Team

Leadership


linbeck

Leo Linbeck IIIM.B.A., M.S.
Chairman and Founder

LEO LINBECK III, M.B.A., 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.


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Atul VaradhacharyM.D., Ph.D.
Managing Partner

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 companies 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.

Contact at atul@fannininnovation.com


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Mark WorschehM.B.A.
Chief Financial Officer

MARK WORSCHEH, M.B.A. 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 Fannin portfolio companies, relying on his experience in New York and Houston as an investment banker for firms including Salomon Brothers and Merrill Lynch, before becoming CFO of an institutional venture capital-backed 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 and community boards. He oversees capital allocation across the Aquinas group of companies, including real estate initiatives.

Fannin Team


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Andrea LetkemanM.B.A.
Director, Professional Development

ANDREA FORD LETKEMAN, M.B.A. 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.

Contact at andrea@fannininnovation.com


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Michael HeffernanPh.D., P.E.
Director, Research & Technology

MICHAEL J. HEFFERNAN, PH.D., P.E. is the Director of Research & Technology and serves as Chief Operating Officer of Raptamer Discovery Group. Mike also serves as a principal investigator for the Southwest National Pediatric Device Innovation Consortium (SWPDC) and has managed several medical device technologies within Fannin’s portfolio. 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.

Contact at michael@fannininnovation.com


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Dev ChatterjeeM.D., M.S., Ph.D.
Principal

DEV CHATTERJEE, M.D., M.S., PH.D. is a Principal at Fannin and co-Founder and CSO 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.

Contact at dev@fannininnovation.com


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Christine LukM.B.E.
Associate Principal

CHRISTINE LUK, M.B.E. is an Associate Principal 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. Christine currently leads a number of preclinical medical device programs at Fannin, as well as assisting with the Southwest Pediatric Medical Device Innovation Consortium (SWPDC).

Contact at christinel@fannininnovation.com


andreal

Andrea LetkemanM.B.A.
Dir. Professional Dev.

ANDREA FORD LETKEMAN, M.B.A. 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.

Contact at andrea@fannininnovation.com


devchatterjee

Dev ChatterjeeM.D., M.S., Ph.D.
Principal

DEV CHATTERJEE, M.D., M.S., PH.D. is a Principal at Fannin and co-Founder and CSO 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.

Contact at dev@fannininnovation.com


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Michael HeffernanPh.D., P.E.
Principal

MICHAEL J. HEFFERNAN, PH.D., P.E. is a company Principal and serves as Chief Operating Officer of Raptamer Discovery Group. Mike also serves as a principal investigator for the Southwest National Pediatric Device Innovation Consortium (SWPDC) and has managed several medical device technologies within Fannin’s portfolio. 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.

Contact at michael@fannininnovation.com


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Christine LukM.B.E.
Associate Principal

CHRISTINE LUK, M.B.E. is an Associate Principal 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. Christine currently leads a number of preclinical medical device programs at Fannin, as well as assisting with the Southwest Pediatric Medical Device Innovation Consortium (SWPDC).

Contact at christinel@fannininnovation.com


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Mai Tran Ph.D.
Associate Principal

MAI TRAN, Ph.D. earned her Ph.D. in Cancer Biology in 2013 from the UT-MD Anderson Cancer Center where she received extensive training in the molecular mechanisms of cancer initiation, progression, and metastasis. Her study played an important role in the discovery of different subtypes of muscle-invasive bladder cancer. While working as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Michigan Medical School, she has discovered a mechanism of chemoresistance in metaplastic breast carcinoma, an aggressive subtype of triple-negative breast cancer. Since joining Fannin, she has been involved in multiple projects across different portfolio companies. Currently she is leading two portfolio companies and two projects in others.

Contact at mait@fannininnovation.com


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Tiffanie JohnsonM.P.H.
Grant and Project Manager

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 20 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.

Contact at tiffanie@fannininnovation.com


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Stephanie VegaPh.D.
Senior
Entrepreneurship Fellow

STEPHANIE VEGA, Ph.D. is a Senior 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. Her research work was focused on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that control excitability of neuron presynaptic axon terminals in epilepsy. She earned her Ph.D. in Microbiology & Immunology from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). She developed a novel 3D bioengineered human lung organoid as an experimental model to study lung injury, pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis and respiratory infections. While at UTMB, she worked on a research project with NASA and SpaceX to send the bioengineered human lung organoid to the International Space Station to understand the influence of microgravity on lung immunology and repair mechanisms. After obtaining her Ph.D. she worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at UTMB where her research work was focused on human stem cell-induced immune modulation during traumatic brain injury. She currently works in the Therapeutics Division at Fannin Innovation Studio and manages various targeted therapeutics platforms for cancer and other diseases.

Contact at stephaniev@fannininnovation.com


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Sana ShaikhPh.D.
Senior
Entrepreneurship Fellow

SANA SHAIKH, Ph.D., is a Senior Entrepreneurship Fellow at Fannin Innovation Studio. She was born and raised in India, where she completed her Master of Science in Biochemistry. She pursued her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at The Ohio State University where she studied the uncoupling of the Sarco-endoplasmic Reticulum Calcium ATPase in skeletal muscle, establishing that the pump not only transports calcium, but also is a heat-producing mechanism for thermogenesis that can be harnessed to combat obesity. Sana then moved to UTHealth Houston as a Postdoctoral Fellow where she used single molecule Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (smFRET), and electrophysiology to investigate the modulation of Glutamate Receptors of the central nervous system, which have significant applications in the development of novel therapies for stroke and Alzheimer’s. Sana worked at Fannin as an intern where she developed a resounding interest in drug development and commercialization and now works in the Therapeutics team at Fannin.

Contact at sanas@fannininnovation.com


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Amanda GibbensM.Eng.
Senior
Entrepreneurship Fellow

AMANDA GIBBENS, M.Eng. is a Senior Entrepreneurship Fellow working on medical device development at Fannin Innovation Studio. She received her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering with a focus in bioinstrumentation in 2019 and her M.Eng. in Biomedical Engineering and a Certificate in Engineering Concept, Creation, and Commercialization (C3) in 2020 from Texas A&M University. Her undergraduate work involved a breadth of experiences working as a Medical Device Technician in Rwanda, a Researcher in A&M’s Optical-Biosensing Laboratory, and being an avid leader in engineering and music-related organizations. Interested in translational product development, Amanda worked on several projects with the SWPDC during her Master’s, leading her to join Fannin as a Medical Devices Intern, which she occupied for 1 month prior to being promoted to her current role as a Fellow.

Contact at amandag@fannininnovation.com


philbertlee

Philbert LeePh.D.
Entrepreneurship Fellow

PHILBERT LEE, PH.D. is a fellow at Fannin. Prior to joining Fannin Innovation Studio, he had worked at the tech transfer office at the University of Chicago. Additionally, he has prior experience working at buy-side and sell-side biotech investment firms. He obtained a Ph.D. in Developmental Biology from the University of Chicago.

Contact at philbertl@fannininnovation.com


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Nancy Ward Ph.D.
Senior Scientist

NANCY WARD, PH.D., is a Senior Scientist at Raptamer Discovery Group. She obtained her PhD from the University of Texas Health Science Center, working on the regulation of protein kinases. She then completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the MD Anderson Cancer in the Department of Cancer Biology, where she was the R.E. “Bob” Smith Fellow. Prior to joining Raptamer Discovery Group, Nancy had worked as a molecular biologist at JES Tech supporting the Counter Measure Research Support and Integration program at NASA/JSC in Houston. Nancy has authored over 50 publications, both peer-reviewed and invited articles, in many of which she was the first author. She has also contributed to a dozen book chapters and has numerous abstracts at scientific conferences to her name.

Contact at nancy.ward@raptamer.com


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Lokesh RaoPh.D.
Senior Scientist

LOKESH RAO, PH.D. is a Senior Scientist at Raptamer Discovery Group. Lokesh obtained his PhD in Molecular Virology from the Indian Institute of Science. He then did postdoctoral fellowships at the laboratories of Dr. Stan Watowich in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Dr. Natarajan at the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, both at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. He then worked with Dr. David Gorenstein at the Institute for Molecular Medicine in Houston, where he became a Research Scientist, working with aptamers. He continues his interest in the evolving field of aptamer research at Raptamer Discovery Group, where he lends his expertise in DNA aptamers, thioaptamers and x-aptamer, including their synthesis, selection, characterization, scale up, and modifications. Lokesh has helped author over 30 scientific peer reviewed publications, many of them related to breakthroughs in aptamer science and applications.

Contact at lokesh.rao@raptamer.com


SanthanaG

Santhana DevarajPh.D.
Research Scientist

Santhana Devaraj, PhD serves as Fannin Innovation Studio’s Research Scientist.


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Serena MigginsM.A.
Business Operations Manager

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.

Contact at serena@fannininnovation.com

mejia

Vilma Mejia Administrative Assistant

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.

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