GRADUCon 2019 - Business of Science Panel


Have you ever been interested in how a medical diagnostic tool or a new drug goes onto the market? Or how the research that you work on as a graduate student or postdoc can lead to commercializable technology? From product development to venture capital, and from technology transfer to directing a scientific company, these types of careers utilize a combination of marketing, communications, sales, due diligence, and strategic analysis. The Business of Science panel will feature PhD and postdoc alumni from STEM disciplines who will discuss how they prepared for their careers, challenges they’ve faced, and lessons learned.


Trevor Davis, Biotechnology Analyst, Lincoln Park Capital (PhD Developmental Biology 2017)

Dr. Davis is a biotechnology analyst at Lincoln Park Capital, a life sciences-focused investment fund based in Chicago. He joined LPC in 2017 to conduct fundamental analysis of pre-clinical and clinical stage companies developing therapeutics, diagnostics, and medical devices. Prior to joining the firm, Dr. Davis received his Ph.D. in Development, Regeneration, and Stem Cell Biology at the University of Chicago, where he studied how gene regulatory networks control cellular behaviors in fruit flies. This work culminated in several primary research publications, including predictions of the trajectory of basic research in regenerative medicine. During his graduate work, Dr. Davis also volunteered at local museums and outreach events to communicate scientific concepts to the public. He completed a B.S. in Biology, cum laude, with a minor in Violin Performance at Gonzaga University in May of 2010.

Lisa Dhar, Director of New Business Ventures, Northwestern University (SB Chemistry 1989, PhD MIT 1994)

Lisa is Director of New Business Ventures for Engineering at the Innovation and New Ventures Office and McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. She is a faculty member of the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Lisa was co-founder and vice president of InPhase Technologies, a company spun out of Lucent Technologies and was most recently the Senior Associate Director of the Office of Technology Management at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Lisa has served on the National Academies’ Assessment Panel on Materials Science and Engineering at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and on the Advisory Board for University of Colorado’s Women in Engineering. Lisa holds a PhD in Physical Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a BS in Chemistry from the University of Chicago.

John Colson, Director of Operations, ClostraBio (PhD Chemistry 2016)

John is currently Director of Operations at ClostraBio, Inc, a University of Chicago spinout creating new medicines to prevent and treat life-threatening allergies to food. In this role, John leads all company operations and is responsible for all budgets, personnel, intellectual property, project planning, regulatory planning and execution, financing activities, business development, and corporate governance. He has directly negotiated $4.5M in financing to date and manages a scientific team of 4 people. John was instrumental in the creation of ClostraBio, having worked with the co-founders prior to its incorporation and joining the company as its first full-time employee. Prior to ClostraBio, John was an Associate with the Innovation Fund at the University of Chicago. As part of a multidisciplinary Associates team, John made go/no-go recommendations to the Fund’s Advisory Committee and led the diligence process on multiple deals. Simultaneously, John was a post-doc at the Institute for Molecular Engineering and Argonne National Lab and, briefly, an Intern Analyst at Aspire Capital in Chicago. John earned his PhD in Chemistry from Cornell University in 2014 developing techniques to prepare and measure polymer films for energy applications. In 2017, he was awarded the Henkel Award for Outstanding Graduate Research in Polymer Chemistry, a national award from the American Chemical Society. Two of his papers were listed as “Highly Cited” by Thomson Reuters, placing them in the top 1% of all papers cited in their publication year. John also holds a Masters in Chemistry from Cornell and a BS degree summa cum laude from the University of Oklahoma. When not solving the challenges of food allergies, John can be found running the lakefront trails from Hyde Park up to Evanston!

Stephanie Fanta, Program Manager, Pfizer (PhD Neurobiology 2013)

Stephanie Fanta is currently a Program Manager in the newly created Hospital Business Unit (HBU) at Pfizer, Inc. As a member of Portfolio and Program Management in the HBU, Stephanie leads cross-functional drug development teams to bring crucial sterile injectable products to the hospital market. Prior to her current role, Stephanie participated in Pfizer’s Professional Development Program in R&D. This 2-year rotational program allowed Stephanie to smoothly transition into the pharmaceutical industry from academia, gaining experience in Early Stage and Late Stage Generic Drug Development, Program Management, and Talent Acquisition, both in the Lake Forest, IL R&D location and abroad in Melbourne, Australia. Stephanie obtained a Bachelor of Science in Cognitive and Behavioral Science at the University of Rochester in 2007. She then went on to complete a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the University of Chicago in 2013. Her dissertation research implemented animal modeling to identify the neurobiological substrates of various mental disorders, specifically, anorexia nervosa. Stephanie is currently working on a Master of Business Administration at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management with a concentration in Healthcare.


Matt Martin, Microbiome Lead, Technology Commercialization, Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MBA 2018, PhD Physics, Carnegie Mellon 2004)

Matt Martin, PhD, is the Microbiome Lead for the Technology Commercialization team. In this role, he works with researchers and leads commercial development of discoveries from microbiome research at the University of Chicago and the Marine Biological Laboratory. Matt provides access to the broad set of Polsky Center resources including intellectual property development, venture creation and support, team building, and fund raising. He also identifies and develops partnerships with existing companies to take the next step in commercializing the breakthrough microbiome research here at UChicago. Matt was trained as a physicist with postdoctoral research experience at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He earned a PhD in physics from Carnegie Mellon University and a BA degree from Goshen College studying math and physics.