Our Staff

Rich Giersch

Executive Director
Rich Giersch is Executive Director for Life Science Washington Institute and a principal investigator on a $3.5MM STTR that networks…
Richard Giersch Executive Director

Rich Giersch is Executive Director for Life Science Washington Institute and a principal investigator on a $3.5MM STTR that networks 24 academic institutions and is focused on building the commercialization ecosystem for life science companies in the Southeast US. Additionally, he is Chairman of the Board for the Bioscience Association of West Virginia, and CEO of WV based Valtari Bio.

Rich has held Director level positions at two venture capital firms, was the chief operating officer of a biotech company in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and the Chief Science Officer for the New Jersey Center for Biomaterials at Rutgers University. He has helped companies secure over $100 million in federal funding, tax, and relocation incentives and written over $15M in successful SBIR/STTR applications.

 

 

Aylin Kim , MBA

Director of Entrepreneurship
Aylin is the Director of Entrepreneurship for Life Science Washington Institute. She is the primary contact for all programs including…
Aylin Kim - Director of Entrepreneurship

Aylin is the Director of Entrepreneurship for Life Science Washington Institute. She is the primary contact for all programs including Startup Assistance Consulting, WA Innovation Network Mentoring Program, the SBIR/STTR Assistance Program, and the Lunch and Learn series. 

Aylin’s career focus has been on development of early-stage medical device concepts into commercial products. She is founder and board member of SPIWay LLC, a medical device start-up with an FDA cleared product and revenue. Aylin brings sales and marketing experience from Johnson & Johnson, where she won multiple awards related to the Ortho-Evra® drug-delivery patch, and manufacturing experience while working pre-launch on Pfizer’s insulin (Exubera®) delivery device. She also played a key role in launching PCAsso Diagnostics, an ophthalmologic diagnostic start-up. Aylin has also helped conduct multiple Phase II & Phase III clinical trials and has been awarded 3 patents and 3 STTR grants. Aylin’s B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and an MBA in Healthcare and Entrepreneurship, both from Columbia University, allow her to communicate well with both the entrepreneurs and industry leaders.

 

Elizabeth Cross Nichol

Program & Grants Manager
Elizabeth is the Program and Grants Manager for the Life Sciences Washington Institute. She will support the Institute team by…

Elizabeth is the Program and Grants Manager for the Life Sciences Washington Institute. She will support the Institute team by being a conduit from the funding agency through the Institute to underserved entrepreneurs across the state. Elizabeth is responsible for the set up and implementation of two new grant programs, the SBIR/STTR Matching Grant and the Washington Competes Grant. A prime focus will be on the support of early-stage, life science, Washington-based entrepreneurs via awareness, recruitment, education, grant awards, and outcomes tracking. These grants are intended to accelerate Life Sciences Research Commercialization in Washington with a prime focus on addressing the different needs of varied applicant types.

Having worked as a clinician and a hospital administrator, Elizabeth is well aware of the need to bring safe and effective products and solutions to deliver great patient care.  She has conducted health technology and services assessment as both a purchaser and an investor. Working with several early-stage medical device concepts from ideation to commercial implementation, Elizabeth understands the challenges of moving through product lifecycle. As the past president of ORCANW, Elizabeth enjoys the opportunity to engage with regulatory colleagues on determining appropriate regulatory routes, while pursuing a lean business model for early monetization. Elizabeth has an MBA in Health and Business from Boston University and a Bachelors in Science from McMaster University.

Chris Porter

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Chris Porter

Commercialization Advisor
As the Medical Technology and Biotechnology Consultant for LSWI, Chris has over 40 years of experience in the medical device…
Chris Porter

As the Medical Technology and Biotechnology Consultant for LSWI, Chris has over 40 years of experience in the medical device and biotech industry in both major corporations (3M, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer) and early stage medical companies. He is a serial entrepreneur with 42 patents and he has been influential in introducing over 35 medical products.

Seth Tropper

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Seth A. Tropper

Digital Health Consultant
Seth is a strategic-minded entrepreneur and healthcare innovator with a 20+ year portfolio of success across technology commercialization and startup…
Seth Tropper

Seth is a strategic-minded entrepreneur and healthcare innovator with a 20+ year portfolio of success across technology commercialization and startup ventures. Initiated, launched, and exited startup ventures (including a wearables, wellness and data analytics platform exited to Fitbit; and a medical device/technology company exited to Stryker); held leadership positions for large companies (HP, Bayer, Yahoo); and lead new venture efforts for universities. He has been a mentor and advisor for early stage companies and investment funds; with areas of expertise in Digital Platforms, Connected Health & Wellness, Medical Devices, Wearables/IoT, Mobile, Data Analytics, eCommerce & Social Marketing; and is the recipient of 11 U.S. patents. 

Our Board

Marc Cummings

Marc Cummings

Board Chair
President & CEO, Life Science Washington
Marc Cummings

Marc Cummings

Board Chair
President & CEO, Life Science Washington
Marc Cummings

As President & CEO of Life Science Washington (LSW), Marc sets the strategic direction, guides policy priorities, and directs business operations to ensure our members have the talent, investment, and partnerships needed to sustain the industry’s robust growth and solidify Washington state’s reputation as one of the top life science clusters in the nation. Marc also serves as the Chair of the Life Science Washington Institute, which is an affiliated non-profit focused on supporting life science entrepreneurs and growing start-up companies in Washington.

Before taking the helm as President & CEO, Marc served as Vice President, Public Policy & External Affairs for LSW. Prior to joining Life Science Washington, he served as Director of Policy & External Affairs for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), where he was actively involved in creating and advocating for several statewide bioscience initiatives including the Life Sciences Discovery Fund. He was also deeply involved in a range of PNNL’s philanthropic science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education partnerships and science education initiatives. Prior to moving to Washington state, Marc held a variety of policy and consulting positions in Washington, D.C.

Marc has served on several gubernatorial task forces including the Washington Clean Energy Leadership Council and the Life Science & Global Health Advisory Council.  Marc currently serves on the Tech Alliance Board as well as the Board of the Bothell Biomedical Innovation Partnership Zone. Additionally, Marc has previously served on a number of statewide trade association boards, including Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) and the Washington Clean Technology Alliance (WCTA).

Marc loves playing tennis, waterskiing, mountain biking, and Oregon Pinot Noir.

FULL BIO – PDF

Soraya Bailey

Soraya Bailey

Director, Innovation Training, CoMotion at the University of Washington
Soraya Bailey

Soraya Bailey

Director, Innovation Training, CoMotion at the University of Washington
Soraya Bailey

Soraya Bailey, serves as the Innovation Training Director at the University of Washington’s CoMotion. With a background as the former Program Director for the UW Master of Applied Bioengineering program and co-instructor for the Johns Hopkins Mechanical Engineering Capstone program, she has mentored 140+ teams in the product development and commercialization process. In her current role, Soraya fosters relationships across the Pacific Northwest to support innovation and entrepreneurship. Her diverse skill set in program management, curriculum design, and biomedical devices makes her a valuable addition to the Life Sciences Washington Institute Board. With a dedication to mentoring students and a rich academic background, Soraya brings extensive knowledge in healthcare, consumables, and smart technology to the board. She holds an M.Sc in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Calgary and B.A.Sc in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Ottawa.

Loretta Little

Loretta Little, MBA

Managing Director, WRF Capital
Loretta Little

Loretta Little, MBA

Managing Director, WRF Capital
Loretta Little

Ms. Little focuses on investment opportunities in the life sciences such as medical devices, digital health and scientific instrumentation. Her portfolio includes consumer technology, software and advanced materials companies. She has worked closely with several of WRF Capital’s investments including C-SATS (acquired by J&J/Ethicon), FlexMinder (acquired by JellyVision), Clarisonic (acquired by L’Oreal), Mirador Biomedical (acquired by Centurion Medical Products), Amnis (acquired by EMD Millipore), Mobisante (acquired by Renew Group), and EKOS (acquired by BTG plc). She oversees WRF Capital’s investments AbSci, Lightspeed Microscopy, MDmetrix, Medcurity, Direct AMS, Transformative Med, and Cardiac Insight.

Previously, Ms. Little served as senior technology licensing manager at Washington Research Foundation. Before joining WRF, she worked as a marketing manager for a biotechnology company and as a market consultant.

Ms. Little received an MBA from the University of Arizona and a B.A. in zoology from Pomona College. She currently serves as a board member with the Alliance of Angels.

Scott Maloney

Scott Maloney, MBA

Director of Innovation and Private Sector Research Engagement, Washington State University
Scott Maloney

Scott Maloney, MBA

Director of Innovation and Private Sector Research Engagement, Washington State University
Scott Maloney

Scott Maloney is an executive and multiple division leader with experience in Fortune 500 companies and $1B+ startups.  He serves as the Director of Innovation and Private Sector Research Engagement for Washington State University with responsibility of moving technologies into industry through partnership negotiations and ventures.

Scott has worked as the CEO and Co-Founder of Seed Worthy, a technology platform for developers that amassed users around the world.  Prior to that he was VP of Strategy and Operations for @Pay, a mobile payment startup where he led the Product, Production, and Creative teams, and provided direct leadership for all strategic initiatives.  Before that, Scott was the Senior Operations and Strategy Manager for LivingSocial, where he was responsible for leadership of several operational and strategic teams, and he was a key driver of growth for one of the company’s fastest growing divisions.  LivingSocial was acquired for a publicly undisclosed amount.  Scott ran R&D finance and planning for Human Genome Sciences prior to their acquisition by GlaxoSmithKline for $3.5B.  Prior to that Scott was finance lead to the Emerging Markets Unit at Pfizer where he provided business development and financial efforts for nearly $400M in partnerships deals and international operations.  Throughout his career Scott has successfully raised significant investment rounds from Angels, VCs, and funds.

Scott holds degrees in Genetics and Cellular Biology from Washington State University and an MBA from Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, a Top 20 MBA program.

Scott is a third-generation entrepreneur, guest lecturer at major universities, keynote speaker, consultant, Innovator-In-Residence to a major startup incubator, and board member for several large companies. In his free time, he enjoys travel, amazing food, and practicing martial arts as a holder of black belts in multiple styles.

Sean McClain

Sean McClain

Founder & CEO, Absci
Sean McClain

Sean McClain

Founder & CEO, Absci
Sean McClain

Sean McClain, founder and CEO of Absci, started the company in 2011 with a bold goal to re-engineer E. coli to be an effective biomanufacturing system for twenty-first century biologics. Having accomplished that, and driven by the mantra “believe in the impossible,” Sean went on to build one of today’s most powerful platform technologies for drug discovery, which Absci is applying in pursuit of a vision to design drugs directly from patient tissues entirely in silico – with the click of a button. Uniquely merging cutting-edge machine learning AI with proprietary bioinformatics pipelines and high throughput synthetic biology methods, Absci takes protein-based drug discovery beyond nature’s boundaries to bring breakthrough medicines into the lives of patients with unprecedented speeds. Under Sean’s leadership, Absci has raised over $425M, become a publicly traded company (Nasdaq: ABSI), grown to more than 200 employees, acquired pioneering deep learning company Denovium and target discovery company Totient, and established partnerships with industry-leading pharmaceutical and biotech companies including Merck and Astellas. Sean, who studied biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Arizona, has been recognized as an “allstar” in the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 cohort in Science, named as an Entrepreneur of The Year 2020 Pacific Northwest Region Award Winner, included among the 2021 Endpoints News 20 Under Forty Biopharma leaders, and awarded the OEN 30th Anniversary Award. Sean serves as a board member for the Oregon Bioscience Association, the Oregon Translational Research and Development Institute, and Life Science Washington.

Kayla Young

Kayla Young, PhD

Chief Operating Officer, Phase Genomics
Kayla Young

Kayla Young, PhD

Chief Operating Officer, Phase Genomics
Kayla Young

Dr. Young received her PhD from Vanderbilt University in Molecular Physiology & Biophysics in 2016 at which point she started working for Life Science WA with an interest in being at the interface of business and science. In her role there, she managed the Washington Innovation Network (WIN) Entrepreneur Mentoring Program where she worked with founders in their earliest stages. In 2017, she started working with Phase Genomics where she is now the Chief Operating Officer. Kayla has a passion for early-stage biotechnology companies and designing operational processes to help these companies be successful.

Erin Williams Hueter

Erin Williams Hueter

Executive Director - Health Sciences & Services Authority of Spokane County
Erin Williams Hueter

Erin Williams Hueter

Executive Director - Health Sciences & Services Authority of Spokane County
Erin Williams Hueter

Erin Williams Hueter joined Health Sciences and Services Authority of Spokane County in January 2023 as Executive Director. She discovered her passion for service at an early age and has been working in human services, public health, and violence prevention for thirty years. While completing an internship serving victims of domestic violence, she developed deep compassion for this population and devoted much of her career to it. She served for over twenty years at Lutheran Community Services Northwest in several leadership roles in trauma recovery programs providing crime victim advocacy, behavioral health and refugee foster care. She proudly concluded her service with nearly five years as the Inland Northwest District Director.
Erin is a graduate of Pacific University and Leadership Spokane, has served on numerous Boards, Commissions and Task Forces including the Transitions Board of Directors, the Spo-Can Council/Our Kids: Our Business, the Washington State Task Force Against the Trafficking of Persons, the Community of Montessori Parents Board of Directors, the Spokane Regional Law and Justice Council, Spokane Police Advisory Committee and Washington State Attorney General’s Commercially Sexually Exploited Children Statewide Coordinating Committee among others. Erin is the grateful recipient of the Arc of Spokane’s Partnership 4 Safety Community Service Award, the Spo-Can Council Award for work with survivors of sexual abuse, a Catholic Charities Volunteer Service Award and a Spokane Community Oriented Policing Services Partnership Award. Erin has been interviewed by numerous reporters and moderated and spoken at several events and conferences regarding behavioral health, crime and victimization in many forms, as well as self-care, vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue. Erin loves her community and working to see everyone in it thrive together. Erin and her husband raised their three children in Spokane and live in a renovated former bait shop on a small lake in the west plains

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