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Washington Research Foundation recruits five new venture analysts to assist with grant-making and investment activities

New cohort comprises STEM and business graduate students demonstrating an aptitude for commercialization and entrepreneurship

We are extremely excited about the new cohort. They are dynamically skilled communicators with deep expertise across multiple areas of science.”
— Will Canestaro, Ph.D.
SEATTLE, WA, USA, September 17, 2021 / -- Washington Research Foundation (WRF) is pleased to announce its fourth cohort of venture analysts. The recruitment is the largest to date and follows the most competitive selection process since the program’s launch in 2019.

WRF is a private foundation that focuses on advancing promising life-science technologies from nonprofit research institutions in Washington state. To accomplish this mission, the Foundation reviews hundreds of opportunities each year, requiring technical diligence on projects from a wide range of disciplines. The WRF Venture Analyst program was created to support the Foundation in reviewing grants and investments. Analysts, who are graduate students in the sciences or business students with a STEM background, are recruited to work part-time for WRF. A total of 15 analysts have been selected to date.

“The venture analyst program has quickly become a central program to WRF,” said managing director Will Canestaro, Ph.D. “Analysts help the Foundation by expanding our technical breadth in reviewing projects; in return, the analysts get exposure to the inner operations of an active life-science philanthropy and VC [venture capital] investor. We are extremely excited about the new cohort. They are dynamically skilled communicators with deep expertise across multiple areas of science.”

The following WRF Venture Analysts began their assignments in early September:

● Kendan Jones-Isaac is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in pharmaceutics at the University of Washington (UW) School of Pharmacy developing a 3D, microphysiological model of kidney stone disease.
● Maneeshika Madduri, a third-year Ph.D. candidate in electrical and computer engineering at UW, focuses on using brain-machine interfaces to research the neural mechanisms of learning.
● Deeter Neumann is a board-certified oncology pharmacist pursuing a master’s in biomedical regulatory affairs at UW with the intention to pair his clinical experience with regulatory knowledge to bring new cancer therapeutics to market.
● Heidi Spears, a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in chemistry at UW, focuses on how membrane phospholipids and membrane-associated proteins interact to influence cell organization.
● Nicole Zeinstra is a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate in bioengineering at the UW Institute for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine, specializing in cardiac tissue engineering and cell therapies.

Former WRF Venture Analysts have progressed to a variety of roles following graduation, including positions in academia and industry. Several have joined local startups.

The application for the next recruitment of venture analysts is expected to open in spring 2022.

About Washington Research Foundation:

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

WRF was founded 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 $124 million in grants to the state's research institutions to date.

WRF Capital, the Foundation’s venture investment arm, has backed 114 local startups since 1994. Returns from these investments support grant-making activities at WRF.

For additional information, please visit

Kim Emmons
Manager, Research and Information Services

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