Faculty & Staff Representatives

Alice Li, PhD

Executive Director of the Center for Technology Licensing (CTL) 

Alice Li is the Executive Director of Center for Technology Licensing at Cornell University (CTL), the university’s technology transfer office. She oversees activities in technology management, licensing, marketing and finance to support Cornell’s goals in commercializing technologies, promoting startups, and building partnerships. Alice also leads the university gap funding series to accelerate innovation and new venture creation.

Alice has over 20 years of experience in university tech transfer and business development. She started as a licensing officer with hands-on management of invention portfolios, negotiations of complex deals, and engagement with startup companies. She rose through the ranks of CTL and became the Executive Director in 2014. Prior to joining CTL in 2002, Alice was an R&D manager at BioArray Solutions, a startup biotech company in diagnostics that was later acquired by Immucor. During her five-year tenure there, the company grew from a two-person startup to an enterprise of fifty people.

Alice obtained her Ph.D. from Cornell University and a B.S. from Tsinghua University. She is also an inventor, patent holder, and author of research papers in scientific journals. She has been a Certified Licensing Professional since 2010. Alice is a Board Director of AUTM.

Lisa Placanica, PhD

Senior Managing Director, CTL@WCM 

Lisa PlacanicaDr. Placanica is Senior Managing Director, Center for Technology Licensing at WCM. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing WCM’s activities in technology management, marketing, licensing, and outreach to support Cornell’s goals in commercializing technologies, promoting start-ups, and building partnerships.

Prior to joining WCM in 2020, Dr. Placanica held the position of Managing Director, Business Development and Licensing at Mount Sinai Innovation Partners. In this role, she was responsible for managing a team of business development professionals focused on identifying, advancing, and partnering therapeutic technologies developed at the Mount Sinai Health System and acted as deal team lead for closing complex intellectual property transactions. Dr. Placanica also was a Licensing Manager in the Office of Technology Development at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center where she focused on development and commercialization of cell and gene therapy related inventions and previously was a key member of the Cell Biology research group at Athersys, Inc in Cleveland, Ohio.

Dr. Placanica received her Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Weill Cornell Medical College where she studied the biochemical composition of gamma secretase and its role in Alzheimer’s Disease in the laboratory of Dr. Yueming Li at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She holds a B.A. in Biology from Cornell University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with Distinction.

In 2013, Dr. Placanica became a Certified Licensing Professional.

John Leonard, MD

Senior Associate Dean for Innovation and Initiatives at Weill Cornell Medicine

Dr. Leonard is the Richard T. Silver Distinguished Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology and Senior Associate Dean for Innovation and Initiatives at Weill Cornell Medicine. He is Executive Vice Chairman of the Weill Department of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where he also serves as Attending Physician.

An expert in hematology and oncology, Dr. Leonard’s research has been published in numerous medical journals, and he has served as a member of the editorial boards ofBloodand theJournal of Clinical Oncology,leading international journals in these fields.

Dr. Leonard performed his undergraduate work at Johns Hopkins University and received his medical degree at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville, VA. He completed his residency in medicine at the New York Hospital – Cornell Medical Center and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, NY. He completed a fellowship in hematology and oncology at Cornell and served as the chief medical resident at the New York Hospital – Cornell Medical Center.

Zachary Shulman, JD

Director of Entrepreneurship at Cornell; Managing Partner, Cayuga Venture Fund

Zach Shulman teaches courses on venture capital and law for high-growth businesses. Shulman is also currently a managing partner at Cayuga Venture Fund, a venture capital firm located in Ithaca, New York. 

Before coming to Johnson in 2002, Shulman served as general counsel and chief investor relations officer of Spike Broadband Systems, where he was responsible for general oversight of Spike’s legal function, including negotiating and closing strategic and business relationships; strategizing, negotiating and closing fund-raising efforts; investor relations; and various human resource matters. While at Spike, Shulman negotiated and closed more than $80 million in venture capital financing.

Shulman participates in the university-wide Entrepreneurship@Cornell (E@C) initiative and serves on numerous advisory boards for groups affiliated with Cornell and the local community. He earned a bachelor of science from the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations and graduated from Cornell University Law School, magna cum laude.

David Putnam, PhD

Professor, Biomedical Engineering/ Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, College of Engineering

David Putnam joined the College of Engineering at Cornell University in 2002. Prior to joining the engineering faculty, he was an NIH postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT in the laboratory of Professor Robert Langer. From 2000 until 2002, he held a joint appointment with MIT and as a Scientific co-Founder of a start-up company, TransForm Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in March, 2005. In 2008-2009 he was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at PureTech Ventrures in Boston, MA where he focused on emerging technologies in the field of drug delivery. He is currently a member of seven Editorial Advisory Boards including Pharmaceutical Research, Journal of Controlled Release, Analytical Biochemistry and Experimental Biology and Medicine. His funding sources include NIH, NSF, the Coulter Foundation and the Department of Defense. He is a Fellow of AIMBE (reserved for the top 2% of Biomedical Engineers in the United States) and the Coulter Foundation. He received his B.S. in Pharmacy from Union University and his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Utah.

Bettina Wagner, DVM

Professor, Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine

Faculty memberBettina Wagner joined the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University in 2004. Wagner lab focuses on research in equine immunology, focusing on immune responses and protective mechanisms in neonates and young foals. The disease models include intracellular pathogens, such as Equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1), and allergic diseases especially Culicoides induced skin hypersensitivity. Major pathways that are investigated by my group are adaptive T-cell immunity, antibody isotype responses and cytokine regulation pathways. Another major goal is the development of new immune reagents for horses and advanced technologies in veterinary diagnostics, such as multiplex assays for infectious diseases, cytokines and immunoglobulin isotypes. Bettina received her DVM from school of Veterinary Medicine, Hannover, Germany.