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BioBuzz’s 2021 Top 5 “5 Questions With…”

Want a holiday tongue twister? Try saying “Top 5 ‘5 Questions With'” five times fast – with your mouth stuffed full of leftover Christmas cookies, of course.

In 2020 we introduced the “5 Questions With…” in an effort to spotlight individuals from across the BioHealth Capital Region and beyond. Since then, we have highlighted a plethora of professionals at all levels, from early career to the C-suite, from scientists to business developers to managers and directors, and all facets in between.

In our inaugural year we interviewed 30 guests, and this year we rounded out to over 50, A huge “thank you” to everyone who participated from all over the region to make this segment possible!

To celebrate, we’d like to highlight the Top 5 most viewed interviews from 2021.

And, of course, we’re currently looking for new faces to feature in 2022. If you’re interested or have a suggestion for someone who is a rockstar, reach out to Sarah Ellinwood: sarah(at)

Without further ado, let’s start the countdown!

#5 – Rachel Rath, MBA, MPH, Director, BARDA Alliance for Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS @ Washington, DC

Rachel is the Director of the BARDA Alliance for Johnson & Johnson Innovation, based at JLABS @ Washington, DC. In this role, she is responsible for managing the BLUE KNIGHT™ collaboration between Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS (JLABS) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).  BLUE KNIGHT™ focuses on addressing public-health threats and emerging infectious diseases by supporting companies with emerging science and technology solutions that aim to improve health security and responses.  Rachel is responsible for the strategic direction, alliance management, and oversight of all operational activities related to the collaboration with BARDA, including managing the sourcing and selection of high potential companies for JLABS locations and leading a cross-departmental team to develop global educational programming.

Before joining JLABS, Rachel was the Chief of Staff for the National Evaluation System for health Technology Coordinating Center (NESTcc)— a Medical Device Innovation Consortium (MDIC) initiative that was established with funding from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and was recognized in September 2019 as one of the first collaborative communities with FDA participation. She was responsible for helping lead the initial development of NESTcc and managing strategy and operations, including overseeing internal and external governance, communications, sustainability planning, and stakeholder engagement. From 2014 to 2017, Rachel worked at PCORI, helping to launch the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet), a national effort to engage patients and leverage electronic health data with the aim to improve the speed and efficiency of clinical research in the United States.

Rachel received her MBA from Georgetown University and MPH in global health policy from The George Washington University.

#4 – Kathryn Hamilton, MSB, Senior Consultant, Biomedical Positioning, Booz Allen Hamilton, Managing Editor & Senior Staff Writer Bioeconomy.XYZ

Kathryn Hamilton, MSB is a Senior Consultant, Biomedical Positioning with Booz Allen Hamilton and Managing Editor & Senior Staff writer Bioeconomy.XYZ. She graduated from Calvin University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biochemistry and a Master’s of Science in Business from the Catholic University of America. 

After graduation, she worked in Business Development at the American Society of Hematology. Her work focused on creating impactful and mutually beneficial strategic partnerships with industry leaders to support clinicians and scientists in their work to conquer blood diseases. By working to redefine the traditional collaboration model, she was able to begin building a career around asking questions and building nuanced solutions to the unmet needs of multi-stakeholder groups.  

Part of the reason she joined Booz Allen was because the company has a demonstrated history of shepherding, integrating, and harmonizing the range of science, technology, and programmatic capabilities necessary to conceive, research, and execute the most promising biohealth concepts. She is on a team that continually invests in scientific and technical offerings while still cultivating partnerships across highly-specific, niche domains.

#3 – Elissa Cote, Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals

Elissa Cote is the senior vice president and chief strategy and business development officer at Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals. She has responsibility for corporate strategy, licensing, M&A and alliance management, and is a member of Mallinckrodt’s senior leadership team.

Elissa has nearly 15 years of direct experience in the biopharmaceutical industry and an additional 10 years of experience in strategic and management consulting. She has extensive expertise in business and commercial strategy, as well as therapeutic and disease area strategy in several core therapeutic areas including CNS, auto-immune/inflammation, gastrointestinal, respiratory, hepatology, regenerative medicine and rare orphan disease. Elissa also has significant expertise in business development, global strategic marketing, pre-commercialization/new product planning, business analytics and insights and portfolio and product prioritization in addition to experience in international markets including Europe, Japan, and China.

Previously, she led the marketing and alliance management teams at Sucampo Pharmaceuticals until 2018 when Sucampo was acquired by Mallinckrodt where she then took on the role of senior vice president, head of global marketing and commercial development. Before joining Sucampo, Elissa held roles of increasing responsibility at Histogenics Corporation and AstraZeneca. Prior to joining the life sciences industry, she spent over 10 years as a strategy and management consultant at Accenture.

#2 – Ronald T. Piervincenzi, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, United States Pharmacopeia

Ronald T. Piervincenzi, Ph.D., has served as Chief Executive Officer of the United States Pharmacopeia since February 2014. Ronald provides strategic leadership to USP’s global staff of over 1,300 across sites in the US (Rockville, Frederick, D.C.), India, China, Ghana and Switzerland, and global public health field offices including Nigeria, Indonesia, Ethiopia, and Kenya. His transformative vision has launched key USP initiatives in bringing quality across the healthcare spectrum, upholding USP’s reputation as a quality leader since its founding in 1820.

Under his leadership, USP has modernized its operations and launched innovative new science, including in the areas of digital medicine, cutting-edge manufacturing technologies and advanced biologics. More recently, USP has begun building a robust “capability building” services suite of offerings including quality manufacturing consulting, donor-funded work, and education. Ronald served as Chair of the Council of Experts, USP’s scientific standards-setting body of 24 Expert Committees and over 750 standards-setting experts until June 2015, when he transferred this responsibility to USP’s new Chief Science Officer.

#1 – Maya Yovcheva, Scientist III at Thermo Fisher Scientific

Maya Yovcheva is an R&D scientist with more than ten years of experience in cell biology, protein expression, and product development. She has been a product development scientist at Thermo Fisher Scientific for six years, developing novel tools and platforms for protein expression and viral vector production. Her work has led to the launch of a new platform for baculovirus-based protein expression in insect cells. Maya holds a bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and a Master’s degree in Medical Biotechnology.

Outside of Thermo, Maya is also a hobby baker and cake decorator and uses every opportunity to practice those skills by baking for family and friends. She also loves painting, doing crafts, and spending time with her family. In addition, she is the current Member Committee Co-Chair for the Women In Bio Capital Region chapter.

Want to read more interviews? Be sure to check out all of our “5 Questions With…” from this year!