Foundation capital

Washington Research Foundation Announces New Cohort of Analysts WRF Venture

Analysts will help review grant and investment opportunities being considered by the Foundation

The pool of candidates was very competitive this year, reflecting the rich ecosystem of translational research in Seattle.

— Kim Emmons, WRF Research and Information Services Manager

SEATTLE, WA, USA, Sept. 8, 2022 / — The Washington Research Foundation (WRF) has selected five new venture capitalist analysts to help evaluate grant and investment opportunities at the study for financing by the WRF. A total of 20 analysts have been recruited since the launch of the program in 2019.

WRF’s goal is the advancement of the most promising life science technologies created at Washington State’s nonprofit research institutes, with the goal of helping essential products and services achieve the market to provide public benefit. It does this through strategic grantmaking and investment programs, examining opportunities that span a wide range of scientific disciplines.

WRF Venture analysts are graduate science students, graduate business students with a STEM background, or post-docs based at Washington State nonprofit research institutes. They work part-time with the WRF, helping Foundation staff assess the technical and commercial viability of proposals while assessing their suitability for WRF funding.

The following venture analysts are starting this month:

• Mroj Alassaf, a second-year postdoctoral fellow in the Basic Sciences Division of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (Fred Hutch), studies the mechanisms of fat-brain communication and the effects of diet on nervous system function.
• Diego Alba Burbano, fourth-year doctoral student. candidate in chemical engineering and data science at the University of Washington (UW), specializing in synthetic biology and CRISPR technologies for bioproduction and biocomputation in cell-free and bacterial systems.
• Melanie Busch is a fourth-year Pharm.D./MBA student at UW with experience in antibody research, cell therapy manufacturing, and clinical trial management.
• Jay Lubow is a third-year post-doctoral fellow in the Division of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases at Fred Hutch who extensively isolates and characterizes neutralizing antibodies against dengue and Zika viruses
• Vanessa Nguyen is a fifth-year doctoral student. bioengineering candidate at UW studying protein folding in the context of the cell using multiplexed functional assays.

“The applicant pool was very competitive this year, reflecting the rich translational research ecosystem in Seattle,” said Kim Emmons, WRF’s research and information services manager. “We are thrilled to have a cohort of such breadth and depth to help us do our due diligence on grant and investment opportunities.”

Former WRF Venture analysts have since held positions in academia, industry, and the startup community.

About the Washington Research Foundation:

The Washington Research Foundation (WRF) supports research and scholarship in Washington State, with an emphasis on life sciences and enabling technologies.

WRF was founded in 1981 to assist universities and other nonprofit research institutes in Washington with the commercialization and licensing of their technologies. WRF is one of the nation’s leading grantmaking and technology transfer organizations, having generated more than $445 million in licensing revenue for the University of Washington and provided more than $137 million in grants to state research institutes to date.

WRF Capital, a pool of reserve funds that the Washington Research Foundation invests in local start-ups, has backed 119 startups since 1996. Returns support the Foundation’s investment and grantmaking programs.

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Kim Emmons
Manager, Research and Information Services

Will Canestaro, Ph.D.
General director
+1 206-336-5600
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