Lineup of Speakers

Neil Bajpayee joined Kite Pharma, a Gilead company in 2020 as an Associate Director in Alliance Management. He manages a portfolio of collaborations and strategic partnerships, spanning from discovery research to late-stage clinical development.     

Previously, Neil was an Investment Associate at Kairos Ventures where he was involved in sourcing and evaluating of the firm’s therapeutic, medical device and life science technology investments from university partners and startups. Prior to Kairos, Neil served as Director of Business Development at Trethera Corporation, where he led all partnering, licensing, and intellectual property strategy for the company’s small molecule oncology assets. Prior to Trethera, Neil was a Licensing Officer at UCLA’s Office of Intellectual Property where he managed intellectual property and out-licensing of university biomedical technologies and supported new company formation.

Neil received a Ph.D. in Molecular & Medical Pharmacology from UCLA, a B.S. in Microbiology from the Pennsylvania State University, and is a registered Patent Agent with the USPTO.  

Russell DeKelver joined Merck & Co in 2021 as an Associate Director of Search & Evaluation, covering oncology, cardiometabolic disease, renal and ophthalmology opportunities from discovery to early clinical development in the Pacific region.

Previously, Russ was a Director of Business Development at Sangamo Therapeutics where he supported business development, new product planning and competitive intelligence activities for Sangamo’s gene therapy and gene editing platforms across therapeutic areas. Prior to moving to business development, Russ was a Team Leader in Sangamo's rare disease research group where he led the development of a genome editing platform and preclinical activities resulting in first-in-human clinical trials.

Russ received his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of California, San Diego and his B.A. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley. 


Alessia Errico, PhD MBA is a technology transfer professional, specialized in the field of oncology. She is the Associate Director for Search & Evaluation at Cancer Research Horizons- Cancer Research UK (CRUK), the world larger charitable funder of cancer research, with an annual research expenditure of in excess of £400m and a successful track record of translating basic research into patient benefit —having contributed to 11 marketed drugs. Within her role, she has oversight of the different CRUK funded Institutions, defines the strategy to increase translational outputs and leads a team of technology transfer professional on the sourcing of new opportunities that have the potential of translating to the clinic. Specifically, the team are responsible for IP protection, industry collaboration and identifying propositions for spin-out formation. At CRUK, she has also defined the strategy and co-lead the foundation of the charity first entrepreneurship program, aimed at promoting an entrepreneurial culture within the academic sector.  

Alessia has trained as a scientist and has 14 years of research experience across different fields, from genetic disease to cancer biology. She has been an editor for Nature Review Clinical Oncology and has been responsible for research funding at CRUK, looking after CRUK Institute portfolio and the charity accelerator award scheme. A keen interest in business management and entrepreneurialism and innovation applied to healthcare led her to obtain an MBA with a healthcare specialism at Warwick business School.

Rubén Flores-Saaib is a native of Nayarit, México and is the Academic Innovations and Partnerships Lead at General Inception. Throughout his career, Rubén has led and developed academic and corporate teams working on commercialization and partnering programs in life sciences, diagnostics, therapeutics, artificial intelligence, materials, and software. Rubén is also a co-founder, and past President, of the San Diego Innovation Council, a coalition of academic research institutes working together to elevate the profile of the San Diego innovation ecosystem to the world.
Rubén received his Ph.D. from UCLA’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He began his career as a Scientist at BD Biosciences Pharmigen, later moved to Biosite (now Abbott) as a Clinical Scientist and Agreements Manager, and then joined Chemicon (acquired by Serologicals) to lead the Luminex Multiplex and Diagnostics teams. Rubén was a founding Director of the Scientific Collaborations and Business Development group started by Millipore following the acquisition of Serologicals and continued in that role when Merck KGaA acquired Millipore. Ruben capped his career in the corporate world as Vice President of Marketing and Product Development at Genway Biotech.

Rubén’s 10-year in academic technology transfer began as Vice President for Business Development at LA BioMed (now the Lundquist Institute), continued as Director at UC San Diego and most recently as Associate Director of Licensing at the University of Southern California.

Rajul Jain is a Managing Director at Vida Ventures and physician-scientist by background. Prior to coming to Vida, he was most recently leading the Development organization at Kite Pharma, a Gilead company where he oversaw a team of approximately 200 people developing engineered cell therapy products to treat a variety of blood cancers and solid tumors. Rajul joined Kite in 2014 and was instrumental to the company’s growth and success, including the advancement of Yescarta® and Tecartus® from pre-IND phase through global regulatory approvals. Previously, Rajul was at Amgen where his last role was Global Development Lead. There he oversaw the development of small molecules and biologics in the oncology and bone health therapeutic areas and was instrumental in advancing the R&D pipeline including regulatory approvals of Xgeva and Prolia.

Rajul completed his BA in chemistry and biochemistry at Rice University, and MD and Internal Medicine internship and residency at UT Southwestern Medical school, where he was a Howard Hughes Fellow. He completed his post-doctoral training in biophysics at Rockefeller University, and fellowship training at MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he was Chief Fellow. Rajul serves on the Board of Directors of Capstan Therapeutics, InnoSkel, LocanaBio, and Neogene Therapeutics. Rajul was previously a volunteer Attending Physician treating underserved patients at UCLA Harbor Medical Center and continues to lecture regularly at UCLA.

Dr Andrew Kurtz is a Program Director in the Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), where he develops and leads various research programs that represent new and emerging opportunities for the Institute. He currently co-leads Cancer Grand Challenges, a partnership established in 2020 between NCI and Cancer Research UK to address major unsolved questions in cancer by funding international, multidisciplinary research teams. Dr Kurtz previously worked for 12 years in NCI’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Development Center where he managed projects focused on the preclinical development of novel anti-cancer therapeutics. He first joined the NCI in 2005 as a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow to provide scientific and communications support to The Cancer Genome Atlas management team. Prior to joining the NCI, Dr Kurtz worked in industry developing high-throughput bioanalytical assays to support pharmacokinetic studies for the pharmaceutical sector. He received a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and he also holds an Executive Certificate in Strategy and Innovation from the MIT Sloan School of Management. 

Lisa Mueller is a shareholder at Casmir Jones.  For over twenty-five years, Lisa has provided strategic counsel on complex patent issues to clients in the plant, food, pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, biotechnology and chemistry sectors. She brings an in-depth knowledge and extensive experience to her work advising clients on the global patent protection, freedom to operate and validity of blockbuster drugs they aim to produce and distribute. 

A thought leader on pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical patent law, Lisa speaks frequently to legal and industry groups, and publishes widely. She was the author of an award-winning blog, BRIC Wall, which provides unique insights on patent law developments in the life sciences industry in Brazil, Russia, India and China. Lisa is currently the author of the blog, BRICS & Beyond (https://bricsandbeyond.blog/) which provides unique insights on patent law developments in the life sciences industry not only in Brazil, Russia, India and China but in other countries outside of the United States. 

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