Meet the Team from JLABS @ Washington, DC


JLABS @ Washington, DC is working diligently to open its doors to entrepreneurs, early stage companies, and the life sciences community (virtual or otherwise) early next year. Today, we’re happy to share that the D.C.-based team is complete.

What do backgrounds in serving at the former Walter Reed campus in the U.S. Army, entrepreneurship in neuroscience, special events with Live Nation, digital strategy for PlayStation, SaaS for startups, and non-profit partnerships have in common? A passion for unlocking the brightest futures for entrepreneurs and a relentless drive to connect the dots for the DMV innovation ecosystem. Our team is a diverse group of talented leaders.

It’s time to get to know them! Read on to learn more about their roles and experiences, their passion for collaborating with and supporting entrepreneurs, and what they’re excited about. Please connect with the team directly to introduce yourself or with interest to collaborate on upcoming opportunities.

- Sally Allain, MSc., MBA, Regional Head of JLABS @ Washington, DC
Johnson & Johnson Innovation

Michael Nestor, Scientific Engagement Lead [email protected]

Michael Nestor
  • Neuroscientist, PhD
  • Human stem cell research and patient care experience
  • Portfolio management, sourcing and evaluating innovative companies

Role: Michael is responsible for external engagement with regional academic research institutions, start-ups and investment partners and portfolio management. He will also collaborate with Johnson & Johnson Innovation colleagues in sourcing and evaluating innovative companies with the aim tofoster a productive life science ecosystem.

Experience: Michael is trained as a neuroscientist (PhD, The University of Maryland, School of Medicine) with a research background in single-cell electrophysiology, advanced imaging and molecular genetics. His initial research was in animal models and geared toward understanding basic cellular mechanisms behind epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease. He eventually specialized in human stem cell neurophysiology, high-throughput drug screening, next generation sequencing and human 3D brain organoid modeling of autism—all of which were the focus of his own independent lab.

From Michael: “Because of my work on human stem cells in the areas of Alzheimer’s Parkinson’s and autism, I have met directly with affected individuals and their families. It is their stories, and their passion and energy toward advocating for their loved ones that keep me working hard. I do my job everyday with these people in my mind and am thankful for their optimism and hope for the future.”

Malena Ruiz, Senior Operations Manager [email protected]

Malena Ruiz
  • U.S. Army veteran
  • Laboratory design
  • Site readiness

Role: As Senior Operations Manager, Malena is responsible for leading all aspects of the JLABS facilities and overall site management including accountability for regulatory compliance, security, budget development and management, customer relationship management and administration. She provides companies with support focused on JLABS excellence in the service delivery model and customer relationship management. Malena enables efficient operational workflows to ensure compliance related to Environmental Health and Safety and Standard Operating Procedures. In addition, she is responsible for managing relationships with suppliers that assist with daily operations.

Experience: Malena served 10 years in the U.S. Army at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) in Washington, D.C. where she was introduced to laboratory design. For the last 20+ years, Malena has assisted start-ups and a variety of companies to successfully design and implement their laboratory/facilities infrastructure.

From Malena: “I feel continuity is clearly the advantage to being located here in Washington, D.C. Since my days at WRAIR, government scientists have always fostered strong collaborations within NIH, FDA, Department of Public Health, BARDA and Fort Derrick, along with several hospitals, universities, and biotech’s. Johnson & Johnson Innovation - JLABS is now in this neighborhood to help these organizations continue to work with the goal to improve health care.”

Ruhee Subedar, Innovation Activation Manager [email protected]

Ruhee Subedar
  • Tech start-ups and digital agencies
  • PlayStation, DC Comics and eBay brand experience
  • Marketing, communications and community engagement

Role: Ruhee leads the JLABS marketing and program strategy for the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area through community engagement, event planning and fostering the local entrepreneur ecosystem via internal and external communications.

Experience: A San Francisco Bay Area native, Ruhee has a background in tech start-ups and digital agencies. Most recently, she managed digital marketing at LifeClients, a financial wellness start-up in Rosslyn. Prior to that, she was at peer-to-peer car sharing platform Turo where she was the first digital hire on the marketing team. Ruhee also spent time at a digital agency in San Francisco partnering with clients including PlayStation, eBay and DC Comics. Ruhee has a vast understanding of online influencers and digital content.

From Ruhee: “What drew me to the role is the opportunity to work for a company that is mission-driven in all that they do. Health is fundamental to our existence. It’s something that drives us on a day-to-day basis, and the lack of it can stop us in our tracks. We have one life and one body and increasing access to care by developing potential solutions for individuals and communities where there are unmet medical needs is a noble pursuit.”

Jennifer Sague, Business Operations Senior Lead [email protected]

Jennifer Sague
  • Startups and operations experience
  • Financial systems
  • Productivity of residents

Role: In her position, Jenn is responsible for managing day-to-day business operations for JLABS @ Washington, DC and helping ensure productivity of all resident companies at the site. She provides guidance for onboarding licensee companies, plays a key part in management of financial systems and processes, helps ensure compliance on behalf of JLABS, and identifies and implements efficiencies in internal processes, management reporting, communications strategy and organizational planning.

Experience: Jenn has a background working with startups and most recently helped clients improve business workflow utilizing SaaS (Software as a Service). She also previously spent time working in operations for a European grocery store chain, where she oversaw recruitment and training of staff, achievement of productivity, inventory, loss and other expenses within the divisional budget.

From Jennifer: “Washington, D.C. is our national’s capital and home to many hard working people. This is what drew me to move back to D.C.! I missed that everyday hustle and bustle (and, oddly enough, the sound of the Metro). D.C. has it all: politics, science, tech, health, history–you name it. People come and stay here not only because of its beauty (to me, it’s the most beautiful city in the world), but because it is a hub of technology and policy, filled with diversity and culture.”

Mikyla Tuggle, Innovation Activation Specialist [email protected]

Mikyla Tuggle
  • Live Nation Entertainment vet
  • Event activation specialist
  • Community engagement and communications

Role: In her role, Mikyla supports and builds the Johnson & Johnson Innovation - JLABS brand in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area through innovation community engagement, creating programs that aim to foster the local entrepreneur ecosystem and though internal and external communications.

Experience: Mikyla comes to JLABS from Live Nation Entertainment, with experience at The Fillmore Silver Spring and The Warner Theater where she managed logistics for the special events department—and activated 60 events per year. She is also a stellar employee relations expert, having established a successful internship program with a 40 percent conversion rate while at Live Nation. Mikyla is a graduate of Howard University.

From Mikyla: “What excites me most about being a part of the JLABS @ Washington, DC team is the opportunity to play a role in helping innovators achieve their dreams. My favorite quote is from Walt Disney: ‘All of our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.’ I try to live by these words every day—it’s even written on the back of my JLABS business card! And, in a way, I believe it guides the core purpose of JLABS.”

Rachel Rath, Director, BARDA Alliance [email protected]

Rachel Rath
  • Patient-centered outcomes
  • Global health policy
  • Management of JLABS-BARDA partnership

Role: Based out of JLABS @ Washington, DC, Rachel supports JLABS globally and is responsible for BLUE NIGHT™, a Johnson & Johnson Innovation collaboration with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). BARDA is focused on emerging technologies and the advancement of medical countermeasures aimed at securing our nation from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats, as well as from pandemic influenza (PI) and emerging infectious diseases (EID).

Experience: Prior to joining JLABS, Rachel was Chief of Staff for the National Evaluation of the Medical Device Innovation Consortium (MDIC). Rachel helped lead the development of NESTcc and managed strategy and operations. Before her work at MDIC, Rachel was based at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), helping to launch the Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet), a national effort to engage patients and leverage electronic health data to improve the speed and efficiency of clinical research in the United States.

From Rachel: “I believe public-private partnerships can be a critical catalyst in the innovation ecosystem. Resources are limited—we can only have so many priorities, we only have so much time, and dollars can only stretch so far. By bringing together private industry, entrepreneurs and government, we aim to push further, move faster, and ultimately become more adept at advancing novel science and technologies that can lead to treatments and interventions that are better designed and potentially more effective.”

Also give a warm welcome to our Public Affairs Liaison from Children’s National!

Shamia Holloway, Public Affairs Liaison [email protected]

Shamia Holloway
  • Broadcast and print public relations
  • For-profit and non-profit experience
  • Engagement with key stakeholders

Role: Shamia supports the JLABS @ Washington, DC work at the Children’s National Innovation Campus (under our operating agreement) and within the D.C. region. She is a Children’s National employee supporting site activities. Her expertise helps drive and strategize our engagement with, and the CN Research & Innovation campus groups. Shamia will be hands-on in executing VIP visits and agendas with the team at D.C.

Experience: Shamia has extensive experience in public relations and communications, within broadcast and print, and across for-profit and non-profit roles. She holds a Masters in Strategic Public Relations from the University of Southern California.

From Shamia: “I keep a close watch on healthcare and innovation in the Washington, D.C. metro area and the global industry. This region has a robust community of collaborators and innovators, and it’s exciting to help shape the life science ecosystem in the DMV.”