MEET OUR TEAM
Director of Entrepreneurship & Commercialization
Brian Benson is the Director of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization at the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), responsible for all aspects of the Magnify incubator and driving strategic initiatives that support the growth of entrepreneurship and industry alliances for the Institute. Prior to joining CNSI, Brian was the Portfolio and Alliance Manager at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles as well as the Program Manager of the Consortium for Technology and Innovation in Pediatrics, an FDA funded pediatric medical device accelerator. He also held positions as Crew Chief, Product Development Specialist, and Marketing Strategist with several automotive racing teams. He received his B.B.A. in Entrepreneurship from Loyola Marymount University.
Busienss & Operations Associate
Angie Jun is the Business and Operations Associate at the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI). She focuses on programmatic and operational support for the Magnify incubator. In her previous role, she held responsibilities in contract and grant administration for the Institute. Prior to joining CNSI, Angie was a Fund Manager in the Dept. of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and Grants Project Specialist with the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCLA. Her previous experience also includes roles in sales and project management in several family-owned businesses. She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of San Diego.
Building & Incubator Specialist
Frank Alcala is the Building and Incubator Specialist at the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI). He assists with facility management and administrative operations for the Magnify incubator. He has over 20 years of experience on the UCLA campus having previously supported the Dept. of Chemistry & Biochemistry as supervisor of research and chemical storerooms. In addition, he is experienced in inventory management and logistical support having previously worked at BioHorizon Medical, a compression therapy and wound care supplier.
CEO of MedTech Innovator
Paul Grand is CEO of MedTech Innovator, the medtech industry’s global competition and accelerator, with a mission to accelerate the development of transformative innovations that benefit patients and deliver improved value to the health care system. Prior to MedTech Innovator, Grand was Managing Director at RCT Ventures, an early-stage life science investor since 2005. At RCT, Grand focused on medtech investments and sourcing innovation. He founded MedTech Innovator as a program within RCT Ventures in 2013, and he left to run MedTech Innovator as a stand-alone company with RCT’s support in 2016. Prior to RCT, Grand was an entrepreneur, founding and/or serving as CEO in eight companies in life sciences and technology, including most recently Imagine Pharmaceuticals, which developed a platform to deliver therapeutics across the blood brain barrier and MicroSurgeon, which developed a thermal ablation device treating solid tumors. Paul earned a BA from Tufts University.
Associate of Osage University Partners
Anurag joined Osage University Partners in 2017 as an Associate and focuses on life science investments. Prior to joining Osage, Anurag was a consultant at Boston Consulting Group where he worked with healthcare and private equity companies to advise them on corporate growth strategy, business development, portfolio management, and M&A projects. Anurag’s PhD thesis focused on understanding the regulation of cell death in response to DNA damage. During graduate school, Anurag founded SCIMALS to provide scientific and market due diligence service for life science VCs and angel investors. He also advised biotech start-ups in St. Louis area on market research, competitive intelligence, and asset prioritization. Anurag holds a PhD from Washington University School of Medicine in Molecular Cell Biology and a B.Tech in Biotechnology from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.
Leader at W. L. Gore & Associates
Linda Elkins’ career spans 17 years, in which she’s served in multiple roles at W.L. Gore & Associates. In the Sunnyvale, CA based Medical Products Division, Linda led new product development teams from ideation to commercial launch; drove technical resourcing for manufacturing engineering; and owns 2 patents, including work on endovascular repair of aneurysms approximate to side branch vessels. Linda dedicated the past 2 years to the creation and launch of the Gore Innovation Center in Silicon Valley, where she took it from its original concept to the facility’s execution, completion and launch. Linda earned an MS in both Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, and a BS in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame.
Principal with Morpheus Ventures
Howard is a Principal with Morpheus Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Los Angeles that focuses on early stage technology investments. He currently serves on the Board of Champion Technology Company as well as a Board Observer at Bridg. Howard was previously with Mission Ventures, a leading Southern California early stage venture capital firm. While at Mission he focused on investments in software, wireless technologies and semiconductors. Prior to Mission, he was with Salomon Smith Barney in their Technology Investment Banking Group where he was involved in public and private financings and M&A. Howard has served as co-chair of the San Diego Telecom Council Wireless Infrastructure Group. He was a member of the Board of Reviewers for the San Diego based Center for Commercialization of Advanced Technology, an organization funded by the Department of Defense. Howard holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from UCLA and an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
Associate Director of CNSI
Leonard H. Rome, PhD, is Distinguished Professor of Biological Chemistry and Associate Director of the California NanoSystems Institute. He served as the Senior Associate Dean for Research in the School of Medicine from 1997 to 2012. His laboratory research at UCLA centers on a novel cellular organelle called a “vault” which he and a former postdoc, Dr. Nancy Kedersha, discovered in 1986. Rome leads a team of interdisciplinary scientists affiliated with the CNSI who are engineering the vault particle as flexible nano-scale capsules for a wide variety of applications from drug delivery to vaccines to intercellular sensors. Dr. Rome earned his BS in Chemistry and MS and PhD in Biological Chemistry at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health, where he worked on lysosome biogenesis.
VP of Investments at Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation
Renee is Vice President of Investments at the Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation, and is based at the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center in California. Renee supports the investments for JNJ’s Medical Devices and Diagnostics businesses and is a passionate supporter of medical innovation. Formerly, Renee was a Managing Director at Baird in Palo Alto, CA overseeing the medical device investment banking practice. Prior to Baird, Renee oversaw the build out of the West Coast healthcare investment banking practice at Jefferies & Co. In total, Renee has approximately 20 years of healthcare investment banking experience at firms such as Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse. She has structured over $15 Billion of transactions during this time including M&A, venture financing and public offerings of debt and equity. Renee earned her BA in economics at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and an MBA from Columbia University.