17 Jun 2020

Harvard Business School Introduces 2020-2021 Blavatnik Fellows in Life Science Entrepreneurship


BOSTON—Harvard Business School (HBS) has named its 2020-21 Blavatnik Fellowship in Life Science Entrepreneurship. Launched in 2013, the Blavatnik Fellowship, was part of a gift to Harvard University from the Blavatnik Family Foundation, headed by Len Blavatnik (MBA 1989). The Fellowship was established to support HBS alumni and Harvard-affiliated postdocs in their new ventures around promising life science technologies while developing their leadership talents and providing mentorship during their entrepreneurial journey. To date, Fellows have created 23 companies in categories including therapeutics, information technology, diagnostics, consumer health, and devices, and have collectively raised more than $370M in funding.

The Blavatnik Fellowship is directed by Peter Barrett, PhD, senior fellow at Harvard Business School and partner at Atlas Venture with support from a Key Advisory Board of experienced business and biomedical leaders serving as Fellows’ mentors. To further catalyze these new science-based businesses, the program provides Fellows professional development in areas such as startup strategy, design thinking, intellectual property law, and entrepreneurial finance.

"Science moves at a deliberate pace but COVID-19 is changing that paradigm in an effort to end the pandemic. When entrepreneurs and scientists collaborate, the path to discoveries and commercialization expeditiously moves towards treatments and vaccines to save lives,” said Barrett. “More than ever, it’s important to prepare entrepreneurs to lead during challenging times. I’m thrilled to welcome this seventh cohort of Blavatnik Fellows representing the next generation of life science leaders. They join the Fellowship during unprecedented times and will get hands-on training and mentorship by biomedical leaders preparing for a post COVID-19 world.”

The 2020-21 Blavatnik Fellows are:

Sophie Bai

Sophie Bai (MBA 2020) is the founder and CEO of a biotech company using novel transdermal drug delivery technologies to get large molecules into the skin. She has been passionate about life sciences since she was a teenager. At the age of 16, she discovered an anti-aging compound and got a minor planet (Planet No.25045) named after her to recognize her scientific discovery. Formerly, Sophie worked with Professor Robert Langer from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on various drug delivery technologies to cure prostate cancer, lung cancer, and Type I Diabetes. Bai also worked at the Boston Consulting Group and Bain Capital Private Equity, focusing on healthcare and life science investing, operations, and strategies. She serves on the board of Old Silver Venture Capital, a biotech and material science-based investment firm and holds advisory roles at various biotech companies including XtalPi, the leading drug discovery company using artificial intelligence. Sophie received her BS in Chemical Engineering from MIT and MBA from HBS.

Paul Casinelli

Paul Casinelli (MBA 2020) is passionate about identifying exciting ideas and bringing them to market. He has deep experience in the technology industry and has held senior positions overseeing product management, go-to-market and corporate strategy in startups and publicly traded companies including Brightcove where he led a team as the vice president of product marketing and Strategy. During his Fellowship year, Paul plans to build the foundation for a promising new therapeutic option for those suffering from ALS. His interest in ALS originated when his aunt was diagnosed with the disease and became a candidate for a novel immune cell therapy. Currently, he is working with the scientific team from the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center (VIC) at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) on an immune cell therapy that treats neurodegenerative disease, specifically ALS. Paul has a BA with high honors in Political Science from Boston College and an MBA from HBS.

Gregory Ekchian

Gregory Ekchian (PhD) is an entrepreneur, engineer, and innovator, and the first Harvard-affiliated postdoc selected as a Blavatnik Fellow. He has spent his career at the interface of academic research and life science start-ups, creating and translating novel technologies from the lab to patients. His doctoral research in collaboration with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a major teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, focused on the development and first-in-human evaluation of a novel oxygen sensor. In recognition of his work, he was named to the 2020 MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35 list. As the cofounder and CEO of Stratagen Bio, Greg is developing and translating a suite of novel oxygen sensors into the clinic to personalize treatments across a wide range of clinical indications. Stratagen Bio was recently accepted to join the Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab and plans to take residency in 2021. Greg is passionate about empowering young entrepreneurs through active mentorship and has created resources to assist others in translating innovations from academia. Greg holds a BS in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University and an MEng and PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from MIT.

Zack Morrison

Zack Morrison (MBA 2020) is an entrepreneur and engineer with a passion for bringing breakthrough products to market. As a Blavatnik Fellow, Zack plans to develop sensing technologies for surgical applications. Prior to business school, he worked as a design engineer and engineering manager for biotech and medical device companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. Most recently, he worked at Auris Health where he developed instruments for robotic surgery. Zack holds multiple patents for medical devices and is a recipient of the Kaplan Fellowship for excellence in the life sciences and the Robert F. Jasse Award for entrepreneurship. He holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, and an MBA from HBS.

Carlos Rodriguez

Carlos Rodriguez (MBA 2017) is focused on digitizing biomanufacturing. He brings diverse experience in business development, corporate strategy, technical operations, and finance. During his Fellowship year, Carlos will explore how artificial intelligence and automation can transform traditional methods of fermentation and cell culture. The results could improve the manufacturing of microbial-based treatments and gene and cell therapies for patients affected by cancer, inflammation, autoimmunity, and rare diseases. Most recently, he gained entrepreneurial experience as a director at Evelo Biosciences, a biotechnology company founded by Flagship Pioneering. Earlier in his career, he advised healthcare companies as an investment banker and as a strategy consultant. Carlos was named Credit Suisse MBA Fellow, Flare Capital MBA Scholar, and Rock Health Research Fellow. He is currently a mentor with NEVCA’s Hack.Diversity program for aspiring technology professionals. He earned an AB in economics from Princeton University and an MBA from HBS.


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.