New BioNJ program sees new grad land 2-year entrepreneurship fellowship at 4 life sciences firms

BioNJ has launched its Entrepreneurship Fellowship Program, choosing its first-ever fellow for a two-year stint with four top life sciences firms.

Irina Katz, a member of the Class of 2018 at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, was chosen from a number of candidates, the life sciences organization said in a news release.

“We are thrilled to launch BioNJ’s inaugural Entrepreneurship Fellowship Program,” James Sapirstein, chairman of BioNJ and CEO of ContraVir Pharmaceuticals, said in a prepared statement. “We had a stellar group of candidates apply for the fellowship, and were delighted to offer this opportunity to Ms. Katz. Over the next two years, she will have exposure to key functional areas of the industry at some of the state’s most innovative companies. Fellowship programs, such as BioNJ’s, are key to attracting an entrepreneurial, highly educated workforce to New Jersey.”

Under the program, designed to mentor, develop and train prospective life sciences entrepreneurs in New Jersey — to encourage the establishment of startups in the Garden State — Katz will spend six months at each of four participating companies:

The fellowship will start in July 2018, and Katz will rotate among the participating companies through summer 2020.

“I am so proud to bring this groundbreaking program, which was the brainchild of our chairman, James Sapirstein, forward,” BioNJ CEO and President Debbie Hart said in a statement. “We had the unique opportunity to work in collaboration with the Industry Pharmacists Organization, whose leaders have over 50 years of combined experience in successfully managing fellowship programs and recruiting high-quality fellows.

“Not only were we able to place Ms. Katz in our program, but a second candidate, Shelja Patel, Rutgers University Class of 2018, was placed in a separate fellowship with Photocure, which is led by BioNJ board member Ambaw Bellete, as a result of our interview process. This was a serendipitous and very exciting outcome.”