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Washington Research Foundation announces new cohort of WRF Venture Analysts

Analysts will assist in reviewing grant and investment opportunities under consideration by the Foundation

The applicant pool was highly competitive this year, reflective of the rich ecosystem for translational research in Seattle.”
— Kim Emmons, WRF's manager of research and information services
SEATTLE, WA, USA, September 8, 2022 / -- Washington Research Foundation (WRF) has selected five new venture analysts to assist with the evaluation of grant and investment opportunities under consideration for funding by WRF. A total of 20 analysts have now been recruited since the program’s inception in 2019.

WRF’s goal is the advancement of the most promising life sciences technologies created in Washington state’s nonprofit research institutions, for the purpose of helping essential products and services reach the market to provide public benefit. It does this through strategic grant-making and investment programs, reviewing opportunities that span a broad range of scientific disciplines.

WRF Venture Analysts are graduate students in the sciences, business graduate students with a STEM background, or postdocs based at nonprofit research institutions in Washington state. They work part-time with WRF, supporting the Foundation’s staff in assessing the technical and commercial viability of proposals while evaluating their suitability for WRF funding.

The following venture analysts start this month:

• Mroj Alassaf, a second-year postdoc in the Basic Sciences Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (Fred Hutch), studies the mechanisms of fat-to-brain communication and the effects of diet on nervous system function.
• Diego Alba Burbano, a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in chemical engineering and data science at the University of Washington (UW), specializes in synthetic biology and CRISPR technologies for bioproduction and biocomputation in cell-free and bacterial systems.
• Melanie Busch is a fourth-year Pharm.D./MBA student at UW with experience in antibody research, cell therapy manufacturing and clinical trial management.
• Jay Lubow is a third-year postdoc in the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at Fred Hutch who isolates and characterizes broadly neutralizing antibodies to dengue and Zika viruses
• Vanessa Nguyen is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in bioengineering at UW studying protein folding in the context of the cell using multiplexed functional assays.

“The applicant pool was highly competitive this year, reflective of the rich ecosystem for translational research in Seattle,” said Kim Emmons, WRF’s manager of research and information services. “We are thrilled to have a cohort of such breadth and depth to help us do our due diligence on grant and investment opportunities.”

Former WRF Venture Analysts have since taken positions in academia, industry and the startup community.

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 $137 million in grants to the state's research institutions to date.

WRF Capital, a reserve pool of funds that Washington Research Foundation invests in local early-stage companies, has backed 119 startups since 1996. Returns support the Foundation’s investment and grant-making programs.

For additional information, please visit


Kim Emmons
Manager, Research & Information Services

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