Our People

Our People

Biomedical Innovation is a Team Sport

Our dynamic team of entrepreneurial scientists brings a wealth of expertise in academic translation, company creation, and drug development to drive innovation and shape the future of biotechnology.
Matt Tremblay

Matt Tremblay

Chief Executive Officer

Eddie Cherok

Eddie Cherok

Chief Business Officer

Aleks Baranczak

Aleks Baranczak

Chief Program Officer

Matthew Lawler

Matthew Lawler

Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Virginia Burger

Virginia Burger

Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Anthony Accorsi

Anthony Accorsi

Associate Venture Partner

Joyson Karakunnel

Joyson Karakunnel

Venture Partner

Jess Miciak

Jess Miciak

Associate Director, Strategy & Decision Support

Yixuan Qiu

Yixuan Qiu

Associate Director, Research Programs

Brittni Moore

Brittni Moore

Associate

Emily Wilkinson

Emily Wilkinson

Director, Finance & Operations

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Lyndsay Morton

Administrative Assistant

Blackbird Labs PhD Fellowship

Blackbird Labs is committed to helping the next generation of life sciences leaders engage in translational research and entrepreneurship.

Our Fellows work closely with internal and external partners to identify and nurture promising translational projects. Over the course of the program, Fellows expand their professional networks and develop expertise to perform detailed scientific and investment due diligence. We welcomed our first cohort of fellows – Brittni Moore, Esther Park, and Sarah Neshat – in 2023.

PhD students from the Baltimore area are encouraged to submit an interest form on our Careers page and, once announced, apply for our Fellows Program upon the 2024 application round opening.

Join Our Team of Multidisciplinary Experts

Matt Tremblay

Matt Tremblay, PhD

Chief Executive Officer

Matt Tremblay, PhD, is the Chief Executive Officer of Blackbird Laboratories, a nonprofit technology development platform, and Managing Director of Wolf Point, an early stage biotech investment fund. Blackbird and Wolf Point aim to catalyze the creation of new medicines and enabling technologies in Baltimore.

Prior to joining Blackbird, Tremblay was Chief Operating Officer of Scripps Research and its drug discovery division, Calibr. He earned his PhD in Chemistry at Columbia University. Following postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Peter Schultz, PhD, at Scripps Research, he led a group at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation until helping to launch and run Calibr for 10 years.

Origins: Rural Massachusetts

Interests: Megalithic structures

Family: Boy and boy/girl twins

Eddie Cherok

Eddie Cherok

Chief Business Officer

Eddie Cherok, PhD, is the Chief Business Officer at Blackbird Laboratories, where he oversees business operations, investment strategy, and company formation.

Prior to joining Blackbird, Eddie was a founding team member and Head of Corporate Development at Shoreline Biosciences, a biotech company developing allogeneic cell therapies for the treatment of cancer. At Shoreline, Eddie helped raise over $180 million in venture financing and established research and development partnerships with Kite and BeiGene. Previously, Eddie was an Associate Director of Corporate Development at Scripps Research and Calibr, and a Venture Fellow and consultant at Flagship Pioneering. Eddie earned his PhD in Molecular Medicine from the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Interests: Spending time with family, running, and sci-fi novels

Favorite Travel Destinations: New Zealand (North and South Islands), Paris, and Maui

Accomplishment: Becoming a girl dad

Aleks Baranczak

Aleks Baranczak

Chief Program Officer

Aleks Baranczak, PhD, is the Chief Program Officer at Blackbird Laboratories, where she oversees research development, partnerships and program management.

Prior to joining Blackbird, Aleks was with Calibr, a drug discovery division of Scripps Research, where she oversaw a portfolio of preclinical programs and was responsible for the establishment and management of partnerships with biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Previously, Aleks worked as a scientist and group leader at AbbVie later joining the University of Chicago where she managed initiatives leading to the creation of multi-institutional research centers and institutes. Aleks earned her PhD in Chemistry at Vanderbilt University and conducted postdoctoral work in chemical biology in the laboratory of Prof. Jeff Kelly at the Scripps Research Institute.

Origins: Born and raised in Poland

Travel: Her best memories are of road trips through rural America

Interests: Nature conservation

Matthew Lawler

Matthew Lawler

Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Matt Lawler is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Blackbird Laboratories, where his mission is to create new ventures that turn exciting science into successful therapies.

Prior to joining Blackbird, Matt co-founded TriBiotica LLC, a company developing oncology therapies utilizing in situ activatable chemistry to target previously un-druggable tumor markers. Matt co-invented TriBiotica’s core technology and designed discovery and preclinical stage experimental programs. As President, he led the company's financing strategy, developed business operations, and structured the regulatory development path of lead assets. Previously, Matt was a preclinical development manager at CytoCure and Director of Molecular Biology Projects at ACGT, Inc. Matt earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Origins: Born and raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Hidden Talent: Being oddly good at whistling

Interests: Kayaking and cross-country skiing

Virginia Burger

Virginia Burger

Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Virginia Burger, PhD, is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Blackbird Laboratories, where she is building innovative biotechnology companies that accelerate solutions to patients.

Prior to joining Blackbird, Virginia founded New Equilibrium Biosciences, a company focused on discovering drugs targeting intrinsically disordered proteins through its computational-experimental platform. As CEO of New Equilibrium, she recruited and led a world-class team, raised venture capital and grant funding, drove strategy, and built the company’s initial AI-based algorithms for modeling protein dynamics. Previously, Virginia held roles in both business and algorithm development at XtalPi. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Computational Biophysics at MIT after earning her PhD in Computational Biology from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.

Origins: Branford, CT

Sport: Running, sailing, and trying new gym classes

Interests: Reading, needlepointing, cycling tours, walking around cities

Anthony Accorsi

Anthony Accorsi

Associate Venture Partner

Anthony Accorsi, PhD, is an Associate Venture Partner at Blackbird Laboratories, where he is responsible for opportunity identification, scientific development, and strategic execution of Blackbird projects towards NewCo formation.

Prior to joining Blackbird, Anthony worked as the Head of Muscle Biology at ReNAgade Therapeutics as well as Fulcrum Therapeutics where he held roles of increasing responsibility up to Director of preclinical discovery and translational biology in neuromuscular diseases. Anthony also consulted for Third Rock Ventures where he worked on scientific validation and NewCo build strategy across multiple therapeutic areas and modalities. Anthony earned his PhD in Human Physiology from Boston University.

Sport: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Accomplishments: Being part of the team to bring forward the first Phase 3 drug for people living with FSHD

Giving: Fundraising and running marathons for the Muscular Dystrophy Association

Joyson Karakunnel

Joyson Karakunnel

Venture Partner

Joyson Karakunnel, MD, MSc, MBA, FACP is a Venture Partner at Blackbird Laboratories, where he is responsible for identifying innovative technologies and developing those technologies into the foundations of Baltimore-based companies.

Prior to joining Blackbird, Joyson served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Innate Pharma (NSDQ: IPHA), overseeing clinical trials in oncology, hematology, inflammation, and infectious disease. Previously, Joyson was CMO at Tizona Therapeutics during the opt-in acquisition deal by Gilead, built the clinical organization for Arcus Biosciences (NYSE: RCUS) during the IPO, and held roles with increasing responsibility while leading clinical development of assets in multiple indications at MedImmune/AstraZeneca. Joyson completed his fellowship training in hematology and oncology at the National Cancer Institute and residency training at Overlook Hospital/UMDNJ where he was the Chief Resident. Joyson earned his MD from Annamalai University in India. He holds a MSc in Pharmacology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore and an MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. He was elected to be a Fellow in the American College of Physicians (FACP).

Favorite Travel Destinations: North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia

Family: Married almost 24 years with two young adult children

Bucket List: Travel to Antarctica

Jess Miciak

Jess Miciak

Associate Director, Strategy & Decision Support

Jess Miciak, PhD, is the Associate Director of Strategy & Decision Support at Blackbird Laboratories, where she leads investment due diligence and business strategy.

Prior to joining Blackbird, Jess was a Senior Analyst at Catalio Capital Management, where she led due diligence on private investment opportunities in immunology, oncology, and rare diseases. Previously, Jess worked as a Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures (JHTV) Commercialization Academy where she assisted in competitive intelligence and evaluation of faculty inventions. Jess earned her PhD in Cellular & Molecular Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Working in the laboratory of Dr. Fred Bunz, PhD, MD, her thesis research focused on developing novel mammalian and recombinant viral systems to probe pathways of human disease.

Origins: Byram, New Jersey

Talent: Cat and dog whisperer

Interests: Exploring Baltimore restaurants, traveling, hosting friends & family, and running

Yixuan Qiu

Yixuan Qiu

Associate Director, Research Programs

Yixuan Qiu, PhD, is the Associate Director of Research Programs at Blackbird Laboratories, where she supports early drug discovery research programs and external partnership relationships.

Prior to joining Blackbird, Yixuan was a Research Scientist at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of NIH (NCATS), where she managed collaborations between private companies, academic labs, and government institutes to develop novel non-addictive pain therapies. Previously, Yixuan held a similar role as a Senior Research Scientist at Reaction Biology Corporation where she supported SBIR-funded preclinical drug discovery projects. Yixuan earned her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Rutgers University studying lipid metabolism.

Origins: Born and raised on an island in the East China Sea

Talent: Bringing other cultural cuisines into her kitchen

Dream Job: Opening a pet café that also serves fusion-style lunch specials

Brittni Moore

Brittni Moore

Associate

Brittni Moore, PhD, is an Associate of Strategy & Decision Support at Blackbird Laboratories, where she supports investment due diligence and business strategy.

Prior to joining Blackbird, Brittni earned her PhD in Cellular and Molecular Physiology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Working in the laboratory of Dr. Jennifer Pluznick, PhD, her thesis research focused on understanding the role of gut microbiota in renal physiology to advance renal health interventions.

Origins: Born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Interests: Spending time with my nieces, exploring the Baltimore food scene, and being a cat mom

Dream Job: A full-time food and travel blogger

Emily Wilkinson

Emily Wilkinson

Director, Finance & Operations

Emily Wilkinson, MBA, is the Director of Finance and Operations at Blackbird Laboratories, where she oversees the finance and accounting functions and champions operational effectiveness.

Prior to joining Blackbird, Emily built and led the finance function of an education technology startup where she navigated the non-profit organization through significant growth. Previously, Emily directed the financial operation and strategy of the O’Neill Institute, a public health policy and research organization housed at Georgetown Law. Emily holds a certificate in Global Research Management, and earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology and her MBA from Virginia Tech.

Origins: A hay farm in Southwest Virginia

Dream Job: Underwater photographer

Interests: Outdoor enthusiast, novice triathlete, dessert connoisseur

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Lyndsay Morton

Administrative Assistant

Lyndsay is an Administrative Assistant at Blackbird Laboratories, where she supports the precise coordination of team schedules and travel, office management, and overall operational effectiveness.

Prior to joining Blackbird, Lyndsay held roles in administration and management throughout her undergraduate studies, where she also received a certification in Microsoft Office Suite. Most recently Lyndsay studied Operational Management at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom and earned her undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Towson University.

Origins: Baltimore, Maryland

Interests: Volleyball, gym classes and all things Maryland sports

Dream Job: Culinary tourist