Jessica Backus is the operations associate with the Milken Institute’s FasterCures, based in Washington, D.C. Backus has served in numerous administrative, research and advocacy roles, including positions at Occupational Consultations Inc., United Cerebral Palsy and the Society for Women’s Health Research. She has been academically published various times, including a section on cardiovascular disease in Nutrition: Science, Issues, and Applications, as well as a Society for Women’s Health Research white paper on sex-specific differences within government health practices. Backus graduated with a B.A. in neuroscience from Smith College in 2014, with a focus on neuroendocrinology and the nexus of mental and public health.
Lisa Simms Booth
Director, External Affairs & Operations
Lisa Simms Booth is external affairs and operations director at FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute, where she develops and fosters strategic relationships with FasterCures’ partners within the pharmaceutical, biotech, and corporate communities. She also oversees the overall operations at FasterCures, which includes office management, finance and administration and coordination of special events. Simms has been with FasterCures since its inception and brings over 20 years of experience in project and event management, office management and administration, community mobilization and outreach for a variety of political and advocacy organizations including LISTEN, Inc., The Alliance for Justice, Time Dollar Institute, Children's Defense Fund, Democratic National Committee and the National Rainbow Coalition. Simms is a Pittsburgh native and graduate of Michigan State University.
My favorite part of my job: I love seeing all the pieces come together since my job involves so many facets of the FasterCures work – from events to the office operations. Something surprising about me: I’m in a band called Organic Mocha. Our music is a mix of folk, rock, jazz, R&B and gospel. My life in 140 characters or less: Full of gratitude, laughter, family, friends and football!!
Senior Associate, Programs
Taylor Cusher is a senior program associate at FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute, where she supports several programmatic areas including The Research Acceleration and Innovation Network (TRAIN), the Philanthropy Advisory Service and Consortia-pedia. Prior to her time at the Institute, Cusher provided administrative support for the Cardiac Catheterization and Imaging Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital. She also served as junior staff with the American Cancer Society and March of Dimes, focusing her efforts on growing volunteer networks and increasing the availability of resources for patients in the Massachusetts area. Cusher holds a B.S. in kinesiology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She received her master’s degree in public health, focusing on prevention and community health, from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. She resides in Washington and works at the institute’s D.C. office.
My favorite part of my job: Seeing incredible innovation and ingenuity from patient groups, scientists, and everyone in between. Something surprising about me: I was in an indie film when I was 4. Starring role: eating a pickle on the side of the road. My life in 140 characters or less: Constantly thinking about food and recipes, always up for cat videos, and wish that every morning could start with chai and a great book.
Cynthia Grossman, PhD
Associate Director, Science of Patient Input
Cynthia (Cyndi) Grossman is associate director, Science of Patient Input at FasterCures. Prior to joining FasterCures, Grossman was chief of the HIV Care Engagement and Secondary Prevention Program in the Division of AIDS Research (DAR) at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Her grant portfolio focused on research to improve the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS, including reducing the risk of onward transmission. She has spent her career encouraging research to address the unmet patient needs related to mental health, stigma, and other social determinants of health. She has also played a lead role in defining the social and behavioral scientific agenda for microbicides as HIV prevention as well as HIV cure related research. Grossman hold a bachelor’s degree in psychology and biology from Earlham College, a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the University of Vermont and completed her postdoctoral work at Brown University.
Maureen Japha, JD
Director, Regulatory Policy; Legal Counsel, Milken Institute
Maureen Japha is the director for regulatory policy at FasterCures and legal counsel for the Milken Institute. In this role, she is actively involved in FasterCures´ efforts to advance the science of patient input, working with stakeholders to identify and develop tools and resources designed to help stakeholders more effectively integrate patient perspectives into medical product development and regulatory decision-making. Japha also leads FasterCures’ University-Foundation Relations program where she works to build more effective partnerships between patient foundations and universities, through the development and dissemination of best practices. Prior to joining FasterCures, Japha worked as an associate in the law firm of Covington & Burling, LLP in Washington. She has broad experience representing and advising clients on a range of intellectual property and regulatory issues, with a primary focus in the area of Hatch-Waxman litigation. During her time at Covington, Japha also maintained an active pro bono practice, including a six-month rotation at DC’s Children’s Law Center. Japha graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University with a B.S. in biology and earned her J.D. from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis.
My favorite part of my job: Having the opportunity to work on such interesting and important issues, while collaborating with smart, dedicated, and thoughtful colleagues. Something surprising about me: When I moved to DC I joined a co-ed flag football league. Seven years (and two kids) later, I still haven’t been able to give it up! My life in 140 characters or less: My perfect day includes a long bike ride, a great meal, and my family.
Senior Associate, Programs
Samantha Mayberry is the senior associate of programs at FasterCures. Since joining the team in September 2011, she has played several roles including coordinating the Philanthropy Advisory Service and providing research support on medical research philanthropy. She currently works on the science of patient input, looking at ways to better incorporate patient perspectives into research. She also manages Partnering for Cures, an annual event in its seventh year, and provides project management oversight across all FasterCures initiatives. Mayberry graduated from the George Washington University in December 2011 with a bachelor's degree in international affairs and a concentration in international economics.
My favorite part of my job: I enjoy having the opportunity to gain vast knowledge about nearly every aspect of medical research, especially seeing the new ideas and innovations that come out of Partnering for Cures. Something surprising about me: I was named after Samantha from Bewitched. My life in 140 characters or less: A southern native, moved to the fabulous District to attend GWU. I spend my time adventuring via bike & judging the local french fry scene.
Senior Associate, Communications
Simone Mishler is a senior associate on the FasterCures communications team, focusing on marketing and program communications. Her work includes producing Webinars, managing the blog and sharing FasterCures’ impact with stakeholders. Mishler combines her entrepreneurial spirit with a background in writing and project management. Prior to joining FasterCures, she worked as a communications associate at Aptive Resources, a consulting firm specializing in IT, strategic communications, marketing and organizational management for federal and state governments, nonprofit and private-sector clients. Originally from Michigan, she came to DC by way of Madison, Wisc., where she was a member of the corporate communications team at CUNA Mutual Group. She has a bachelor’s degree in communication from Alma College.
My favorite part of my job: I love collaborating with the creative individuals here; it makes communicating our work even more rewarding. Something surprising about me: I had an illustrious equestrian career lasting from ages 3 to 17, when I retired from riding. My life in 140 characters or less: Proud pet parent to a chinchilla and a bassador who might be a bit too concerned with tracking her activity via FitBit.
Kim McCleary is Managing Director of FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute and an action tank driven by a singular goal -- to save lives by speeding up and improving the medical research system. She leads a new FasterCures program to advance the science of patient input and expand patient engagement in FDA’s assessment of benefits and risks for medical products. Kim also works closely with FasterCures’ network of patient-focused venture philanthropy organizations, The Research Acceleration and Innovation Network (TRAIN). Prior to joining FasterCures’ staff, Kim was President & CEO of the CFIDS Association of America from 1991 until 2013. She has participated in every opportunity organized by the FDA to shape its Patient-Focused Drug Development Initiative (PFDDI) and has worked with several patient organizations to prepare for their PFDDI meetings. Kim is a member of the Patient Engagement Advisory Panel to the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and she serves on the steering committee for the Medical Device Innovation Consortium’s Patient-Centered Benefit Risk project. Kim is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Associate, Operations Manager
Joseph Ortega is the operations manager for FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute, where he facilitates all daily logistics, financial administration and facilities management aspects for the center. He also provides event planning and day-of coordination for FasterCures’ major events. Before joining FasterCures in 2007, Ortega served as an international meetings associate for a fundraising association in Arlington, Va. He brings extensive experience in fundraising organizations including positions he held at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Ashoka. Additionally, Ortega worked as executive assistant for the president and CEO of the largest Latino advocacy, research and legislation organization in the country. He also served for nearly 14 years as the assistant to the publisher and CEO of the largest Spanish-language, daily newspaper in the United States. In addition, he worked for Rep. Xavier Becerra as executive assistant and scheduler in the Washington office. Ortega studied at California State University, Los Angeles as a political science major. He works at the Institute’s Washington office.
My favorite part of my job: Working with a team of knowledgeable and extremely capable individuals that are making a big difference in the area of medical research makes coming to work a real pleasure. Something surprising about me: Was part of the founding class of medical school fellows at the Howard Hughes Undergraduate Biological Sciences Minority Advancement Research and Training program (UBSMART) at UC Irvine. My life in 140 characters or less: Operations Manager by day/English teacher by night. I like to help people :)
Associate Director, Communications
Karen Rogers leads engagement efforts for FasterCures, serving as a senior relationship manager for internal and external audiences. In this role, she works closely with the leadership and program staff, as well as the broader program, development, events and communications teams across the Milken Institute. Her responsibilities include knowledge management, stakeholder outreach, publications and materials development, and marketing. Prior to joining FasterCures in 2010, Rogers held communications positions at innovative nonprofits focusing on the public sector and health, including the Partnership for Public Service, Association of Public Health Laboratories and The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati. She has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Xavier University in Ohio and a master’s degree in public communication from American University in Washington.
My favorite part of my job: Hearing inspiring stories of people who are dedicated to searching for cures and treatments. Something surprising about me: Although I fell far short of a World Cup career, I used to coach soccer for five-year-olds. My life in 140 characters or less: Midwesterner who dreaded science in school finds herself fascinated by public health & makes a career out of explaining science & its impact.
Director of Programs
Kristin Schneeman joined FasterCures in April 2005 as director of programs, with primary responsibility for its innovation portfolio of projects and activities, focused on best practices in the funding and conduct of medical research and innovative collaborations among players in the research enterprise. Among other initiatives, she runs The Research Acceleration and Innovation Network (TRAIN) program, which provides a platform for knowledge-sharing and relationship-building to support the growth of venture philanthropy in medical research. Schneeman brings to FasterCures 25 years' experience in public policy, politics, academia and the media. She served for three years as a senior adviser and policy director to a gubernatorial candidate in Massachusetts, as a policy aide to a U.S. Congressman, and for four years as the front-line manager and chief-of-staff for a senior adviser to Vice President Al Gore. At Harvard University, she directed research projects on future challenges facing governments and on complex negotiations in business, politics and international relations. Schneeman began her career as a producer of documentary films, for which she was the recipient of an Emmy Award in 1990.
My favorite part of my job: Through our TRAIN program, I get to work with and be inspired by incredibly passionate, effective patient advocates who are changing history for us all. Something surprising about me: I was fortunate to win an Emmy Award for a documentary film about the Iran-Contra Affair (anyone remember what that was?). My life in 140 characters or less: My passion has been getting good ideas put into practice through smart policy and smart politics. Also good food, books, and bike rides.
Brad Smith, PhD
Director of Policy
Brad is the Director of Policy at FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute. He provides leadership and direction for the center’s policy agenda internally and externally. He is an experienced policy analyst and technologist, and is focused on developing and implementing innovative approaches to maximize public and private investment in R&D – especially towards the development of new disease cures. He possesses deep expertise in science policy, security policy, and the life sciences. Prior to FasterCures, Brad served in the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA) within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science & Technology Directorate. At HSARPA, he established a new technology development program employing a unique strategic investment model leveraging In-Q-Tel (IQT) and its broad portfolio of innovative startup companies to deliver mission-ready technologies to DHS operational users. He also served as a Senior Advisor in HSARPA’s Chemical and Biological Defense Division. Prior to government service, Brad was a Senior Associate at the UPMC Center for Health Security, an organization that works to affect policy and practice in ways that lessen the illness, death, and civil disruption that would follow large-scale epidemics of infectious disease. A primary focus of his work was accelerating the development of medicines, vaccines, and other countermeasures for infectious disease threats. Brad was an Associate Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Health Security from its founding in 2002 through 2010. He currently serves as a volunteer mentor to early-stage startup companies at the 1776 incubator in Washington, DC. Dr. Smith has a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Williams College, and a PhD in biology from MIT.
My favorite part of my job: Biology continually amazes me. I am fortunate to work with a remarkable array of citizens – researchers, entrepreneurs, public servants, and more – all focused on applying those discoveries towards curing disease and enhancing health. Something surprising about me: If it’s winter and I’m out of the office, I’m probably skiing in Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon. My life in 140 characters or less: Always striving to learn, make a contribution, appreciate friends and family, have fun, and live a balanced life.
Senior Associate, Policy and Evaluation
Colin Ward is a senior associate of policy and evaluation at FasterCures. He focuses on supporting coalition-building with government stakeholders to advance the FasterCures vision for biomedical innovation. Through projects like Rx for Innovation, he synthesizes themes from key opinion leaders and works with the policy team to translate them into actionable recommendations for the President’s administration and members of Congress. Ward joined FasterCures after two years with Huron Consulting Group, where he spent time in diverse patient care settings observing and evaluating provider-patient-payer interactions at the operations and system levels. Ward received a bachelor of science degree from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health with a major in health policy and management. Ward’s time at Gillings included varied internship and research engagements, including authoring a report on malaria elimination with the International Organization for Migration in Geneva and working on health system capacity-building with the Ministry of Health of El Salvador.
My favorite part of my job:
Listening to, learning from and brainstorming with the leaders in our industry.
Something surprising about me:
Collegiate rower turned Yogi/CrossFitter (They go together better than most would think!)
My life in 140 characters or less:
Terp turned Tarheel returns to the DMV for friends, family and fun. Seeks life sittin' on the dock of the (Chesapeake) bay.
Associate, Administration and Policy
Mark Williams is an associate for administration and policy at FasterCures. He provides administrative, research and operational assistance to the leadership team, including support for FasterCures’ policy portfolio. Additionally, he assists in managing the daily logistics of the organization. Previously, Williams worked as a volunteer policy consultant with the Disaster Accountability Project in the Washington, D.C. area. Prior to this, Williams served with the National Health Service in the UK as a policy officer and information and intelligence assistant. Williams has a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Lincoln and a master’s degree in international security and global governance from Birkbeck, University of London. He works at the Institute's Washington, D.C. office.
Margaret Anderson is the executive director of FasterCures, a Washington DC-based center of the Milken Institute, which is driven by a singular goal – to save lives by speeding up and improving the medical research system. FasterCures focuses on spurring cross-sector collaboration, cultivating a culture of innovation and engaging patients as partners. She is a founding board member and past-president of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA, is a member of the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences Advisory Council and Cures Acceleration Network Review Board, the National Health Council board, the Food and Drug Administration's Science Board, Science Looking Forward Committee and the Institute of Medicine's Forum on Drug Discovery, Development and Translation. Prior to joining FasterCures in 2004, Anderson was the deputy director and a team leader in the Center on AIDS & Community Health at the Academy for Educational Development, where she led public health projects; program director at the Society for Women’s Health Research; health science analyst at the American Public Health Association, where she managed a programmatic portfolio on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, infectious diseases, women’s health and public health infrastructure issues; and analyst and project director at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment in the Biological Applications Program, where she studied societal and business implications of genetic testing. Anderson holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland and a master's degree in science, technology and public policy from George Washington University.
Paul T. Antony
MD, MPH, MBA
Paul Antony is a physician executive with decades of experience fostering innovation in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry. He served as the chief medical officer for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) before being named CEO of Callidus Biopharma, Inc., which he successfully guided through its initial drug discovery efforts to its eventual acquisition by Amicus Therapeutics. He holds MD and MPH degrees from the George Washington University, an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University.
Anna Barker is co-director of the Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative and Professor at Arizona University (ASU), where she employs complex systems models to create transformative knowledge networks that address trans-sector problems in biomedicine. She is also director of the recently launched National Biomarker Development Alliance. Prior to ASU, she served as the deputy director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), leading strategic programs such as The Cancer Genome Atlas, Nanotechnology Alliance for Cancer, and the Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers. Prior to NCI, she was a senior executive at Battelle Memorial Institute and subsequently co-founder and CEO of a public biotechnology company. She completed her master of arts and doctoral degrees at the Ohio State University.
Lucy Bernholz is a visiting scholar at the Stanford University Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, where she helped to launch the Digital Civil Society Lab. She is also a visiting scholar at The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, a fellow with the Hybrid Reality Institute, and a former fellow of the New America Foundation. Bernholz writes extensively on philanthropy, technology, information, and policy, and she serves on the advisory boards to several national and international philanthropy programs and research centers. She is a frequent conference speaker and media source and has written numerous articles and books about the business of giving, including “Creating Philanthropic Capital Markets: The Deliberate Evolution.” Bernholz is also the author of “Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint,” an annual industry forecast about the social economy. She has a bachelor of arts from Yale University and a master of arts and doctorate from Stanford University.
Robert Cook-Deegan, MD, is Professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University. He was previously at Duke University, 2002-2016. He is the author of The Gene Wars: Science, Politics, and the Human Genome (New York: Norton, 1994 & 1996; tr. Korean, Japanese) and an author on over 250 articles. His research interests include gene patents and intellectual property arising from genomics, sharing of data and materials in research and its applications, and health and science policy. From 1991-2002, Cook-Deegan worked at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Academy of Sciences in various capacities, including director of the Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellowship program and the National Cancer Policy Board. During his final three years at the National Academies, he was also a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Investigator at Georgetown University (1999-2002). Before going to Duke, he taught a health and science policy seminar for, and a seminar leader at Stanford-in-Washington (1996-2003). He also worked for the National Center for Human Genome Research in its first year, and was a AAAS Congressional Science & Engineering Fellow and spent six years at the congressional Office of Technology Assessment. He received his MD degree from the University of Colorado in 1979 and his bachelor' s degree in chemistry, magna cum laude, in 1975 from Harvard College.
Michel Goldman is a professor of immunology and pharmacotherapy at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and founder of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Innovation in Healthcare (I3H), a ULB center that has the mission of fostering research, education, and outreach networks for the benefit of patients and other stakeholders. Between 2009 and 2014, Goldman served as executive director of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a joint undertaking between the European Commission and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations. Managing a budget of €2 billion, he was responsible for the launch of 59 public-private consortia. Prior to joining IMI, Goldman headed the Department of Immunology-Hematology-Transfusion at Erasme Hospital in Brussels and served as director of the Institute for Medical Immunology at ULB. Goldman earned a medical degree from ULB and received his doctorate in medical sciences from Université de Genève. He is board-certified in internal medicine and clinical biology.
Lesa Mitchell has more than 20 years of global leadership experience in enterprise technology, product management, product licensing, and mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical industry and as an entrepreneur. She is the chairman and founder of Networks for Scale, an organizational leadership company focused on enabling scale for startups while reducing the failure rate, and is on the board of the Althea Foundation. As vice president at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation until 2013, Mitchell was responsible for understanding the policy levers that influence the advancement of innovation from universities into the commercial market, and the new relationships between philanthropy and for-profit companies. She was instrumental in the early work and scaling of Charité Summit, Startup Weekend, Code for America, Maker Faire, and many more. Prior to joining Kauffman, Mitchell spent 20 years in executive roles at Aventis, Quintiles, and Marion Laboratories.
Bernard Munos is founder and chief apostle of InnoThink, a consultancy dedicated to bringing evidence-based innovation models to the pharmaceutical industry. Previously an advisor for corporate strategy at Eli Lilly, he has long focused on disruptive innovation in drug development, and the radical redesign of R&D. Munos’ research has been published in Nature and Science, and he has presented his findings to the National Academies, the Institute of Medicine, the President’s Cancer Panel, the National Institutes of Health Leadership Forum, the World Health Organization, the OECD, the Kauffman Foundation, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the Council for American Medical Innovation, and many others. He received his M.B.A from Stanford University, and holds other graduate degrees in economics and animal science from the University of California, Davis and the Paris Institute of Technology for Life, Food and Environmental Sciences. Blog posts from Bernard: The Future of Medicine | Give me your Innovators Yearning to Breath Free | Can There be Too Much of a Good Thing? Yes, if it's Intellectual Property
Bray Patrick-Lake is the director of stakeholder engagement for the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative, where she supports efforts to actively engage patient advocacy organizations and other stakeholders in improving clinical trials. She also serves as co-chair of the National Institutes of Health’s working group on building the million-person research cohort for President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative. During the past 15 years, Patrick-Lake has founded and led several nonprofit organizations, including the PFO Research Foundation, which she started in response to the lack of definitive scientific information regarding patent foramen ovale (PFO). Patrick-Lake has served as a patient representative at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in workgroups for the European Medicines Agency and the National Institutes of Health, and as a guest lecturer and an external reviewer for several organizations. She holds a bachelor of science degree in zoology from the University of Georgia and a master of forensic sciences degree from National University.
John Wilbanks is the chief commons officer at Sage Bionetworks, and a data commons expert and advocate. He has spent his career working to advance open content, open data, and open innovation systems. Wilbanks also serves as a senior fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and as a senior advisor for big data to the National Coordination Office. Previously, Wilbanks worked as a legislative aide to Congressman Fortney "Pete" Stark, served as the first assistant director at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, founded and led to acquisition bioinformatics company Incellico, Inc., and was vice president of science at Creative Commons. In February 2013, the U.S. government responded to a We the People petition spearheaded by Wilbanks and signed by 65,000 people, and announced a plan to open up taxpayer-funded research data and make it available for free. Wilbanks received his bachelor of arts in philosophy from Tulane University. Blog posts from John: Transitioning to Open Systems in Drug Discovery | Understanding Open Science