Testimonials from Equalize 2020 pitchers

photo of Sandhya Kortagere“I thoroughly enjoyed participating and learning a lot from this event. Thank you for providing the mentoring as well and not sure how you did the match, but I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor. We had a follow up meeting and he volunteered to help me further. As an early stage project, I am looking for additional funding so look forward to increasing my network. I wish we could have all met in person, but hopefully it will happen in future.” — Sandhya Kortagere, Drexel University

Equalize Pitch Awards Announcements

Equalize Award for Therapeutics Session

People’s Choice Awards

Diagnostics & Medical Devices: Kacey Marra, University of Pittsburgh

Therapeutics: Judith Sebolt-Leopold, University of Michigan

Overall Winners by Judge Voting

Diagnostics & Medical Devices: Sunyoung Kim, Louisiana State University School of Medicine & Health Sciences Center

Therapeutics: Sandhya Kortagere, Drexel University

>> Watch full event via YouTube.

Meet the Pitchers: Therapeutics

Alexis Demonbreun
Northwestern University
Ikaika Therapeutics
Genetic modifiers of muscle disease as therapeutic targets
>> bio

Barbara Ehrlich
Yale University
Startup: Center Pharm
Technology: A new target for treatment of Wolfram Syndrome
>> bio

Yiping Han
Columbia University
Technology: Novel therapeutics to treat familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
>> bio

Sandhya Kortagere
Drexel University
Technology: A disease modifying and neuroprotective agent to treat Parkinson’s disease
>> bio

Martina Roos
University of California, Los Angeles
Startup: Sardona Therapeutics
Technology: Small molecules targeting RNA regulators in cancer stem cells
>> bio

Judith Sebolt-Leopold
University of Michigan
Startup: Mekanistic Therapeutics
Technology: A first-in-class therapeutic targeting
deregulation of EGFR and PI3K
>> bio

Meet the Pitchers: Diagnostics & Medical Devices

Reetuparna Das
University of Michigan
Startup: Sequal
Technology: Ultra-rapid molecular diagnosis of cancer
>> bio

Melanie Joy
University of Colorado
Startup: Katharos, Inc.
Technology: Extracorporeal device for optimizing phosphate control in hemodialysis
>> bio

Sunyoung Kim
Louisiana State University School of Medicine & Health Sciences Center
Startup: Chosen Diagnostics Inc.
Technology: Biomarker panel to improve necrotizing enterocolitis diagnosis
>> bio

Kacey Marra
University of Pittsburgh
Startup: AxoMax Technologies, Inc.
Technology: Biodegradable nerve guide
>> bio

Sarah Vigmostad
The University of Iowa
Startup: SynderBio, Inc.
Technology: Novel, high-throughput cell separation techniques for single cell sequencing and cancer diagnosis
>> bio

Pamela Woodard
Washington University in St. Louis
Startup: GwynTech
Technology: Imaging agent designed to identify atherosclerotic plaque that can rupture and cause heart attack or stroke
>> bio

Pitch competition & people’s choice awards sneak peek

Artists at Third Degree Glass Factory in St. Louis, Missouri designed custom awards for pitch competition overall winners and people’s choice awards in each category. Awards will be mailed to winners following announcements on Thursday, June 25, 2020.

Third Degree Glass Factory was co-founded by Jim McKelvey, a Washington University in St. Louis alumnus and entrepreneur.  >> learn more

Photos courtesy of Third Degree Glass Factory


Q&A with Victoria Friedman, Dennemeyer & Associates

Dennemeyer is a proud sponsor of Equalize 2020. Read more about their commitment to women innovators via their IP Blog, Dennemeyer Insights.

Answers provided by Victoria Friedman (pictured)
Managing Partner, Dennemeyer & Associates

Q: What is your advice for a woman researcher who does not see herself as an inventor?

A: Give yourself the permission to take credit where credit is due. Women sometimes feel that it is selfish or egotistical to take credit. But in science, it is imperative to own your discoveries in order to promote the growth and development of your field. Research scientists in general, male or female, should not shy away from recognition and take it as part of the process.

Q: In your opinion, why are so few women inventors named on patents?

A: Historically, patentable inventions have mostly come from R&D and university initiatives. The named inventors would primarily be teams, not sole inventors. In the past, such teams were comprised primarily of males. However, in the last two decades, as female presence in patentable arts has increased, we have seen much more gender diversity on inventor teams. Consequently, when diverse teams invent, the pool of named inventors also grows more diverse and more women are named on patents. There is definite and steady improvement in this area.

Q: How can we further tap into the innovative contributions women make in society?

A: In recent years, many companies have stepped up in a big way by allowing more employees to work from home. This is especially instrumental to keeping women engaged with, and committed to an organization. When organizations make it a priority to make accommodations for a woman’s changing life and circumstances, the retention rates grow and, inevitably, employees give back much more. When employees are happy and feel valued, innovation flourishes.

Q: How does Dennemeyer support women in IP?

A: Dennemeyer is committed to diversity, in all its facets and particularly, in diversity of thought, views and cultures. Dennemeyer is one of a handful of leading global law firms that employs a female managing partner/director in its us law firm operations. I was hired as managing partner and promoted to director of us operations because I was the best candidate for the role. And my unique management style has resulted in tremendous growth for the firm.

Thank you sponsors

Equalize 2020 logo with “Proud Sponsor” badge

A sincere thank you to our dedicated sponsors who continued to support Equalize 2020 despite the cancellation of our symposium and pitch event in St. Louis, Mo.

Presenting Sponsor

Millipore Sigma logo

Additional Sponsors

Polsinelli logo Dennemeyer logo Armstrong Teasdale logo Washington University in St. Louis logo Future Forward logo

‘Proud Sponsor’ Graphics


Equalize will move to virtual platform

Equalize 2020 logo

Due to travel limitations and social distancing requirements of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, Equalize will move to a virtual platform.

  • Keynote speech by Elizabeth Dougherty, USPTO, will kick off Equalize 2020 pitch competition.
  • Twelve women will pitch, 10 minutes each
  • Welcome reception, symposium and awards dinner are all cancelled.
  • Please register to receive Zoom log in. Pitch times will be posted soon, but we expect the event to begin around noon CST.

Registration Deadline & Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Update

Equalize 2020 logo

Friday, May 22 is the registration deadline to attend the Equalize 2020 morning symposium, afternoon pitch competition and awards dinner.

At this time (Monday, March 9), we are not cancelling Equalize 2020. We are, however, working on contingency plans. We realize it is hard to plan travel due to Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). However, Equalize 2020 registration is open.

Equalize 2020 Visiting Entrepreneurs Announced

Equalize 2020 logo

In fall 2019, 12 pitch finalists were selected from 57 applicants. Seven applicants who were not chosen to pitch will attend Equalize 2020 as Equalize Visiting Entrepreneurs.

These seven women will attend the symposium and pitch competition, private kick-off gathering and unique networking opportunities throughout the event. Registration fees have been waived for these entrepreneurs.

Equalize 2020 Visiting Entrepreneurs

Susann Brady-Kalnay*
Case Western Reserve University

Olga Lubman
Washington University in St. Louis

Debashree Mukherjea
Southern Illinois University

Karen Norris
University of Georgia

Mary Pilotte
Purdue University

Mary Ruppert-Stroescu
Washington University in St. Louis

Geeta Verma
University of Colorado Denver

*Samatha Oblander will attend as the Case Western Reserve University representative.