Meet Our Team
Our PharmStarsTM team is dedicated to driving digital health adoption. Our goal is to improve patient outcomes. With extensive expertise across pharma, startups, digital health, and innovation, we understand the challenges that pharma and startups face when seeking to collaborate. We work with our pharma members and digital health startups to “bridge the gap.” This will lead to greater success for both pharma and startups as well as faster adoption of “beyond the molecule” benefits for patients.
The PharmStars team creates and manages every aspect of our program: coursework, mentorship curriculum, one-on-one mentoring, pitch preparation, and the Showcase Event. The PharmStars team is involved every step of the way.
Naomi Fried, PhD, is the founder and CEO of PharmStars. An internationally recognized thought leader in healthcare innovation, Naomi brings over two decades of expertise in digital health strategy and innovation, as well as an entrepreneurial spirit.
Naomi is also the co-founder and general partner of Ambit Health Ventures, a venture capital fund focused on early-stage digital health and medical device startups. In this capacity, she serves on the board of directors of Wavely Diagnostics. Before founding PharmStars and Ambit, Naomi led a boutique consulting firm, Health Innovation Strategies, which advised pharma on digital health strategy and innovation activities.
Previously, Naomi was Biogen’s first VP of Innovation and External Partnerships, where she developed their “innovation beyond the molecule” strategy to deliver non-pharmacological value to patients and providers. Before her time at Biogen, Naomi served as the first Chief Innovation Officer at Boston Children’s Hospital and also the first VP of Innovation and Advanced Technology at Kaiser Permanente.
Naomi has been a member of the Governor of Massachusetts’ Innovation Council and the Board of the American Telemedicine Association. Her awards include Healthcare IT News’ “Health Information Technology (H.I.T.) Men and Women of the Year Award, Innovators.” Naomi was named “The Emerging Executive of the Year” in 2014 by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council and one of Medical Marketing and Media’s 40 “Healthcare Transformers” in 2016.
Naomi received her PhD in Materials Science from MIT and her BS in Chemistry, summa cum laude, from the University of California, Berkeley. When not working, Naomi can be found dancing up a storm in Zumba classes or lifting weights.
Dr. Shrawan Patel is the Head Mentor at PharmStars. Shrawan is a seasoned mentor with decades of experience in startups and pharma digital health. He has first-hand experience as a participant and mentor in multiple accelerators. Shrawan brings real-world business and technology acumen to the PharmStars program.
Shrawan is also the Managing Director of Strategy Health, a boutique consulting firm that assists healthcare firms in making the most of emerging digital technologies. Previously, he was the Vice President of Clinical Transformation at RxHealth, which offers a digital health platform for prescribing and monitoring digital therapeutics. At RxHealth, he led the development and implementation of major partnerships with large pharma companies, serving as project lead and clinical lead for these partnerships. Alongside his role at RxHealth, Shrawan was the Clinical Transformation Lead at Mount Sinai’s digital health incubator, the AppLab.
Shrawan earned his MD in Medicine at Imperial College of London with a distinction in General Practice. He also holds a BS from Imperial College in Medical Science and Respiratory Science.
Shrawan enjoys playing sports, particularly field hockey. He is a two-time US adult field hockey champion and is named to the U.S. Men’s National Development Team. He is also quite proficient with a sewing machine and enjoys outfitting himself, his family, and his apartment with his creations.
Meredith is PharmStars’ Program and Projects Manager. As a business consultant with more than 25 years of experience in organizational and professional development, Meredith brings expertise in strategic planning, project management, and client communication to her work on the program development and implementation of PharmaU.
Prior to PharmStars, she was the Planning and Projects Coordinator at Health Innovation Strategies, where she worked closely with clients on innovation challenge executions, including designing, building, and quality assurance testing the challenge websites.
In addition to her work in healthcare, Meredith has worked extensively in the creation and delivery of training programs for customers in the IT consulting industry. Meredith graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with a BA in Psychology.
Meredith loves the snow and if she had her way it would be winter all the time! In her free time, you can find her on the slopes, building a snowman, or dreaming of the next big blizzard.
Marcella Rogers is the Director of Mentoring & Curriculum at PharmStars. She is an experienced life sciences executive with broad and diverse drug development experience from discovery through regulatory submissions and life cycle management. Previously she was the SVP of Operations and Portfolio Management at Sumitovant Biopharma. Before Sumitovant, she was the Head of Clinical Operations and Program Management at Roivant, Senior Director of Program Management & Alliance at Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, and held various roles in Finance at Covance.
Marcella serves as a Product Advisory Board member at Lokavant and an Adjunct Professor at Campbell University where she teaches a graduate level course in Clinical Operations.
Marcella holds a BS in biochemistry, an MBA with a concentration in corporate finance, and a Master of Science in Biotechnology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Marcella’s hobbies include: travel, music, cooking, baking, reading, and needlework. She also enjoys swimming, running, hiking, and exploring nature.
Dr. Joanne Kamens is the Director of Alumni Programming at PharmStars. Joanne received her PhD in genetics from Harvard Medical School and has had a varied career in academia, pharma, biotech and nonprofit.
Joanne spent 15 years at BASF/Abbott (now AbbVie) as a scientist and group leader in basic research and then partner scouting for immunology indications. She then worked at RXi as Senior Director of Research Collaborations, directing scientists and coordinating research partnerships. After that she was the Executive Director/CEO of the international biotechnology nonprofit, Addgene, which was voted a ‘Best Place to Work in Boston’ for 6 years running and #1 Best Place in 2016.
Joanne is a leader in creating group mentoring programs and has been nominated for the Presidential Medal of Honor in STEM Mentoring. She founded the Boston chapter of the Association for Women in Science (MASS AWIS). Currently she is a diversity, equity & inclusion consultant, helping organizations develop processes and culture that support organizational success.
Joanne is an avid reader and relaxes with challenging crossword puzzles. She is currently working to master cryptic crosswords and is a level 50 Pokémon Go player.
Salomon (Sam) Azoulay is PharmStars Mentor Advisor and a pharma executive with more than 30 years of US and global experience. Sam has been recognized for his strategic and focused vision for successful implementation of creative plans that lead to optimizing organizational efficiency and portfolio development. He has a track record of worldwide regulatory approvals and successful launches of a broad portfolio of both innovative and established products. He has led large integrations and successfully transformed R&D organizations into lean, fit-for-purpose models to meet business needs.
Sam started his career in France with Hoechst Roussel and Pierre Fabre, moved to Roche, Switzerland and then to Parke Davis, UK. Following the Warner Lambert acquisition, he joined Pfizer US where he worked for 18 years in various executive positions. He was Head of R&D in Japan where he radically transformed the development process. He led the global cardio-metabolism division in the US where he changed the focus of the portfolio. He served as the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of two major business units where he oversaw all development aspects of Pfizer assets.
Sam joined Roivant in 2018, where, as CMO, he contributed to the creation of five companies. Since 2020, Sam served as Sumitovant’s CMO where he oversaw the portfolio development and numerous regulatory approvals in the US. He was instrumental in the integration of two public companies.
Sam received an MD from Paris VI University with a specialization in Cardiology and a DESS (MBA) from La Sorbonne Paris. Sam enjoys traveling, reading, biking, and playing tennis but mostly loves spending time with his family, especially his four grandchildren.
Shwen Gwee is a PharmStars Mentor Advisor and is a recognized pioneer in digital health and health innovation. He has nearly 20 years of experience leading digital strategy and driving innovation in commercial, clinical, and enterprise-wide organizations, both on the client-side of biopharma and at creative agencies.
Shwen is the former Head of Global Digital Strategy at Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS), where he led digital strategy & innovation across the various business functions (R&D, Drug Development, Commercial and Manufacturing & Supply Chain) and established the enterprise strategy for digital medicines and therapeutics. Prior to BMS, he was the co-founder and Global Head of Open Innovation for the Novartis BIOME.
Shwen has also been involved in the health tech startup ecosystem for over 10 years and organizes startup events and pitch competitions regularly, including advising and running healthcare hackathons around the world as part of the MIT Hacking Medicine team.
He was named Top-40 “Healthcare Transformer” by MM&M in 2015, a PR Week "Health Influencer 50" in 2017 and 2018 and a Constellation Research "Business Transformation 150" in 2020. He sits on various advisory boards, including Google (Healthcare), SXSW (Health), MM&M Healthcare Transformers, conversationHEALTH, GRYT Health and the Digital Health Coalition.
In his free time, Shwen enjoys skiing, hiking, fishing, grilling and smoking meats, as well as camping with his son and his Boy Scout Troop.
Laura Gunn, PhD, is a Mentor Advisor at PharmStars. Laura is a seasoned pharmaceutical executive with over 15 years of experience across the pharmaceutical and diagnostic industries. She brings a unique combination of scientific and business acumen, along with a collaborative approach to developing novel approaches to complex problems. Laura has a passion for building and optimizing high performing teams through transformational leadership and coaching.
Prior to working with PharmStars, Laura spent 9 years at Biogen. She worked as the Global Head of Scientific Partnership, leading a team responsible for a multichannel medical communication and scientific exchange strategy across the firm’s portfolio and pipeline. Prior to that role, Laura served as Biogen’s Chief Learning Officer, where she built and cultivated a modern, learner-centric culture of continuous learning across the enterprise. Laura also built and led the Global Scientific Meetings and Congress team, bringing a more strategic approach to scientific exchange and medical education at scientific conferences. Her outstanding contributions in both business and culture at Biogen were recognized repeatedly during her tenure, including her receiving the “CEO Top Talent” award twice and the “Biogen Elements” award for work on Biogen’s Covid task force.
Prior to Biogen, Laura held several field-based medical roles at EMD Serono and Quest Diagnostics, where she was responsible for building relationships with medical and scientific leaders to advance corporate objectives and clinical partnerships. Before transitioning to pharma, she worked and published in both industry and academic positions in the areas of diagnostics, biomarker technologies, and emerging biomarker discovery.
Laura received her BS from Simmons College. She earned an MS in Environmental Health Sciences and a PhD in Toxicology and Molecular Epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley. In her free time, Laura enjoys spending time in the garden or on the water, sailing and kayaking with family. She is also on a quest to perfect her sourdough recipe.
Marc Monseau is a PharmStars Mentor Advisor. He has spent his professional career reaching, engaging, and influencing people through storytelling.
Marc started as a reporter for Bloomberg Business News in their London offices, with stints in Copenhagen and Stockholm as a political correspondent. After returning to the US, Marc worked as Bloomberg’s healthcare reporter, covering pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotechnology companies and the ongoing debate over healthcare reform.
After working at Bloomberg, Marc joined Johnson & Johnson’s corporate communications team, where he handled media relations, issues management, and crisis communications. He was also responsible for coordinating communications surrounding major acquisitions and investments. As a senior leader, Marc helped ensure customers, investors, employees, and the media knew the story of Johnson & Johnson, its products, and its people.
After leading Johnson & Johnson’s efforts to create a corporate social media presence, Marc established his own communications consultancy, Mint Collective. Through Mint Collective, Marc helps brands and businesses reach the right people at the right time with the right messages to achieve business results. When he’s not working with his clients, Marc splits his time between teaching at The College of New Jersey, gardening, and writing.
A resident of Princeton, NJ, where he lives with his wife Susanna and two cats, Marc holds a BA from Kenyon College and an MA from University College London.
Dhiren Patel is a PharmStars Mentor Advisor and seasoned healthcare executive with 15+ years of clinical and industry experience. Dhiren started his career as faculty at Brown University and Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. While working at the Veterans Health Administration, he provided direct patient care to veterans with cardiovascular, renal, and metabolic conditions.
He has served as an investor and consultant to a variety of clients that include the federal government, biopharmaceutical companies, and digital health startups. He joined Pack Health to start the medical affairs department in 2018. As Senior Vice President of Commercial, he oversaw sales, marketing, client success, and medical affairs at the company.
Dhiren completed his doctorate degree in Pharmacy at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, after which he went on to complete his post graduate residency training at the VA Boston Healthcare System. Dhiren has authored several textbooks, published numerous peer-reviewed journals, and delivered hundreds of presentations on behalf of the top 20 life sciences companies. Currently, Dhiren serves as a Co-Founder and Partner at Taurus Health.
In his free time, Dhiren enjoys traveling with his wife and their two kids, as well as watching sporting events live.
Dr. Veena Rao brings over 20 years of business and technical experience as a Mentor Advisor to PharmStars, leveraging her experiences in pharma, big tech, and digital health. She has been actively working in early to late phase development projects from both the technical and commercial perspective in pharma, biotech, academia, and start-up settings— giving her a multi-dimensional perspective of new products in healthcare.
Veena is currently the Chief Business Officer for Portal Instruments, a device start-up. Prior to Portal, she was the Chief Commercial Officer at Beta Bionics and prior to that, Vice President of External Innovation for Devices, Delivery, and Digital Health at Eli Lilly. In her 13 years at Lilly, Veena held a number of commercial and R&D positions which provided her a broad understanding of the drug development and commercialization process.
Veena is a Chemical Engineer by training and holds a PhD from Stanford University. She also earned an MBA from the Darden School at the University of Virginia. In her spare time, Veena likes to go hiking and biking.
Chris Salzo brings over 20 years of experience across financial services, pharmaceutical, biopharma and medical devices to his role as a PharmStars Mentor Advisor. Chris has spent the last 15 years driving digital and data transformations across all levels of big and small healthcare corporations.
Chris is currently the Vice President of Digital, Data and Customer Experience for Boston Scientific, helping lead the organization on their journey to the future of health care delivery.
Prior to Boston Scientific, Chris was the Senior Director of Enterprise Digital Technology for Alexion Pharmaceuticals. At Alexion, Chris built a global organization responsible for delivery of digital and data through products, microservices, and platforms. He built a marketing technology team focused on delivering integrated customer experiences for patients and HCPs globally.
Before Alexion, Chris worked for Boehringer Ingelheim (BI). While at BI, Chris helped lead a number of product launches through digital channels, including a multi-year effort to connect all customer touch points into a single view, driving deeper customer engagements and digital interaction.
Chris has expertise in delivering digital products to functions across pharma, to commercial, medical, marketing, HR, communications and finance. He is a lifelong intrapreneur, helping connect the dots along the journey for technology and business partners around the world.
In his free time, Chris enjoys traveling with family, exercising, reading, and sampling a few Bourbons every now and then.
Katherine Vandebelt is a Mentor Advisor at PharmStars. She is a seasoned executive with deep clinical research expertise in building efficient and effective divisions. She has experience transforming global organizations, streamlining operations, and growing a profitable start-up company. Katherine is passionate about introducing new and better experiences to make the clinical research ecosystem better for patients, health care professionals, sponsors, and regulators by unlocking the power of technology.
Prior to working with PharmStars, Katherine was the Global Vice President Clinical Innovation, Oracle Life Sciences for four and half years. Katherine served as a content expert and workstream leader in collaborations with public health and government organizations to accelerate the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostic testing. Katherine explored the depths of innovation and human compassion in clinical research as host of the Latest Dose podcast.
Prior to Oracle, Katherine was the Chief Ecosystem Officer at Reify Health. Katherine developed and executed the ‘go to market’ strategy for pharmaceutical customers. Katherine drove global product strategy taking in to account GDPR requirements and the diversity in country health systems.
Prior to Reify, Katherine worked at Eli Lilly and Company, where she held leadership positions across several continents and departments including Clinical Operations, Statistical Sciences, Data Sciences and Solutions She completed her 30-year career as Global Head, Clinical Innovation with a focus on making clinical research accessible to patients and feasible for healthcare providers. Katherine collaborated with small and large health tech companies to co-develop new solutions.
Katherine has lived in both hemispheres of the world, enjoys all types of weather and the activities they offer. If you are unable to reach her, she is busy making memories with her family and friends.
George is the former Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Alexion Pharmaceuticals. He was responsible for building the company’s Global Information Technology function that enables Alexion to serve patients and their families with rare diseases through the innovation, development, and commercialization of life-changing therapies.
A bio-pharma industry veteran with over 35 years of business, information technology and cyber-security experience, George and his team develop and implement innovative technology and enable data-driven insights across Alexion’s R&D, Commercial, Manufacturing Operations and Supply Chain functions.
Prior to joining Alexion, George served as Vice President and business line CIO for Merck and Co., where he led the large-scale merger integration of Merck/Schering-Plough across the IT and Shared Business Services organizations. George previously worked at Citibank, N.A.
George serves on the Board of Directors of Charles River Laboratories and the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). He also serves on the Advisory Board of Sierra Ventures and Temple University’s Fox Business School. George holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from New York Institute of Technology and completed the Executive Development Program at both Harvard and the Wharton School of Business.
George was named to Forbes CIO Next 2021 list that highlights top tech executives who are redefining the CIO role and driving game-changing innovation. In 2020, he was named a Global CIO of the Year finalist by the Boston CIO Leadership Association for demonstrating excellence in technology leadership.
George’s cut his innovative teeth as a DJ on the ground floor of the rap movement, while growing up in the Bronx through the late 70’s and golden age of rap/hip hop in the 80’s. George signed under Rush Management in 1981, who managed popular up and comers at the time including Run-DMC, Kurtis Blow, Whodini and later LL Cool J. He has several album and single credits in addition to film that he keeps a secret.
Omkar Kulkarni is the first chief innovation officer at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. In his role, Omkar is responsible for fostering innovation across CHLA's clinical and research enterprises, including launching an enterprise virtual care program, incubating and implementing new digital health tools and medical devices, and rallying communities inside and out of the hospital to solve problems in the field of pediatrics. These efforts all share the goal of enhancing the experience and outcomes for the children and families CHLA serves. Omkar is also the Founder and Managing Director of KidsX, the first and only national pediatric digital health accelerator program.
Prior to joining CHLA, Omkar served as the Executive Director of the Cedars-Sinai Accelerator powered by Techstars, where he helped build and launch the accelerator program. In that role, he evaluated over 3,000 health care startups and provided extensive mentoring, serving as the main liaison between the startup community and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Omkar also led the performance improvement department at Cedars-Sinai for many years and has experience in financial process redesign at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Omkar has a BA in business administration from George Washington University and an MA in public health and health care management from Columbia University.
Rachele Ryan is the Director of Partnerships at LabCentral, a launchpad for high-potential life sciences and biotech startups. In this role, she is responsible for business development strategy, resident growth and development, and leading entrepreneurship programming.
Rachele has over seven years of experience connecting startups to the Boston innovation ecosystem. Prior to joining LabCentral, Rachele led the MassCONNECT mentoring program at MassBio, the Massachusetts biopharma industry association. In that role, she matched life sciences entrepreneurs and founders with seasoned life science professionals to catalyze and commercialize innovation. Previously, as a part of the International Business Development team at the Consulate General of Canada in Boston, she assisted Canadian companies with their expansion efforts into New England and supported fast-growing startups participating in the Canadian Technology Accelerator in Boston. Rachele holds a BA from College of the Holy Cross and an MA from Middlebury College.
Mohan Nair is an accomplished visionary and problem solver, serving as advisor, investor, company creator, entrepreneur, corporate executive, speaker and author. He is currently the Chief Executive of Emerge Inc., an advisory firm based on the principle that business transformation accelerates when companies and individuals are motivated by the greater good.
For 10 years prior, Mohan served as Chief Innovation Officer and Senior Vice President of Cambia Health Solutions. In this role, he transformed the internal culture, accelerating problems to solutions and creating and launching 6 startups in 10 years. For 7 years prior, Mohan was Chief Marketing Executive and Executive Vice President for Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield, leading all front-end functions for the multi-billion dollar firm.
Mohan was named Marketing Executive of the Year in 2009 by The Marketing Leadership Council. He has authored a book entitled Strategic Business Transformation: the 7 deadly sins to avoid as well as two other books and published over 15 refereed-journal articles on high-performance measurement and servant leadership. He publishes in Forbes.com and Ramaonhealthcare.com and is also a TED speaker.
Mohan has taught as an adjunct professor of business at JL Kellogg School of Management for 12 years. New Zealand awarded him the prestigious Edmund Hillary Fellowship and he is a healthcare advisor to MOVAC capital, the largest New Zealand venture fund and Caramed Capital, a fund focused on healthcare.
Mohan was a Singapore TV talk show host. He is a musician with 20 copyrighted songs and plays the bagpipes and the guitar. He is also the first healthcare executive to have auditioned for, and lost at, America's Got Talent.
Dr. Yan Chow brings his thought leadership and broad experience across healthcare, pharma, startups, and innovation to his role as the Special Advisor to PharmStars. With over 15 years of experience in large healthcare and biopharma enterprises and startup ventures, Yan has deep expertise on both “sides of the table.”
Yan is the Global Healthcare Industry Leader at Automation Anywhere, which is a pioneer in the robotic process automation industry. Previously, he was the Medical Director for Digital Medicine in the Translational Medicine group at Amgen, where he led efforts to investigate digital biomarkers and incorporate digital technologies such as wearable sensors, virtual studies, mobile apps, social media, and advanced analytics into clinical trials. Until 2014, Dr. Chow was the national Director of the Innovation & Advanced Technology Group (IAT) at Kaiser Permanente, which assessed and made recommendations about over 2,000 new and emerging clinical information technologies.
Yan has founded and advised several startups. Yan was selected by Healthcare IT News (HIMSS) as a winner in the Innovator category of the 2014 H.I.T. Men & Women Awards. Yan earned his AB with honors from Harvard University and his MD from UC San Diego. In 2005 he received his MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas Business School, where he graduated as valedictorian.
In his free time, Yan enjoys photography. He is also known to sneak in some occasional programming when he has a few spare minutes!