Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has named Yael Schwartz, PhD, an entrepreneur and life science executive, as the university's Coleman Entrepreneur-in-Residence. For the 2016–17 academic year, Schwartz will lend her 25 years of experience—which includes the creation of three companies—to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty members, and alumni to identify early-stage startups, guide them through the business plan process, and help accelerate company growth.
"Yael Schwartz's knowledge and skills will be an exceptional asset for our community," said Michael Ginzberg, dean of WPI’s Foisie School of Business. "The access to advice and ideas from a highly successful business founder adds a new dimension to the growing number of entrepreneurial activities at the school."
The entrepreneur-in-residence position is supported by the Coleman Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes awareness of self-employment through education programs that help create a new generation of business owners. The foundation has been helping WPI expand its focus on entrepreneurship education since 2010. This is the foundation’s first year of funding the entrepreneur-in-residence program, which began in 2014.
"Dr. Schwartz's extensive background in science, engineering, and business is a perfect fit for what we are trying to do at WPI," said Frank Hoy, director of the Collaborative for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Foisie School.
Schwartz is currently founder and CEO of Or-Genix Therapeutics, a company developing non-prescription topical products for aging skin and hair for women over 40 years of age. She has also worked on teams at Sepracor (now Sunovion) that developed Lunesta® for the treatment of insomnia, Brovana® for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease management, and Xopenex® for the treatment of bronchoconstriction in asthma. She founded two companies, Hygeia Therapeutics and Canterbury Laboratories, that were focused on women’s health and dermatology. Both were acquired and taken public by RestorGenex (RESX). At RestorGenex, she was on the board of directors and served as executive vice president of preclinical development.
"I'm very honored and excited to be part of the great culture and academic community at WPI. There is tremendous talent and innovation on campus," said Schwartz. "I look forward to working with entrepreneurs and sharing my experiences to accelerate new ventures."
Schwartz holds a bachelor's degree from Salem State University, a master's degree in pharmacology/toxicology from Northeastern University, and a PhD in human endocrine physiology from a joint program offered by WPI's Department of Biology and Biotechnology and the University of Massachusetts Medical School's Department of Physiology.
In addition to leading her own company, Schwartz serves on the board of trustees of Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives (MBI), is a co-founder of NEWISE (New England Women in Science Executives Club), and is an honorary member of Phi Lambda Sigma, the pharmacy leadership society, for her teaching and mentorship activities at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Last year she received the Boston Business Journal Biotech Innovation All-Star Award. In 2014 she was nominated by the Town of Holden's fire chief for the Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery for successfully rescuing and performing CPR on two children who nearly died in a backyard pool accident.
Schwartz's appointment as WPI's Coleman Entrepreneur-in-Residence will begin in August 2016.