02 Jun 2021

Harvard Business School Announces Its 2021-2022 Blavatnik Fellows


BOSTON—Harvard Business School (HBS) has named its 2021-22 Blavatnik Fellows and the program’s eighth cohort. Launched in 2013, the Blavatnik Fellowship in Life Science Entrepreneurship is part of a gift to Harvard University from the Blavatnik Family Foundation, headed by Len Blavatnik (MBA 1989). This unique program supports HBS alumni and Harvard-affiliated postdocs in their new ventures around promising life science technologies, develops their leadership talents, and provides mentorship during their entrepreneurial journey. To date, Blavatnik Fellows have created 26 companies in biomedical industries including devices, diagnostics, digital health, and therapeutics, and have collectively raised more than $460M in funding.

The Blavatnik Fellowship is led by Peter Barrett, PhD, senior fellow at HBS and partner at Atlas Venture. The Key Advisory Board of experienced business and biotechnology leaders serves as one-on-one mentors and provides strategic direction during fellows’ program year. During the pandemic, Blavatnik ventures experienced tremendous growth, added $90M in new funding, and the program celebrated its first IPO when Akouos, a company developing therapies to restore and preserve hearing in genetically-defined patient populations, raised $244M in June 2020 and now has a market capitalization of more than $400M a year later.

"Last year was an extraordinary and historical year for science. For the first time ever, the scientific community came together, developed Covid-19 vaccines in record time, and changed how the world viewed science,” said Barrett. “More than ever, we need to develop the next generation of leaders to commercialize scientific discoveries. We start with this year’s Blavatnik Fellows as they begin their entrepreneurial journey and make a difference in the worlds of business, science, and technology.”

The 2021-22 Blavatnik Fellows are:

Photo: Susan Young

Dan Ahlstedt (MBA 2021) is an engineer and member of the EnPlusOne Biosciences team at the Wyss Institute. During his Blavatnik Fellowship, he will support the business development effort for EnPlusOne’s novel enzymatic RNA synthesis platform. The team believes their unique platform will allow researchers to unlock new RNA modifications and therapeutic molecules, while simultaneously improving product quality, purity, and cost compared with traditional synthesis methods. EnPlusOne is currently focused on scaling their technology platform and fostering strategic industry partnerships. Dan has had a passion for biotechnology and the rare disease space for many years. Previously, he worked as a process engineer at Sanofi supporting large-scale GMP manufacturing and was selected to lead downstream purification engineering efforts for a new continuous biomanufacturing facility. In that role, he led the design, construction, and validation of all chromatography operations. Named the Digital Factory of the Future, the building was eventually awarded the 2020 ISPE Facility of the Year Award. Dan earned his BS in Chemical Engineering from Northeastern University and an MBA from HBS.

Photo: Susan Young

Nicole Black (PhD 2020) is the co-founder and CEO of Beacon Bio, a company designing novel tissue grafts using 3D printing and materials science technologies. Their first product, PhonoGraft, is an innovative device for treating eardrum perforations with improved healing and hearing outcomes. For the past 6 years, she has been working alongside Jennifer Lewis, ScD at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard, as well as Aaron Remenschneider, MD, MPH and Elliott Kozin, MD at Mass Eye and Ear hospital. During graduate school, Nicole was awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, the National Inventors Hall of Fame Collegiate Inventors Competition Graduate Team Grand Prize, an American Association of University Women Fellowship, the Baxter Healthcare Young Investigator Award, and most recently, the 2021 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize. Nicole is passionate about inspiring the next generation of STEM innovators and entrepreneurs, mentoring more than a dozen K-12 and undergraduate students. She earned a BS in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University, and an SM and PhD in Engineering Sciences from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences with a minor in the Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology Program through the Harvard Division of Medical Sciences.

Photo: Susan Young

Ying Kai Chan (PhD 2015) is an innovator and entrepreneur passionate about translating cutting edge scientific discoveries to transformative therapies for patients. During his Blavatnik Fellowship year, he will explore opportunities and technologies in ocular gene therapy. Most recently, Kai served as Chief Scientific Officer of Ally Therapeutics, which he co-founded with George Church, and worked on gene therapies for ophthalmic and neuromuscular disease indications. Previously, he performed his postdoctoral research work at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, where he became Principal Investigator and led projects on AAV gene therapy, mRNA vectors and live attenuated vaccines. Kai holds multiple patents, and was a recipient of the inaugural STAT Wunderkind award in 2017. He has served on gene therapy panels at NIH, FDA and disease foundations and is an appointed member of the Immune Responses to Gene & Cell Therapy Committee of ASGCT. Kai earned a BA summa cum laude in Neuroscience and minor in Philosophy from Washington University in St. Louis, an MS in Biological Sciences from Stanford University, a PhD in Microbiology and Immunobiology and a Certificate in Human Biology and Translational Medicine from HMS.

Photo: Amanda Gentile

Jannine Versi (MBA 2014) is the co-founder and COO of Elektra Health, an innovative women's health company. Elektra helps women navigate the menopause transition with access to evidence-based virtual care, education, and community. As a Blavatnik Fellow, Jannine will be focusing on Elektra’s digital product and growth strategy. Jannine has spent over a decade working in healthcare, tech, and government. She was on the founding team of Cityblock Health, a tech-driven healthcare provider focused on underserved communities, incubated within Google / Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs. She’s also held roles at Google and in the Obama Administration, where she was a senior political appointee and the chief of staff of a federal agency. Jannine earned her BA from the University of Pennsylvania, an MBA from HBS, and was a Fulbright Scholar in India.

Photo: Susan Young

Ananya Zutshi (MS/MBA 2021) is passionate about using exciting science to bring life-changing therapies to market for patients. During her Blavatnik Fellowship year, she will work on leveraging an innovative new technology platform to create next generation cancer therapeutics. Prior to graduate school, Ananya was a project manager at a leading contract development and manufacturing organization in the pharma/biotech industry, preparing and managing project plans for clients focused on biologics. Additional expertise gained through roles in GMP Operations, Process Engineering, Business Development, and early-stage biology and technology investing have given her a holistic view of a complex industry. Ananya earned a BSE in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University, where she graduated with distinction and received the Howard G. Clark Award for Outstanding Independent Research for her gene therapy and tissue engineering work under Dr. Farshid Guilak, and graduated with a dual MS in Engineering Sciences from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences as well as an MBA from HBS where she was a recipient of the Kaplan Life Sciences Fellowship.


Tran Courtney


Established in 2013, the Blavatnik Fellowship in Life Science Entrepreneurship offers Harvard Business School alumni and Harvard-affiliated postdocs the opportunity to create new ventures around promising life science technologies while developing their leadership talents. This innovative one-year program provides promising scientists and entrepreneurs with the opportunity to work with Harvard inventors and Harvard-affiliated hospitals to promote the commercialization of life science technologies with significant market potential. Fellows are given a unique set of advantages including mentorship, leadership opportunities, professional development, financial support, and working space at Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab.


Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 200 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and doctoral degrees, as well as more than 70 open enrollment Executive Education programs and 55 custom programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, HBS faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching to educate leaders who make a difference in the world, shaping the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.