Ferran Prat, Ph.D., J.D.
Senior Vice President, Research Administration and Industry Relations
Ferran Prat has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of California – Los Angeles and a J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law. He’s coming here from Alere Inc., an international firm dedicated to developing health management services and solutions, including diagnostic tools and tests. At Alere, Ferran led a business turnaround and integrated three businesses in São Paulo and Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He also served as the head of the Oncology and Women’s Health Divisions in San Diego, where he was responsible for all pre-commercialization activities and post-launch product management.
Prior to Alere, Ferran held a number of industry and academic positions, including vice president for licensing at Biosite Inc., management consultant at McKinsey & Co., engineer at Chromogenia-Units and researcher at the University of California – Los Angeles. In these roles, he in-licensed and out-licensed new technologies, led and executed strategic plans, coordinated intellectual property agreements among private and public sector entities, and conducted basic science research that led to multiple peer-reviewed articles.
Luetta Allen, Ph.D.
Director, Alliance Operations
Strategic Industry Ventures
Luetta Allen received her BS in Genetics from Texas A&M University, and later a PhD from the University of Texas Graduate Studies in Biomedical Science at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Developmental Biology. She joined the staff of Strategic Industry Ventures in February, 2013, transferring from the Office of Technology Discovery (OTD) in Translational Research. Dr. Allen establishes new alliances and manages the alliance operations.
Prior to joining SIV, Luetta worked in positions of increasing responsibility to assess, protect, market, and commercialize intellectual property, including the management of a gap funding mechanism.
Shara Avis Pecoraro, M.H.A.
Associate Director, Strategic Industry Ventures
Shara Avis joined the Strategic Industry Ventures staff in August 2013. Shara establishes direct contact within the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, domestically and internationally, in order to bring new preclinical studies, clinical trials, creative financial deals, collaborations, and alliances to MD Anderson. She focuses primarily on small and medium companies and represents MD Anderson at partnering meetings worldwide.
Shara received her Masters of Health Administration degree from Penn State University. During her undergraduate studies, Shara double majored in kinesiology and psychology at Texas A&M University. During her time at Texas A&M, she interned in the breast oncology department at MD Anderson, where her interest in oncology research and clinical trials began. Prior to joining the Strategic Industry Ventures team, Shara worked for several small pharmaceutical and biotech companies focusing primarily on radiation oncology. Shara has managed very large territories in her previous roles and worked with international companies to assist development on radiation oncology staff worldwide.
Emily Barnhill, M.H.A.
AVP, Strategic Industry Ventures
Emily Barnhill joined Strategic Industry Ventures in July 2015. She received her B.S. in Biological Sciences from Clemson University and her M.H.A. from the Medical University of South Carolina.
Emily has been with MD Anderson since 2010, where she worked in the Office of Clinical Operations and Cancer Network prior to joining the team. Emily began her career at MD Anderson in the Office of Clinical Operations leading projects that promoted integration and standardization of clinical operations to support the institutional strategy. In 2014, Emily transitioned into the Office of the EVP, Cancer Network where she worked on developing a strategy for standardizing and expanding research operations throughout the MD Anderson Cancer Network. Her exposure to the world of research and innovative technology sparked an interest in strategic collaborations and partnerships, which led her to the SIV department.
With a focus on clinical collaborations, Emily works with various departments throughout the institution to support pharmaceutical alliances, as well as collaboration opportunities with diagnostic and medical device companies.
Larry Hope, MBA
Strategic Industry Ventures
Larry Hope joined MD Anderson Cancer Center's licensing office in January 2014 and more recently moved to the Strategic Industry Ventures group. His main role is to help "connect the dots" between industry needs and MD Anderson's capabilities. He focuses primarily on start-ups and creative collaborations.
Previously, he was with CAP Resources, a boutique consulting firm in the energy and technology sectors and Baylor College of Medicine where he was responsible for all patenting and commercialization activities for the BCM departments of Orthopedic Surgery, Pediatrics, Biochemistry and Physical Medicine. Prior to Baylor, he held marketing / business development positions at several Houston-area biotechnology companies, the most recent being LifeCell Corporation. He has been a guest lecturer and panelist for a variety of technology and entrepreneurship-oriented programs and takes on advising roles as time permits. Larry holds a B.S. in Microbiology from Texas A&M University and an M.B.A. in Finance & Entrepreneurship from Rice University.
Jean Gilbert, MPH
Strategic Industry Ventures
Jean Gilbert serves as Manager of Business Development for
Strategic Industry Ventures. Her main focus is identifying opportunities to
connect industry collaborators with internal technology and expertise, most
often at the preclinical stage. She also works with the Therapeutics Discovery
Division to engage faculty members with therapeutics development resources.
Previously, Jean was part of MD Anderson’s Center for Entrepreneurship Advancement where she focused on educating and engaging faculty, staff, and trainees around life science innovation and entrepreneurship. Before joining MD Anderson, Jean was with Houston Methodist Hospital system. Jean earned her Master of Public Health degree with a focus in management, policy, and community health from the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston.
Sheila Benchamin, MBA
Strategic Industry Ventures
Mid Campus Building 1 (1MC9.2239)
Sheila Benchamin has a BS in Healthcare Administration from the University of Houston – Clear Lake and a Masters from the University of Texas – Tyler in Business Administration. She joined Strategic Industry Ventures in December 2020. In her current role, Sheila engages in supporting our institution and investigators with pharmaceutical alliances and collaborations.
Sheila joined MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2018 at the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Administration. During her time there, Sheila managed both federal and non-federal grant applications in collaboration with faculty to secure funding and served as a liaison between funding agencies and internal departments to ensure compliance with institutional policies.
Aaron Spike, Ph.D.
Business Development Manager
Strategic Industry Ventures
Aaron Spike received his B.S. in Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development from the University of Minnesota. He then earned a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Baylor College of Medicine. His extensive experience in the field of scientific research and administration led him to join the Strategic Industry Ventures team in 2023. Prior to this appointment, Aaron served as a Clinical Studies Coordinator, a Grant Program Manager, and a Manager of Clinical Protocol Administration in the Department of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics.
Office Manager, Strategic Industry Ventures
Tracy Warren, Office Manager, joined the staff of Strategic Industry Ventures in April, 2013. She is responsible for coordinating meetings and site visits with industry partners as well as managing the administrative functions for the office.
Tracy received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She worked as a publicist and became an accomplished media relations practitioner having placed clients on such venues as CNN and CNBC. After several years in the public relations industry, Tracy joined The Methodist Hospital in Houston where she worked as a trainer and facilitator of their “Living Methodist Values” program. Here she assisted the Vice President on many initiatives for integrating the company’s values throughout the hospital system.
Tracy joined the Executive Recruitment department at MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2006 helping to recruit candidates and coordinate their visits to MD Anderson. Tracy later joined the Department of Anesthesiology supporting the Division Head, Chairman and several faculty members in an administrative function. Some of her accomplishments while at MD Anderson include successful coordination of the 2012 Global Conference on Perioperative Medicine and serving as Fitness Ambassador for the department of Anesthesiology helping to increase employee morale and wellbeing.
Commercialization and Licensing
Andrew Dennis, Ph.D.
AVP, Office of Technology Commercialization
Andrew P. Dennis graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in Biochemistry from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. Following undergraduate education, he entered into the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX, where he earned his doctoral degree studying gene transcription and the involvement of the proteasome degradation machinery. During his doctoral education he was awarded a pre-doctoral fellowship from the Department of Defense and the Dean’s Award. Andrew has co-authored several peer-reviewed journal articles through his work as a graduate student.
Andrew’s financial and business interests in healthcare led him toward a career in the technology transfer field within the Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, where he has served in several roles, most recently as Managing Director of the OTC. In this role, he oversees the OTC’s licensing and commercialization efforts of new inventions by OTC staff members. In addition, he continues to negotiate license agreements, form start-up companies, develop commercialization strategies among inventors and institutional research programs, and facilitate the development of business relationships with our healthcare industry partners, with the goal of driving cancer care forward.
Papia Ghosh, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Licensing
T: (713) 745-9626
Papia joined Office of Technology Commercialization in 2016 and is involved in identifying and translating internal developments to commercial opportunities.
Prior to working at OTC, Papia was a Consultant at L.E.K. Consulting in Boston and London (UK) for over 3 years and focused exclusively in the life sciences. While there, she provided strategic insights on, but not limited to, market assessment, market access and pricing, competitive positioning, valuation, and portfolio / life cycle management. She was an advisor to various biotechs and large pharmas in a wide range of therapeutic and diagnostic areas. Papia conducted her post-doctoral work in Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, received her Ph.D. in Genetics from Yale University, and B.S. in Biology from Duke University.
Sr. Patent Paralegal, Office of Technology Commercialization
Yvonne Loftin joined the Office of Technology Commercialization in September,
2011. She organizes, updates and maintains patent files and patent docketing information for MD Anderson’s intellectual property portfolios. She participates in the planning and scheduling of patent filings and ensures projects are completed and deadlines are met. She handles new Invention Disclosure Report files and coordinates a bi-monthly Invention Assessment Meeting to review new IDRs. She is the primary liaison between MD Anderson and outside patent counsel to ensure proper protection of MD Anderson’s US and foreign intellectual property rights. She is also responsible for reporting inventions to funding agencies such as the NIH, CPRIT and many others.
Brian Nadin, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Licensing
Brian received a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Baylor College of Medicine, where he also completed a post-doctoral fellowship. He then went on to work on intellectual property matters, drafting patent applications, practicing patent prosecution and performing due diligence analyses for freedom to operate opinions and landscape projects as a Technical Advisor with Norton Rose Fulbright. He is currently the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy Technology Transfer Manager at the MD Anderson Office of Technology and Commercialization.
Dustin Romine, M.A.
Dustin Romine joined the Office of Technology Commercialization in August 2007. In his role as licensing manager, Dustin is responsible for invention assessment, patent prosecution oversight, technology marketing, and negotiating license and alliance agreements with biotechnology, pharmaceutical, diagnostic, and research reagent companies.
Dustin earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from DePauw University and a Master of Arts in Neuroscience & Animal Behavior from Emory University. During his undergraduate studies, he served as an Eli Lilly and Company research intern studying the isolation and purification of calreticulin as part of the raloxifene hydrochloride (EvistaTM) program. He also spent time in Kenya working on environmental and medical projects alongside The Green Belt Movement and the late Nobel Peace Prize recipient Professor Wangari Maathai. After college, Dustin worked as a Senior consultant for Braun Consulting (Washington DC) where he specialized in customer relationship management software customization and implementation. He later served as a neuroengineering applications developer at Georgia Institute of Technology prior to graduate school enrollment. While at Emory University, Dustin investigated a lesser known role of the nucleus accumbens core, a portion of the ventral striatum, in impulsivity. Concurrent with his graduate studies, Dustin volunteered as an intern in the Emory University Office of Technology Transfer.
Dustin has been involved with the Licensing Executives Society Houston Chapter as a committee co-chair. He currently serves as a Director on the DePauw University Alumni Board.
Qingshan (Carly) Yang, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Licensing
Office of Technology Commercialization
Carly Yang joined the staff of the Office of Technology Commercialization in March 2016. Carly focuses on both protecting and commercializing MD Anderson intellectual properties. She develops strategies to preserve IP rights, and she markets the technologies, builds collaborative relationships, and negotiates agreements with business partners.
Carly received her Ph.D. in Experimental Therapeutics from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and she completed her post-doctoral training at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Prior to joining the OTC, Carly worked alongside with startup companies at the Houston Technology Center to develop marketing, sales, and overall business development strategies. She was also involved with the Licensing Executive Society Houston Chapter and served as Chair of Education Committee.
Abi joined MD Anderson in 2018. As a technology commercialization analyst, she provides early assessment and commercialization guidance for new and existing technologies. She also facilitates commercialization by marketing technologies and negotiating license agreements.
Abi brings with her an array of experiences in academic research, intellectual property protection, and contracts. Prior to MD Anderson, she managed the patent portfolio at The University of Texas at Dallas. Prior to UT Dallas, she worked at various law firms on patent prosecution and civil litigation matters.
Abi received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Princeton University, and her J.D. from University of Houston Law Center.
Jamie A. Juric, Ph.D.
Mid Campus Building 1 (1MC9.2139)
Jamie joined the Office of Technology Commercialization team in September 2019. Her role is to facilitate the licensing and commercialization of MD Anderson’s technologies, primarily focusing on the management of the research tools portfolio.
She received her Ph.D. in Cancer Cell Biology, B.S. in Chemical Engineering, and Certificate in Biomedical Engineering from West Virginia University (WVU). Prior to joining MD Anderson’s Office of Technology Commercialization, Jamie interned and worked as a Technology Scout in the WVU Innovation Center, where her interest in technology transfer began. During her time at the WVU Innovation Center, she served as the direct link between the researchers and innovation center with the objectives of assessing, protecting, marketing, and commercializing intellectual property.
Sandra joined MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2021 at the office of Technology Commercialization. In her current role she works with follow-up contract compliance matters from invoicing, general ledger account reconciliations, to contractual reporting from licensees.
Sandra Vermillion has a BBA with a concentration in Accounting from the University of New Mexico. She worked for a General Contractor company as an accountant for 4 years. She then moved to Houston Texas where she worked for a CPA firm as an Internal Staff Accountant before joining MD Anderson.