David Wholley Director

Mr. Wholley manages The Biomarkers Consortium for the FNIH. He has also served as Director of the Genetic Association Information Network (GAIN), a public-private partnership dedicated to helping discover the genetic basis of common disease, and led the development of a major public-private partnership in drug safety with the biopharmaceutical industry and FDA. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2006, Mr. Wholley’s career spanned nearly 25 years in healthcare technology business management including extensive experience in product development, sales, marketing, corporate strategy and partnership and project development. Mr. Wholley has held senior management roles in several venture-funded technology startup companies, including head of Global Marketing and Development for First Genetic Trust, Inc., which developed software for large-scale collaborative genetic research and personalized medicine. During a 16-year career at IBM, he co-led the corporate strategy team that guided IBM’s formation of its Life Sciences industry organization and its first product, DiscoveryLink database integration software in 2000. Mr. Wholley holds an M.Phil. from Rutgers University and a Certificate in Business Administration from the Stern School of Business at New York University.

Joseph P. Menetski, Ph.D. Deputy Director

Joseph Menetski received his Ph.D. from Northwestern University Medical School with Dr. Stephen Kowalczykowski and completed his post-doctoral training at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Institutes of Health (NIH/NIDDK) with Dr. Martin Gellert. He then started his career in industry in 1993 in the Immunopathology Department at Parke-Davis (later Pfizer), where he established a discovery research program in cellular inflammation that eventually transitioned to the molecular study of osteoarthritis. Joseph moved to Merck in 2004. His first position was in the department of Immunology where he was involved in the osteoarthritis new targets and biomarker program. While at Merck he has been a member of the Molecular Profiling group, the Knowledge Discovery and Knowledge Management group and finally a Director in Global Competitive Intelligence.

Over the years, he has been a key contributor to many basic research and clinical programs in the areas of arthritis, sarcopenia, osteoporosis and asthma. He has served as a core research team member on several external basic research projects for identification of new targets and molecular biomarkers. His industry research and development experiences include target identification, compound selection, translational biomarker identification, clinical study design and analysis, and external scientific collaborations. In the commercial space, he has been intimately involved in opportunity and asset identification and qualification, and in assessing the competitive landscape of disease areas that he is supporting. During this time, he has been recognized by multiple research and development awards for his contributions.

Stacey J. Adam, Ph.D. Scientific Program Manager, Cancer

Dr. Stacey Adam is the Scientific Program Manager for Cancer at the FNIH. In her role, she leads the Cancer Research Partnership programs. She is a molecular pharmacologist/cancer biologist skilled in molecular biology techniques, animal modeling, clinical genomics, systems biology, project and team management and strategy consulting.

Prior to FNIH, Dr. Adam was a Manager at Deloitte Consulting within the Federal Life Sciences and Healthcare Strategy practice where she supported a number of federal and not-for-profit client projects. She was the project manager and scientific research advisor for an institute-wide research strategic planning effort at the NIH and for a project to develop a novel technology platform to assist a major non-profit agency with combining clinical, genomic and patient-generated data to accelerate research on chronic gastrointestinal diseases. She also worked for two years with a federally-associated not-for-profit granting agency as a scientific review officer.

Before Deloitte, Dr. Adam conducted her postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University School of Medicine, Department of Oncology where she was an NIH and American Cancer Society supported fellow. While at Stanford, she focused on developing better animal models for studying lymphoma and osteosarcoma; performing large cancer genomics screens for genes related to self-renewal, differentiation, and tumor recurrence; merging high-throughput biological techniques with novel cancer animal models to define molecular disease signatures to allow for rapid diagnosis and prognosis of cancer; and working with companies to test novel compounds in pre-clinical trials.

Michael Biarnes, M.S. Scientific Project Manager, Neuroscience

Michael Biarnes is the Scientific Project Manager for Neuroscience at the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. In this role, Michael supports various neuroscience projects within the Biomarkers Consortium as well as the Private Partner Scientific Board (PPSB) of the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI).

Prior to joining the FNIH team, Michael worked for 3 years at Meso Scale Discovery in Rockville MD, specializing in product and business development as a Project Manager. There he gained extensive experience in the development of assays for neurological, secreted, and intracellular biomarkers as well as in the development of high sensitivity assays. Michael also spent 3 years working at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center investigating novel therapies and performing drug target discovery in the breast cancer field. Michael earned his Master of Science in Biotechnology from Georgetown University and his Bachelor of Science in Biology from The Pennsylvania State University.

Rosa Canet-Aviles, Ph.D. Scientific Program Manager, Neuroscience

Dr. Rosa Canet-Avilés is the Scientific Program Manager for Neuroscience at the FNIH. In her role she leads the Neuroscience Research Partnership programs and manages, amongst other things, the Steering Committee for Neuroscience at The Biomarkers Consortium as well as the Alzheimer’s Disease Accelerated Medicines Partnerships program in coordination with NIH and industry leaders. She represents the organization’s interests internally and externally on neuroscience and neuroscience-related matters.

Dr. Rosa Canet-Avilés served previously as a Science Program Officer for Neuroscience at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). In her role, she planned and devised translational research programs, policies and procedures in consultation and collaboration with the executive officers of the organization and key stakeholders to implement and monitor the organization’s overall research and development strategy. Among other things, Dr. Canet-Avilés was responsible for planning and developing Requests for Applications, organizing scientific reviews of grant applications, managing a portfolio of grants and organizing workshops and meetings relevant to the strategic goals of the organization. Dr. Canet-Avilés participated in determining scientific direction and in science policy development.

Prior to that, Dr. Canet-Avilés served as a scientist leading some of the Neurodegeneration programs at Amgen Inc. Dr. Canet-Avilés group was responsible for the discovery and validation of therapuetic targets for Parkinsons’s and Alzheimer’s Diseases. Prior to joining industry, she held post-doctoral fellowships at Elan Inc., (a neuroscience-based biotechnology company that is focused on discovering, developing, manufacturing and marketing advanced therapies in neurology, autoimmune diseases and severe pain); the laboratory of Neurogenetics at the National Institutes of Health and the laboratory of Cell Biology at Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Florida.

Dr. Canet-Avilés earned her Ph.D. degree in Neuroscience from the School of Medicine at Leeds University, UK. She also holds a BS in Organic Chemistry from the Central University of Barcelona and a Masters in Quality management from the Catalan Institute of Technology, Barcelona, Spain.

Dana Connors, M.S., P.M.P Scientific Project Manager, Cancer

Dana E. Connors is a Scientific Project Manager for Cancer projects within the Biomarkers Consortium at FNIH. He was most recently a Project Manager for the Electronic Data Methods Forum at AcademyHealth and has extensive experience as an independent consultant working internationally with health care companies and device manufacturers in marketing, communications and project management. In addition to strategic planning, branding and product development assistance, his projects included seminar and symposia planning and collaboration on research project design and clinical trial development. Before his consulting role, Dana worked in marketing and communications management for the biomarker portfolios of Thermo Fisher Scientific and BRAHMS Diagnostics. Dana received his Master of Science from the University of Amsterdam in 2006 and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Florida.

Stephanie Cush, Ph.D. Scientific Project Manager, Inflammation & Immunity

Dr. Stephanie Cush is the Scientific Project Manager for Inflammation and Immunity at the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. In this role, she supports projects within the Biomarkers Consortium Inflammation and Immunity Steering Committee and the Accelerating Medicines Partnership Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus program.

Stephanie has over 13 years of work experience in academic, government and industry sectors specializing in biomedical science and strategic consulting. She is a cellular immunologist by training with focus areas in infectious disease, vaccine development and immune modulation. Prior to FNIH, Stephanie was a Senior Strategy Consultant at Deloitte in the Federal Health practice where she was the project coordinator supporting the NIH in its strategic vaccine development efforts for an emerging viral epidemic. She also worked for 2 years at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the FDA to design, develop and implement an enterprise-wide technology solution to streamline the drug approval process. Stephanie conducted her post-doctoral training in the Laboratory of Viral Diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH, studying the immune response and host-pathogen interactions at the site of infection using in vivo imaging techniques. She earned her Ph.D. in Integrated Biomedical Sciences from the Ohio State University, and a B.A. in Microbiology and Molecular Biology from Miami University.

Steve Hoffmann, M.S. Scientific Program Manager, Inflammation and Immunity

Steve Hoffmann, Scientific Program Manager at The Biomarkers Consortium, is responsible for the activities of the Inflammation and Immunity Steering Committee, including the management and administration of a broad portfolio of established and emerging projects related to Osteoarthritis, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

Steve has worked for over 17 years in the academic, government and industry sectors in the field of translational and personalized medicine with a strong focus on molecular immunology and inflammation. In 2000, Steve joined the Transplantation and Autoimmunity Branch of the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases, using immune depletion strategies for human renal and islet cell transplant trials. His work focused on molecular profiling of surrogate biomarkers of rejection, tolerance and drug toxicity from clinical patient biopsies, urine and blood. Prior to joining The Biomarkers Consortium, Steve also worked for seven years at Meso Scale Discovery in Gaithersburg, MD, gaining extensive experience in product development and strategic management and marketing of multiplex protein immunoassays. Steve holds a Master of Science degree in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and Biophysics from the University of Pittsburgh.

Lilit Vardanian, M.S., M.B.A. Scientific Project Manager, Metabolic Disorders

Over 12 years of professional experience in diverse scientific settings ranging from Academic, government and pharmaceutical industry sectors as a researcher 

Trained in molecular biology and genetics, specializing in Pharmacology, Lilit spent first 7 years of her scientific career as a research assistant and graduate student conducting academic research in various scientific disciplines such as skin cancer research (NCI) , neuropharmacology (Alzheimer’s Disease) and infectious disease/biodefense (GUMC).

Lilit moved on to the private industry R&D sector (ATCC followed by MedImmune) after receiving her M.S. degree in Pharmacology from Georgetown University, and for the following 3 years served as an Associated Scientist developing, optimizing and routing screening GMP validated molecular immunological assays in support of biosafety assessment and regulatory filings of multiple biologics drug development projects in the company pipeline.

Her transition from bench science to an administrative mid-management role was anchored by a 3 years educational sabbatical, during which Lilit completed an International MBA from Manchester Business School, U.K.  

Finally, her return to the biopharmaceutical industry involved a role as a Biologics Project Manager in a global CDMO BioReliance, now a subsidiary of Merck KGaA Darmstadt where she provided full range PM life cycle support to expansive project portfolio of clients receiving biosafety assessment GMP validated services for biologics drug development projects in all stages of pre-clinical or pre-market regulatory filings. Project scopes included routine lot release screening of biologic and vaccine candidates in all stages of development, as well as custom assays for newly emerging gene editing therapeutics and clinical trial (Phase I and II) monitoring safety assessments. 

Cheryl Melencio Executive Assistant

Ms. Melencio provides administrative support to the Director and Scientific Program Managers of The Biomarkers Consortium. In that capacity, she supports the Executive Committee and Steering Committees. Cheryl has been with the FNIH since 2007. Previously she was employed by The National Industrial Transportation League.

Emily Morgan Administrative Assistant

Emily Morgan provides administrative assistance to the Research Partnership team. Emily has been with the Foundation since April 2016. Previously she was employed by 0ptimus, a political consulting firm.

Front Page: