit), and the 2020 Global Change Award (Werewool).

Q: What motivated you to get started with Werewool?

Werewool originally came together in the 2018 Biodesign Challenge, specifically the Stella McCartney/PETA challenge for animal free wool. Chui, Valentina and Morgana, FIT students at the time, joined the program, which I was running at the time, which led us to explore the tools of synthetic biology to create new materials. Together we discovered a whole new world - a world of engineered proteins, building blocks of life that not only self assemble to create things, but also have  properties  like waterproof and UV protection, fluorescence, color.

All the performance and aesthetic properties we want our clothes to have,  currently provided by  synthetic fibers, toxic dyes and finishing agents, can be found in nature, without the environmental impacts.  We were fascinated by the possibilities to design biodegradable, performance textiles at the DNA-level - stretch without plastic and color without toxic dyes! Two years of R&D later, our team won the 2020 H&M Foundation’s Global Change Award, and Werewool the company was born!  Werewool technology mimics the aesthetic and performance properties of proteins found in nature and applies this to create, colorful, performance textile fibers for a circular lifecycle.

Q: What are your goals for the future?

Werewool’s goal is to replace resource intensive synthetics that cause microplastic pollution, and eliminate the toxic water and chemical textile dyeing and finishing processes that the fashion industry is currently relying on. Our big milestone this year is to deliver a fiber with the requisite textile properties to impact the performance apparel industry. Apart from that we want to continue growing as a company and in the coming years we hope to launch a capsule collection with an athletic apparel brand. We’re thinking hot pink biodegradable fluorescent yoga pants or sneakers!

Magda Marquet

Co-founder of ALMA Life Sciences, LLC

Magda Marquet

Dr. Magda Marquet is an award winning serial entrepreneur in life sciences. She is the co-founder of ALMA Life Sciences, LLC, an early stage investment firm creating and growing innovative healthcare companies. She is also the co-founder of AltheaDX, a commercial stage, precision medicine company with the world’s leading pharmacogenomics test for anxiety and depression. Dr. Marquet co-founded Althea Technologies and led the company to become a leader in the field and a highly profitable, commercial company. As a result, she guided Althea to a successful acquisition by Ajinomoto, a global Japanese company and leader in amino acid technology. 

Q: What motivated you to get started with ALMA Life Sciences?

My passion for entrepreneurship and a way to give back to the community by providing funding and guidance to new ventures. ALMA Life Sciences, LLC is an investment firm whose mission is to create and nurture conscious healthcare businesses. We gravitate towards great science, and inspired leaders who dream of bettering the world through innovation. Our success is defined by the impact we are having in global human health and wellbeing.

Q: What are your goals for the future?

Continue to be engaged in life sciences and the creation of new ventures that make a difference in human health and wellbeing.

Dr. Anthony Osei Boateng

Founder & CEO of An & An Global Limited

Dr. Anthony Osei Boateng

Dr. Anthony Osei Boateng, PhD is the Founder / CEO of London-based biotech start-up An & An Global, which is employing cutting-edge technology to help Doctors prescribe medication to patients based on their genetic outlook to help reduce side-effects significantly. His company promotes the global development and application of eco-friendly biotechnology in developing countries. An & An is also helping in the roll-out of affordable and highly sensitive COVID-19 lateral flow tests in numerous African countries. Anthony is a Fellow of UK’s Higher Education Academy, with PhD in Biomedical Science from University of Westminster where he is currently a Visiting Lecturer and MSc in Pharmaceutical Science from London Metropolitan University. He has over 10 years’ experience in medical research, having worked as a Clinical Pathology Researcher at Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research on malaria research projects in collaboration with New York University, Harvard University and Yale University.

Q: What motivated you to get started with An&An Global?

We began this London-based biotech start-up An & An Global (short for Anthony and Angelina (wife and co-founder)) with the vision of a world in which medication and treatments would be gene-specific and tailored to the genetic outlook of patients. Our primary aim is to create biotechnology which will help in the design and prescription of medication which are most effective and have reduced side-effects because of being tailored genetically to patients. An & An Global believes in collective global efforts for solving global healthcare problems. We believe that our diversity makes us stronger; so we also help globally in the production of high-quality medication which is affordable for low-income families through the use of cutting-edge technology, skill and expertise in drug manufacturing.

Q: What are your goals for the future?

An & An Global is proud to be part of a multi-million-pound project to facilitate the construction of Ghana’s first sustainable and eco-friendly pharmaceutical factory powered by 500 acres of solar energy together with our international partners. In 2021 we also signed a joint venture partnership with a pharmaceutical company in Ghana to support them technically and financially to produce high-quality affordable medicines in Ghana and Nigeria. For the future we aim to expand such similar ventures in other countries to expand our global reach. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also pivoted to developing highly accurate low-cost lateral flow test kits which we hope to expand on for the future. Still on rapid test kits, we are also developing a novel acute kidney injury biomarker detection kit with our partners in UK and Germany and malaria rapid detection test kits too.

In response to the COVID-19, pandemic, my wife and I through our Foundation (Anthony & Angelina Osei Boateng Foundation) are launching the 1 Million Biographies Project. Many of the older generation have sadly passed away during this pandemic without having their biographies and life experiences written as a legacy for this younger generation. Our project aims to freely record and publish the biographies of ordinary people in UK, USA and worldwide aged 70 years and above to enable the younger generations to learn from their life experiences.

Caroline H. Beckman

Founder & CEO of Nouri

Caroline H. Beckman


Caroline Beckman is the founder and CEO of Nouri, a probiotics company with a mission to bring community and immunity together by delivering Gut Health solutions to the commercial market.

Q: What motivated you to get started with Nouri?

The world is transitioning to proactive, versus reactive, health. I dropped out of college after joining a fledgling juice company and ended up segueing straight into a career creating consumer packaged goods in the health and wellness industry. The more I learned about human health, the clearer it became that gut health is the cornerstone overall wellbeing: 70% of your immune system—in other words, 70% of the immune cells in your body—is located in your gut. The more I learned about gut health, the more I realized how limited the market was in terms of high-quality products available to the average consumer.

Nouri was created to advance the world’s transition to proactive health by creating innovative products that deliver essential gut and immune solutions. Early on, we began studying the science behind existing market offerings and identified a number of opportunities for disruption.

Our team at Nouri has thus far created gut health solutions in various delivery formats, including supplements and and ready-to-drink beverages, and has launched products with national retailers such as Whole Foods Market.

Q: What are your goals for the future?

Nouri’s future will be built around combining advancements in science with consumer functionality. Our research and learning to date has proven that consumers are interested in and committed to taking personal responsibility for their health. Nouri’s role is to deliver the most important and helpful science in delicious, understandable, and affordable products.

In the very near future, we’ll be launching the most functional gut health beverage on the market: Inner Immune. Inner Immune will combine novel Immunobiotics that are clinically shown to reduce upper respiratory tract infections and illnesses brought on when the body is under stress with vitamins and minerals to that proactively support the immune system.

Dr. Molly Morse

CEO and co-founder of Mango Materials

Dr. Molly Morse

Dr. Molly Morse is the CEO and co-founder of Mango Materials, a San Francisco Bay Area-based start-up company that uses methane gas to feed bacteria that manufacture a biopolymer. Molly received her Ph.D. in Civil & Environmental Engineering–with an emphasis on anaerobic biodegradation of biocomposites for the building industry–from Stanford University, and her B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University. Dr. Morse has contributed to multiple patents, publications and presentations.  Along with other Mango Materials team members, she is currently working to up-scale the technology of using methane gas to produce environmentally friendly materials.

Q: What motivated you to get started with Mango Materials?

I have always loved the ocean and been concerned about the pollution of plastics. My PhD focused on biodegradation of materials, so addressing persistent and polluting materials is something I have been passionate about my whole career.

Q: What are your goals for the future?

To scale our technology and be able to offer the everyday consumer an alternative to polluting plastics.

Cynthia and Chip Paul

Co-founders of GnuPharma

Cynthia and Chip Paul

Cynthia and Chip Paul are co-founders of Oklahomans For Health, the organization that twice petitioned the State of Oklahoma for medical cannabis, earned the ballot, and is the proponent of SQ788. They toured the country actually applying for medical cannabis cards in other states, and also studied the shortcomings of medical marijuana laws in other states. This led to many progressive and forward thinking ideas which have been written into the potential new law.

Further, as a sideways result of research they conducted for founding Oklahomans for Health and for helping to write the law, the Paul's discovered some very profound things regarding the internal system that medical cannabis effects, something called the endocannabinoid system. These discoveries are being developed in a company Cynthia and Chip founded called GnuPharma.

GnuPharma is studying ways to affect the endocannabinoid system using plant based flavonoids from very simple and common herbs.

Q: What motivated you to get started with GnuPharma?

GnuPharma began with my husband and I's activist journey in Oklahoma. In 2014, we began the medical marijuana movement and when we did we formed a group called Oklahomans for Health and wrote a petition called SQ788, we literally helped write the law! During this journey we started researching and learning about medical marijuana and discovered the system that it affects called the Endocannabinoid System. We reached out to major universities to let them know what we are learning and the only one that was receptive to our information was University of Mississippi, they are the leaders in natural products research so it was a perfect match. We added a fella named Dr, David Colby a Pharm D professor and researcher, he is our science advisor and colleague for Chip. I cannot take credit for all the science that was my husband Chip Paul, but we did form a company around his discoveries called GnuPharma. GnuPharma is a research, development, and engineering company which has patented science specializing in natural products which, by modulating the Endocannabinoid System, can be engineered to achieve desired health or wellness effects.

Currently, all of our knowledge and research at GnuPharma has led us to build a brand called TrueMedX. TrueMedX specializes in products based on GnuPharma formulations which are advanced bioceuticals for your Master Regulatory System. We are targeting a specific condition called Autism, because it is a problem getting worse not better. Did you know 1 out of 34 boys have autism and 1 out of 144 girls have autism? We are laser focused on helping at GnuPharma and TrueMedx with a product line called Focus. This product line is a mix of formulas that range from fats to herbs and in some cases cannabinoids but without THC. My husband has advanced the science of helping these kiddos to make eye contact with mom or dad, we are helping the kids talk or ask a question becoming more verbal, we are also helping the kids to be less violent and we are helping moms and dads get thier kids back. Because of all of our work with Autism we formed a non-profit called Answers4Autism to help us to find those families that need our help!

Q: What are your goals for the future?

What does the future hold for GnuPharma, we hope to find a partner/ investor to help us launch our science and research and work on clinical studies to extend the science and products!

Dr. Smriti Agrawal Zaneveld & Dr. Jacques Zaneveld

Co-founders of Lazarus 3D

Dr. Smriti Agrawal Zaneveld & Dr. Jacques Zaneveld

Dr. Smriti Zaneveld is a scientist and entrepreneur with a PhD in Molecular and Human Genetics from Baylor College of Medicine. In her academic career, Dr. Zaneveld pioneered genetic engineering technologies in developing therapeutics for inherited neurodegenerative diseases and has published dozens of scientific papers and presented her work internationally. However, when she was a Ph.D. student, she started 3D printing as a hobby.

Working nights and weekends, together with Dr. Jacques Zaneveld, she developed a method to 3D print exact copies of patients from MRI and CT scan data in extremely realistic materials. This patented technology has the potential to change the standard of care for surgery by allowing doctors to rehearse surgeries ahead of time. Once she graduated, she founded Lazarus 3D with Dr. Jacques Zaneveld to help doctors operate with confidence. Under her leadership, Lazarus 3D has increased sales by over 40x in the past four years, and is currently providing medical training models globally. Lazarus 3D is also on track to receive its FDA clearance for patient-specific surgical rehearsal models in 2021.

Lazarus 3D is paving the path for the next era of medicine through innovative technologies focused on improving patient safety and medical outcomes.

Q: What motivated you to get started with Lazarus 3D?

While Jacques and I were students at Baylor College of Medicine, we learned that doctors often train on fruits/vegetables due to lack of realistic alternatives. Even worse, right now most doctors learn surgery through the "See-one, Do-one, Teach-one" apprenticeship model. This means that the next time you need a surgery, it might be performed by someone who has never done a hands-on surgery before. Unfortunately, this inexperience means that sometimes doctors make mistakes. Indeed, Medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States. As we learned more about how surgery is taught and practiced in today’s era, we were shocked and terrified. We knew that something had to be done and we wanted to use technology and innovation as a tool to enable surgical perfection.

Working nights and weekends, we developed a patented technology to create patients' organ replicas that surgeons can use to rehearse before the real surgery. Our models can be treated like real tissue and can be operated on using the same instruments used in actual operations. Lazarus 3D technology allows your physician to rehearse your upcoming surgery ahead of time on a "physical twin" of your organ, produced directly from your medical scan data. This disruptive technology, already reimbursable through health insurance, has the power to reduce medical errors, improve outcomes, and save money by preventing costly complications and follow-on surgeries. We founded Lazarus 3D with a vision to enable surgical perfection through personalized care for a safer and better tomorrow.

Q: What are your goals for the future?

As a medical device startup, we are very excited for opportunities to partner with leading medical institutions and centers of excellence to attain broad adoption of our patient-specific rehearsal core technology. Lazarus 3D has partnered with top hospitals such as MedStar Health, Boston Medical Center, Texas Medical Center and others to improve medical training, surgical planning and patient safety through our technology. We are looking forward to working with leaders in Healthcare that are decision makers in healthcare policies, insurance/liability stakeholders, healthcare providers as well as patient advocacy groups to bring Lazarus 3D technologies at the forefront of medicine and patient care. Our goal in the next 5 years is to empower every surgeon to provide the highest quality of care for their patients through global adoption of Lazarus 3D’s precision surgery technologies.

Marinna Madrid

VP of Product and Co-Founder of Cellino

Marinna Madrid

Marinna is a co-founder at Cellino, a biotech company developing an AI-guided laser editing platform for cell-based therapies. Cellino is making personalized regenerative medicines economically viable at scale for the first time. Marinna received her PhD and MA in Applied Physics from Harvard University, where she co-invented laser-based intracellular delivery techniques. She received her BSc in Biophysics from University of California, Los Angeles, after transferring from Riverside Community College. She is the recipient of the Harvard Graduate Prize Fellowship, the Catalyst Accelerator Grant from Harvard Medical School, and is on the Forbes 30 Under 30 2019 list for Healthcare.

Q: What motivated you to get started with Cellino?

I never planned to be an entrepreneur. My co-founder Nabiha and I did our PhDs together, and during that time we had several leaders in biology who encouraged us to commercialize the laser-based technology we were developing. Stem cell-derived therapies promise regenerative and curative therapies for many diseases. The company is using lasers, robotics, and computation to make different cell types, with the long-term goal of helping to make personalized medicine accessible for all.

Q: What are your goals for the future?

We recently closed a $16M seed financing round led by leading top-tier investors. ‍We will use the funding to continue development of our scalable platform that automates and standardizes stem cell production, accelerating the development of life-saving medicines for patients. My goal is to make autologous induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC)-based cell therapies economically viable and accessible for every individual.

Yael Alter

CEO & Co-founder of Soos Technology

Yael Alter

Her journey as a professional executive in the agriculture and poultry sectors began around 20 years ago. Throughout this time Yael led International projects and learned that very few women hold key positions in the Agrifood/Agritech industries in general, let alone in the poultry industry. This observation led her to realize the opportunity she had to be part of a breakthrough startup in the poultry domain.

She was raised by Zionist parents who immigrated to Israel in the 50’s from North Africa. They settled in Beer Sheva (the capital of the Israeli Negev). There they built a flourishing business with their own hands. Education was a leading value for her parents and her mother always led her to independence and entrepreneurism (this was way before “entrepreneurship” was a buzzword). Yael graduated with a BA in Economics and an MBA from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

When Soos Technology was announced as the winners of the $1M grand-prize of Grow-NY last November, she knew this was a huge step into the long, but safe journey to reach one of the main goals: To advance their biologic research and connect with academic institutes and researches with International reputation in the biological and physical domains. This will allow them to better understand the mechanism behind poultry sex reversal via sound waves.

Success in her eyes isn’t measured by grand achievements, but rather the small hurdles that they get by day-to-day. Every step forward motivates her to keep going, personally and professionally. Yael really enjoys empowering and accompanying female entrepreneurs in the early steps when they most need support and a push forward.

Q: What motivated you to get started with Soos?

Prior to Soos Technology I was an industry veteran and ex-CEO of a global poultry and agricultural projects company. In this role, I learned that every female chick, has a male brother that was killed just after it hatched.

For me, learning this fact was an amazing eye-opener for a huge problem impacting the egg-production industry and I realized this was also a great opportunity.

I started Soos Technology after I met my colleague and co-founder Nashat Haj Mohammad in an industry event. He told me that he discovered that sound vibration can induce sex reversal in poultry embryos! As an industry veteran, I realized this was a game changer for egg-producers. And I knew I could contribute by helping his fantastic idea become a reality and build a major business around it.

After raising $400k pre-seed from Takwin Labs, the company was set up in 2017.

Q: What are your goals for the future?

We are interested in increasing the number of experiments conducted to improve our unique incubation protocol that will maximize the number of females hatched. We plan on doing this via numerous commercial pilots. Currently we have 2 active pilots (one in Israel and one in Europe) and will have one soon in the US.

The main engineering challenge the company faces is to create uniformity of the sound distribution, so that each incubated egg will receive identical and accurate energy.

With this, we are striving to promote academic research and searching for research partnerships to further explore the effect the sound waves have on embryonic cell differentiation in general, and more specifically on sex cell differentiation.

Our final goal is for every incubator in the world to implement our technology to solve the male chick culling practice.

Dr. Minnie Sarwal

Founder and CEO of Nephrosant

Dr. Minnie Sarwal

Dr. Minnie Sarwal is the founder and CEO of Nephrosant, a biotech company redefining kidney health. Dr. Sarwal is Co-Director of the Kidney-Pancreas Transplant Program and Director of the Precision Transplant Medicine program at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and Co-Director of the T32 training grant in Transplant Surgery. Previously, Dr. Sarwal was Medical Director of the Pediatric Kidney Transplant Program at Stanford University. She is a key opinion leader in clinical and translational research that focuses on native organ diseases and organ transplantation. Her research has focused on mechanisms and biomarkers for understanding renal transplant injury, and to improve diagnosis and therapies for renal diseases such as diabetes, IgA, FSGS, with a primary focus in improving diagnostics for solid organ and bone marrow transplantation.

What motivated you to get started with NephroSant?

During a trip to Sri Lanka, where I had traveled to set up a pediatric transplant program, I heard about an epidemic of chronic kidney disease of unknown origin (CKD-U). Whole villages were being wiped out due to lack of available care, and many children died as a result. At the time, I had been running many NIH lead trials, and we were unable to completely define CKD-U, as it was driven by many external factors, but nothing clearly identified. Returning to Stanford, the work that we were completing seemed pointless if we could not get the tests out to children and those in underserved areas. To make it work, the sample needed to be stabilized and the test affordable and readily available (e.g. a dipstick). From this need, NephroSant was born. We do not need 24-hour collection of a sample - we can collect and provide an accurate readout to the transplant patient for kidney injury or rejection.

What are your goals for the future?

Our mission at NephroSant is to redefine kidney health, bring in an easy kidney test that can be accessible worldwide run with your annual health screening, and change the trajectory of treatment of new and improved drugs for kidney disease at a time early enough that can reverse injury in the native or transplant kidney.

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This article is part of a series about the changemakers in the biotech space. Stay tuned!