Webinar: Fostering Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace

How can life sciences organizations facilitate equitable and diverse workplaces? BioSpace was thrilled to host a virtual panel discussion to hear how workplaces can improve their D&I strategies and help organizations thrive. We heard insightful advice from panelists from Amgen, Intellia Therapeutics, Obsidian Therapeutics, Omega Therapeutics and Athira Pharma.

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Panelists


Jennifer Vasquez
Amgen | Global Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Jennifer Vasquez is a multifaceted, bilingual executive leading Global DEIB strategies. She has more than thirteen years of hands-on experience in strategic planning, diversity and inclusion initiatives, change management, organizational agility, partnership development, and corporate social responsibility in both public and private sectors. Vasquez holds dual bachelors and dual master’s degrees in International Development and Latin American and Caribbean studies, and an MBA.


Marika St. Amand
Intellia Therapeutics | Chief Human Resources Officer

Marika St. Amand is the Chief Human Resources Officer at Intellia Therapeutics, where she provides strategic human resources leadership at a critical phase of growth for Intellia. She is responsible for strategic initiatives regarding culture, collaboration, innovation, career development and further embedding Intellia’s core values as the company evolves. She earned her B.A. in History from Tufts University and holds certifications in MBTI and DISC from the Center for Creative Leadership in 360 Assessment.


Jennifer Peterson
Obsidian Therapeutics | Chief People Officer

Jennifer Peterson, Chief People Officer at Obsidian Therapeutics, has been an HR executive for nearly 20 years with an active and influential seat on executive teams in diverse, dynamic, rapidly growing private and public global software and biotech companies. The constant threads in her experience have been leading transformation, championing collaborative cultures, and coaching team dynamics where trust, fairness and inclusion are at the core. Her global leadership experience and ability to bring together gender, racially, culturally, and generationally diverse teams is a source of strength in her work as a leader, coach, and facilitator. Jennifer holds a BA in Sociology from Franklin & Marshall College, a certificate in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion from Cornell University’s ILR School, and is in the process of completing her Coaching Certificate. Her DE&I related advisory experience ranges from inclusive hiring and pay equity to examining the implications of #metoo and engaging men to advance gender diversity. In her free time, she loves the outdoors, travel, live music, reading, and deep conversations with her family and friends.


Mark Litton
Athira Pharma | Chief Operating Officer

Mark Litton, M.B.A., Ph.D., has served as our chief operating officer since July 2019. Prior to joining Athira Pharma, Inc., Dr. Litton served as the president and chief operating officer of Alpine Immune Sciences, Inc., a publicly traded biotechnology company, from August 2018 to April 2019. Dr. Litton served as the chief business officer, treasurer, and secretary from 2004 to 2018 of Alder BioPharmaceuticals, Inc., a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company co-founded by Dr. Litton in 2004, which was acquired by Lundbeck A/S in October 2019. From 1999 to 2004, Dr. Litton served as vice president of business development for Celltech Group, where he was responsible for securing, commercializing, and partnering on numerous novel discoveries and therapeutic programs. In 1999, Dr. Litton joined Celltech Group as an employee of Chiroscience Group plc and was later promoted to vice president of business development after Chiroscience’s merger with Celltech Group in 1999. From 1997 to 1999, Dr. Litton served as the manager of business development for Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals Inc. (now Sirna Therapeutics, Inc.), a biopharmaceutical company and wholly owned subsidiary of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where he helped form relationships with Eli Lilly and Company, Roche Bioscience and GlaxoWellcome plc (now GlaxoSmithKline plc) a biopharmaceutical company. From 1991 to 1994, Dr. Litton served as a research associate for DNAX Research Institute, a research facility of Schering- Plough (now Merck & Co., a publicly traded pharmaceutical company).


Mahesh Karande
Omega Therapeutics | President and CEO

Mahesh Karande is deeply experienced in running biopharma businesses across discovery, preclinical development, clinical development, commercialization and product life cycle management stages. His breadth of therapeutic experience spans cardiovascular and metabolic, oncology, neurosciences, ophthalmology, antibiotics, pain, respiratory and rare and genetic diseases as well as drug and device combinations. He has been involved with more than 10 product launches in the U.S. and across global markets. He has strong leadership, operational and business-building experiences combined with a global work history spanning the U.S., Europe, Asia and Africa. Prior to taking the helm at Omega, Mr. Karande was President and CEO of Macrolide Pharmaceuticals, a company he took from discovery into early development. Earlier, Mr. Karande spent several years at Novartis in senior leadership roles: VP and Head of US Oncology for solid tumors, President of Novartis Africa and President of Novartis Egypt. He worked for McKinsey & Company prior to joining the bio-pharmaceutical industry. Mr. Karande has an M.B.A. from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He is also a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology where he completed his M.S. in engineering and the University of Bombay where he completed undergraduate studies in engineering.

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