MassCONNECT Companies Present: Spotlight on Science

Tuesday, September 30 2014
8:00 am – 10:00 am

Location: MassBio, 300 Technology Square, 8th Floor, Cambridge, MA

MassCONNECT is MassBio's program that connects entrepreneurs and founders with seasoned life sciences professionals to catalyze and commercialize innovation. Each year 12 emerging companies graduate from the MassCONNECT program. Come join us to hear MassCONNECT graduates present the cutting-edge science that led them to start this exciting journey.


  • Ashok C. Chander, PhD, CEO, Cellanyx Diagnostics

Title: Systems Diagnostics: Live-Cell Approaches

  • Monty Montano, PhD, President and Founder, MyoSyntax

Title:  From Africa to Anabolics: My Experience in Building a Muscle Health Sciences Company


  • Masha Fridkis-Hareli, MSc, PhD, Founder and President, ATR, LLC



Ashok C. Chander, PhD, CEO, Cellanyx Diagnostics

Ashok Chander, CEO of Cellanyx Diagnostics developed Cellanyx’s core technology during a career in academic research spanning topics from multidrug resistance to matrix-biology. He is a Fellow of Startup Leadership Boston and holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University and a S.B. in biology from MIT. Ashok enjoys collaborating with engineers, scientists and executives towards advancing our understanding of biological processes, discovery, developing clinically relevant technologies, and creating sustainable clinical & therapeutic value.

Ashok began his scientific training at NIH, continuing at MIT and Columbia University while being advised by two Nobel Laureates along the way.  In addition to oncology research, Ashok has been engaged in research relevant to cystic fibrosis, synaptic plasticity, and Alzheimer’s. Ashok has experience spanning academic research, entrepreneurship, and business in life sciences, oncology, medical device, healthcare, information technology and diagnostic industries. Ashok has been engaged in oncology research since 1996.

Masha Fridkis-Hareli, MSc, PhD, Founder and President, ATR, LLC

Masha Fridkis-Hareli is an immunologist, consultant and inventor with over 20 years of experience in academia and industry. She is a Founder and President of ATR, LLC, a translational research company providing scientific consulting and laboratory services in assay development for biological drug candidates in the therapeutic areas of cancer, autoimmunity, inflammation and orphan indications. Dr. Fridkis-Hareli holds a B.A. from the Technion, an M.Sc. from Hebrew University and a Ph.D. from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. During her post-doctoral training at the Harvard University she designed and developed a group of novel compounds for treatment of autoimmune diseases currently in Phase II clinical trials. After serving as Principal Investigator at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Dr. Fridkis-Hareli transitioned to industry where she held a variety of positions with increasing responsibilities at a number of companies including Resolvyx Pharmaceuticals, Charles River Laboratories, Taligen Therapeutics and Alexion Pharmaceuticals. Her areas of expertise include in vitro pharmacology, protein- and cell-based assays, flow cytometry and preclinical immunotoxicology. Dr. Fridkis-Hareli is a co-author of over 100 publications and 14 issued patents. She is an Adjunct Professor at the Graduate Biopharmaceutical Leadership Program at Emmanuel College and at the BioScience Academy at Boston University School of Medicine. In addition to her professional affiliations, Dr. Fridkis-Hareli is actively involved on boards of several professional organizations serving as a co-chair of the Drug Discovery Working Group at the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council and as a Past President of the Association for Women in Science in Massachusetts.

Monty Montano, PhD, President and Founder, MyoSyntax

Dr Montano received his BA in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley and his PhD in genetics from Stanford University, and conducted his postdoctoral work at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts. As of September, he will be on the faculty at Harvard Medical School and the Director of Muscle and Aging Interventions. Dr Montano's laboratory is broadly interested in HIV infection, muscle wasting, fibrosis, and aging bioscience. Dr Montano is also the founder and president of MyoSyntax, a life sciences company focused on identifying personalized supplements that optimize gains in - and reduce losses of - muscle mass. Dr Montano lives, in Brodkline, Massachusetts.

Meijia Yang, PhD, Founder and President, Boston 3T Biotechnologies

Throughout Meijia’s drug discovery career spanning more than 15 years at the CuraGen and at the Serono,  he transitioned from a scientist to the lead of  the protein and cell science function, and later as a portfolio manager overseeing the project investment of Merck Serono’ drug discovery research and early development.

He developed significant technology skills, and knowledge within the field of protein engineering and production, cancer biology, and immunology.  His discovery spanned many different disciplines, and he discovered a new use of anti TNF alpha receptors, designed selection methods based on flow cytometry for high producer cell lines, and developed cell-based assays to detect protein-peptide interactions. Mr. Meijia Yang has received over 20 issued or pending patents covering different areas of the discovery.
Contributing to the functional genomics research at CuraGen, he converted over 100 DNA sequences to proteins, although most of the gene fragments were hypothetical genomic sequences. These proteins were proven tangible assets, and were the basis for the licensing deals of over $100 million for the CuraGen Corporation. Among the many therapeutic candidates, it was Meijia who cloned and produced FGF21, a task that involved making of a gene from piecing together oligonucleotides during the early days of the de novo gene synthesis.  In addition, he overcame the FGF21 aggregation issue in both the expression and production, and enabled manufacture processes for the clinical trials.

As the head of the protein and cell sciences at Serono Inc., Meijia was in charge of protein engineering and production processes for the next generation follicle stimulating hormones, novel growth hormones, and an engineered receptor molecule for TNFalpha.  He led the team to produce the GCSF-hCG fusions for treating defective immunity in early stage of pregnancy. It is during this period he gained a footing in the immunology field, and acquired the knowledge and technical skills for the T-cell based therapies.

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