Women Founders

Over 110 impressive nominations rolled in for our Emerging Women Founder Award — we’re thrilled to announce the winners!

The group includes women who are driving innovation in therapeutics, diagnostics, sustainable foods and more. Each founder will receive access to individually tailored coaching from CEOs and experts to help accelerate the growth of their companies.

Meet the winners during our Networking Session at The Wave Summit on June 10th.


Aanindeeta Banerjee

Co-Founder & CEO at ReSource Chemical Corp.

About Aanindeeta

Aanindeeta Banerjee hails from India, where she studied chemistry as an undergraduate and master’s student. She came to the U.S. for Ph.D. studies at Stanford University and joined the lab of Matt Kanan. In her graduate work, she invented a new process for carbon dioxide utilization with applications in polymer and commodity chemical production. Upon completing her Ph.D. in 2018, she continued developing this technology with support from ARPA-E. In 2019, Banerjee and Professor Kanan founded ReSource Chemical Corp. The vision of ReSource is to replace plastics made from petroleum with carbon dioxide derived plastics that offer superior performance at lower cost.

About ReSource Chemical Corp.

ReSource is creating the future of plastic – sustainably sourced materials that offer better performance at lower cost and do not accumulate in the environment.


Alexandra Sakatos

Co-founder and CEO at Ancilia Biosciences

About Alexandra

Alexandra has a B.A. in Neuroscience from Carleton College and a Ph.D in Microbiology from Harvard University. While at Harvard, she identified and characterized novel mechanisms of drug resistance in bacteria. Prior to founding Ancilia, she worked in research & product development at a seed stage biotechnology startup.

About Ancilia Biosciences

Ancilia Biosciences is harnessing the natural function of CRISPR to develop a new class of live biotherapeutics (LBPs). Our approach provides engineered immunity to viruses in the human microbiome, enabling the development of best-in-class LBPs for a range of chronic diseases.


Alison Hirukawa

Co-founder, CEO at DropGenie

About Alison

Pragmatic mad scientist accelerating the pace of discovery. PhD (McGill, Biochemistry).

About DropGenie

DropGenie’s mission is to integrate human diversity into drug discovery, so scientists can develop the best therapies for each and every patient. We empower drug hunters with a platform that allows them to extract high resolution data from patient samples, at scale.


Andee Wallace

Co-Founder & CSO at Robigo

About Andee

After earning her B.S. in Bioengineering at Stanford University in 2013, Andee spent a year as a research scientist at an early stage biotech start-up, Bolt Threads, where she helped develop a spider silk purification process. At MIT, Andee earned her PhD in Biological Engineering under Christopher Voigt, where she applied synthetic biology techniques to engineer peptides for the synthesis of silica nanomaterials. After graduating from MIT, Andee spent over a year running Resilience Gives, a mission-driven apparel start up. Returning to her roots in synthetic biology, Andee co-founded Robigo to combine her love of watching plants grow with her desire to create a more sustainable global food system.

About Robigo

Robigo engineers the plant microbiome to reduce disease in crops. Unlike all conventional methods of controlling disease, Robigo’s flexible technology is able to specifically target and kill bacterial pathogens, leaving the beneficial microbes in place to support a healthy and productive plant.


Andrea Ippolito

CEO and Founder at SimpliFed

About Andrea

Andrea Ippolito currently serves as the CEO and Founder of SimpliFed. She also serves as a Lecturer in the College of Engineering and SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University. Prior to joining Cornell, Andrea served as the Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Innovators Network within the VA Center for Innovation. She was the Co-Founder of an innovative application that improves access to care called Smart Scheduling (acquired by athenahealth in 2016).

About SimpliFed

SimpliFed provides tele-lactation support to help new and pregnant parents get access to breastfeeding support from the comfort and safety of their own homes from board-certified lactation consultants (IBCLCs). We help increase breastfeeding rates for those that can and want to, then we are there to support them during their transition to formula. We are parent's ally in their journey and allow them to feel good about their choice.


Andrea Choe

CEO at Holoclara Inc.

About Andrea

Andrea Choe MD PhD is the CEO of Holoclara Inc., an early stage therapeutic company developing a new class of therapy for allergic and autoimmune disease. The background on this technology is that there is evidence that patients with severe immune diseases benefit from ingesting roundworms. Andrea and her team have successfully identified potent roundworm-derived therapeutic compounds.

About Holoclara Inc.

Holoclara Inc. is an early stage therapeutics company that is focused on developing roundworm-derived small molecules for the treatment of allergic and autoimmune diseases. This technology is based upon a discovery platform developed at Caltech and Cornell, which identifies key molecular entities responsible for the potent therapeutic effect that gut roundworms have on patients with autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s Disease. Holoclara has a broad range of target indications that include Asthma and the orphan disease Eosinophilic Esophagitis.


Ashley Zehnder

CEO at Fauna Bio

About Ashley

Dr. Ashley Zehnder is CEO and co-founder of Fauna Bio, a venture-backed biotech focused on developing new ways to treat human diseases, such as heart disease and neurodegenerative disease, by adopting mechanisms animals have developed for extreme traits like hibernation and deep-diving. The company leverages multi-omics data from hundreds of species in order to develop new therapeutics for human diseases. Prior to starting Fauna Bio, her research focused on translational science and veterinary informatics at Stanford, earning a PhD in Cancer Biology and her work spans >20 peer-reviewed publications, including Cell, Nature and Nature Medicine.

About Fauna Bio

Fauna Bio is unlocking the secrets of animal genomics to improve human health. With the world's largest biobank of animals with specialized adaptations, cutting-edge computational and genomics tools, and an expert multidisciplinary team, Fauna Bio is changing the paradigm of drug discovery and identifying novel drug targets across a broad range of clinical applications, from cardiovascular disease to Alzheimer's.


Benita Nagel

Co-Founder and CEO at Nuntius Therapeutics

About Benita

Benita brings years of commercial experience in the life sciences and healthcare industry. From advising major industry players as a BCG management consultant to scaling technology and science ventures, Benita has developed businesses at all stages. She co-founded Nuntius Therapeutics to help unlock the full potential of nucleic acid therapies for life-threatening diseases and was a member of the latest Y Combinator batch.

About Nuntius Therapeutics

Nuntius Therapeutics are overcoming one of the biggest challenges for DNA, RNA and CRISPR therapies, which is transporting large genetic payloads into the correct cells. They have developed a platform technology for the safe and targeted delivery of nucleic acids. Their pipeline includes therapies for currently incurable rare diseases. Selected industry partners can also license their cell-specific delivery technology.


Cheri Ackerman

CEO at Concerto Biosciences

About Cheri

Dr. Cheri Ackerman is a co-founder and the CEO of Concerto Biosciences, an MIT spinout that develops microbial ensembles as revolutionary new disease treatments. To discover microbial ensembles, Concerto uses a novel screening platform called kChip, which Ackerman worked on as an NIH Kirschstein Postdoctoral Fellow with Prof. Paul Blainey at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Prior to this, Ackerman earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry as a Hertz Fellow at UC Berkeley. She holds a B.S. in Biochemistry and Spanish from Calvin University (Grand Rapids, MI). Ackerman is passionate about solving high-impact problems in a way that promotes health and wholeness for everyone impacted by the solution.

About Concerto Biosciences

Microbes rarely work alone. Instead, they work in concert, as an ensemble of musicians does. Concerto Biosciences discovers and develops optimal ensembles of microbes that work together to improve health. kChip—the patented, high-throughput screening platform we invented—constructs and screens millions of defined microbial communities to reveal the best ones. Concerto aims to use this platform to harness microbial ecology into products that make health accessible to everyone. Our first product treats eczema by restoring health to the damaged skin microbiome, which will improve the lives of millions of people with inflamed, itchy skin.


Daisy Robinton

Co-Founder and CEO at Oviva Therpeutics

About Daisy

Dr. Daisy Robinton is passionate about challenging the status quo of biomedical research and drug development. Her work as a molecular biologist, writer, public speaker, and lifestyle & fitness model, all contribute to the unique lens with which she examines the intersection of science and culture. Dr. Robinton completed her PhD in Human Biology and Translational Medicine at Harvard University in 2016 and landed on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2017 for her scientific discoveries. She recently launched Oviva Therapeutics, a biotech company focused on ovarian health and longevity with an aim to tackle aging in women while addressing the historic gender disparity in biomedical research and healthcare.

About Oviva Therpeutics

Oviva’s mission is to address the vast unmet need in women’s health by driving research and clinical development targeting ovarian physiology, and by expanding funding and awareness in this space. Age-related decline in ovarian function leads to adverse health outcomes in women across the board. Oviva aims to extend healthspan in women through developing novel therapeutics that target ovarian function and longevity.


Elizabeth Ruzzo

Founder/CEO at adyn

About Elizabeth

Elizabeth Ruzzo, PhD completed her graduate work at Duke University and postdoctoral research at UCLA. Throughout her 10+ year academic career in human genomics and medical genetics (where she discovered over 40 genetic causes for various human diseases) she repeatedly encountered knowledge gaps that hindered discovery in non-Europeans and in females. After her symptoms from birth control side effects were dismissed by medical professionals, she decided to dedicate her expertise in precision medicine to demanding a new standard of care and working to close gaps caused by historic inequity in medical research.

About adyn

At adyn, we’re determined to close gender- and race-based medical research gaps and deliver a new standard of care. With our scientific approach, we eliminate painful years of trial and error and instead offer a more personalized and effective birth control selection experience for everybody.


Floris Engelhardt

Emerging CEO at Kano Therapeutics

About Floris

Floris Engelhardt is the emerging CEO of Kano Therapeutics and a postdoctoral researcher in the Bathe BioNanoLab at MIT. She joined Mark Bathe's lab in February 2020 after obtaining her doctoral degree in physics from the Technical University of Munich. She holds a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from the Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena and a master's degree in molecular biotechnology from the Technical University of Munich. Her scientific work focuses on biotechnological single-stranded DNA production and nucleic acid nanostructures for gene and cell therapy.

About Kano Therapeutics

Kano Therapeutics’ biotechnological production platform seeks to revolutionize gene delivery and vaccine constructs for pharmaceutical and synthetic biology companies by manufacturing clinical-grade custom single-stranded DNA in gene length that specifically addresses individual needs of therapeutic applications.


Jen Keane

Co-founder / CEO at Modern Synthesis

About Jen

Jen Keane is a designer, material innovator, and inventor of our microbial weaving process. Working previously for German sportswear giant Adidas, she has been widely recognized for her work in biomaterials, winning the 2018 Mills Techstyle prize, LVMH Green Trail Award, and Honorable Mention in the 2019 STARTS Prize. She has spent the last two years improving our material technology and building a network of potential partners as Techstyle Resident at the Mills Fabrica HK and Creative Resident with California biomaterial leader Bolt Threads.

About Modern Synthesis

Modern Synthesis is a London based biomaterial start-up connecting the dots between biology, material science and design to craft progressive biomaterials and tangible material solutions for the fashion industry. The company's patent pending ‘microbial weaving’ process employs microbes to grow a strong, lightweight cellulose-based composite material that is naturally biodegradable or closed loop recyclable and offers unique potential for aesthetic and performance customization.


Lex Rovner

CEO and co-founder at 64x Bio

About Lex

Lex Rovner is the CEO and co-founder of 64x Bio, a spinout of Harvard’s Wyss Institute. Lex was a postdoc in George Church’s lab and cofounded the company alongside George, Pam Silver, and Jeff Way. Prior to Harvard, she did her graduate work in synthetic biology at Yale University.

About 64x Bio

64x Bio is a spinout of Harvard’s Wyss Institute and is transforming the future of cell and gene therapy manufacturing. Using a novel high throughput discovery platform and an integrated computational design loop, they are developing new ways of generating highly optimized cell lines for the manufacturing of viral vectors. These fundamental advances enable pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to bring more lifesaving cell and gene therapies to patients by reducing the cost and complexity of manufacturing, a critical bottleneck in this multibillion dollar market. 64x Bio was founded by a team at Harvard that includes George Church, Lex Rovner, Pam Silver, and Jeff Way.


Maricel Saenz

Founder & CEO at Compound Foods

Compound Foods

About Maricel

- Maricel is the founder and CEO of Compound Foods, a company focused on the intersection of climate and food. Maricel has a Bachelor of Commerce, from The University of British Columbia and she attended Singularity University's GSP in 2017. - Maricel is from Costa Rica, where coffee and sustainability are a central part of the national identity. Maricel has a background in finance and previously co-founded Nextbiotics a synthetic biology startup addressing antibiotic resistance. - Previously Maricel co-founded [Nextbiotics](https://www.next-biotics.com/) a startup focused on using genetic engineering to fight the crisis of antibiotic resistance. Maricel has concentrated her career in business with a social focus. She worked in international development in South Africa, with local entrepreneurs, and in Cambodia with Hellen Keller International on a project to empower women. She also started a company to help children with autism and their families better understand anxiety levels and thus improve their behavior. She worked with Monitor Deloitte in corporate strategy and innovation consultancies.

About Compound Foods

Compound Foods is currently in stealth mode.


Nabiha Saklayen

CEO & Co-Founder at Cellino Biotech

About Nabiha

Nabiha Saklayen is CEO & co-founder of Cellino, a personalized regenerative medicine company developing an AI-guided laser editing platform for autologous cell-based therapies. Cellino’s proprietary technology makes personalized stem cell-derived therapies scalable for the first time. Nabiha was selected as a Pioneer in MIT Tech Review's 35 Innovators under 35 list for her inventions in cellular laser editing and is on the 2019 Forbes 30 under 30 List for Healthcare. She received her Ph.D. in Physics from Harvard University as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) International Fellow. Nabiha has published several peer-reviewed articles in the field of pulsed-laser delivery to cells.

About Cellino Biotech

Cellino is an autologous regenerative medicine company developing an AI-guided single-cell laser editing platform for cell-based therapies. The company has developed a scalable platform that automates and standardizes autologous stem cell production, accelerating the development of life-saving medicines for patients.


Newsha Ghaeli

President & Cofounder at Biobot Analytics

About Newsha

Newsha Ghaeli is President and Cofounder of Biobot Analytics, the first company in the world bringing wastewater epidemiology to market. Prior to founding Biobot, Ghaeli was an urban studies researcher exploring the application of technologies in urban systems to build more responsive and resilient cities. Ghaeli was a Research Fellow at the MIT Senseable Cities Lab and an instructor in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Ghaeli holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in architecture from the University of Waterloo and McGill University. In 2020, Ghaeli was the recipient of the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Engineering Young Alumni Achievement Medal.

About Biobot Analytics

Biobot is a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is headquartered in Cambridge, MA. Since the start of the pandemic, Biobot has worked with over 400 communities across the United States and Canada to map concentrations of the novel coronavirus in sewage. More information on our mission and technology is available on our website, www.biobot.io.


Oriana Papin-Zoghbi

CEO & Co-Founder at AOA Dx Inc

AOA Dx Inc

About Oriana

Oriana has global experience creating and leading organizations resulting in successful strategic exits. ​She brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise from women's health startups and large life science companies, and a passion for entrepreneurship and solving problems that disproportionality affects women. Known for her inspirational leadership, Oriana has a proven track record of developing a highly productive culture and turning visions into reality.

About AOA Dx Inc

AOA seeks to revolutionize early-stage diagnosis of ovarian cancer by developing a non-invasive ovarian cancer diagnostic liquid biopsy test that will improve clinical practice by diagnosing ovarian cancer early. Early diagnosis will give women a fighting chance at survival and reduce patient mortality.


Paula Elbl

Chief Scientific Officer at GALY

About Paula

I'm passionate about biology since I lived at the Amazon rainforest as a kid. Many years later, I became a specialist in botany and biotechnology with a MSc. and PhD in the area. I've been ever since looking for ways to apply my knowledge to positively impact the world and try to save the nature that inspired me to follow this carrier path. In 2019, I founded GALY with Luciano Bueno, a biotech company that aims to create cotton fibers in vitro to diminish the negative environmental impacts of traditional production.

About GALY

Founded in 2019, GALY is a company that combines multidisciplinary biology areas to bring innovation to natural products industry. Our mission: Saving the planet by revolutionizing how we produce cotton, disrupting agriculture as a whole. GALY is producing cotton grown from cells in a facility, not plants on a field. We developed a process to grow cotton in vitro that is 10x faster, uses 80% less resources, independent on soil quality or weather, and with a potential of 5x-10x higher margins than traditional cotton.


Trivia Frazier

President and CEO at Obatala Sciences

About Trivia

Dr. Trivia Frazier is the Co-Founder, President, and CEO of Obatala Sciences, Inc, a biotechnology company based in New Orleans. She is an experienced Adult Stem Cell Researcher and Biotech Business Professional. She holds bachelor's degrees in Physics and Biomedical Engineering, an MBA, and a PhD in Biomedical Sciences. She is a wife, mother of three boys, and a lover of science fiction.

About Obatala Sciences

Obatala Sciences is a revenue-generating biotools company that is revolutionizing drug development within the fields of obesity, diabetes, and regenerative medicine. We are reducing and refining the number of animals tested in the preclinical testing pipeline by manufacturing the first-to-market tissue models of diverse patient populations. We have bootstrapped with over $2MM in sweat equity and cash from our founders, we have raised over $1.1MM in venture capital, we have generated over $3MM in revenue since our founding in 2017, and over $1.5MM in grant support to commercialize our technology.


Virginia Burger

CEO and Co-Founder at New Equilibrium Biosciences, Inc.

About Virginia

Virginia completed a Ph.D. through a joint Carnegie Mellon-University of Pittsburgh program in Computational Biology, where she developed network models for describing intrinsically disordered protein ensembles and patented a computer vision algorithm that was used by a university spinout for cancer prognosis. As an NSF and Swiss NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), she focused her research on a class of undrugged proteins, termed intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs), and performed both biophysical and computational experiments to discover druggable conformations of IDPs. Following her postdoc, Virginia began her biotechnology industry career as a Senior Scientist and the Director of Scientific Collaborations at XtalPi, Inc., an algorithm-driven pharmaceutical technology startup. In August 2019, Virginia founded New Equilibrium with the goal of designing new medicines targeting IDPs to cure a broad range of serious cancers and neurological diseases.

About New Equilibrium Biosciences, Inc.

Virginia Burger, Ph.D. and Peter Tompa, Ph.D. founded New Equilibrium in 2019 to discover new medicines for patients with life-threatening diseases. NEQ's platform marries AI and biophysics to reveal experimentally-invisible conformations of shapeshifting proteins. This first-in-kind technology enables the rational design of drugs targeting the elusive class of intrinsically disordered proteins, including many of the most desirable targets for cancer, neurodegeneration, and other indications. Supported by a world-class Scientific Advisory Board, New Equilibrium has attracted grant and venture funding to build a cross-disciplinary team of experts in AI, biophysics, and quantum chemistry.

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