Leo Linbeck IIIMBA, M.S.
LEO LINBECK III, MBA, M.S. is the Chairman and Founder of Fannin Innovation Studio. Leo is also President and CEO of the Aquinas Companies, LLC, which sponsored Fannin for five years to validate its model before bringing in outside investors for scale-up. Leo graduated from the University of Notre Dame with both Civil Engineering and Liberal Arts degrees and received a Master’s in Structural Engineering from the University of Texas. He earned his MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, graduating as the only student in its history to be both Valedictorian and winner of the Arbuckle Award (the person voted by his classmates to have made the greatest contribution to the school). Additionally, Leo teaches MBAs at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business where he serves as a Lecturer and is a former adjunct professor at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business. Leo is also on the boards of several educational, community and nonprofit organizations.
Atul VaradhacharyM.D., PH.D.
ATUL VARADHACHARY M.D., PH.D. has served as Managing Partner at Fannin Innovation Studio since 2013 and leads Fannin’s business innovation and technology commercialization efforts. Before Fannin, Atul was President of U.S. Operations at Reliance Life Sciences, part of the Reliance Group, India’s largest corporation. Atul served for nine years as President & COO of Agennix, Inc., a late-stage biotechnology company. As product development and regulatory lead, he helped advance Agennix’s lead molecule from preclinical studies into pivotal Phase 3 human studies and lead a successful sale of the company.
Before Agennix, Atul was Senior Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Co. where he co-led initiatives to support life science commercialization at Houston’s Texas Medical Center. He co-founded and ran Pratham Health (now the Niramaya Health Foundation), a preventive health program reaching 65,000 under-served pre-school children in India, while on leave of absence from McKinsey. Atul was a Pratham USA founding director and past President.
Atul is active in Houston’s biotech and commercialization ecosystem. He has served as an Adjunct Professor at Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine and the UT School of Public Health, and on several company and community Boards including BioHouston, the Harris Health System, TiE Houston, and the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (IACCGH) where he also served as President. He serves on the Greater Houston Partnership’s Healthcare Advisory Committee and on the Jones Health Care Advisory Board.
Atul received his medical training at the University of Bombay. He earned a Ph.D. in Physiology followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in Biological Chemistry, both at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he was founding President of the Johns Hopkins Postdoctoral Association, the first such organization in the country.
ELIZABETH HOFF Ms. Hoff joined Fannin in 2018 bringing a track record of success in the medical technology industry with a focus on disruptive cardiovascular technologies. Most recently, Ms. Hoff served as Vice President & General Manager of Cardiac Diagnostics on the senior staff in the Medtronic Cardiac Rhythm and Disease Management (CRM) division, a $5 billion division. She was hired to build a dedicated, global, cross-functional team to develop a cardiac diagnostic portfolio including implantable and wearable monitors, software and tools. Under her leadership, the team designed the world’s first micro-insertable cardiac monitor (Reveal LinQ) which now has revenue in excess of $500 million. Additionally, she was asked to be the Vice President of Cardiac Rhythm Marketing during an interim period with responsibilities for upstream/downstream marketing, patient and technical call centers, medical and sales education. She led all aspects of the CRM R&D pipeline prioritization, forecasts and implemented a new vision for Medtronic’s telehealth and service/solutions business.
Ms. Hoff has over 15 + years of global commercialization including cardiovascular sales and marketing leadership as an expatriate in Europe with Guidant Corporation. She was a leader with W. L. Gore & Associates for 8 years, the world leader in vascular surgery, and helped guide the aortic division from $1 million to $300 million in 3 years.
Ms. Hoff has influenced and led the following disruptive technologies including development, U.S. FDA clinical and regulatory strategies, reimbursement, physician training, and sales and marketing launches. These technologies include: the world’s first thoracic endograft for repair of thoracic aneurysms and dissections; the world’s third, but now US market leader, endovascular aortic aneurysm graft; the world’s first saphenous vein harvesting tool for use in coronary artery bypass surgery. In addition to her professional duties, Ms. Hoff has served as an active Board Member and Past President of the National Eczema Association, where she is extremely active as a patient speaker, MC of patient conferences, fund raiser and patient/board liaison to pharmaceutical companies. She is also the Board liaison to the Association’s Scientific Advisory Board.
MARK WORSCHEH, MBA is the CFO of Fannin Innovation Studio and the Executive Vice President of Aquinas Companies. He focuses on capital raising, structuring and development strategy for the portfolio companies, relying on his experience in New York and Houston as an investment banker for firms including Salomon Brothers and Merrill Lynch, before his five-year position as CFO of a venture capital-backed entertainment venue developer and operator. Mark graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in Economics and also earned an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Mark serves on the boards of other early-stage businesses, as well as on government community boards. He oversees capital allocation across the Aquinas group of companies, including real estate initiatives.
Dev ChatterjeeM.D., M.S., Ph.D
DEV CHATTERJEE, M.D., M.S., PH.D. is a Principal at Fannin and co-Founder of BreviTest Technologies. Prior to joining Fannin he had been a NASA/DoE postdoctoral research fellow at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the CEO and founder of Caveat Pte Ltd, a biomedical instrumentation start-up in Singapore. He is a physician with a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the National University of Singapore.
MELISSA SINGH, PH.D. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Studio Principal. Dr. Singh is a Principal at Fannin Innovation Studio, after first joining as an Intern for three months and then completing a two-year program as a Fannin’s first Entrepreneurship Fellow. Dr. Singh leads several therapeutics development projects, oversees the Internship and Fellowship programs, and heads the Pipeline Committee. Dr. Singh earned her B.Sc. in Chemistry at the University of Maryland in College Park, and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the MD Anderson UT Health Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in the Texas Medical Center. Prior to joining Fannin Studio, Dr. Singh was a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Fellow (F32) at MD Anderson, where her research focused on the discovery of novel therapeutic strategies for patients with glioblastoma. She also received the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Postgraduate Clinical/Translational Research and the Ben F. Love Endowed Fellowship in Innovative Cancer Therapies for her research in glioblastoma.
Michael HeffernanPh.D., P.E.
MICHAEL J. HEFFERNAN, PH.D., P.E. is a company Principal and serves as Director of Product Development for BreviTest Technologies. Mike also serves as a principal investigator for the Southwest Pediatric Device Consortium. He earned his Ph.D. in bioengineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and completed postdoctoral training at the National Cancer Institute. Mike held a faculty position in the Pediatric Tropical Medicine section at Baylor College of Medicine for 4 years prior to joining Fannin Innovation Studio.
Praveen Kudithipudi M.D., MBA
PRAVEEN KUDITHIPUDI, M.D., MBA, serves as Director of Business Development at Fannin Innovation Studio supporting in-licensing and establishing collaborations with Pharma and Academia. Praveen is a medical doctor trained in Neuroscience and has over 15 years of expertise in Healthcare Investment Banking, Investing and Entrepreneurial Initiatives. Praveen is the exclusive author of a medical book “PLAB Made Easy” sold on Amazon. Praveen received a MBBS in Medicine from Manipal University, India and MBA in Finance and Strategy from New York University.
ANDREA FORD LETKEMAN, MBA serves as the Director of Professional Development at Fannin Innovation Studio, focusing on the fellowship, internship and alumni programs. Over the past decade, Andrea has led the development and delivery of human capital programs in several sectors. Her work as the Executive Director of the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program at Rice University’s Graduate School of Business, centered on improving public school leadership, won the 2014 MBA Roundtable Curriculum Innovation Award. A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY and the Stanford University Graduate School of Business with over 25 years of proven experience in start-ups, international consulting, global oil & gas, and military intelligence, Andrea has expertise in leadership development, strategy formulation, team building and entrepreneurship. A native Californian, who grew up on the East Coast in both Georgia and New York, Andrea and her husband are happy to call Texas home.
Dipali DatePh.D., MBA
DIPALI DATE, PH.D., MBA is a Business Development Associate at Fannin. Prior to joining Fannin she served as research associate and project coordinator at NovelMed Therapeutics in Cleveland, Ohio and as postdoctoral research fellow at Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute. She has a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Toledo and an MBA from Cleveland State University. Dipali joined Fannin as a Business Development Fellow before returning as a Business Development Associate.
CHRISTOPHER FOLEY, PH.D. is an Associate Principal at Fannin. He was born and raised in the Washington D.C. area, before moving to San Diego, CA for his undergraduate education. He graduated from UC San Diego in 2010 with a B.Sc. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology and spent the next couple years working in San Diego in a pharmaceutical R&D lab as well as small biotech companies. Chris moved to Houston to work on his Ph.D. in the department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Baylor College of Medicine in the Texas Medical Center where he investigated small molecule targeting of transcriptional coregulators for the treatment of prostate cancers. Chris worked as an intern at Fannin before progressing to an Entrepreneurship Fellow and Associate Principal.
Vincent ZaballaMEng, MRes
VINCENT ZABALLA, MENG, MRES is an Entrepreneurship Fellow at Fannin Innovation Studio. Born in La Paz, Bolivia, Vincent pursues biomedical engineering with a passion for improving outcomes for all patients. He received his B.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M, completing his thesis “Characterization of Automatically Reticulated Shape Memory Polymer Foams” to earn research honors. After interning at Covidien, in Boulder, Colorado, finishing with a medical device patent and publication, he graduated with his MEng in Biomedical Engineering from Texas A&M. He then attended Imperial College London as a Whitaker International Fellow, participating in the Medical Device Design and Entrepreneurship module and earning his MRes upon successful defense of his thesis. After London, he worked as a data scientist, helping consultancies and winning a hackathon to start a water-data startup. Yearning to return to life-sciences, he joined Fannin as an Entrepreneurship Fellow helping to manage their portfolio of medical devices and developing new devices to improve patient outcomes.
DHANE STOMP, M.D. is an Entrepreneurship Fellow at Fannin Innovation Studio. As a former Fannin intern, Dhane is excited to continue working with Fannin, focusing primarily on therapeutics development. Prior to joining Fannin, Dhane was a resident physician in general surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, in the Texas Medical Center, where he gained broad exposure to all aspects of perioperative patient care in trauma & acute care, elective general, cardiovascular, bariatric, and burn surgery, as well as extensive training in surgical critical care. Dhane earned his MD from Baylor College of Medicine in 2016 where his research focused on endovascular management of unstable trauma patients. Before moving to Houston, Dhane earned his B.Sc. in Finance from the University of Florida in 2011 where he demonstrated the effectiveness of an evidence-based patient management strategy to significantly reduce hospital admissions.
ROBERT SONS, PH.D. is an Entrepreneurship Fellow at Fannin. Prior to joining Fannin, Rob was a Technology Transfer Manager, Cancer Research Training Award Fellow, at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), where he obtained experience in due diligence, intellectual property portfolio management, and the initiation, maintenance, and negotiation of co-development and licensing relationships with industry partners. In his time supporting an internal proof-of-concept fund at NCI, Rob developed a deep appreciation for attempting to increase the commercial value of technologies by adding the right data to the overall package. Rob earned his Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he investigated the biogenesis and regulation of RNAi and co-founded UNC’s Science and Business Club, and his B.Sc. in Microbiology (Honors Scholar) from Colorado State University.
JAVIER GARZA, Ph.D. is an Entrepreneurship Fellow at Fannin Innovation Studio. He earned his B.Sc. and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Texas A&M University, where he conducted research to design and optimize multiple diagnostic biosensing technologies. His engineering background and experience in assay development has allowed him to invent novel biosensors that have led to patent applications, peer-reviewed publications, and presentations at international conferences. Prior to joining Fannin, Javier worked at the Center for Remote Health Technologies and Systems at Texas A&M, where he developed and assessed technologies for underserved populations to diagnose, manage, and prevent cardiovascular diseases. He is interested in working with teams of best-in-class scientists and business professionals to help identify, develop, and commercialize revolutionary products that address unmet needs to improve healthcare.
RIMA CHAKRABARTI, M.D. is an Entrepreneurship Fellow at Fannin Innovation Studio. A native of Scranton, Pennsylvania, she earned a B.Sc. with honors in Neuroscience at Brown University and her MD from the University of Texas Southwestern. While in medical school, she spent two years as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute research fellow developing a bio-assay for cellular cholesterol trafficking to study the role of red blood cells in reverse cholesterol transport. After medical school she completed her internship in internal medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Her focused clinical training in oncology, hepatology, pulmonology, and neurology garnered her interest in the process of developing novel therapeutics and bringing them to her patients’ bedsides. She was excited to find an opportunity at Fannin to play a deep role in identifying clinically relevant technologies and to gain experience in biotechnology commercialization.
DEEPTI GOPINATH, M.Eng. is an Entrepreneurship Fellow at Fannin Innovation Studio, with a focus on medical device development and commercialization. She received her B.Tech. in Biomedical Engineering from the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) while completing her thesis, “Assessment of SiPMs and Scintillation Crystals for Use in PET Toolkit Detector Modules,” at the UC Davis Medical Center. While completing her B. Tech, Deepti interned at several biomedical companies to learn about the processes involved in creating and commercializing medical devices. Deepti then went on to earn her MEng from Duke University with a specialization in Instrumentation, prior to joining Fannin.
Christine Luk M.Eng
CHRISTINE LUK, M.Eng. is an Entrepreneurship Fellow at Fannin Innovation Studio. A Houston transfer from Oklahoma City, Christine received her BA in Biochemistry and Cell Biology with a minor in Global Health Technologies from Rice University in 2018. She developed cervical cancer training models for low-resource settings with Rice 360° Institute for Global Health. Interested in furthering her studies in engineering medical devices, in 2019, she received her master’s of bioengineering in the Global Medical Innovation program from Rice. While completing her master’s, she co-founded a startup developing devices for women’s health and worked at the Johnson & Johnson Center for Device Innovation at the Texas Medical Center to develop novel electrophysiology devices.
STEPHANIE VEGA, Ph.D. is an Entrepreneurship Fellow at Fannin Innovation Studio. She graduated with B.S. in Biology from the University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB). As an undergraduate student at UTB she was a scholar of the NIH-funded MBRS-RISE program, and worked as a research assistant. Her research work was focused on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that control excitability of neuron presynaptic axon terminals, in hyperexcitable states such as epilepsy. She earned her Ph.D. in Microbiology & Immunology from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). For her doctoral project, she developed a novel 3D bioengineered human lung organoid as an experimental model to study lung injury, pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis and respiratory infections caused by influenza virus. While at UTMB, she worked on a research project with NASA and SpaceX to send the bioengineered human lung organoid model she developed to the International Space Station to understand the influence of spaceflight and microgravity on lung tissue development and lung repair mechanisms. After obtaining her Ph.D. she worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at UTMB and worked on a human stem cell project for The Moody Project for Translational Traumatic Brain Injury Research (Moody Foundation). She currently works in the Therapeutics Division at Fannin Innovation Studio.
Samantha J. Lopez
SAMANTHA J. LOPEZ i is a Marketing Associate at Fannin. She graduated with a B.A. in Communications-Advertising with a minor in Digital Media from the University of Houston (UH). After graduating, Samantha interned at Yvonamor Palix Fine Arts Gallery and an advertising agency to gain experience with a variety of clients to develop her skills in advertising, digital media, and graphic design. Samantha worked as an intern at Fannin before progressing to a full-time Marketing Associate. She is interested in working in the medical and technology industry to help market and commercialize innovative products.
SERENA MIGGINS, MA serves as Fannin Innovation Studio’s Business Operations Manager, focusing on investor relations, public relations, operational flow, and managing the Fannin Fellow & Internship programs. Serena holds a dual-bachelors degree in French and Economics from the University of the South in Tennessee, and a master’s degree in Applied Economics from Southern Methodist University.
TIFFANIE JOHNSON, M.P.H. is the Grant and Project Manager for Fannin. She works with each of the innovative companies to prepare and submit Federal and commercial grant applications. She also manages all of the post-award and grant reporting requirements. Tiffanie has more than 15 years of project management experience, working in the life-science space as well as managing various contracts for the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. She holds a BA and a MPH from The George Washington University in Washington, DC.
VILMA MEJIA is the Administrative Assistant at Fannin managing payroll, agreements processing, expense reporting and general office supplies. Vilma received her Bachelor of Science and Letters from Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras in Tegucigalpa. Prior to joining Fannin, Vilma was working in residential real estate sales.
Caitlin Huddleston M.S.
CAITLIN HUDDLESTON, M.S. is a Research Assistant at Fannin Innovation Studio. She earned her B.S. at Angelo State University and her research focused on a seed bank study for E. chisoensis, a rare, endangered cacti species in Big Bend National Park. She then earned her M.S. at the University of Houston Clear-Lake specializing in cell and molecular biology. Prior to joining Fannin, Caitlin worked at Base Pair Biotechnologies focusing on aptamer development and at Baylor College of Medicine in the Center for Drug Discovery with a focus on contraceptive and reproductive biology. Caitlin is driving research and development across all Fannin therapeutic projects.