Carving Out a Unique Career in Biotech

Join us on December 7th for a panel featuring Katharine Ku, Kristina Kitko, and Ashley Zehnder. We’ll hear about about their diverse career paths in biotech, which include startups, law, and VC investing. Each one has traced a unique path, building skills, facing challenges, and learning lessons. A great venue for current or aspiring leaders to get advice and insights in an interactive session.

Moderated by Pooja Majmudar of Silicon Valley Bank.

Register for the Livestream

About the Speakers

Kristina Kitko, PhD is currently Associate Director of Venture Science at Eli Lilly. She is based in San Francisco, CA, as part of the broader West Coast group within Global Corporate Business Development, primarily targeting early-stage research across Lilly’s 5 core therapeutic areas. Her role supports Lilly’s multiple external venture investments in both funds and companies globally (>$2bill), as well as due diligence and search and evaluation initiatives. She works on deals across multiple modalities and therapeutic areas for Lilly.

Kristina comes from an operational background within biotech. Prior to Lilly, she worked in Corporate Strategy at Crinetics Pharmaceuticals, and in venture creation at Flagship Pioneering and as an independent consultant. Kristina completed her PhD in Interdisciplinary Materials Science from Vanderbilt University as an NSF IGERT fellow, and her postdoctoral training in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT.

Katharine (Kathy) Ku is the chief licensing advisor in the Palo Alto office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. She is also a member of the technology transactions and the patents and innovations practice groups.

Kathy is an internationally recognized leader in the field of technology transfer. She served as the Executive Director of Stanford University’s Office of Technology Licensing (OTL) for 27 years. During that period, OTL licensed hundreds of new technologies, bringing in $1.8 billion, most of which went back to support research and education at Stanford.

Kathy also spearheaded the development and implementation of nine principles related to university technology licensing. The principles are set forth in document entitled “In the Public Interest: Nine Points to Consider in Licensing University Technology.” More than 120 institutions have adopted the principles since they were published in 2007.

Ashley Zehnder is a co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Fauna Bio. Ashley has been recognized for her work by the SF Business Times Women Who Lead in Life Sciences, an Emerging Woman Founder in Bio by the Wave Summit, as well as representing Fauna Bio for the Fortune AI Minute. She has spoken at numerous events promoting the use of AI and novel genomics in drug discovery and mentors early stage founders through her work with On Deck Longevity Biotech and Nucleate Bio. She is a boarded avian veterinarian and her prior research focused on translational science, earning a PhD in Cancer Biology from Stanford. Her research works span >20 peer-reviewed publications, including Cell, Nature and Nature Medicine.

As Director of early-stage Startup Banking at Silicon Valley Bank, Pooja Majmudar leverages her knowledge experience, and connections, to propel early-stage companies both in securing funding when needed or in creating opportunities with potential partners, ultimately to help startups unlock their next chapter of value. To that effect, Pooja works closely with early stage (pre-Series A) founders, channel partners including early-stage investors, accelerators/incubators, professional service providers, universities, and industry groups, to provide specialized solutions for clients across all life sciences and healthcare sectors.

Prior to SVB, Pooja worked side-by-side with researchers, clinician scientists and founders at three R1 research institutions in the northeast, as a technology transfer and business development professional, to influence high-impact industry collaborations for advancement of early-stage inventions and promote technology entrepreneurship. Pooja holds a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Ohio University, and her doctoral thesis was part of the foundational technology out-licensed to Phosplatin Therapeutics (now Promontory Therapeutics), a private, clinical-stage drug development company focusing on oncology therapeutics.