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Washington Research Foundation adds four new venture analysts to its team

Life sciences doctoral candidates will assist the Foundation with its grant-making and investment activities

We are thrilled to bring these analysts on board, adding to our high-quality group.”
— Will Canestaro, Ph.D.
SEATTLE, WA, USA, December 15, 2020 / -- Washington Research Foundation (WRF) has added four part-time venture analysts to its team to assist with its grant-making and investment activities. Daniele Canzani, Louisa Helms, Richard Lee and Alex Pollock join senior venture analysts Diana Sobers, Parker Sommerville and Issa Yousif.

WRF Venture Analysts support the Foundation’s staff in conducting diligence for grants and investments. They work a maximum of 10 hours per week and are appointed for up to one year while undertaking graduate studies at Washington state nonprofit institutions.

The program was established by WRF managing director Will Canestaro, Ph.D., and is co-directed by Canestaro and Kim Emmons, WRF’s manager of research and information services. Canestaro sees the program as having dual goals: providing professional development for graduate students in STEM fields who have a demonstrated interest in commercialization and entrepreneurship, while simultaneously enabling WRF to expand the number of opportunities it explores. This is the third recruitment round since the program began in early 2019.

“The venture analysts have quickly become an integral part of the Foundation’s culture and an important resource for us as we perform diligence. We received a record number of applications for the position this year from across the state and the quality of applicants was truly impressive. It was extremely challenging to pick just a few candidates from such a strong group. We are thrilled to bring these analysts on board, adding to our high-quality group.”

The following WRF Venture Analysts started their positions earlier this month:

• Daniele Canzani, a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in chemistry at UW, has a focus on the development of new tools to characterize proteins and their roles in human health.
• Louisa Helms is a third-year doctoral candidate in pathology at the UW Institute for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine, specializing in nephrology and gene therapies.
• Richard Lee, a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in materials science and engineering at UW, focuses on the development of biosensors for disease—primarily cancer—diagnostics.
• Alex Pollock is a sixth-year doctoral candidate in microbiology at UW, specializing in protein-based tools to quantify key immunomodulatory molecules implicated in cancer and autoimmune disease progression.

WRF plans to recruit its next cohort of venture analysts in the winter of 2021.

About Washington Research Foundation:

Washington Research Foundation supports research and scholarship in Washington state, with a focus on life sciences and enabling technologies.

WRF was formed in 1981 to assist universities and other nonprofit research institutions in Washington with the commercialization and licensing of their technologies. WRF is one of the foremost technology transfer and grant-making organizations in the nation, having earned more than $445 million in licensing revenue for the University of Washington and providing over $111 million in grants to the state's research institutions to date.

WRF Capital, the Foundation’s venture investment arm, has funded 108 local startups since 1994. Returns from these investments support grant-making activities at WRF.

For additional information, please visit

Will Canestaro, Ph.D.
Managing Director, WRF Capital
+1 206-336-5600