2013 Career Mentors (M-P)
New Ventures Principal
Inventor and entrepreneur Geoffrey von Maltzahn joined Flagship in 2009 as a New Ventures Principal within Flagship VentureLabsTM, where he focuses on inventing technologies and starting companies to address global challenges in nutrition, environmental sustainability, and medicine. He is a founder and inventor of the founding technologies for the VentureLabsTM companies Seres Health and Pronutria, among others.
Geoff brings over a decade of experience innovating at the interface of biology and engineering. During his career Geoff has co-invented the first technology to produce pure essential nutrients directly from sunlight; a new paradigm of precision protein nutrition; the first ‘ecological therapeutics’ for treating dysbiosis of the microbiome; the first nanoparticles that communicate in the body to find and treat cancer; the first mass-coded ‘synthetic biomarkers’ for diagnosing and monitoring complex diseases; remote-controlled ‘nanoantennas’ for ultra-precise laser treatments; nanoparticle logic gates; new ‘parts’ for nanotechnology; peptides that behave like fats; and other technologies to help address important problems in biology, chemistry, engineering, and medicine. Geoff has received over 20 awards and honors for his inventions, Geoff also has had his inventions recognized among the “world’s greatest scientific breakthroughs of today” by Dean Kamen on Planet Green and in the 7 Innovations of the Year by MSNBC.
Geoff was awarded a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering and Medical Physics from MIT under the mentorship of Sangeeta N. Bhatia, MD, PhD; a M.S. in Bioengineering from the University of California, San Diego; and a S.B. in Chemical Engineering from MIT. While at MIT, Geoff was a research mentor to a 15 undergraduates and named MIT’s Most Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor in 2007.
University of Michigan
Margaret and Herman Sokol Professor in Medicinal Chemistry
“Even if learning something completely new is a struggle, it can be more rewarding than doing something that you already knew how to do well.”
Dr. Montgomery received an A.B. degree in Chemistry at the University of North Carolina (where he lived in the same dorm as Michael Jordan) and a Ph.D. degree from Colorado State University. Following an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship at UC-Irvine, he spent twelve years on the faculty at Wayne State University (where he lived in the same apartment complex as Rosa Parks) before moving to the University of Michigan in 2005 (where he now lives down the street from Anna Mapp).
Dr. Montgomery’s research is in synthetic methods development, organometallic chemistry and catalysis, total synthesis, carbohydrate chemistry, and biocatalysis. He has coauthored 75 manuscripts and 3 book chapters including a major work covering the use of nickel catalysis in organic synthesis due to appear this summer in Organometallics in Synthesis: A Manual.
Ohio State University
Professor of Chemistry
“Life is about finding out what you are good at and having fun with it”
Dr. Pei received a BS degree in chemistry from Wuhan University, China and a PhD in organic chemistry from University of California, Berkeley. Following a Damon Runyon Walter Winchell postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School, he started his independent career at The Ohio State University in 1995 and is currently a Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Dr. Pei’s research interests lie at the interface of chemistry and biology. His earlier research focused on the mechanistic studies of bacterial enzymes and the synthesis of enzyme inhibitors as antibacterial agents. His current interest is in the chemical biology of eukaryotic cell signaling. His group develops new methodologies in combinatorial chemistry and applies them to discover new protein-protein interactions, identify the substrates of protein kinases and phosphatases, and develop macrocyclic molecules as inhibitors against protein-protein interactions and other signaling proteins.
Notre Dame University
Associate Professor, Chemistry & Biochemistry, concurrent in Physics
“It’s nice when you actually have some time to think.”
Jeff received his undergraduate degree in Physics at Cornell University. He then went on to earn a PhD in Biophysics under Prof. Gerhard Wagner (University of Michigan Ann Arbor, and then Harvard Medical School, Boston). His focus was on NMR methods to study protein dynamics. He received a Damon Runyon fellowship for postdoctoral research at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland, under Prof. Richard R. Ernst. Jeff then returned to the US to join the Structural Biology group at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Cambridge, MA) in 1994. He spent nearly 10 years at Vertex, rising to Senior Staff Scientist. There, he developed NMR methods for drug discovery, and worked with biologists, enzymologists, medicinal chemists, biochemists, and business development strategists. In 2003 Jeff went back to Academia, joining the Chemistry/Biochemistry faculty at the University Notre Dame. In 2010, he became associate professor with concurrent status in the Physics Department. Jeff’s research seeks to understand how the dynamics of proteins and their ligands affect allosteric communication and the evolution of drug-resistance. His main research tools are NMR and computation. Due to the nature of his research, his group members necessarily receive highly interdisciplinary training.
McKinsey & Company
No Biography submitted
University of Chicago
“Accomplishing your research goals takes energy, passion, and determination, as well as willingness to take risks”
Dr. Piccirilli received a BS in chemistry from the University of Scranton and a PhD in Chemistry from Harvard University. He was an HHMI research associate at the University of Colorado. He joined the faculty at the University of Chicago as an assistant professor in 1993, where he holds a joint appointment in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He was promoted to full professor in 2012.
Dr. Piccirilli’s research areas encompass area of RNA chemistry and biology and Ovarian Cancer detection. His research interests include RNA catalysis, origin of life, RNA modifications, and RNA structure determination.
University of Kansas
Professor and Chair
“The innovator has as enemies those who have done well under the old system and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well in the new”
Thomas E. Prisinzano received a BS in chemistry from the University of Delaware in 1995 and his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2000. After postdoctoral studies at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, he joined the Division of Medicinal & Natural Products Chemistry at the University of Iowa in 2003 where he was promoted to associate professor in 2007. Subsequently, he joined the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Kansas and was promoted to Professor in 2012. Presently, he is Chair of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and co-Director of the Dynamic Aspects of Chemical Biology Training program.
Dr. Prisinzano is a world-recognized leader in the chemistry of drug abuse. His research focuses on the development of novel agents to treat substance abuse, pain, and other CNS disorders through the identification, structure elucidation, and synthesis of natural products. He has published over 80 research articles related to the chemistry and biology of drugs subject to abuse.