The Mahoney Life Sciences Prize is an annual competition for CNS scientists engaged in high-impact life sciences research.

Made possible through the generosity of the Mahoney family, the prize recognizes UMass Amherst scientists whose work has the potential for advancing connections between research and industry. The Prize includes an award of $10,000 and is awarded annually to one faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in life sciences research, and whose work significantly advances connections between academic research and industry. Apply here! 

Mahoney Prize 2021 Recipient

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Margaret A. Riley

Professor, Biology Department

Roy, S.M. and Riley, M.A. (2019). Evaluation of the Potential of Colicins to Prevent Extraluminal Contamination of Urinary Catheters by Escherichia Coli. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, (54)5, 619-625.


Margaret Riley

The feasibility of using colicins to create an antimicrobial lubricant to prevent extraluminal catheter contamination during urinary catheter insertion was assessed. Levels of resistance of uropathogenic Escherichia coli to antibiotics and colicins were compared. The results showed that antibiotics and colicins possess similar frequencies of resistance to a single drug, whereas colicins exhibit significantly lower levels of multidrug resistance (22%) than antibiotics (42%). Colicins and antibiotics showed complementary inhibitory activity, with each targeting different subsets of pathogenic isolates. The collateral impact of these two antimicrobials on genera that are members of the fecal/vaginal/urinary microbiome was assessed, with colicins showing significantly less collateral damage than antibiotics. Using a novel colicin, SR4, minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) for a panel of 30 uropathogenic isolates were determined and showed that SR4 achieved the same antimicrobial efficacy as gentamicin using 20-30% less drug. An SR4-impregnated catheter lubricant was created and its ability to prevent extraluminal urinary catheter contamination in vitro was demonstrated. These data indicate that a colicin-impregnated lubricant may provide a viable prophylactic option for preventing catheter-associated urinary tract infections.

Read more about Margaret A. Riley.

2021 Industry Judges

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Stefan K. Baier

Head for Food Science, Motif FoodWorks

Stefan K. Baier is the Head for Food Science at Motif FoodWorks based in Boston, Mass., and an Adjunct Associate Professor with the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Baier received a degree in Food Engineering (Dipl.-Ing.) from the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Universität in Bonn, Germany, and a PhD in Food Colloids and Biopolymers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, under Professor Julian McClements. Prior to joining Motif FoodWorks, Dr. Baier served as an Associate Fellow with PepsiCo and was a Senior Scientist at Global Food Research with Cargill, Inc. Dr. Baier’s research interests are in the area of food oral processing with an emphasis on rheology and tribology. He and his research team leverage soft matter and colloidal physics coupled with engineering principles to develop rational design criteria for the next generation low-fat, sodium and sugar foods and beverages based on insights from food oral processing.  Dr. Baier sits on the editorial board for the Journal of Texture Studies and BioTribology. He is a Fellow at the Royal Society of Chemistry. He initiated PepsiCo’s participation in the EIT-Food, a major EU initiative for innovation in the food industry and has several industrial grants across the globe, including an ARC Linkage and AiF grant to develop food oral processing as a scientific discipline. Dr. Baier is the recipient of the 2015 Uniquest Partners in Research Excellence Awards. He has several key impact publications and has given several keynote presentations on the role of rheology and tribology in oral processing, e.g., more recently at Neutrons & Foods, International Conference on BioTribology (ICoBT) and the FDA/PQRI conference.

Leslie Dierauf, ’70 BS

Director, Retired, U.S. Geological Survey’s Pacific Northwest

Leslie Dierauf was the first woman to apply to, and get accepted into, veterinary school (University of PA) from the University of Massachusetts back in 1969. She is a 1970 graduate of UMass Amherst (Microbiology and English), and a retired wildlife veterinarian and conservation biologist, who worked with the federal government for more than 20 years. Prior to retiring in 2011, Dierauf was the U.S. Geological Survey’s Pacific Northwest director, overseeing science research related to natural hazards, climate variability, water quality and quantity, geologic and geographic mapping, and biological resources in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. From 2004 to 2008, Dierauf served as director of the National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) in Madison, Wisconsin. Before that, she worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on its Endangered Species program for the Southwest. Dierauf also was a science advisor on Committee staff for the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., for over three years. In late 1998, she received the American Veterinary Medical Association’s National Animal Welfare Award. She also was a Congressional Science Fellow (American Association for the Advancement of Science) in 1990, and President of the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine in 1987. In 2018, Dierauf published a third edition of The CRC Handbook of Marine Mammal Medicine. Currently, Dierauf supports the SeaDoc Society as well as SeaLife Response, Rehabilitation and Research (SR3). She is a big supporter and follower of OneHealth initiatives around the world, too.

Richard J. Gregory, ’86 PhD

Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering

Richard Gregory received his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1986, followed by post-doctoral research in cancer genetics at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology in Shrewsbury, Mass. In 1989, he joined Genzyme Corporation, where he was responsible for discovery projects in the molecular biology department. In 1990, his group at Genzyme was the first to express the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) protein and to determine the molecular defect caused by the most common mutation of CFTR. From 1993 to 1995 he was Director of Molecular Biology at Canji, Inc. in San Diego, where he led research and development of therapeutics based upon tumor suppressor genes. Gregory returned to Genzyme in 1995 as Vice President for Gene Therapy. Efforts under his direction during this period included programs in cancer immunotherapy, gene therapies for genetic diseases, and cardiovascular gene therapy. In 2001, Gregory became Senior Vice President and Head of Research for Genzyme Corporation where he was responsible for early R&D, from discovery to development, in all therapeutic areas at Genzyme. In 2011, he was appointed Head of the Sanofi Genzyme R&D Center, overseeing R&D in rare diseases, multiple sclerosis, immune disorders, and tissue protection/regenerative medicine. In January of 2015, Gregory joined ImmunoGen, where he was responsible for research leading to new antibody-based therapeutics to address the unmet needs of patients with cancer. Since September of 2019 Gregoryd has been an independent consultant. He is the co-author of over 60 peer-reviewed publications and 23 issued U.S. patents in the area of biotechnology. Gregory is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering

Dennis Guberski

Founder, Biomere & Mucosal Vaccine Technologies LLC

Mr. Dennis Guberski, a geneticist trained at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, spent more than 20 years (1977-1997) at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center both as a researcher and an administrator in the Department of Pathology. During this time, he extensively studied the etiology of Type 1 diabetes and developed several spontaneous animal models that are still in widespread use today. He was the first to report on the perturbation of autoimmune disease by a parvovirus, which caused disease impacting both the pancreas and thyroid. In 1996, he founded Biomere, a preclinical contract research organization that employed 125 FTEs when sold to Joinn Ltd. in December 2019. At Biomere, Mr. Guberski served as PI on numerous NIH grants and contracts, including the $4.9MM Type 1 diabetes Preclinical Testing Program in support of the government's Trial Net. His longstanding contribution to science includes key papers elucidating the pathogenesis of Type 1 diabetes, mapping susceptibility genes for Type 1 diabetes/rheumatoid arthritis, and developing novel models for environmental initiation of autoimmunity. He is currently the managing partner for Mucosal Vaccine Technologies LLC, a vaccine company working on a therapy for Genital Herpes HSV-2 that should be in clinical trials in Q4 2021.

David J. Mazzo, PhD, MS

President and Chief Executive Officer, Caladrius Biosciences

David J. Mazzo is the President and CEO of Caladrius Biosciences, Inc., a late-stage therapeutics development biopharmaceutical company pioneering advancements of cell therapies for select cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases. The company’s primary technology platform is based on the use of CD34+/CXCR4+ cells for ischemic repair in a variety of indications, including critical limb ischemia, coronary microvascular disfunction, and no-option refractory disabling angina (NORDA). Mazzo is a pharmaceutical executive and strategic leader with broad experience in both large and small companies gained from working in a variety of multicultural and multilingual environments in the USA, Canada, Europe, and Asia. He is recognized for his exceptional strategic, scientific and regulatory expertise, upon which he has amassed a track record of more than 35 years of successful global product development, registration, and launch. Mazzo earned his PhD in Analytical Chemistry as well as an MS in Chemistry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He also holds dual degrees [BS in Chemistry and BA in Honors (Interdisciplinary Humanities)] from Villanova University. He complemented his American education with a Research Fellowship at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.

Vic Myer

Entrepreneur in Residence, Atlas Venture

Vic Myer is president and CSO of Chroma Medicine. Previous to that he was the Chief Technology Officer at Editas Medicine and was responsible for delivering enabling technologies to bring genomic medicines to the clinic. Myer served as executive director and Cambridge site head for the developmental and molecular pathways department at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research Incorporated (NIBR), where he also served as a research investigator, led the high-throughput biology team, and oversaw the target discovery technologies platform. He was also a founding scientist and group leader at Akceli, Inc., a venture-backed systems-biology company, served as senior scientist for Millennium Pharmaceuticals, and held various roles at Corning, Inc. Myer received his BS in biology and biochemistry from Cornell University and his PhD in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University.

Chuck Sherwood, ’72 MS, ’77 PhD

Founder and Former CEO, Anika Therapeutics

Charles H. Sherwood was the Chief Executive Officer of Anika Therapeutics from 2002 to 2018. From 2002 through July 2017, he also held the title of President. Sherwood joined Anika in 1998 with extensive experience in research, engineering, manufacturing, quality assurance, regulatory affairs, and business management. He first served at Anika in the position of Vice President of Research, Development, and Engineering. Prior to joining Anika, he was a senior director with Chiron Vision, responsible for medical product development and commercialization. From 1982 to 1995, Dr. Sherwood was with IOLAB Corporation, a division of Johnson & Johnson, where he led the Research and Product Development organization. Earlier, he held various technical and management positions with Hughes Aircraft Company and Lord Corporation. He was also on the faculty of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Sherwood holds a BS in chemical engineering from Cornell University, an MS and a PhD in polymer science and engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a certificate in management from Claremont Graduate School.

Diane Stengle, ’80 PhD

Associate Professor, Chemistry Dept, Holyoke Community College

Diane Stengle got her BS, MS, and PhD from UMass Amherst. She specialize in solid state 1H NMR applied to the orientation of polymer molecules in strained systems, including theoretical models of simple carbon chains such as polyethylene. Previously, she worked for Monsanto Co. as a research scientist in polyacrylate solutions for pressure-sensitive adhesives and coatings. Since 1994, she has been a professor of chemistry at Holyoke Community College in Massachusetts.

Monica Tan

Vice President of Product, Science Exchange

Monica Tan, VP of Product, Science Exchange (based in Palo Alto, Calif.) is a seasoned driver of transformative software user experience. As Director of User Experience Design at cybersecurity firms Anomali and AlienVault (acquired by AT&T in 2017), she analyzed human psychology and behavior and used her findings to optimize users’ digital journeys. In addition, she has worked and consulted with Intuit, Cisco, Citrix, Apple, and others. Currently, Monica applies her expertise to Science Exchange’s technology platform for life sciences R&D, helping researchers at major biopharma and biotechnology companies accelerate breakthrough discoveries. At UMass Amherst, Monica was trained in Biology (BS) and Psychology (minor).