Mentorship Program

A six-month mentorship program that pairs student mentees with professional mentors in their field of interest to bridge the knowledge gap between academia and industry.

Event overview

How does it work?

As a six-month program, graduate student and postdoctoral fellow mentees are given the opportunity to become closely acquainted with a professional mentor in their field of interest. More specifically, they may learn about tasks involved in the day-to-day job, receive career guidance, and/or acquire valuable knowledge to enable a smooth transition from academia to industry post-graduation. Mentees and mentors are paired on the basis of career interest or professional development goals and interactions between the mentees and mentors are self-guided.

Mentor-mentee pairs are expected to interact monthly, but given the on-going pandemic and limitations, where these interactions occur (either virtually or in-person) will be up to their discretion and comfort level.

New this year, we will be providing mentees with monthly newsletters that include tips and questions they can ask their mentor. We would also like to run a few skill-building workshops (i.e. resume writing, how to conduct an informational interview, interview preparation) and networking opportunities throughout the program.

Why participate?

As graduate student and postdoctoral fellow mentees, this is a special opportunity to establish a meaningful connection with a professional working in your field of interest and gain knowledge of their experiences and their industry as a whole.

As professional mentors, this is a unique opportunity to have a lasting and personal impact on the professional development of a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow simply by sharing your knowledge and advice.

Applications for the 2022 Program will open on Wednesday, November 24, 2021 and close on Wednesday, December 8, 2021 at 11:59 PM.

Program logistics

The mentorship program runs from January 2022 to June 2022 and features self-directed one-on-one mentor-mentee virtual interactions as well as formally organized events hosted by the LSCDS. Priority will be given to upper-year current graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at the University of Toronto

Apply as a mentee

Here are some of our amazing mentors!

Amit Deshwar is the Head of Predictive Systems at Deep Genomics. Under his leadership, Deep Genomics has developed more than 40 machine learning models of molecular phenotype and developed novel GalNAc hepatocyte delivery technology. Recently his team has released the AI Workbench 2.0, which fuses a deep mechanistic understanding of SBO activity, predictive models, and high throughput sequencing datasets that enable rapid development of expression increase SBOs. Prior to Deep Genomics, he worked at Google where he built a highly distributed log parsing system and power supply firmware that enabled coordinated reductions in peak power consumption. In addition, he founded a startup that matches employers and potential employees using predictive models of personality and workplace attributes.

Amit received bachelor degrees in Software Engineering and Psychology from the University of Calgary. His PhD is from the University of Toronto, where he studied machine learning for oncology, and built tree-structured Bayesian nonparametric models for untangling the complex biology of intra-tumour heterogeneity.

Lana graduated from the University of Toronto with a MSc in Neuroscience and she is currently a Reimbursement Analyst at MORSE Consulting. At MORSE, Lana works on various pharmaceutical market access projects from HTA to public and private payer strategies.

Kirsten Farncombe joined the University Health Network in 2019 as a Research Associate after earning her PhD in Population Genetics from the University of Reading in England. She is currently a Scientific Associate, where her research focuses on cancer genetics and cardiovascular disease. Kirsten’s main interests are scientific writing, project management and scientific communication.

Dr. Leticia Ferri began her career at Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) in 2010 in Brazil as Scientific Advisor. Earlier in her career she worked at BMS Canada, and since 2013 has been based at BMS offices in New Jersey.  In 2019 Leticia was appointed as the Lead for OLA (Organization for Latino Achievement) at BMS and in 2021 she took a new role as the Executive Director for Worldwide Medical Cardiovascular for Early Assets and Business Development Strategy.

Leticia’s clinical and research training includes an MD from the Universidade São Francisco in Brazil (1999), Clinical Residency and Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology, Master of Science in Pharmacology from Maringá State University in Brazil (2005), Master of Clinical Epidemiology from the University of Toronto in Canada (2009), a Ph.D. in Cardiology-Genetics from the University of São Paulo in Brazil (2010), and MBA from Cornell University (2019).

Leticia serves on the Board of Directors for Greater Trenton, Cornell Johnson Recent Alumni Council, Advisor for Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences and Monmouth University School of Science Dean’s Advisory Council.

Christopher Fredric is a highly accomplished Regulatory Affairs executive in the biotech/pharmaceutical/medical device industry. After completing a thesis-based Master of Science from the University of Toronto, Chris entered the Canadian biopharma industry in 1994. Since then, he has contributed significantly in designing and implementing Regulatory strategies to expedite the approval of drugs developed for rare diseases. Chris has extensive experience in leading and directing regulatory teams to get biologics, drugs, and medical devices approved in various countries by working effectively with Canadian and International health regulatory authorities and stakeholders.

Daniel Fredric, HBSc., MMI, is a Regulatory Affairs Intern at Alexion Pharmaceuticals.

Darina Frieder is an experienced Medical Affairs professional and is currently a Medical Science Liaison at UCB Pharma. She also runs her own medical writing business, Science Nerd for Hire. Curiosity is one of her core values, which drives her to continue learning and enhancing her skills. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband, 2 kids, and 1 temperamental cat. She is passionate about many things, a few of which are gardening, creating delicious meals for family and friends, and reading as many books as she can.

Dylan received a Master’s degree in chemistry after leaving his PhD program to pursue science policy. As an analyst at Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada, he provides decision-makers with information and advice on improving Canada’s science and innovation ecosystems. Having taken advantage of LSCDS programming during his time in graduate school, he is happy to help support the next generation to get their start outside of academia.

Oncology is not just a chosen career path for Pavel; It is his passion. As a Capability Development Manager, Pavel takes great pride in the opportunity to impact patient lives by implementing strategies that enable the sales team to promote innovative and effective therapeutics. Pavel’s career has given him the opportunity to impact patient lives by promoting innovative and novel medications. Today, Pavel works in collaboration with cross-functional teams to ensure that they execute on their business goals while delivering the best solutions to oncology HCPs across the country. Pavel hopes that by reviewing his profile, you will see a dynamic, results-oriented individual who is constantly looking for greater challenges to overcome. Pavel’s strong scientific background coupled with his diverse working experience has equipped him with strong leadership, strategic analytical, and problem-solving skills.

Lara is a registered pharmacist with demonstrated solid experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Lara currently works in the Regulatory Affairs domain as a Senior Specialist. She is a pharmacist skilled in pharmaceutics, radio-pharmaceutics, market analysis, and cross-cultural communication all centred on exclusive services focused on patient care.

Katrina is a University of Toronto MHSc in Medical Physiology graduate with a strong background in scientific communication, product optimization, and data analysis. She is currently a Clinical Specialist currently working at Myant inc. She has excellent analytics, time management, and communication skills developed as a high-achieving varsity student athlete and from various leadership experiences, such as running the student athlete mental health initiative at the University of Toronto chapter. Katrina is a competitive track and field athlete and photography enthusiast who loves to take many photos of her dog!

Pallavi Jain is currently working as a Medical Science Liaison within the medical affairs oncology division at EMD Serono, Canada. Pallavi has over 10 years of experience working in the field of oncology in both industrial and academic environments. Pallavi obtained a PhD in biomedical sciences with a focus on the development of novel imaging techniques for Prostate Cancer diagnosis from Laval University in Quebec City. Pallavi then moved to Toronto to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship at The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, working on a research project trying to understand the role of tumor microenvironment in driving the response to targeted therapies for Pancreatic Cancer. After this, Pallavi moved onto his current role at EMD Serono. Pallavi is passionate about playing a supportive role in providing improved options for health and patient care.

After defending her PhD in 2011, Kristine eventually wound her way into the medical communications industry which she found was an excellent use of her communication and analytical skills. Her job titles in this industry have included Medical Writer, Senior Medical Writer and Director, Scientific Services. She is currently Senior Medical Director at Scientific Global Communications, where she partners with clients from multiple departments within pharma to assist them with their communications strategy and messaging.

Kelsey Law-Machin joined AstraZeneca Canada in January 2021 as a Forecasting Manager where she supports the Commercial, Supply, and Financial arms for all Respiratory & Immunology, and Infectious Disease specialty care brands. Here, she combines therapeutic area knowledge, market factors, and patient dynamics to craft forecasts and tell brand stories on patient and revenue ambition, and she leads monthly business reviews to track performance to plan. Prior to this, Kelsey was an Associate/Analyst at Bloom Burton & Co., Canada’s leading healthcare focused-investment bank, for almost 3 years where she provided management consulting for pharma, biotech companies, and academic groups to support the monetization and growth of life science technologies and products in Canada and the U.S. Kelsey also conducted due diligence on 100+ biotech/tech companies or academic groups, with a digital health specialization, to assess value proposition for commercialization and the overall investment opportunity. Kelsey also has experience with a startup, Triumvira Immunologics, where she worked closely with senior management to assess scientific and market opportunities. By way of background, Kelsey obtained a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Toronto where she studied a drug repurposing approach for a rare group of neurodegenerative disorders called Peroxisome Biogenesis Disorders.

Zoey has a background in health science with more than four years of experience in pediatric and neurocognitive research. Before joining MORSE, Zoey completed her Master of Health Science in the Translational Research Program at the University of Toronto, where she collaborated with community hospital stakeholders to implement a novel knowledge translation tool to reduce pediatric trauma-related deaths. Zoey has also successfully led several pro-bono consulting engagements and advised healthcare startups on their go-to-market strategy.

Strategically placed at the intersection of science and business, Pratiek has a keen interest in scientific consulting. He is currently working with BenchSci, a Google-funded AI company whose mission is to help the scientific community achieve biomedical discoveries faster. BenchSci uses machine learning technology to accelerate the pace of biomedical discoveries by helping scientists find the best reagents for their experiments.

Pratiek completed his PhD at the University of Toronto, where he was part of a talented team of researchers working on deciphering mechanisms of fibrosis in pancreatic cancer. To smoothly transition into the business sector and strengthen the entrepreneurial spirit, he completed the miniMBA program at the University of Toronto.

He has over 9 years of research experience having worked in a variety of roles at the University of Toronto (Toronto, Canada), Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer (Mumbai, India), Indian Institute of Science (Bengaluru, India), and the Institute of Bioinformatics and Biotechnology (Pune, India).

Pratiek has secured the maximum amount of competitive scholarships totalling over $100,000 (CAD) including the esteemed Peterborough K. M. Hunter Graduate Award, the Ontario Graduate Scholarship as well as numerous other awards and honours. He has also published over 20 research articles.

Steven is an experienced biochemist (20+ peer-reviewed publications, 900+ citations, 3 patents) with expertise in drug discovery and personalized medicine. During his graduate studies, Steven earned >$100K in personal scholarships/awards, assisted in obtaining >$5M in research funding through written grant applications and presentations to investors, and, importantly, his research led to an n-of-2 clinical trial. Since 2015, Steven’s entrepreneurial passion has led him to play a key role at several biotech start-up companies in Toronto (namely Cyclica and NeuroBlot), leading to successful investment, team and revenue growth. While at CCRM (2018-2021), Steven led business development and contract services for CCRM’s process development and cGMP manufacturing capabilities. In this role, Steven enjoyed working closely with CCRM’s interdisciplinary teams, including anchor partner Cytiva (formerly GE Healthcare), as well as building relationships with leaders at global pharmaceutical companies developing cutting-edge cell and gene therapies. At BIOVECTRA (2021-present), Steven supports business development efforts for complex chemistry (small molecule API) and biologics (peptides, enzymes) process development / cGMP manufacturing (Phase I to commercial scale) services, including BIOVECTRA’s unique microbial fermentation capabilities.

Rahul Sarugaser holds a PhD and MASc in biomedical engineering from the University of Toronto and an MBA from the University of Oxford. Before joining Raymond James, Dr. Sarugaser was a healthcare/biotechnology equities analyst with Paradigm Capital, a boutique investment bank in Toronto. Prior to Paradigm, his roles included director of business development at the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine, an investment manager with the Toronto-based MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund, and a strategic marketing analyst with GE Healthcare’s headquarters in the UK.

Patrycja develops and cultivates industry networks and partnerships to support multi-divisional strategic research initiatives. Prior to joining the ISI portfolio at the University of Toronto, she was the Manager of Technology Sourcing and Evaluation at CCRM leading diligence on novel academic discoveries, developing commercialization strategies for regenerative medicine therapies, and building stakeholder networks to support venture creation. As the Research Projects Officer at the Sunnybrook Research Institute, she previously supported academics with institutional funding applications and budget management and led academic and industry-based projects at the Fox Chase Cancer Research Institute and the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO).

Dr. Michael Tusche brings over a decade of experience as a scientist, investor, and entrepreneur to his role of co-CEO of Treadwell Therapeutics. Previously, Michael was the Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder of Nirsum Laboratories, Inc., a startup biotechnology company developing small molecule therapeutics for Neuroscience indications. At Nirsum, Dr. Tusche was the Co-inventor of the company’s foundational Intellectual Property and a Principal Investigator of an NIH/NIDA grant, funding the company’s operations into mid-stage clinical studies. Prior to Nirsum, Michael was the Senior Biotechnology Analyst at Mountain Brook Capital Management, LLC, a Healthcare focused Long/Short equity only Hedge Fund, where his focus was Investments in publicly listed Biopharmaceutical companies. Before Mountain Brook, Dr. Tusche was an Associate at MLV and Co., a boutique investment bank with a focus on capital raising and advisory work for life science-based companies. Dr. Tusche also led Biologic drug discovery at the Campbell Family Institute in Toronto, Canada, where he managed a multidisciplinary R&D team in the pre-clinical development and validation of novel drug candidates. Michael started his career as a Scientist in drug discovery at Bayer AG in Japan, where he worked on early stage development of small molecule GPCR antagonists for allergic and inflammatory diseases.

Dr. Tusche received his BSc (with Distinction) in Biochemistry from the University of Victoria. He also received a PhD in Immunology from the University of Toronto where he trained in the laboratory of Dr. Tak Mak. Michael received his M.B.A. from the University of Toronto. He is a co-author on several peer-reviewed publications, the recipient of numerous scientific and business awards, and named inventor on issued US patents focusing on small molecule and biologic therapeutics.

Wendy is a second-year Master of Biotechnology student at the University of Toronto. Previously, she graduated from McMaster University, majoring in Biology & Pharmacology. Wendy is currently completing an internship at a pharmaceutical consulting firm as a Research Assistant. Outside of school and work, she enjoys playing squash, tennis, and trying new restaurants!

Meital is a Rheumatology Medical Science Liason (MSL) at Novartis based in Michigan. She is a chiropractor by training and a PhD in Medical Science, University of Toronto. Her experience in research, clinical practice, and as a science college instructor inspired her to pursue a career in Medical Affairs, and she is passionate about helping aspiring MSLs bridge the gap between academia and industry.