Delaware Life Science Forum Speakers

Velia Fowler

Velia M. Fowler joined the University of Delaware as Professor and Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences in January 2019. She received her B.A. from Oberlin College in 1974, and her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1980. She did postdoctoral fellowships at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and obtained a faculty position as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School in 1984 before moving to the Scripps Research Institute in 1987, where she was promoted to Professor in 2000. Professor Fowler was one of the founding members of the Scripps Graduate Program in 1989, serving as Associate Dean 2013-2019. Her research program broadly investigates how actin filament dynamics and myosin contractility provide stability and exert forces to shape membrane curvature and influence cell and tissue biomechanics across a wide range of cells and tissues, including red blood cells, striated muscle, and the eye lens. She has published 130 research papers, chapters and reviews, mentoring over 25 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, as well as undergraduates and high school students, and was nominated three times as Outstanding Mentor at Scripps. During her research career, she was awarded a National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, a Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund for Medical Research Postdoctoral Fellowship, and an American Heart Association Established Investigator Award. Her research has been funded by investigator-initiated grants from the NIH for over 30 years. She was elected to Chair several scientific conferences, including “Motile and Contractile Systems” Gordon Research Conference in 2003, “Red Cell” Gordon Research Conference in 2011, and the “Lens Section” at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Opthalmology in 2017, and was an Associate Editor for the Journal of Biological Chemistry from 2013-2018.

Nihmat Morjana

Nihmat Morjana, M.Sc., Ph.D. is a Director at Siemens Healthineers. Dr. Morjana received his Masters in Chemistry and Ph.D. in Biochemistry, from Queen’s University working on the structure/mechanism and drug interaction of Aldo-Keto Reductases. Following his post-doctoral training at Baylor College of Medicine, where he worked on the mechanism of protein folding, he joined Baxter/Dade International/Dade Behring/Siemens. He led projects on the development and commercialization of drugs of abuse, pain management and immunosuppressant immunoassays. Dr. Morjana has over 25 years of experience in the diagnostic industry. His current work focus includes immunoassay and application development on clinical instruments. He is a member of ASBMB, SOFT, EWDTS and AAFS and served on CLSI and IFCC committees. Dr. Morjana has published peer reviewed papers and an inventor on several patents. He is on the Editorial Board of Biotechnology and applied Biochemistry and served on the Editorial Board of the Internet Journal of Genomics and Proteomics.

Adam Marsh

Dr. Marsh is the co-founder and Chief Science Officer of Genome Profiling LLC, where his novel work in computational biostatistics and bioinformatics has produced a software platform that is the core of GenPro’s Epigenetic Profiling capabilities. The underlying IP and machine learning technology was developed by Dr. Marsh as a faculty member at the University of Delaware in the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology and the School of Marine Science and Policy. His primary research efforts focused on epigenetics of environmental imprinting in animals living in extreme environments. Dr. Marsh received his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, College Park, and pursued postdoctoral research in cell biology, molecular biology, invertebrate immunology, and molecular physiology. Across all phases of his career computer programming, biostatistics and big-data have played a large role in defining his research vision and goals.

Eleftherios (Terry) Papoutsakis

Eleftherios (Terry) Papoutsakis is the Unidel Eugene DuPont Professor in the Dept. of Chem. & Biomolecular Engineering & the Dept. of Biological Sciences at the University of Delaware. Papoutsakis’ group is active and has made important contributions in the areas of clostridia genetics and metabolic engineering with emphasis recently in syntrophic co-cultures and synthetic methylotrophy; animal-cell biotechnology; & stem-cell bioengineering with emphasis on hematopoietic engineering and the use of extracellular vesicles.

Dr. Papoutsakis has been recognized by numerous awards, including election to National Academy of Engineering (USA) in 2018, the 2017 American Chemical Society (ACS) E. V. Murphree Award in Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, the 2013 DIC Wang for Excellence in Biochemical Engineering, SBE/AIChE (Soc. Biological Eng.; Amer. Institute of Chem. Engineers), the 2012 James E. Bailey Award, SBE/AIChE; election as Fellow of ACS (2011), the 2010 Metabolic Engineering Award, the 2005 Amgen Biochemical Engineering Award, the 2004 Merck Cell Culture Engineering Award & the 2003 Alpha Chi Sigma AIChE Award. He received his BS/MS in Chemical Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens; MS/PhD in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University. He has supervised over 60 PhD, 30 MS, 31 postdoctoral and 65 undergraduate research students, funded by over $37 million in grants from NIH, NSF, DOE, ARPA-E, ONR, ARO & EPA

Catherine Grimes

Catherine Leimkuhler Grimes obtained a BS in Chemistry in 2001 from Villanova University, where she conducted undergraduate research in the laboratories of Professor Eduard Casillas. She obtained her masters in 2003 from Princeton University and PhD from Harvard University in 2006; her entire graduate work was conducted under the guidance of Professor Daniel E. Kahne, which focused on synthesizing glycopeptides to combat antibiotic resistance. She closely collaborated with Drs. Suzanne Walker and Christopher Walsh thereby broadening her investigation of vancomycin resistance to the interface of chemistry and biology. From 2006-2011, Catherine was a HHMI and Cancer Research Institute Postdoctoral fellow in the laboratories of Erin O’Shea (Harvard University, Molecular and Cellular Biology) and Daniel Podolosky (Massachusetts General Hospital).

Catherine joined the University of Delaware’s Chemistry and Biochemistry Department as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 2011. She was appointed a joint faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences in 2012. Her research program focuses on the development and chemical synthesis of small molecule carbohydrate probes that mimic intermediates of bacterial cell wall biosynthesis and bacterial-host immune recognition. Dr. Leimkuhler Grimes is nationally recognized as a young leader in the field of chemical biology, as she has received numerous awards including a Pew Biomedical Scholars Award, a Cottrell Scholar, and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship. She received the American Chemical Society’s Infectious Disease Young Investigator Award and the Dryefus Teacher Scholar Award. She is the co-director of a NIH funded graduate program at the interface of chemistry and biology and the faculty mentor to a dynamic group of undergraduate STEM majors, “The Scientistas”.

Tanja Gruber

Tanja is originally from Austria and studied chemical engineering in Switzerland and Austria as an undergraduate. She came to the US to pursue graduate work in molecular biology at Penn State, working on the transcription apparatus of cyanobacteria and other photosynthetic bacteria. During her postdoc at The University of California San Francisco, she studied basic mechanisms of transcription initiation in E. coli in the lab of Carol Gross. She joined DuPont in 2005 and worked on diverse projects ranging from strain engineering to analyzing protein-surface interactions. Her current role is Functional Leader for the Biochemistry group within the Dupont Industrial Biosciences business.