The VIC Tech investment model is unique; it sources promising life science innovation directly from universities across the nation, allocating funding to form startup companies and advance these technologies to exit via acquisition. In addition to the initial capital, VIC provides its portfolio companies with business and scientific resources, including interim management, accounting, marketing, and research support, creating a complete venture development ecosystem.
The VIC Fellows program was introduced to strengthen this ecosystem further and is now in its fourth class. The program allows individuals to actively participate in identifying and evaluating life science technologies. Then, contribute to forming and supporting new companies that aim to develop and commercialize these innovations.
It is an outstanding opportunity for those contemplating a transition into the investment sector (venture capital, private equity, investment banking, etc.), strategic partnering, technology transfer, or more entrepreneurial endeavors. Fellows are at various career phases, including graduate students (PhD, MD, MBA), postdoctoral fellows, or early-career professionals.
"When we first discussed creating a Fellows program in late 2019, we had multiple goals. The first was to increase the diversity of our team, not only in the traditional sense of the word—the investment sector has historically been very homogenous—but also from the standpoint of expertise, geography, and fresh perspectives," says Michael Artinger, the manager of the Fellows program.
We are pleased to highlight the new class of VIC Fellows:
Alexandra Antonioli, MD, PhD - Senior Fellow: Alexandra completed her psychiatry residency and was a member of the research track at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Her PhD thesis research and brief postdoctoral work focused on combining structural biology with translational immunology experiments to better understand mechanisms that drive inflammation and autoimmunity. In addition, Alexandra has a passion for volunteer work. She has spent time volunteering in Yamoransa, Ghana, with the Yale Alumni Service Corps and enjoys volunteering in her local community on various projects as a member of the Junior League of Dallas.
Matthew Leming, PhD - Senior Fellow: Matthew Leming is a former bench scientist who now serves as a strategic advisor for healthcare-focused startup companies. He has ten years of experience in basic science research with ten peer-reviewed publications in journals ranging from BMC Genomics, Journal of Neuroscience, and Scientific Reports. This is complemented by more than six years of direct healthcare-focused startup project management and technology transfer experience. His passion truly lies in the commercialization of medical innovations.
Sobha Pisharody, PhD - Fellow: Dr. Sobha Pisharody holds a PhD in Molecular Oncology and Immunology from New York University School of Medicine and a BS in Genetics from the University of California at Berkeley. She has a background in both startups and large companies, having held senior leadership roles such as Chief Strategy and Product Officer at InformedDNA, Senior Vice President, Product and Strategy at Talis Biomedical, and Director of Product Management at Thermo Fisher Scientific. Dr. Pisharody was also the founder and CEO of GenoRx, Inc., a molecular diagnostic startup. Recently, Pisharody has been appointed as Chief Product Officer at Hound Labs, a company that specializes in ultra-sensitive technology for non-invasive breath measurement and has developed the first dual alcohol and marijuana breathalyzer.
Jonathan Rayner, PhD - Fellow: Dr. Jonathan Rayner is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of South Alabama. He is also the Director of the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases (LID) and Responsible Official for the select agent program at the university. Dr. Rayner received his PhD in Microbiology from Colorado State University and has a background in vaccines development, having completed post-doctoral research programs with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. Rayner has worked in both private industry and academic settings, focusing on the development of vaccines and therapeutic drugs against infectious diseases, including anthrax, influenza virus, Zika virus, and severe acute respiratory syncytial virus 2.
Peter Sykora, PhD - Fellow: Dr. Peter Sykora obtained his PhD in molecular biology from Deakin University, Australia, focusing on cancer initiation after chronic toxic exposure. He worked as a senior scientific officer assessing biological threats in Australia before becoming a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Aging in Baltimore, MD. During his fellowship, he specialized in the impact of genomic stability on cancer and age-related neurodegenerative disorders, developing and optimizing molecular technologies. Sykora later took a faculty position at the USA College of Medicine and became the manager of the technology development facility while also lecturing about genome engineering and DNA maintenance technology at Georgetown University. Currently, he serves as the Director and CSO of Amelia Technologies, utilizing non-dilutive funding to develop a novel high-throughput testing platform for discovering new topically applied active ingredients for sunscreen and anti-aging markets.
Gopesh Tilvawala, PhD - Fellow: Dr. Gopesh Tilvawala is a mechanical engineer with a background in technology management and entrepreneurship. He pursued his bachelor's and master's degrees in Mechanical Engineering in Australia before moving to the US for a PhD focused on clinically translational medical devices at the University of California, San Diego. Throughout his career, he has been dedicated to using fundamental science to create innovative technologies and solutions for positive socio-economic impact. Tilvawala has a portfolio of accomplishments, including developing various medical technologies such as pulmonary drug delivery systems, rapid point-of-care diagnostics, soft-robotic catheters, and cardiac pacing+defibrillation devices. His work has led to numerous publications, patents, and awards, notably for a steerable micro-catheter with potential applications in stroke treatment.