Featured Mentors

Elizabeth Cho-Fertikh, PhD is Founder of ECF Biosolutions, a life sciences consulting practice specializing in therapeutic and medical device start-up company growth and development. The practice provides non-dilutive and dilutive fundraising, preclinical – clinical stage testing and business development counsel. The consulting team is comprised of MDs and PhDs with expertise in oncology, surgery, neuroradiology, immunology and psychology. Dr. Cho-Fertikh’s commercialization expertise is grounded in 25+ years in cancer research, grants administration of therapeutic technology development programs for the Department of Defense and Cancer Prevention Institute of Texas, and science and business development positions at biotech start-ups. She is an Advisory Board of the Johns Hopkins Alliance for Science and Technology, a Board Observer for Kitotech Medical, and a member of the DC-CAAG angel investor group. She recently co-founded Carillon Biopharma, a cancer nanotechnology venture, for which she serves as CEO.

1. What does being part of the naisA Global mentoring program mean to you?

It means a great deal because I have had mentors who made all the difference to me, and to think that I now could have a similarly positive impact on a young Asian-American, is very gratifying. I feel compelled to do so. naisA has come about at a pivotal time thanks to Dr. Sheen’s leadership: our collective mentoring efforts could make the difference in cultivating the next generation of leaders from among a traditionally “quiet” US subpopulation that has so much to offer.

2. What advice would you give your 20 year old self?

(1) Find a few excellent long term mentors. – career and life. (2) Don’t be afraid to take different paths when opportunities arise, remain flexible. There is no single, linear path to success. So long as you persevere and learn from each experience, things tend to work out and nothing will have been wasted. The lessons learned may not always be entirely evident or applicable immediately, but they all add up and make sense eventually.

3. How do you de-stress?

I love going to my 12-year-old daughter’s soccer games and jogging. One is completely removed from the day to day demands of work; and the other, helps me to physically recharge. Trite, but true!

4. What do you do to ensure your continued growth and development as a leader?

One of the most enriching ways I have found is networking beyond my immediate work circles. I invariably learn to consider dimensions about my own work in ways that I otherwise would not have thought of: stakeholders, touch points/pain points, etc. This helps me to push beyond dogma, to be as innovative a leader as possible.

5. What has been your proudest achievement in your career? Why?

The most fulfilling achievement occurred recently: it was leading a team of highly accomplished professionals and graduate students in a NIH Cancer Therapeutic Start Up Challenge, which was international in scope. I felt responsible for the success of the group not just simply in terms of winning, but more in keeping them happily engaged for the 5 month duration. This was a purely voluntarily undertaking. If anyone has tried to herd a group of volunteers, they know how tough it can get! My team members were scattered throughout the US so we could only convene virtually. Despite this, the team delivered milestones, remained cohesive, excited, and propelled us to a win.

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