Meet our CVMP Mentors

Andrew Cornwell, PhD


Andy is the associate director of the Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership, helping to fund and direct research projects within the University to become fundable by outside investment.  He also leads the corporate outreach and strategic partnering efforts for the Cleveland FES Center.

Arlinda Vaughn


Arlinda Vaughn is currently the Global Product Manager at Mammotome, a Danaher company.  Previously, she held leadership positions within Clippard, Medizin Praxis, Halma’s Medical Division, and General Electric. She is fluent in German, Spanish & English and has driven international business development in more than 50 countries on six continents: working in sales, M&A research, patent acquisition, strategic project management, marketing, and channel development. She is insatiably curious especially regarding new technologies. She also has a passion for experiencing different cultural perspectives and philosophies which she uses to assist businesses and social causes to advance their goals, be it with entering new markets or promoting community projects. Vaughn holds both a BS in German with a Biomedical Physics minor from Washington University in St. Louis, MO and a Masters in International Business from Webster University in St. Louis, MO. She is Six Sigma Green Belt and PMP Certified and has graduated from the Halma Executive Development Programme in Ashridge, United Kingdom.

Cheryl Thompson, PhD


Dr. Thompson is a cancer genetic and molecular epidemiologist. Her research is in the area of identification of factors influencing risk of cancer, as well as factors and biomarkers associated with prognosis and treatment outcomes. One of her primary areas of interest is the role of inherited genetic variation in cancer, and how genetic variations interact with lifestyle or behavior to influence risk of or outcomes for cancer. An area of specialization that she has is in the association of obesity and energetics and genetic pathways related to metabolism and energetics with cancer. Dr. Thompson was recently the first scientist to report the association of short sleep with having more aggressive types of breast cancer.

Dr. Thompson also serves as the Assistant Dean of Educational Initiatives for the School of Medicine. In this role, she provides support for all master's programs and their students and works with faculty around the University to develop new and innovative educational initiatives. 

Daria Fedyukina, PhD


Daria is a Translational Officer at the Office of Translation and Innovation, SoM, CWRU. She is a founder of BioHeights, a Cleveland-based consulting company that provides growth strategy consulting services to companies in the biomedical and life sciences space. Her main expertise is in gene and cell therapies. Main services include disease screening and prioritization, commercial value assessments of new therapeutic products and inventions, TPP research, competitive intelligence, revenue and NPV forecasting, and product portfolio expansion strategy. Before founding BioHeights, Daria worked in the Commercial and Portfolio Planning group of REGENXBIO, a leading gene therapy company, in Rockville, Maryland. There, she led the company’s product portfolio expansion initiative. She also directed commercial activities (product strategy development, revenue forecasting, market analysis) for one of the company’s Preclinical/Phase 1 programs. Prior to REGENXBIO, Daria was a Management Consultant at L.E.K. Consulting, a global management consulting firm, in Boston, MA and London, UK. There she led teams of junior Associates and completed 20 strategic engagements with U.S. and EU clients including pharmaceutical, medtech, and biotech companies, medical service providers, and private equity firms.

Daria received her PhD in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She graduated magna cum laude from Moscow State University with a diploma in Chemistry and a certification in Molecular and Physical Chemical Biology. Prior to receiving PhD, Daria worked in Research & Development as a Research Scientist at LG Chemical in Daejeon, South Korea and at ChemBridge Corporation in Moscow, Russia.

Elizabeth Berezovsky, PhD


Dr. Elizabeth Berezovsky is the President and Founder of Red Oak Bio, LLC, a consulting firm that provides strategic advice and R&D operational support to early-stage biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.  Prior to launching Red Oak Bio, she was Director of Technical Operations at BioMotiv, a mission-driven drug development accelerator in Cleveland, Ohio, where she oversaw R&D operations for BioMotiv’s portfolio of drug development start-ups.  She directed development at two BioMotiv subsidiary companies: Allinaire Therapeutics, an early-stage company developing treatment for COPD and other pulmonary diseases; and SapVax, a cancer vaccine platform company.

Dr. Berezovsky was an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Cleveland Clinic in the Department of Molecular Genetics.  She received her Ph.D. in chemistry under the direction of Professor George M. Whitesides at Harvard University, and holds an undergraduate degree in chemistry from McGill University.

Eileen Saffran


Eileen started MTN Strategies, a consulting practice that embraces an authentic and personalized approach to identify pain points and partner with you to provide practical solutions. She has a wide-ranging experience working in all dimensions of nonprofit management, including but not limited to fundraising (operating, capital and endowment), financial health, board relationships, staff leadership, and organizational administration. During her tenure as a CEO, she began developing consulting skills having worked with several nonprofit cancer support centers throughout the United States.

Eileen is the Founder of The Gathering Place (TGP) starting to develop the organization in 1998 and served as the Chief Executive Officer until 2020. Under her watch, TGP has developed collaborative working relationships with all cancer care providers in the Greater Cleveland area.

Eileen believes it is critically important to "invest" her time and expertise to help make the community-at-large a better place to live and thrive. While she was providing leadership for TGP, she served on the ADAMHS Board of Cuyahoga County and Mayor Frank Jackson's Task Force on Community Efficiencies for the City of Cleveland. Additionally, she serves on Leadership Cleveland’s Alumni Advisory Council and the Community Advisory Board for the Master of Nonprofit Administration at John Carroll University; volunteer as a mentor in the CWRU Venture Mentoring Program and is helping to develop and will take on the role of Research Advocate for the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. Eileen has been a Sr. Clinical Instructor through the Department of Family Medicine for over 25 years. Having lived in the Greater Cleveland area for 44 years and as an alum of Leadership Cleveland (2003), Eileen has developed broad-based relationships with many of Cleveland’s top nonprofit, corporate and government leaders. Additionally, she has mentored other nonprofit professionals in and outside of the Greater Cleveland area and has been a guest lecturer for John Carroll University’s Graduate Nonprofit School of Management and Case Western Reserve’s Graduate School of Social Work.

Eileen has an undergraduate and a Master’s degree in Social Work from the Ohio State University and am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker/Supervisor (LISW-S). She is grateful to have a fabulous family that includes 4 glorious grandchildren. In addition to her professional life, she enjoys yoga, fitness training, golf, bicycling, swimming, skiing, tennis, hiking and exploring the world.

Joe Jankowski, PhD


Dr. Jankowski serves as Case Western Reserve University’s first Chief Innovation Officer. In this capacity, he leads and contributes to entrepreneurial and innovation activities emanating from not only research laboratories, but also CWRU’ students and professional school faculty.  He is a recognized regional voice in Northeast Ohio’s economic development sector, and represents CWRU with governance and council activities at BioEnterprise Corporation, JumpStart and TeamNEO.  From 2003 to 2013, Jankowski directed the CWRU Technology Transfer Office (TTO). In this capacity, he led commercialization efforts for the University and its clinical affiliates that emanated from more than $300 million of research activity taking place at the CWRU and its affiliate institutions annually. Previously, Dr. Jankowski was a commercialization officer in the Office of Innovations at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF), a Technology Analyst in the Environmental Technology Commercialization Center at the Battelle Memorial Institute, and a research assistant with the SUNY Research Foundation. Dr. Jankowski holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Sciences, an M.B.A. from the Weatherhead School of Management and a dual B.S. in Chemical and Environmental Engineering Technologies from the University of Dayton.

John Strobel


30+ years medical industry experience with experience taking products from concept to launch and global expansion.  Experience with foundation and early stage start-ups as a founder and consultant.

Jon Baskin, MD


Dr. Jonathan Baskin is a fervent supporter of enabling scientific discovery in the laboratory to move through commercialization in support of groundbreaking diagnostics/therapeutics that treat disease and alleviate suffering. He is a practicing Otolaryngologist (ENT) Head and Neck Surgeon with additional board certification in Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, as well as Sleep Medicine. For over a decade, Dr. Baskin has led medical staff as an ENT-HNS Section Chief at the Cleveland VA Medical Center. His academic appointments are at Case Western Reserve University Schools of Medicine & Engineering and he is a native Clevelander.

Due to his medical and surgical training as well as understanding of market needs, FDA regulatory structure, and biomedical product development he has become actively involved in building a culture of biotechnology entrepreneurship in Northeast Ohio.  He serves on the oversight board of the Case Coulter Translational Research Partnership in the CWRU School of Engineering, is a member of CWRU’s Office of Technology & Innovation and is the Associate Director for Translation in the Advanced Platform Technology center at the VA.

His translational research has included designing and fabricating bone substitute materials developed for skeletal reconstruction but more recently has focused on the development of neuromodulatory therapeutics to treat disease. During multi-center trials, Dr. Baskin conducted FDA phase II and III surgical trials for the Inspire sleep technology at the Cleveland VA and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, respectively; an effort which led to FDA approval and wide-spread commercialization. He is currently developing a surgical device-based [neuromodulatory] treatment for drug resistant hypertension, and working with the Human Fusions Institute at CWRU on extending human reach by dramatically enhancing the human-machine interface.

Josh Botnick, MBA


Josh Botnick is currently a senior banker with a Huntington Bank advising his clients on financial management, acquisitions as well as business operations. Previously Josh worked as the CFO for a national real estate firm and is a seasoned business professional having spent much of his career in corporate and investment banking for Citizens Bank and KeyBank Capital Markets and in private equity for New York Life Investment Management.  Josh received his BA from Columbia University and an MBA from University of Chicago.

Karen Spilizewski, MBA


Karen joined RiverVest in 2008 as a Vice President managing RiverVest’s Cleveland office. Karen brings a broad knowledge of the seed and early-stage life science opportunity landscape in the Midwest, especially Ohio, and the ability to source and evaluate the most promising deals. Through her product and business development expertise, Karen is able to help entrepreneurs accelerate their companies toward next development milestones.

Karen serves on the board of VentureMed Group, Inc. and Standard Bariatrics, Inc. She is a former director of Securus Medical Group, Inc., which was acquired by Boston Scientific Corporation, and a former observer at Neuros Medical, Inc.

Previously, Karen worked through BioEnterprise to identify, assess, and accelerate the growth of emerging medical device companies that originate from universities, clinical research, local entrepreneurs, or companies relocating to Ohio. Prior to joining BioEnterprise, Karen gained significant medical device industry experience at Avery Dennison Corporation, where she spent 19 years in research and business development.

Karen earned an M.B.A., an M.S. in Macromolecular Science and a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University.

Kaushik Ghosal, PhD


Kaushik serves as CEO of BioExcel LLC, a boutique biotech management consultancy company and has more than 15 years of experience in an academic medical center, CRO and bio-pharma industry in a variety of R&D and BD roles. Most recently, Kaushik was the Director of Business Development at BioMotiv, the for-profit arm of The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development focused on accelerating therapeutic drug development. During his tenure, BioMotiv expanded its portfolio from 3 to 13 start-ups, established strategic partnerships with Biogen, Arix Bioscience raised significant capital for its portfolio companies. Before BioMotiv, Kaushik was the Director of R&D at ReXceptor Inc, a clinical stage biotech company where he led preclinical and clinical development and established strategic partnerships with several disease foundations and academic medical centers. 

Kaushik serves as one of the Mentor for the National Network on Mentors identified by NHLBI/NIH and advises NHLBI, NCI and NINDS SBIR/STTR-funded companies for growth and business development strategies. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Cleveland Clinic Alumni, and on the Advisory Board of Empire Discovery Institute. Kaushik is a Venture Mentor for Case Venture Mentorship Program (Case Western Reserve University) and advises several Foundations and Non-profits in venture philanthropy and impact investing models. Previously served on the Board of Directors for John’s Hopkin’s Technology Ventures. He has a M.Sc. in Biotechnology from IIT Bombay, and Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Miami University, Ohio.

Liza Heinig, J.D., P.E.


Liza J.M. Heinig, J.D., P.E. is a partner at Tarolli, Sundheim, Covell & Tummino, LLP.

Mitch Wolf

Mitch Wolf is the CEO of RIK Enterprises, located in Cleveland, Ohio.  RIK is the family office of the Klein Family whose patriarch, Robert Klein was the founder of Safeguard Properties. Mr. Wolf has experience as an investment manager across a broad variety of asset classes and industries and also has extensive experience in business oversight and operation. He has co-founded and grown a real estate investment business, and a consumer and medical products business. He also serves on the boards of several businesses and non-profits. Mr. Wolf is active in a number of Cleveland community-based charitable organizations.

Ofer Reizes, PhD


Dr. Ofer Reizes is the Laura J. Fogarty Endowed Chair for Uterine Cancer Research, Staff in the Department of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Sciences, Director of Research Core Services at the Lerner Research Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, and Director of Skills Development for the NIH Center for Accelerated Innovations at Cleveland Clinic as well as the Asthma Innovation Research Translational Program Project Grant. Dr. Reizes has extensive drug discovery and technology development experience. He has gained pharmaceutical experience while a senior scientist Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in 2001 leading several drug discovery teams focused on obesity and metabolic diseases. Where he progressed several obesity targets from early discovery to pre-clinical evaluation. In 2006, Dr. Reizes joined the Cleveland Clinic, with a research focus on Women’s cancer and the impact of obesity on cancer stem cells. The research team has developed unique cell models for identifying therapeutics strategies for cancer and particularly chemoresistant tumors. Dr. Reizes research has been published in Cell, the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the Journal of Experimental Medicine, Nature Communications, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He has presented at multiple national and international meetings including the Endocrine Society, the American Diabetes Association, and the Biotechnology Innovations Organization. He is a co-inventor on several patents and has consulted for several biotechnology companies. Dr. Reizes received his PhD in molecular pharmacology at UT-Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. He went on to complete a post-doctoral fellowship at The Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Reizes was the PI of an NSF grant focused on specializing the I-Corps curriculum for biomedical entrepreneurs. The curriculum is now incorporated in the I-Corps@Ohio entrepreneurial development program.

Punkaj Ahuja

Sarah O'Keeffe, MBA


Sarah is the Director of the Office for Sustainability at The MetroHealth System, and has been building the formal sustainability program since January 2018, with a focus on optimizing healthcare operations using an environmental health lens. Her previous non-profit and sustainability management experience includes working for and then leading the University Hospitals’ Office of Sustainability from 2014 – 2017, consulting as a sustainability professional at Case Western Reserve University from 2012 – 2013 and working as an NIH grant administrator at the CWRU School of Medicine for five years. Sarah earned an MBA with a focus in non-profit management and sustainability from CWRU Weatherhead School of Management and is a certified EcoDistricts AP. Past diverse experience in the non-profit and volunteer world include serving as a board member and Treasurer for the Heights Bicycle Coalition, leading local after-school bike clubs, teaching English to high schoolers in Japan, teaching environmental education camp in California and rebuilding homes as a Habitat for Humanity volunteer.

Sheldon Schaffer


Sheldon Schaffer held the position of Vice President and General Manager, Magnetic Resonance & Computed Tomography at Hitachi Medical Systems America, Inc (HMSA) from 1999 -2018. Prior to completing his career at HMSA he was the Executive Advisor to the CEO from 2018 - 2019. He was also a Board Member of the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA), a division of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) from 2007 - 2019. Sheldon holds a master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University. Sheldon has over thirty years of experience in the diagnostic imaging industry and has held various positions involving product development, marketing, sales and general management of medical imaging products. Sheldon joined HMSA in 1989 to develop the U.S. operation and was instrumental in the organization’s growth resulting in being a pioneer in Open MRI technology and a market leader in diagnostic imaging products.

Steve Fening, PhD


Stephen D. Fening is the Director of the Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership (CCTRP) in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University. In this role, Steve drives innovation and translational research to move technologies to the market, where they can improve patient care. He received undergraduate and masters degrees in mechanical engineering, an interdisciplinary Ph.D. degree in biomedical engineering, and a postdoctoral fellowship in orthopaedic biomechanics. His career goal is to make a broad and substantial improvements to patient care through translational research and commercialization.

Dr. Fening is a co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Apto Orthopaedics Corporation, an early stage company focusing on non-invasive methods to adjust orthopaedic implants. He also has served as on the board of directors for several for- and not-for-profits.

Prior to joining Case Western Reserve University, Dr. Fening was the Director of Orthopaedic Devices at the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron and the Director of Orthopaedic Research for Summa Health Systems. Prior to that, he was the Director of Research for Cleveland Clinic Sports Health. His areas of research focus included the biomechanics of sports injuries to the knee, shoulder and head and in innovation more broadly across orthopaedic devices. In the last 10 years, he has received over $8.7M in grant funding, published more than 100 peer reviewed publications and presentation, and has several patents. He was a 2017 recipient of the Crain's Cleveland Business Forty Under 40, and is a member of several national and international professional societies.

Steve Weitzner, MBA

Steve Weitzner

Steve Weitzner has a bit of a non-traditional background, but has successfully launched and grown a number of new ventures, worked across many industry sectors in countless geographies, and has somehow managed to remain ridiculously optimistic. Weitzer was the COO of the Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals, the founder of Silverlode Consulting and a Principal at Ernst & Young.

Sue Tyler

Sue Tyler_2

Sue Tyler has built businesses and led financial and operational turnarounds for companies ranging in size from startup through Fortune 100. 

Sue represents Caduceus Capital Partners and North Coast Ventures on the boards of early stage digital health and B2B SaaS companies. She also serves on the board of HealthPlan Data Solutions. She supports CEOs and companies as they raise growth capital, refine their strategic plans, and scale operations.

Sue is former CFO and EVP, Operations of Medical Mutual, a $3 billion health insurance company. Previously she was SVP Marketing & Product of a startup, growing that business from $0 to $300 million in four years. A decade at Progressive Insurance showed her the power of great people empowered by a culture of innovation.

She received her BS in Accounting and MBA from Case Western Reserve University.  She currently serves as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence for the Veale Institute.

Todd Schwarzinger, MBA


Todd is currently Chief Commercialization Officer at the Veale Institute for Entrepreneurship at Case Western Reserve University, as well as a Healthcare Venture Partner with Refinery Ventures. Todd has over 16 years of investment banking, investing and consulting experience with healthcare and life sciences companies. Most recently, Todd was a Managing Director and head of the Life Sciences and Healthcare practice at Silicon Valley Bank for the Bay Area and Pacific Northwest. Todd and his teams focused on lending, banking, and relationship solutions for healthcare clients of all life stages spanning biopharma, medical device, digital health, diagnostics and life science tools.

Prior to joining SVB, Todd was an Executive Director in the healthcare investment banking division at Morgan Stanley where he advised a broad range of medical device and biopharmaceutical clients on mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings, the equity and debt capital markets. In his nearly nine year career at Morgan Stanley across both London and New York, he was responsible for life sciences M&A transactions totaling over $5 billion and raised over $3 billion in capital markets transactions spanning North America, Europe and Asia.

Todd holds a bachelor’s in Finance from the Farmer School of Business at Miami University and received his MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

William Harte, PhD


Dr. William Harte came to the university with more than 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. He was most recently the Executive Director of Chemistry Research and Discovery at Amgen, where he was responsible for technical oversight for 9 investigational new drugs. At CWRU Dr. Harte manages the translational research pipeline from discovery through the IND process to exit. He facilitates relationships with enabling technologies such as high throughput screening and medicinal chemistry. His work focuses on therapeutics and he specializes in oncology, inflammation and neurosciences.