Personal Genetics Education Project

Advisory Board

Sandra de Castro Buffington

Founding Director of the Global Media Center for Social Impact, UCLA

Sandra de Castro Buffington is a thought-leader and catalyst in entertainment for social change. As the Founding Director of the Global Media Center for Social Impact at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health, Sandra harnesses the storytelling power of television, film, music and new media to improve health and well-being of people worldwide. The Center, based in Los Angeles, actively engages entertainment leaders to create compelling storylines that accurately address a full range of socially provocative issues, including health, immigration, racial justice, gender/LGBT equality, and climate change.

Sandra works closely with Hollywood, Bollywood, and other creative capitals of the world to inspire and develop storylines that have profound impact on knowledge and behavior. Previously, as the director of Hollywood, Health & Society at USC’s Norman Lear Center, Sandra created a global network of centers, including India and Nigeria with the hub in Hollywood, to improve the accuracy of health-related storylines in top television programs and films. This groundbreaking work resulted in 565 aired-storylines in 91 shows across 35 networks between 2009 and 2012. For her work, Sandra was named one of the “100 Most Influential Hispanics” in America by Poder magazine in 2011-2012.

George Church

Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School

George Church is Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and the Wyss Institute, Director of the Center for Computational Genetics, Director of the NIH Center for Excellence in Genomic Science (on human genome engineering), and Founder, Director, and guinea PiG#1 of the Personal Genome Project (PGP; PersonalGenomes.org), providing the world’s only open-access information on human Genomic, Environmental, and Trait data (GET).

His 1984 Harvard PhD dissertation included the first methods for direct genome sequencing, molecular multiplexing, and barcoding. These technologies led to the first commercial genome sequence (pathogen, Helicobacter pylori) in 1994. His innovations in “next generation” genome sequencing and synthesis and cell/tissue engineering resulted in twelve companies covering a wide range of fields, including medical genomics (Knome, Alacris, AbVitro, GoodStart, Pathogenica) and synthetic biology (LS9, Joule, Gen9, Warp Drive).

His efforts have also been instrumental in establishing new privacy, biosafety & biosecurity policies. His honors include election to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and being awarded the Bower Award of the Franklin Institute for Achievement in Science.

Juan Enriquez

Managing Director, Excel Venture Management

Mr. Enriquez is an experienced business leader, author, and academic who is recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on the economic and political impacts of life sciences.  He is a Managing Director in Excel Venture Management, a venture capital firm that invests in companies that apply transformative life science technologies to solve problems in healthcare and beyond. He was the founding director of Harvard Business School’s Life Sciences Project.  He then founded Biotechonomy LLC, a life sciences research and investment firm, where he remains as Chairman and CEO.  In July of 2005, he co-founded Synthetic Genomics, Inc., a synthetic biology company focused on developing and commercializing genomic-driven solutions to address global energy, medicine, clean water, and food challenges.  He has been an active investor in early-stage private companies in the biotechnology and information sciences sectors.

While at Harvard, he wrote various articles and case studies, won a McKinsey Prize, and published the best-selling As the Future Catches You, an analysis of the impact of genomics on business and society.  His most recent publication is an eBook co-authored with Dr. Steve Gullans, Homo Evolutis: A Short Tour of our New Species, which describes a world where humans increasingly shape their environment, themselves, and other species.

Mr. Enriquez serves on a number of boards including Cabot Corporation, Synthetic Genomics, Catch.com, Shape Up, the Public Interfaces Steering Committee of the Division of Earth & Life Sciences of the National Academy of Sciences, The Genetics Advisory Council of Harvard Medical School, The Chairman’s International Council of the America’s Society, and the Visiting Committee of Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center. He earned a BA and MBA from Harvard, with Honors.

Marc Hodosh

Co-Creator, TEDMED

Marc Hodosh has held leadership roles in a variety of enterprises, many of which engage the public in diverse areas including, medicine, genome research, and robotics.  As Co-Creator of TEDMED, he developed an annual medical event that continues to shape conversations among pioneers who come from wide ranging fields including technology, entertainment, politics, and of course, healthcare.

He has led the Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, a $10 million competition to inspire rapid, accurate and cost effective genome sequencing technology, wherein the winning team will have to sequence 100 centenarians within 30 days for less than $1,000 per genome.  The Archon X PRIZE follows the $10 million Ansari Space X PRIZE, which was the first prize to be sponsored by the X Prize Foundation.

Mr. Hodosh has also been a consultant to inventor Dean Kamen at DEKA Research & Development and is Chairman of Mr. Kamen’s FIRST Robotics competition in the Boston area.  Originating in Manchester, New Hampshire, the mission of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is to inspire high school students to pursue careers in science & technology.

Earlier, Marc founded and sold ID One, which specialized in facial recognition technology for the U.S. military and intelligence communities.  Just prior, he led business development at Viisage Technology, a biometric and secure ID company.  Marc’s first business endeavors began by inventing and importing a variety of consumer products from Asia, with distribution through Bed Bath & Beyond, QVC television, Toys-R-Us, and others.

Ann Merchant

Deputy Executive Director for Communications, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Ann Merchant has worked in marketing and communications for more than 25 years.  She is currently the Deputy Executive Director for Communications at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, D.C., where she is responsible for a number of innovative outreach programs that contribute to an increased public understanding of science.  With a special interest in promoting science, engineering, and medicine through non-traditional entertainment channels such as television, film, and videogames, she was instrumental in launching and now overseeing The Science & Entertainment Exchange, a program of the National Academy of Sciences that seeks to connect entertainment industry professionals with top scientists and engineers.  She also has responsibility for the institution’s presence at large-scale outreach events such as the USA Science & Engineering Festival.  Merchant served for many years as marketing director for the Academies’ publishing division where she and her staff promoted and marketed more than 175 new titles every year.

Ronnie Stangler

Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington

Ronnie S. Stangler, M.D. is a physician and board-certified psychiatrist. Clinical Professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Dr. Stangler is an international family office consultant who creates and implements programs of health, well-being, and resilience for multidimensional financial, legal, and educational organizations, and the individuals they serve.

Dr. Stangler has unique expertise in genetics and genomics, and the applications of these transformative and disruptive technologies on families and family office organizations who serve them. In Spring 2017, she co-created with Dr. Ting Wu the first annual multidisciplinary summit, “Genes, Technology, and Incalculable Ethics: The Family Office of the Future”, hosted by the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Stangler is devoted to the development of hyperagents of change, a new generation of philanthropists and social entrepreneurs who connect financial capacity with resilient emotional disposition and moral compass. These collaborative visionaries will create original solutions to problems of global poverty, health, climate, and social justice.

Dr. Stangler’s editorial opinions have been published in The New York Times, Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. She has been cited and has contributed extensively to multiple media outlets including The New York Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio and The Wall Street Journal.

Dr. Stangler is a certified consultant in the 21/64 network of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies. She is a senior member of the examining committee of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Elected to the American College of Psychiatrists, she was also named a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. An annual award was created to honor her legacy: the Ronnie S. Stangler, M.D. Award for Creativity in Technology in Psychiatry.