WRF Staff

Meher Antia, Ph.D.

Director, Grant Programs

Meher Antia, Ph.D.

Director, Grant Programs

Dr. Meher Antia is responsible for WRF’s grant-making programs, which support innovation at nonprofit research institutions across Washington state. She leads the evaluation of all grant proposals received by WRF, along with the assessment and development of existing and new programs. In addition, she serves in an advisory role for WRF Capital’s startup investments.

Prior to joining WRF, Dr. Antia was the Assistant Director for the University of Washington’s Population Health Initiative, responsible for strategically engaging with partners to help implement the Initiative’s vision. Previously, she worked for the UW Institute of Translational Health Sciences, where she developed programs to accelerate early-stage biomedical research to the clinic. Dr. Antia spent several years at the Wellcome Trust in London, where she initially managed strategic research projects in structural biology and advanced microscopy. She subsequently moved to Wellcome’s Innovations department, where she gained experience in evaluating novel biomedical technologies for their potential to fulfil unmet medical needs, and was responsible for oversight of a portfolio of funded projects in medical devices and drug development. She also led two major medical engineering funding initiatives at Wellcome.

Dr. Antia holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in physics, and a Ph.D. in bioengineering. She has worked as a freelance science writer for The Economist, Science magazine and others.

Clarisse Benson

Manager, Student & Postdoctoral Programs

Clarisse Benson

Manager, Student & Postdoctoral Programs

Clarisse Benson is responsible for oversight of WRF’s student and postdoctoral funding programs and supports the Director of Grant Programs and the Internal Grants Team in areas of grants management, including documentation, review, decision-making, notification and tracking of outcomes.

Prior to joining WRF, Ms. Benson served as Finance and Operations Coordinator at ArtsFund. She holds a bachelor’s degree in music performance from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in music performance, as well as a certificate in advanced music studies from Carnegie Mellon University. Outside of WRF, Ms. Benson also manages the North Corner Chamber Orchestra, a nonprofit organization that presents immersive, collaborative and vibrant musical performances throughout the greater Seattle area.

Lisa Caldwell

Executive Assistant

Lisa Caldwell

Executive Assistant

William Canestaro, Ph.D.

Managing Director

William Canestaro, Ph.D.

Managing Director

Dr. Will Canestaro is a venture capitalist, health economist and meta-epidemiologist with a demonstrated history of working in the biotechnology industry. He manages the Foundation’s biotech and engineering VC investment portfolio. Through WRF, Dr. Canestaro has made 25 investments in 19 Washington-based companies.

Dr. Canestaro also teaches courses at the UW School of Business and School of Pharmacy on Health Innovation and Meta-Analytic methods, respectively.

Dr. Canestaro earned his doctorate from the University of Washington’s School of Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy Program. He received an M.Sc. in medical anthropology from Oxford University and an A.B. in medical sociology from Dartmouth College.

Jasmine Coleman

Administrative Assistant

Jasmine Coleman

Administrative Assistant

As Administrative Assistant at WRF, Jasmine Coleman assists the foundation’s managerial staff with scheduling and provides support across all of the organization’s programs. She is responsible for improving and maintaining administrative processes and helps with the planning of WRF events.

Prior to joining WRF in 2019, Ms. Coleman was an intern for the Washington Hospitality Association working on a wide variety of projects that included event planning, audio and video production, marketing and project management while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Evergreen State College.

In her spare time, Ms. Coleman enjoys working on creative projects and is currently studying Spanish.

Tom Daniel, Ph.D.

President & CEO

Tom Daniel, Ph.D.

President & CEO

Dr. Tom Daniel is trained in biology and engineering and has been working at the interface of these domains for the past 40 years. As WRF Chief Executive Officer, he leads all Foundation grantmaking and investment activities and works closely with the Board to advance its commitment to life sciences in Washington state.

Dr. Daniel has exceptional expertise in science and technology. At the University of Washington, he was on the Biology faculty for 38 years and held the Joan and Richard Komen Endowed Chair, as well as adjunct appointments in Computer Science and Engineering, Bioengineering and Mechanical Engineering. He was also the co-director of the Washington Research Foundation-supported UW Institute of Neuroengineering.

Throughout his academic career, Daniel published more than 100 research papers and conference abstracts. His research melded neuroscience, engineering, computing and biomechanics to understand the control and dynamics of movement in biology. He oversaw several federal grants, all focused on sensorimotor control of movement in living systems.

Dr. Daniel holds undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin and a Doctoral Degree in Biology from Duke, and completed postdoctoral training in engineering sciences at Caltech. He is a Fellow of the American Association of Science, a Guggenheim Fellow, a member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences, and was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship.

Dr. Daniel serves on the board of directors for Allen Institute, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, and is part of the NSF Federal Advisory Committee for the Directorate for Biological Sciences.

Kim Emmons

Manager, Research & Information Services

Kim Emmons

Manager, Research & Information Services

Kim Emmons is Manager of Research and Information Services at Washington Research Foundation/WRF Capital. Ms. Emmons joined the foundation in 1990 and has extensive experience evaluating the commercial potential of research innovations. She established WRF’s Research Services, which includes an online search service for WRF staff members and portfolio companies, WRF Venture Center tenants and nonprofit technology transfer organizations in Washington state.

Ms. Emmons has expertise in researching patents and trademarks, scientific literature, competitive intelligence, and trade and industry sources to support investment, grant-making and licensing decisions.

Ms. Emmons has a bachelor of science from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and a master’s of library and information science from the University of Washington.

E.J. Foust, DMA

Finance & Accounting Associate

E.J. Foust, DMA

Finance & Accounting Associate

E.J. Foust began working with the WRF team in 2021, assisting with the financial administration of WRF’s grant-making and investment programs. He brings a background in institutional accounting, arts administration and nonprofit fundraising.

Dr. Foust holds a bachelor’s in music composition and technology from the University of Montana, and a master’s in music composition from the University of Nevada, Reno. He earned his doctorate in music composition and theory at the University of Arizona.

Morgan Hellar

Chief Financial Officer

Morgan Hellar

Chief Financial Officer

As CFO, Morgan Hellar helps WRF to achieve its financial goals through budgeting, forecasting and overseeing its grant-making and investment activities.

Ms. Hellar joined WRF in 2004 to work on the Foundation’s patent portfolio, which included the Ben Hall technologies and others that have improved the health of more than a billion people worldwide and enabled WRF to earn over $445 million in licensing revenue for the University of Washington (UW). She later progressed through finance roles within WRF.

Ms. Hellar holds a bachelor’s in finance from the University of Washington.

Loretta Little

Managing Director

Loretta Little

Managing Director

Ms. Little focuses on investment opportunities in the life sciences such as medical devices, digital health and scientific instrumentation. Her portfolio includes consumer technology, software and advanced materials companies. Exits include AbSci (IPO 2021), C-SATS (acquired by J&J/Ethicon), Clarisonic (acquired by L’Oreal), Mirador Biomedical (acquired by Centurion Medical Products) and Amnis (acquired by EMD Millipore). She oversees WRF Capital’s investments in 2Morrow, AdaptX, Alpenglow Biosciences, Birch.ai, DirectAMS, MajorBoost, Medcurity, TransformativeMed, Watershed Therapeutics and Wavely Diagnostics.

Previously, Ms. Little served as senior technology licensing manager at Washington Research Foundation (WRF). Before joining WRF, she worked as a marketing manager for a biotechnology company and as a market consultant.

Ms. Little received an MBA from the University of Arizona and a B.A. in zoology from Pomona College. She currently serves as a board member of Alliance of Angels, Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington, Life Science Washington and Life Science Washington Institute.

Dale Wadman

Manager, Operations & Communications

Dale Wadman

Manager, Operations & Communications

Mr. Wadman manages operations at Washington Research Foundation, which includes subleasing offices in the 15,000-square-foot WRF Venture Center to startup companies and service providers.

Additionally, Mr. Wadman is responsible for WRF’s communications and marketing efforts. He is the principal writer and editor for the Foundation’s press releases and reports, and manages its website and social media. He is a member of the Northwest Science Writers Association and The Communications Network,  serving on the leadership team of ComNetworkSEATTLE.

Prior to joining WRF in 2005, Mr. Wadman was an accounting assistant and taught English to speakers of other languages in the U.K. He holds a bachelor’s in English and a master’s in education from The Open University, and has completed the University of Washington’s Certificate in Public Relations and Strategic Communications.

WRF Board of Directors

Jacqueline Brainard

Jacqueline Brainard

VP, Operations and Compliance Officer, First Choice Health

Jacqueline Brainard

Jacqueline Brainard

VP, Operations and Compliance Officer, First Choice Health

Ms. Brainard has over 30 years’ financial, legal, audit & compliance, and administrative experience as a leader in the reinsurance, managed care (HMO, PPO, & TPA) and insurance industries. Her responsibilities have included financial and compliance administrative oversight of reinsurance, premium, claims, management information systems, underwriting, medical management and provider relations. She possesses significant change leadership experience.

In 2010, Ms. Brainard joined First Choice Health, a Seattle-based Preferred Provider Organization and Third Party Administrator (TPA) for employer medical and dental coverage in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota. She held the position of Vice President, Re-Engineering at CNO Financial Group prior to joining First Choice and was the first female Senior Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer at BCS Financial Corporation.

Ms. Brainard serves on the Board of Trustees for Childhaven. In addition, she was founding board member of the Third Party Administration Association of America (TPAAA), an affiliate of the American Association of Payers, Administrators and Networks.

Ms. Brainard obtained a bachelor’s degree cum laude in accounting from Moorhead State University, an MBA with an insurance concentration from the University of Saint Thomas in St. Paul and a J.D. from the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul. She completed the University of Washington’s Executive Development Program.

Kevin Cable

Managing Director, Cascadia Capital

Kevin Cable

Managing Director, Cascadia Capital

Kevin Cable is co-founder and Managing Director of Cascadia Capital. He founded the firm’s efforts in Healthcare IT & Services drawing from a deep history in software, analytics, big data and consumer applications. He is also responsible for cultivating strategic relationships for the firm.

Mr. Cable focuses on a broad spectrum of transactions that include equity private placements, M&A mandates, recapitalizations and buyouts. Having built a career split equally between operating companies and investment banking, he brings a grounded and balanced perspective to help companies achieve their transaction goals. He maintains that “making payroll” is an experience everyone should achieve at least once in his or her life.

Prior to co-founding Cascadia, Mr. Cable served 14 years on the executive teams of several technology companies, including Numera Software, which he co-founded and led as CEO. He has served as a director of the Washington Software Alliance, the Washington State Technology Alliance, the Alliance of Angels, Innovate Washington Foundation and several private technology companies.

Mr. Cable holds a BS in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Washington. He lives in Spokane, Washington with his wife of 25 years and their two children.

Thomas Cable

Thomas Cable / Co-Founder

Private Investor

Thomas Cable

Thomas Cable / Co-Founder

Private Investor

Thomas Cable co-founded Washington Research Foundation in 1981 and served as chairman of the board of directors from 1981-2011. Through activities supporting the University of Washington, Mr. Cable has developed an intimate involvement with the research community in the Northwest. He has more than 25 years of venture experience. Twenty of those years have been spent as a resident of Seattle and deeply involved in the development of the Northwest venture industry.

Kent Carlson

Kent Carlson

Senior of Counsel, K&L Gates

Kent Carlson

Kent Carlson

Senior of Counsel, K&L Gates

Mr. Carlson’s practice is focused on corporate law. After more than three decades of focus on merger, acquisitions, joint venture, and financing work. Mr. Carlson’s current practice focuses on matters of corporate governance and complex strategic relationships. He serves as special counsel to boards and independent board committees, as counsel for private foundations, and as counsel for private profit and non-profit entities in public-private projects.

Mr. Carlson is active in the legal community in Washington and nationally. He is a member of the Committee on Corporate Laws of the American Bar Association’s Business Law section. He has served as the chairman of the Business Law Section of the Washington State Bar Association and long–term member of the Section Executive Committee. He is a founder, past chair, and long–term member of the Washington State Bar Association Corporate Act Revision Committee. He is also a life fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

Mr. Carlson is also active in the broader community. He is a member of the board of directors of the Washington Research Foundation and was chairman from 2011-20, is a member of the University of Washington Foundation Board, past president of the University of Washington Law School Foundation, past chairman and member of the board of trustees of Cornish College of the Arts, past chairman and current trustee of the Pilchuck Glass School and was a two-term member and vice chair of the Washington State Arts Commission.

Before joining K&L Gates, Mr. Carlson was an assistant professor of law at George Washington University Law School. He has regularly presented at continuing legal education programs for the Washington State Bar Association, the University of Washington Law School, the Seminar Group, Seattle University Law School and Donnelly “Financial SEC Hot Topics”.

Sue Coliton

Senior Consultant, Luma Consulting

Sue Coliton

Senior Consultant, Luma Consulting

Susan Coliton is a senior consultant with Seattle-based Luma Consulting, where she offers strategic counsel to philanthropists, foundations, and non-profits to help them deepen their impact in the communities they serve.

A focus of her practice is providing Interim CEO services to nonprofits experiencing leadership transitions. Ms. Coliton served as the Interim President and CEO of Washington Research Foundation/WRF Capital from 2021-22, in addition to her service on the WRF Board. Previous assignments include Interim President and CEO of the Santa Fe Community Foundation, and Interim President and CEO of ArtsFund.

Ms. Coliton spent 15 years as the head of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s philanthropic programs, where she oversaw regional, national, and international grant-making programs through the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. Through her work, she aligned donor vision with results; designed new initiatives in science, education, and the arts; and built non-profit capacity through research, workshops, and convenings.

Prior to joining the Allen Foundation, Ms. Coliton held management positions at several national philanthropic organizations. She directed the west coast office of the New York-based Nonprofit Finance Fund, designed corporate giving programs for Gap, Inc., and worked as a grantmaking specialist at the National Endowment for the Arts.

Ms. Coliton was a gubernatorial appointment on the Washington State Arts Commission where she served as chair, and is past-chair of the Philanthropy Northwest Board. She served on the board and the executive committee of Americans for the Arts, a national advocacy organization in Washington D.C. She is currently a board member of Outpost Productions, a New Mexico-based jazz presenter and Washington Research Foundation, where she served as Interim President and CEO from July 2021 to October 2022.

Ms. Coliton received a B.A. from Saint Mary’s College (Notre Dame, IN) and an M.L.A. from Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD). She completed Stanford’s Executive Program for Philanthropy Leaders and the Executive Seminar at the Aspen Institute. She resides and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Seattle, WA.

Carol Dahl, Ph.D.

Strategic Executive Leader and Board Member

Carol Dahl, Ph.D.

Strategic Executive Leader and Board Member

Carol Dahl has over three decades of experience cultivating science and technology-based discovery and innovation, innovation ecosystems, and innovation talent in support of addressing critical challenges such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—that address health, poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice—fostering economic growth, and creating high quality jobs. Carol currently chairs the Program Advisory Council of Grand Challenges Canada and the Nomination Evaluation Committee for the US National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and she serves on the boards of VertueLab, the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and WiSys.

As the Executive Director of The Lemelson Foundation from 2011 to 2021, Carol led the Foundation’s work to use the power of invention to improve lives, by cultivating inclusive programs and systems to inspire and educate the next generation of inventors and innovators to solve crucial challenges and thrive in the innovation economy, and providing inclusive support for inventors and entrepreneurs to create value from their ideas in the form of products and businesses. While there, she paved the way for the launch of the Invention Education and Engineering for One Planet movements, with large and growing communities of researchers and scientists focused on innovation talent for a sustainable future.

Prior to joining The Lemelson Foundation, Carol served as founding Director of the Global Health Discovery Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and led development of the Grand Challenges in Global Health and Grand Challenges Explorations programs, innovation programs which have been replicated in countries around the world.

Previously, Carol worked at the NIH National Cancer Institute, at the National Center for Human Genome Research, at a start-up diagnostics company, and was on the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh. Additionally, she has advised and supported programs across US government agencies including the Department of Commerce (Advanced Technology Program and USPTO), USAID, DARPA, NASA, NIH, and the Department of Energy. Carol received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin, and postdoctoral training at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and the Immunobiology Research Center at the University of Minnesota.

Brooks Simpson / Chair

President, Pacific Rim Medical Systems

Brooks Simpson / Chair

President, Pacific Rim Medical Systems

Mr. Simpson has over 40 years of experience in medical sales and marketing. He retired from Physio-Control after 20 years of service including senior management positions as Vice President of World Wide Marketing, International, and North American Sales.

During his tenure at Physio-Control he was involved with the divestiture from Eli Lilly, sale to Bain Capital, IPO and acquisition by Medtronic. In 1999, Mr. Simpson founded Pacific Rim Medical Systems, a distributor of cardiovascular devices. He is a limited partner in Bain Capital and was on the Board of Physio-Control from 2011-2016. Mr. Simpson is also chairman of the R. Hunter Simpson Foundation. He is a director on the University of Washington Foundation Board, in addition to being an external advisory board member for the UW Department of Global Health, Department of Bioengineering and co-chair of the School of Nursing. Other board roles include the Physio Foundation, Resuscitation Academy, and he is president of the Medic One Foundation.

Desney Tan, Ph.D.

Corporate VP and Managing Director, Microsoft Research Redmond

Desney Tan, Ph.D.

Corporate VP and Managing Director, Microsoft Research Redmond

Desney Tan is a seasoned executive who has built and run multidisciplinary global innovation teams – leveraging expertise in hardware and devices, software development, applied machine learning and artificial intelligence, and human-computer interaction to make impact in areas such as autonomous navigation, entertainment and consumer products, as well as health and life sciences.

Desney is currently Corporate Vice President and Managing Director of the core Microsoft Research Lab in Redmond, Washington. He was previously Vice President and Managing Director for Health and Life Science R&D at Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), where he’s worked in various leading research roles since 2004. Beyond Microsoft, Desney holds an affiliate faculty appointment in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington, is senior advisor and chief technologist for Seattle-based life science incubator IntuitiveX, serves on the Board of Directors for ResMed (NYSE: RMD, ASX: RMD), advises multiple startup companies (e.g. Proprio Vision, Immortal Studios), and is an active startup and real estate investor.

Desney received a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from the University of Notre Dame in 1996, after which he spent a couple of years in the Singapore Armed Forces. He later returned to Carnegie Mellon University, where he worked with Randy Pausch and earned his PhD in Computer Science in 2004.

Desney is an author on over 100 scientific papers and the named inventor on more than 100 granted patents. He was honored as one of MIT Technology Review’s 2007 Young Innovators Under 35 for his work on brain-computer interfaces and a 2012-2014 Kavli Fellow by the US National Academy of Sciences. He was named one of SciFi Channel’s Young Visionaries at TED 2009, as well as Forbes’ Revolutionaries: Radical Thinkers and their World-Changing Ideas for his work on Whole Body Computing.