Resourcing Specialist, PRA Health Sciences
Leigh Babaian, M.Ed., is a resourcing specialist at PRA Health Sciences. She has served as a Talent Acquisition professional at two Fortune 500 companies, Accenture and IQVIA Biotech (formerly Quintiles), and has experience managing early talent programs and global hiring projects. Leigh has recruited on a variety of campuses across North America, including public and private institutions for undergraduates and graduate level students. She has experience leading recruiting teams to deliver on hiring objectives, working with all levels of stakeholder involvement and in creating talent acquisition programming from scratch.
Leigh has also served as associate director for career development at Kenan-Flagler Business School’s undergraduate business program where she led the career development programming. In this role, she connected students to potential employers in a variety of ways, including through the undergraduate business symposium, career treks and new student orientation, as well as facilitating student learning on the symposium core committee and through the Internship course.
Leigh holds a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from James Madison University and a M.Ed. in Counselor Education: Student Development in Higher Education from NC State University. As a member of the CareerWell advisory committee, Leigh brings an abundance of positive energy with a passion for learning to serve in support of the CareerWell mission. Synthesizing her experience as a recruiter and an educator, she is well-positioned to advise on what is needed to build the workforce of the future.
Dean, The Graduate School
Suzanne Barbour, Ph.D., is dean of The Graduate School at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
Vice President, Research and Development, LabCorp
Debbie Boles, Ph.D., is vice president of research and development for Laboratory Corporation of America located in the Research Triangle Park. She is an experienced leader with a strong technical background.
At LabCorp, Debbie has been responsible for the development, validation, and launch of highly impactful next-generation sequencing assays within genetics, oncology, and non-invasive prenatal testing resulting in $300+ million in revenue. In 2018, she became general manager in the consumer genetics division, where she led operations for a direct-to-consumer health and ancestry product. She leads a national team of research and development scientists who contribute to multiple divisions with distinct areas of medicine. She provides strategic and technical input across the enterprise in alignment with LabCorp’s mission of improving health and improving lives.
Debbie received her Ph.D. in biological chemistry from the UNC-Chapel Hill and performed post graduate research at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. Prior to LabCorp, she focused on medical device development designed to deliver molecular results at the point of care. She successfully developed PCR-based assays on custom microfluidic chips and prototype systems resulting in six foundational U.S. patents. She has led all aspects of laboratory management in the course of her career, served as a subject matter expert communicating technical deliverables, and led cross-disciplinary teams to deliver on challenging deadlines.
Global Leader, University and Early Career Programs, Syneos Health
Christine Cantu has 15 years of recruitment experience, the majority devoted to university recruitment in particular. Christine is passionate about working closely with students to help them achieve their future career goals. She has executed high volume and robust university recruitment and relations programs at Cisco, IBM, and Fidelity Investments. In her current role at Syneos Health, Christine has the exciting task of creating university and intern programs from scratch for the company’s clinical and corporate functions. She graduated from Virginia Tech which is where she met her husband, Mike. Christine lives in Raleigh with her husband and daughter.
Director, Office of Fellows’ Career Development, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Tammy Collins, Ph.D., creates and organizes professional career development and scientific training opportunities for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) trainee community, and she also serves in a wide variety of other capacities such as in policy implementation, strategic planning, and conflict resolution. She recently led a team to identify the career paths of NIEHS intramural postdoctoral alumni spanning 15 years, and published a new tool for both classifying and visualizing these careers in Nature Biotechnology. Her central mission is to ensure that others are equipped with the knowledge and skills to become successful and independent in their chosen career. Prior to transitioning into her role, Tammy received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Appalachian State University, and her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Duke University. After a brief postdoc at Duke University, she joined NIEHS as a postdoc in 2009 where she developed her passion for working in the scientific career development field.
Director of Strategic Initiatives, myFutureNC
Jeni Corn, Ph.D., serves as the director of strategic initiatives at myFutureNC. myFutureNC is a statewide nonprofit organization focused on educational attainment and is the result of cross-sector collaboration among North Carolina leaders in education, business, and government. As director, Jeni works with sector leaders and education stakeholders to strengthen pathways so every North Carolina resident can pursue meaningful, family-sustaining work. Jeni has extensive experience conducting research in school settings and providing technical assistance to school, district, and state-level education staff focused on research, evaluation, and policy in the southeast—most extensively in North Carolina. As the director of evaluation programs at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation for more than ten years, Jeni served as principal investigator for several large, statewide evaluation and research studies of innovations in K-12 schools and districts, including leading the evaluation of initiatives funded under North Carolina’s Race to the Top grant and development of the North Carolina digital learning plan. She completed her doctorate in curriculum and instruction, with an emphasis in instructional technology, in May 2008 from NC State University.
Vice President, RTI International
Jen D’Agostino joined RTI International and moved to Chapel Hill, NC in January 2020 after 20 years working in the Washington, D.C. area for private sector, government contractors, and employee-owned firms. Her experience has been within the talent acquisition, business development, and strategic growth areas. She currently leads a team of 20 in talent acquisition, which focuses on identifying top talent for work in the social science, international development, and commercial health domains. Her background includes work in the international development space working for two different contractors. She worked for four years at Corporate Executive Board, now Gartner, in their HR practice where she consulted with Fortune 100 chief human resources officers to address their critical challenges. Her work has taken her to a variety of overseas locations including the South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan and Romania. She graduated from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia.
Managing Partner and Founder, TCRI
Triangle Clinical Research International (TCRI) Managing Partner and Founder Bill Elmore holds 30+ years of C-level leadership experience in finance and operations roles. Alongside his role for TCRI, he acts as the CFO of Aerem Innovations. The former is a clinical research advisory and management company helping emerging companies advance their products and technologies toward market introduction. The latter is a recently launched Carolina start-up technology company that is designing solutions for health care and commercial applications.
His leadership experience also includes service as CFO of the Duke Clinical Research Institute, president and COO of SPRI Clinical Trials, global vice president of finance for AAI Pharma, and senior director of corporate finance for ClinTrials Research.
Bill earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting from the Kenan-Flagler Business School and shortly thereafter earned his CPA designation. He is a proud father of two Carolina alumni, husband of a 25-year UNC-Chapel Hill veteran employee, son of a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate, and sibling to a UNC-Chapel Hill double-degree graduate.
Michael Levy, MBA, is a health care executive-turned-entrepreneur, with a purpose-driven mindset. Earning his bachelor’s degree in neurobiology Tulane University and his MBA from Elon University, coupled with high-technology literacy from his experience at Apple at the turn of the century, he is on a path to unite culture, process, people, and technology.
Michael previously held leadership roles as vice chair of administration for the Department of Medicine at the University of Miami Health System, the director of clinical operations for UNC Health specialty ambulatory clinics and several other leadership roles at UCLA Health within various clinical departments. Michael also served as the first entrepreneur-in-residence for the Center for Health Innovation at the UNC-Chapel Hill, where he has designed and developed their digital health program.
As an entrepreneur, Michael was COO of Digital Therapy, a cognitive computing platform powered by IBM Watson in the behavioral health space, and co-founded Bluedoor Group, a digital transformation consultancy. He now spends his time leading the Digital Health Institute for Transformation (DHIT) a nonprofit that supports communities through the process of digital transformation.
CEO and President, Burroughs Wellcome Fund
Louis Muglia, MD, Ph.D., is president and CEO of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, an independent nonprofit research foundation. Previously, he served as vice chair for research, Cincinnati Children’s Research Foundation; director of the Division of Human Genetics; co-director of the Perinatal Institute; director of the Center for Prevention of Preterm Birth at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and professor of pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. In addition, he serves as principal coordinating investigator of the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center Ohio Collaborative. His laboratory seeks to understand the molecular timing machinery comprising the biological clock that determines the timing for birth, and how this is shaped by the environment, to prevent or better treat human preterm labor and delivery utilizing genetic and comparative genomic approaches.
Among Lou’s achievements are more than 270 publications and many awards, including the Society of Pediatric Research Young Investigator Award and election to the American Society for Clinical Investigation and Association of American Physicians. In 2010, Lou was elected to Fellow in the American Association for the advancement of Science. In 2013, Lou was elected to membership in the National Academy of Medicine. He has been the recipient of outstanding faculty mentor awards on seven occasions including Senior Faculty Mentor Award at Cincinnati Children’s, and served as chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. In January of 2020, Lou became president and CEO of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, a foundation accelerating discovery in the biomedical sciences.
Lou earned his Doctor of Medicine (1988) and Doctor of Philosophy (1986) degrees from the University of Chicago. He received a bachelor’s degree in biophysics from the University of Michigan in 1981.
Clinical Trial Liaison, PRA Health Sciences
Michael Perfetti, Ph.D., is an experienced life science industry professional with expertise in strategy consulting, entrepreneurship, discovery, and clinical phase research, business development, project management, and brand and marketing development activities. He previously worked as both an external strategy and brand development consultant, a university technology transfer office analyst, and as a clinical trial liaison in order to aide and advance the development and commercialization of therapeutic compounds and medical devices/diagnostics. Through these experiences, he has developed extensive expertise across multiple various disease areas in assessing the potential scientific and commercial impact, market placement, and potential company value, and estimated revenue potential of both private and public companies and their development assets, along with university technologies. In these roles, he has led and worked within matrix teams to develop data-driven insights and potential strategies to overcome defined business and clinical problems. He is currently a board member of the UNC-CH Eshelman School of Pharmacy Alumni Association and a member of The Graduate School’s professional development advisory council and plays an active role within the entrepreneurship community in Durham and in Chapel Hill.
Special Advisor, Hatteras Venture Partners
Don Rose, Ph.D., is a special advisor to Hatteras Venture Partners,and has extensive experience in launching and building life science startups, most recently as director of the KickStart program. At Carolina, he helped spin out 80 companies which have raised more than $500 million. He has published Research to Revenue: A Practical Guide to University Start-ups (UNC Press, 2016). He is also a Professor of the Practice at the Kenan-Flagler Business School, where he teaches entrepreneurship. Prior to joining Carolina, he held senior leadership roles at a number of life-science startups: Metabolon (metabolomics), Deerac Fluidics (nanoliter dispensing), and DataCentric Automation (high-throughput crystallography). Before those experiences, he was a partner with Catalysta Partners (now Hatteras Venture Partners), where he co-founded Phase Bioscience (NASDAQ: PHAS). Prior to Catalysta, he served as co-founder and vice president of research and development at Cartesian Technologies, a leader in instrumentation for DNA microarrays and nanoliter dispensing. Previously, Don was a research scientist at Glaxo Wellcome (now GlaxoSmithKline) where he developed and promoted a number of technologies in bioanalytical chemistry, combinatorial chemistry and high-throughput screening. He also developed various aspects of capillary electrophoreses instrumentation at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories. He earned a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry and a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from UNC-Chapel Hill. He holds six U.S. patents, and has more than half a dozen publications to his name.
President, Enzerna Biosciences
Enzerna Biosciences President Joseph Ruiz, Ph.D., has over 30 years of experience as an investigator in academia and industry in the areas of embryonic and adult stem cell biology, genome engineering, hepatic cell biology, cell transplantation, and histotechnology. He obtained his Ph.D. at UC San Diego and completed post-doctoral work at Columbia and Harvard Universities. Joseph held faculty positions at the Indiana University School of Medicine, at the Wistar Institute, and has directed scientific development at several biotech startup companies. In particular, he established and directed stem cell and genome engineering research programs at several biotech startup ventures in addition to his efforts at Enzerna (Vesta Therapeutics, Transposagen Biopharmaceuticals and Epigenos Biosciences). Joseph also holds an adjunct faculty appointment in the Department of Biology at UNC-Chapel Hill where he is active in mentoring undergraduate and graduate students interested in pursuing careers in the biotech sector. Alongside his senior management roles, he founded Emerging Biotechnology Development Services, a consulting practice that guides entrepreneurs’ efforts to establish research operations and secure grant funding for their emerging startup ventures. His efforts helped over 50 startup ventures throughout the country to secure non-dilutive funds for their research operations. Joseph has served as a reviewer and frequent chair for NIH Small Business Scientific Review Groups for more than 12 years. His background in both academia and the biotech industry endowed him with a unique perspective on the importance of developing comprehensive research plans while also driving research toward clinical or commercial applications.
Assistant Dean, Graduate Student Academic & Professional Development, The Graduate School
Brian Rybarczyk, Ph.D., is assistant dean for graduate student academic and professional development at The Graduate School, where he also serves as an instructor. For The Graduate School, he also develops and implements academic and professional development training for graduate students across disciplines; manages the Graduate Student Center; teaches courses and directs the Preparing International Teaching Assistants Program (PITAP); is program coordinator for the SPIRE postdoctoral fellowship program and is co-administrative director at UNC-Chapel Hill for the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL). Brian earned a doctorate in pathology from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.
CEO, Pulvinar Neuro
Pulvinar Neuro CEO Leah Townsend, Ph.D., serves as the inaugural member of the CareerWell executives-in-residence program. She is also a member of the CareerWell advisory committee and a member of The Graduate School’s graduate education advisory board.
She has taught a course to enhance participants’ awareness of several understandings and considerations essential to workplace leadership, including the structure and culture of a variety of organizations, interpersonal skills in the workplace, finance, and business development. The series also reinforces the business fundamentals and professional skills addressed through the other CareerWell courses by placing them in the context of career paths of interest to course participants. Leah previously served as The Graduate School director of graduate professional programs. Prior to her role with The Graduate School, she served as an associate strategy consultant with the Triangle Insights Group.
As a Carolina graduate student, she recognized a need for master’s and doctoral students to gain non-academic skills and responded to the needs of her peers by designing and leading the Consulting 101 Seminar Series and later founding the Carolina Graduate Consulting Group. She earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and in philosophy before pursuing a Ph.D. in neuroscience—all from Carolina. Leah also holds a business essentials certificate from the Kenan-Flagler Business School.