NCBiotech’s Triad Advisory Committee Adds 7

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s Piedmont Triad Office is welcoming seven new thought leaders to its regional advisory committee.

The new committee members from unique backgrounds and experiences, academic expertise and industry perspectives will guide efforts to grow the region’s life sciences assets.

Advisory committee members identify goals, strategies, and activities to strengthen the sector throughout the Piedmont Triad. Each member will serve as an advocate, voice, and resource for effective life sciences development, in partnership with NCBiotech's efforts to grow the life sciences statewide.

The committee was first established by NCBiotech in 2004, shortly after the 2003 opening of its first statewide office, to provide guidance to Winston-Salem, High Point, Greensboro, Burlington and other cities along the I-85 corridor.

Triad BioNight 2019
Triad BioNight 2019

“This committee continues to bring new ideas and perspectives with varying areas of expertise from academia and industry as well as investment and economic development,” said Michael Kelly, president and COO of Piedmont Animal Health and advisory committee chairperson. “We are excited to have these newest members join in our discussions and activities including Triad BioNight 2021.”

“The strong commitment of this regional committee is valued and significant as we continue to build partnerships across the state to identify solutions and accelerate growth opportunities in the life sciences,” said Nancy Johnston, executive director of the NCBiotech Piedmont Triad office.

The Piedmont Triad region is home to over 80 life sciences companies that employ approximately 8,000 people. The region is surrounded by high research activity universities including a land-grant institution, school of pharmacy, medical school, joint school of nanoscience and nanoengineering, and community colleges focused on biotechnology workforce credentials.

“Having academia and industry contribute their time and talent in a collaborative and collegial manner is just one indicator of the excellence found in this region,” said Dan Erb, PT, Ph.D., committee vice chair and senior vice president of academic affairs, and dean of Congdon School of Health Sciences at High Point University. “I look forward to working alongside our committee and our newest members.”


New members bring wealth of knowledge to the region

Manju Bhat, M.V.Sc., Ph.D., chair and associate professor of physiology, Department of Biological Sciences, Winston-Salem State University

Manju BhatBhat received his Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics from Case Western Reserve University in 1997 after completing a Bachelor’s in Veterinary Medicine and a Master’s in pharmacology. His Ph.D. thesis focused on structure-function studies on ryanodine receptor calcium release channel. Bhat became a postdoctoral research fellow for the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Case Western.

He later went on to receive the Excellence in Teaching Award by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors for his contributions to Winston-Salem State University in 2015-2016. Bhat teaches anatomy & physiology I and II, investigation & research courses and a neuroscience seminar course at Wake Forest University.

"I look forward to continuing and strengthening the long-standing collaboration between Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) and the NC Biotech Center. My goal as a member of the advisory committee is to connect with regional educational and industry partners to create opportunities for current WSSU students to gain experiential learning and prepare them for the biotechnology workforce."


Connie Cwik, RAC, president and CEO, Cwik Business Connections

Connie CwikConnie has more than 25 years of building relationships with clients, building and developing high-performing teams and coaching business associates. Connie has a passion for building, growing and developing high-performing teams and people that lead.

She has been an IT executive in roles like VP of sales in automotive and life sciences and healthcare. She earned her Regulatory Affairs Certification and her background includes executive coach for The Walt Disney Company and Merck. She has been the executive coach for 50+ corporate executives. Other companies that she has worked with include General Motors, HCL and Accenture.

"I am excited about this opportunity and look forward to participating."


Geoff Foster, M.S., MBA, CEO and president, Core Technology Molding Corp.

Geoff FosterGeoff Foster earned a B.S. in industrial technology with a concentration in applied engineering technology from North Carolina Agricultural &Technical State University and went on to complete his MBA at Wake Forest University’s Babcock Graduate School of Business in May 2001. He then worked at Corning Life Sciences (formerly Becton Dickinson), where he held the position of operations manager in the Tissue Culture Department and was responsible for an $80 million product line and 125 employees.

In 2006, Foster founded Core Technology Molding Corporation where he serves as chief executive officer and president. Greensboro-based Core Technology is an injection molding solutions provider for medical device, biological pharmaceutical, and consumer goods markets as well as others. Core Technology has quickly grown and has multinational clients including Merck. His company has been recognized for its excellence as an innovative entrepreneurial minority business and STEM education partner.

Foster serves as an adjunct professor at High Point University and at NCA&T where he also joined the board of visitors.

"It is a pleasure and honor to be asked to join the committee. As a manufacturer of biotechnology products and biological pharmaceutical customers, we get an opportunity to touch 100 million people annually.  With the recent Covid-19 pandemic, we will touch over 100 million adults and 25 million infants.  We will be able to bring a global perspective to the committee as we are shipping biopharma plunger rods to Europe and Asia."

Sherine Obare, Ph.D., dean, Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering UNC Greensboro and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Sherine Obare

Besides her role as dean of the JSNN, Obare is also a full professor of nanoscience at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. She received a B.S. in chemistry from West Virginia State University, obtained a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of South Carolina, and thereafter, was a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Postdoctoral Fellow at The Johns Hopkins University.

Obare is an environmental chemist whose research focuses on nanotechnology. Her work has led to innovations in the detection and remediation of environmental contaminants, designing nanoscale materials for drug delivery, improved healthcare, and alternative energy, as well as understanding the fate, transport and toxicity of anthropogenic nanomaterials. 

She was recognized as one of the 2020 Outstanding Women in Business, and as a 2019 Power Player, by the Triad Business Journal. 

Obare aims to use the opportunity of being on the board to strengthen research and educational opportunities in biotechnology within the Triad region.

Obare aims to use the opportunity of being on the board to strengthen research and educational opportunities in biotechnology within the Triad region.


Mark Owens, I.O.M., CCE, president and CEO, Greater Winston-Salem Inc.

Mark OwensMark Owens has over ten years of experience in building communities through economic development. He was named president and CEO of the Winston-Salem Chamber, now Greater Winston-Salem, Inc., in 2017 and previously served as the president and CEO of the Greater Greer Chamber in South Carolina. Owens is actively involved in the community in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, serving on the board of directors at Goodwill of Northwest NC, the Piedmont Triad Partnership, the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership, and Forsyth Medical Center, among others. He is a graduate of Presbyterian College and the United States Chamber Institute for Organizational Management. He also holds his Certified Chamber Executive designation.

"I am excited to serve on the Advisory Committee, as biotech is a leading industry in Winston Salem."


Malay Shah, MBA, co-managing director, Piedmont VentureSouth

Malay Shah, MBAMalay Shah is a seasoned investor with specific expertise in alternative assets, including early-stage ventures, private companies and real estate. Malay co-leads VentureSouth Piedmont, part of the VentureSouth network of over 350 angel investors spanning the Carolinas. He has raised and managed private equity funds investing in startup companies, residential real estate and commercial real estate. Malay's experience includes roles in management consulting, project management, product marketing, policy development and corporate finance. He holds a BSE in biomedical and electrical engineering and MBA from Duke University.    

"I am honored to serve on the Advisory Committee and look forward to working with the group.”


Daniel Yohannes, Ph.D., MBA, founder, Yohannes Pharmaceutical Consulting, LLC

Daniel Yohannes, PhD, MBADaniel Yohannes, Ph.D., is the founder of Yohannes Consulting, LLC, where he supports startups as a business operations and drug discovery specialist. Yohannes Consulting focuses on the pharma/biotech sector providing services either in consulting mode or as a short-term chief operations officer. He has more than 25 years of leadership experience in the life sciences industry ranging from academic technology transfer through startup and small biopharmaceutical companies to big pharma.

Yohannes was most recently executive director for Ophidion Pharmaceuticals, a neuroscience and brain delivery technology company. Prior to that, he was an associate professor at Wake Forest School of Medicine, where he also co-founded and led the Therapeutics Accelerator for five years. Before his academic technology transfer role, he was recruited to Targacept Inc., a company commercializing nicotinic acetylcholine receptor ligands, to lead its drug discovery and development group; under his leadership, his team delivered seven drugs to the clinic in seven years.

Yohannes earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Purdue University, and completed an NIH-funded postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University. He also is the recipient of an MBA from the University of Rhode Island.


The NCBiotech Piedmont Triad Advisory Committee would like to thank its outgoing members:

  • Joseph Graves, Ph.D., JSNN
  • Troy Knauss, Angel Institute
  • Simon Selwood, Ph.D., Novelus
  • Randy Parker, Ph.D., Retired from GTCC
  • Stephanie Dance Barnes, Ph.D., Winston-Salem State University
  • Gary Graham, Graham Personnel Services

All NCBiotech Piedmont Triad Advisory Committee members are listed on the NCBiotech website.

Lindsey Baron, NCBiotech Writer
Tue, 07/07/2020 - 10:52