Director, National Institutes of Health’s HEAL Initiative (Helping to End Addiction Long-Term)
Rebecca G. Baker is the director of the Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative®, in the Office of the Director, NIH. Baker leads coordination of this trans-NIH initiative, managing the Office of the NIH HEAL Initiative, working closely with NIH Institutes and Centers involved with HEAL, and oversees management of HEAL’s governance committees. She provides expert advice to and represents the NIH Director on HEAL-related activities, including interagency efforts in pain and opioid research and policy. Prior to holding this position, Baker worked on various complex biomedical research policy issues affecting NIH and helped develop various new science and policy initiatives. She worked as a postdoctoral scientist using next-generation DNA sequencing to identify novel disease-causing genes in patients with rare immunological diseases. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and her bachelor's degree from Cornell University.
Co-Founder, WAVED Medical
Kendra Batchelder is a recent Interdisciplinary Ph.D. graduate from the University of Maine. Her academic journey began with a B.S. in Secondary Education and Mathematics, followed by an M.A. in Mathematics. Batchelder's research centers on developing cutting-edge computational techniques for detecting tumorigenesis on mammograms. Her work has resulted in co-inventorship of two U.S.-issued, one E.U.-issued and one E.U.-pending patent, all stemming from her efforts at the University of Maine. In her mission to make a tangible impact, Batchelder co-founded WAVED Medical LLC. This venture emerged following her completion of commercialization training, aimed at translating her innovative research into solutions for the healthcare marketplace. She believes that dedication to science, innovation and entrepreneurship has the potential to revolutionize healthcare.
Gynecologic Oncologist, MaineHealth
Leslie Bradford is a practicing gynecologic oncologist at MaineHealth and associate professor at Tufts University School of Medicine. She completed her medical school training at the University of Vermont College of Medicine followed by a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics in Madison, Wis. She returned to New England to complete her fellowship in gynecologic oncologic at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is the former medical director of the Maine Health Institute of Research Clinical Trials Office and currently serves as the director of Research in gynecologic oncology at MaineHealth Gynecologic Cancer Care and co-PI of MaineHealth's NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) grant. She has a strong interest in clinical trials, particularly biomarker driven cancer care delivery and cancer prevention.
President and CEO, Maine Development Foundation
Yellow Light Breen’s passion is promoting economic and educational opportunity for all Mainers regardless of geography or background. He became CEO of the Maine Development Foundation in August 2015, where he develops strategic direction, integration and partnerships across MDF’s mission and programs. MDF is a legislatively created, non-partisan, public-private partnership that drives sustainable, long-term economic growth for Maine. It does this through trusted research, leadership and creative cross-sector partnerships. Breen has a diverse background in business, public policy and law. He spent 12 years as an executive with Bangor Savings Bank, overseeing strategic planning, marketing, online banking, community development and charitable activities. Prior, he was a senior official at the Maine Department of Education and an advisor to Independent Governor Angus King. Breen was born and raised in rural, central Maine, a product of Maine public schools, and earned undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University. He has been an active volunteer in many education and economic development efforts, including the boards of the Maine Community Foundation and Educate Maine. He previously chaired Realize Maine, an ongoing initiative to attract, retain and support young professionals.
Senior Research Scientist, The Jackson Laboratory
Jason Bubier is a senior research scientist at The Jackson Laboratory. He earned his Ph.D. at Marquette University and his bachelor’s degree at the University of Maine at Farmington. He has been using mouse genetics to understand disease for nearly two decades. Bubier’s research program currently has three main directions: the genetics of opioid overdose, cross-species functional genomics of addiction-related behaviors, and the host and microbiome control of addiction.
Director, Single Cell Biology, The Jackson Laboratory
Elise Courtois is a molecular biologist, director of Single Cell Biology laboratory and senior research scientist at The Jackson Laboratory, and one of the co-directors of the Connecticut Endometriosis & Data Repository. Her research program at JAX focuses on women’s health and reproductive biology related diseases, with a strong emphasis on endometriosis. Endometriosis’ etiology, pathobiology and disease recurrence mechanisms remain meaningly unknown, and Courtois is using single cell and spatial ‘omics approaches to better understand the key components of the endometriosis microenvironment leading to lesion growth, diversity in presentation, recurrence and impact at the systemic level. Courtois is also a leading advocate for increasing awareness of and funding for endometriosis, and she works with state of Connecticut legislators to promote endometriosis research, education and awareness.
Assistant Majority Leader
Senator Mattie Daughtry serves as the assistant senate majority leader of the Maine Senate representing Brunswick, Freeport, Harpswell, Pownal, Chebeague Island and part of Yarmouth. She currently serves on the Labor and Housing Committee. Prior to serving in the Maine Senate, she represented her hometown of Brunswick for eight years in the Maine House, first being elected at the age of 25. A lifelong resident of Brunswick, Senator Daughtry is a small business owner who co-owns Moderation Brewing, where she serves beer and her constituents – sometimes at the same time! Most recently, Senator Daughtry championed Maine’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Program, which Governor Janet Mills signed into law this year.
Chief Medical Officer, MaineGeneral Health
Steven Diaz, chief medical officer for MaineGeneral Health, has been active at MaineGeneral since 1993. He completed his family medicine at the Maine-Dartmouth Family Medicine residency in 1996, and then joined the Department of Emergency Medicine upon graduation. While at MaineGeneral, he became the assistant medical director of emergency medicine in 2002 and left that position in July 2007 on his way to becoming vice president of Medical Administration, and now the system chief medical officer. Diaz is a fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians and a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians. He has published two handbooks on Emergency Medicine that have been translated to become part of an international distribution. He also has an extensive EMS and disaster medicine background, having served in different capacities at the state and national level. With the opiate epidemic, Diaz has been fortunate to be on many workgroups in Maine, and has testified to a U.S. Senate subcommittee on consistent messaging and unraveling pressures to prescribe opiates. Steve is the past chairman of the Maine Hospital Association Board of Directors, and a past member of the American Hospital Association Regional Policy Board as its physician member. He is currently a new member of the American Hospital Associations Committee on Clinical Leadership, will join the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education’s Accreditation Review Committee in 2024, and will join the board of the American Hospital Association beginning in 2024.
CEO and Co-Founder, RockStep Solutions
Chuck Donnelly is the CEO and cofounder of RockStep Solutions, a company that is modernizing in vivo drug discovery with its innovative SaaS software called Climb. Climb is deployed at over 60 laboratories in pharma, biotech, CRO and nonprofit research in 14 U.S. states, Canada and Europe. RockStep is a multinational corporation headquartered in Portland, Maine with a wholly owned subsidiary in Cambridge, U.K. RockStep employs over 60 FTE, with 25 FTE in Maine. Prior to RockStep, Donnelly was the director of Computational Sciences at The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) and prior to JAX he was a member of the Space Astrophysics Group at UC Berkeley (UCB). For the past 30 years, Donnelly has led innovative technology teams at JAX, UCB and RockStep with funding from NIH, HHMI, JAX and NASA. He has lectured around the world and published peer reviewed articles focused on data analysis and digital transformations. Over the past decade, Donnelly won several innovation awards from the NIH and a Tibbetts Award from the SBA to launch RockStep Solutions.
Chief Data Science Officer, The Jackson Laboratory
Paul Flicek joined The Jackson Laboratory as its inaugural chief data science officer in July 2023. He first joined EMBL-EBI as a postdoc in 2005 and was appointed to the faculty in 2007, EMBL senior scientist in 2011 and associate director for EMBL-EBI Services in 2019. His team developed the Ensembl genome annotation system and analysis infrastructure, a genome browser and annotation resource that serves tens of thousands of users daily. He is also an honorary professor of genomics and computational biology at the University of Cambridge. Flicek was involved with ENCODE, the 1000 Genomes Project, the International Human Epigenome Consortium and numerous genome projects. Flicek is a co-author of more than 280 academic publications. He is or has been a member of the scientific advisory boards for multiple genomics companies, research institutes, international scientific projects and other organizations. Flicek has also served on UKRI and U.S. NIH strategy panels and the supervisory board for EMBL Enterprise Ventures. In 2020 he was recognized by his peers as both a Fellow of the International Society of Computational Biology and as a Member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation. Flicek completed Master of Science degrees in both biomedical engineering and computer science and a Doctor of Science in biomedical engineering focused on computational biology at Washington University in St. Louis. He graduated from Drake University with a Bachelor of Science in physics.
Chief Medical Officer, Cary Medical Center
Regen Gallagher serves as chief medical officer at Cary Medical Center. As an OB/GYN by training, Gallagher originally joined Pines Health Services in 2006 and practiced Obstetrics and Gynecology until 2010. Following active practice, she joined Executive Health Resources as a physician advisor where she performed concurrent case review to ensure Medicare compliance for hospitals throughout the country. In 2012, she assumed the role of chief medical officer at Cary, and in that capacity also serves as chief compliance officer, physician advisor, patient safety officer and human protections administrator. Gallagher received her undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine. She interned at Mercy Suburban Hospital in Norristown Pennsylvania, and completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Midwestern University and St. James Hospitals and Health Centers in Olympia Fields, Ill. She earned an MBA in 2010 from the University of Massachusetts Isenberg School of Management. She is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and as a physician executive by the Certifying Commission of Medical Management. She holds an academic appointment at the Tufts University School of Medicine as a clinical assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is currently pursuing a law degree at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minn.
Associate Director, Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative
Leah Graham joined the Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative in January 2021. Previously, she was the manager of Government Affairs for The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), where she focused on managing public policy issues in the state of Maine, at local, state and federal levels. Other responsibilities included community relations and supervising special projects. She brought a wealth of scientific knowledge to Government Affairs, having received her Ph.D. in Genetics from School of Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University School of Medicine in 2017. Graham’s research background is in environmental and genetic contributions to age-related cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, and she has produced a number of primary research articles, including first author publications. Her dissertation work was funded partially through an F31 Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Grant Award from the National Institute on Aging. She is currently the board chair of the Maine Council on Aging.
CEO and Co-Founder, MEDRhythms
Brian Harris is the co-founder and CEO of MedRhythms, a digital therapeutics company focused on the intersection of music, neuroscience and technology. Harris is a board-certified music therapist and one of 350 neurologic music therapist fellows in the world. His clinical work is focused at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, Mass., where he created and implemented its first inpatient full time Neurologic Music Therapy program, specializing in traumatic brain injury, stroke and neurologic disease and built this program to be the most comprehensive NMT program in the country. Harris is also the co-founder of the Arts & Neuroscience group at the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine. He has been an invited speaker at venues throughout the world including: the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Harvard Medical School, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, Stanford University, Berklee College of Music, The Neurology Foundation of India and Google. Harris is an author on multiple publications related to music and rehabilitation and is listed as an inventor on several patents related to MedRhythms digital therapeutic platform. His work has also been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Rolling Stone, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Pitchfork, Mashable, The Boston Herald, XConomy and MedTech Boston and on Chronicle Boston. Harris has been named to MedTech Boston's 40 Under 40 Healthcare Innovators and Top 100 Innovation CEOs by World Biz Magazine.
Assistant Professor, Psychology and Neuroscience, Bowdoin College
Jennifer Honeycutt is an assistant professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Bowdoin College, studying behavioral and affective neuroscience. Honeycutt’s research focuses on how early adverse experiences—such as caregiver deprivation—impact the brain to increase risk of mental illness in adolescence and adulthood. Early adverse experiences can increase the risk for developing a myriad of diagnoses, and include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance use disorder, among others. Using a rat model of adversity, Honeycutt and her team of undergraduate researchers investigate how early life experience is influenced by sex to confer sex-specific risk in females. This research uses behavioral, epigenetic and neural approaches to evaluate the underlying mechanisms driving neural and behavioral risk and/or resilience following childhood adversity.
Director, Life Sciences and Engineering, Roux Institute at Northeastern University
Aileen Huang-Saad is the director of Life Sciences, Health, and Engineering Programs at Northeastern’s Roux Institute (Portland, Maine) and an associate professor of Bioengineering. Leveraging her experience with design, entrepreneurship, education research and industry, she seeks to close the gap between higher education and professional practice. Specifically, she is designing interdisciplinary experiential education life sciences, health and engineering programs to attract, retain and advance talent in the state of Maine. These programs are designed to re-imagine how higher education and communities can work together to impact economic and talent development. Huang-Saad currently serves as deputy editor-in-chief of Springer’s Biomedical Engineering Education and is a member of the Maine State Workforce Board and the National Academies’ Roundtable on Systemic Change in Undergraduate STEM Education. She is also an American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering Fellow.
Assistant Professor, The Jackson Laboratory
Sasan Jalili, an assistant professor at The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, directs pioneering research at the intersection of engineering and immunology. His work primarily focuses on deciphering the intricate interplay between the microbiome and the immune system to develop innovative therapeutics for infectious diseases, autoimmunity, aging and cancer. Jalili employs cutting-edge technologies like microneedle skin patches to evaluate the correlation between immune cells and microbiome changes in the mice and human skin at different stages of infectious and autoimmune diseases and in response to drug treatments. He integrates diverse omics data, such as single-cell transcriptomics, metagenomics and proteomics, to unveil cross-regulatory mechanisms underlying these conditions. Additionally, his research includes the creation of advanced in vitro models, such as organoids and organ-on-a-chip systems, to mimic human tissues and study host-microbiome interactions. His specific interests encompass inflammatory skin diseases and gastrointestinal immune-related disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colon cancer.
Commissioner, Maine Department of Economic and Community Development
Heather Johnson serves as commissioner of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, where she oversees several bureaus focused on helping Maine communities and businesses prosper through initiatives ranging from targeted tax relief to tourism marketing. Prior to her confirmation by the Maine Senate in 2019, Johnson led efforts to expand broadband connectivity in Maine as director of the ConnectMaine Authority. As commissioner, Johnson draws on her 25 years of experience in the public and private sector, including a successful career in the private technology sector.
Professor, Psychiatry and Neurobiology, University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School
Ryan Logan is a professor of Psychiatry and Neurobiology at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School. After obtaining his doctorate from the University of Maine in 2009, he completed postdoctoral fellowships at Rutgers University, The Jackson Laboratory and University of Pittsburgh. He was faculty in Psychiatry at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Pharmacology at Boston University School of Medicine. Logan’s laboratory focuses on understanding the relationships between sleep, circadian rhythms and psychiatric disorders, with the goal of developing new treatment strategies of people with substance use disorders and co-occurring depression.
Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, UConn Health
Danielle Luciano is an associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UConn Health and is the director of the Division of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery (MIGS) as well as the program director of the Fellowship in MIGS. She specializes in the treatment of complex gynecologic conditions like endometriosis and is doing research with The Jackson Laboratory. She is also a part of the Connecticut Endometriosis Working Group dedicated to increasing awareness and research on endometriosis.
Chief Operating Officer, Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Initiative (ARMI)/BioFab USA
Jennifer McDonald is the chief operating officer of ARMI/BioFab USA. Previously she worked in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as senior advisor to the secretary; senior advisor to the acting deputy secretary; and chief consultant to the deputy under secretary for health. McDonald received her B.A. in Biology/Biological Sciences from the College of Saint Benedict and her M.D. from the University of Minnesota Medical School.
Chief Health Improvement Officer, MaineHealth
Raised in rural Maine, Dora Anne Mills practiced in a variety of places including Los Angeles and Tanzania before returning to provide primary care in her hometown. She was then tapped to lead public health for Maine for nearly 15 years, then for the University of New England, and now for MaineHealth, the state's largest hospital-based healthcare system. As a board-certified pediatrician and public health leader in the most rural state in the nation with an increasing diverse population in its urban areas, her work has focused on addressing health issues across the spectrum - from tobacco to environmental health issues, pandemics (HIV, H1N1 and COVID), obesity, the opioid epidemic, maternal child health and health disparities, to name a few. Her work has been widely recognized, including receiving ASTHO's McCormack Award, the AMA's Nathan Davis Award, American Academy of Pediatrics Special Achievement Award and state awards, including the highest awards by the Maine Medical Association and Maine Public Health Association, as well as an honorary degree conferred by the University of Maine.
Professor, The Jackson Laboratory
Martin Pera received his B.A. from the College of William and Mary and his Ph.D. from George Washington University, and undertook postdoctoral training in the U.K. at the Institute of Cancer Research and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. He held independent research positions at the Institute of Cancer Research and the Department of Zoology at Oxford University before joining Monash University in 1996. In 2006 he moved to Los Angeles as the founding director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at the University of Southern California. He returned to Melbourne in 2011 to become professor of Stem Cell Sciences at the University of Melbourne and program leader for Stem Cells Australia, the Australian Research Council Special Research Initiative in Stem Cell Sciences. He joined The Jackson Laboratory in 2017. Pera is the chair of the Steering Group of the International Stem Cell Initiative Genetics and Epigenetics Study Group, a current member of the Board of Directors of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, and editor-in-chief of Stem Cell Reports. He serves on the editorial boards of Cell Stem Cell and Stem Cells, and is a reviewing editor for eLife. Pera’s research focus is the cell biology of human pluripotent stem cells. At JAX, he is using human stem cells and mouse models to study the pluripotent state and the genetics of the response of the central nervous system to injury and age-related macular degeneration.
Chief Medical Officer, The Jackson Laboratory and Medical Director, Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative
Jens Rueter is the chief medical officer for The Jackson Laboratory, medical director for Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative and associate director for Regional Translational Partnerships at the JAX Cancer Center. He joined JAX for these positions in August 2016 and became chief medical officer in 2023. Rueter came to JAX from Northern Light Cancer Institute (formerly Eastern Maine Medical Center Cancer Care) in Brewer, Maine, where he was the medical director for the Translational Oncology Program and the Biobank. He has been a hematologist/oncologist at EMMC Cancer Care since 2010, and a member of the JAX adjunct faculty since 2012. He collaborates with several national leaders on advancing the field of Precision Medicine with the goal of individualizing cancer treatments for individual patients and improving their outcomes. After graduating from medical school in Berlin, Germany, Rueter completed his residency in internal medicine at Tulane University and fellowship training in hematology/oncology at the University of Pennsylvania.
Medical Director/Director, Clinical Research, Northern Light Cancer Care
Sarah Sinclair is the medical director and the director of the Clinical Research at Northern Light Cancer Care. She is board certified in Hematology and Oncology. Her interests include breast cancer, clinical research and genomic medicine. Sinclair received her D.O. from University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine followed by a residency at University of Connecticut School of Medicine in internal medicine, and a fellowship with the National Cancer Institute in hematology/oncology.
Director, Opioid Response, Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future
Gordon Smith was appointed by Governor Janet Mills as director of Opioid Response in January 2019. He is responsible for coordinating and directing Maine’s response to the opioid crisis, including prescriber education and reduction of opioid prescribing, prevention and treatment of substance use disorder, and harm reduction strategies. He stepped down as the executive vice president of the Maine Medical Association in January 2019, where he had served as its EVP since September 1993 and where he began as general counsel in 1981. He graduated from the University of Maine with the highest distinction in 1973 and from the Boston College Law School, magna cum laude, in 1976. He is a former board member and chair of Quality Counts, a former board member of the Daniel Hanley Center for Health Leadership and the Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging.
Director, Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Colby College
Amanda Stent is the inaugural director of the Davis Institute for AI at Colby College. She previously held positions as the NLP architect in the Chief Technology Office at Bloomberg; director of Research and principal research scientist at Yahoo; principal member of technical staff at AT&T Labs-Research; and as associate professor in the Computer Science department at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY. She received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Rochester. Stent has authored or co-authored over 100 papers on natural language processing and is co-inventor on over 30 patents.
Associate Director, COO Office, The Jackson Laboratory and Endometriosis Patient
Shraddha Vadvalkar started her career as a research assistant for a nonprofit biomedical organization after graduating with a master’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular biology. She spent six years in research evaluating heart mitochondrial function in a rodent model of chronic Type 1 diabetes. She then transitioned to a program manager role for a contract manufacturing company where she managed early and late phase biopharmaceutical programs from R&D to large-scale manufacturing for various commercial customers. Shraddha joined The Jackson Laboratory in 2018 as product manager for JAX® Mice, Clinical and Research Services where she worked very closely with commercial and academic customers and managed JAX’s current and new products portfolio. She has expertise in bringing new products to the market to ensure strategic alignment, business growth, and customer satisfaction. Currently Vadvalkar oversees the day-to-day operations for the COO’s office and is also responsible for executing internal and external projects and events on behalf of the EVP/COO. She will be participating in the conference in the capacity of a patient impacted by endometriosis.
Hematology/Oncology, Pines Health Services
Elena Vagia received her medical school degree from the University of Medicine in Tirana, Albania and the Hellenic Academic Recognition and Information Center, Athens, Greece. She was an oncologist and instructor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Illinois. She is board certified in Hematology and Oncology.
President, Maine Technology Institute
Brian Whitney is president of the Maine Technology Institute, Maine’s unique public private partnership that helps catalyze innovation. He has 30 years of experience in economic development and legislative matters at both the state and federal level, having served as a private sector manager and in the public sector as Maine’s director of Business Development & Innovation, the director of Outreach and Economic Development for former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe, a business development specialist for the state of Maine, and as chief of staff to Maine’s Senate president. He currently serves on the boards of Maine & Company, the Maine Innovation Economy Advisory Board and the Economic Development Council of Maine.
Manager, Technology Business Development, University of Maine
Janet Yancey-Wrona is the Technology Business Development manager for the University of Maine, helping to commercialize important new discoveries from the University. This position follows a variety of management positions in life sciences-based companies. After beginning her professional career as a research scientist at IDEXX Labs, Yancey-Wrona served as the founding president of the Maine Technology Institute, overseeing more than $40 million in investments for R&D in Maine-based organizations. From there, she moved on to manage two pharmaceutical start-ups, a research products company and served a variety of marketing roles, most recently as director of Marketing for the testing business at Lonza. Her background includes a doctoral degree in biology from the University of North Carolina, and a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health.