Scientific Management

Olesia Buiakova M.D., Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, is responsible for pre-clinical compound and target validation programs.

Olesia brings to Invivotek over 14 years of experience in pre-clinical project management and business development for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Prior to joining Invivotek, Olesia was Director of the Pre-clinical contract research group at Taconic Biosciences (formerly Xenogen Biosciences). She possesses 20 years of experience in physiological and behavioral evaluation of test therapeutics in mice and rats and in target validation studies with genetically engineered rodents. At Xenogen Biosciences, she spearheaded the development of a unique high through-put platform for phenotypic screening of mutant mice for early assessment of target indication and liabilities. Dr. Buiakova completed her post-doctoral training at the Hoffmann La Roche Institute for Molecular Biology and served as a junior faculty at Columbia Genome Center at Columbia University. Dr. Buiakova received her M.D. from the Russian State Medical University in Moscow, Russia and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the Institute for Molecular Genetics (Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow).

Michael D. Hayward Ph.D., a Team Leader at Invivotek, is responsible for the Metabolism and Neurosciences programs.

Michael has 25 years of experience in biomedical research with in vivo systems and joined Invivotek from Taconic Biosciences (previously Xenogen Biosciences), where he directed commercial projects for the characterization of pre-clinical test therapeutics and genetically modified rodents in the Metabolism and Neurosciences fields. During his career, Michael evaluated phenotypes of over 100 different genetically modified mouse lines and many dozens of pre-clinical test therapeutics, has served as an invited speaker (to “Animal Models and Their Value in Predicting Efficacy and Toxicity” New York Academy of Sciences Sept. 15-16, 2011) and has been interviewed for “Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News” and the “MIT Technology Review”. Dr. Hayward received his Ph.D. in Biology from Columbia University in New York, NY.

Yan Xu Ph.D., a Team Leader at Invivotek, is responsible for the Oncology program.

Yan has over 20 years of experience in the development of animal models of human cancer and inflammatory disease and preclinical drug efficacy testing. Yan joined Invivotek from Taconic Biosciences (previously Xenogen Biosciences) where she directed commercial projects for characterization of pre-clinical test therapeutics in animal models for metastatic cancer using light-producing and conventional tumor cells. As a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Elizabeth Repasky at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York, Dr. Xu created and characterized patient derived xenograft models, in which human surgical tumor specimens grow and metastasize. Using these models, Dr. Xu studied the tumor microenvironment, the barrier of drug delivery, and the effect of hyperthermia on cancer drug delivery. Later, Dr. Xu joined MedImmune Inc. to perform in vivo preclinical drug efficacy studies. Dr. Xu received her M.D. from the China Medical University, ShenYang, P.R. China (public health major) and a Ph.D. degree from the Department of Pathology, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Natacha Steinckwich-Besançon, Ph.D., a Team Leader at Invivotek supporting the Onco-Immunology and Immunology programs

Natacha has 14 years of experience in biomedical research related to immunology and cell biology including phagocytosis, autoimmunity and inflammation. She joined Invivotek from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), a research institute within the National Institute of Health, located in the Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. During her 7 years at the NIEHS, Natacha developed and validated panels of functional assays using cell lines and primary immune cells collected from blood and various tissues from in vivo murine disease models and ex vivo human specimens. She possesses a broad spectrum of skills in flow cytometry, cell biomarker analysis, cell-based assays, calcium signaling, histology and microscopic imaging. Natacha’s research provided new tools to study the mechanism of action of therapeutic drugs and potential target genes. Dr. Steinckwich-Besançon completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Luxembourg after receiving her Ph.D. degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Lorraine in France.

Caroline Giordano B.S., RLAT, is Vivarium Manager at Invivotek.

Caroline has over 21 years of experience in all aspects of animal facility management in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology environment, including extensive knowledge of AAALAC and IACUC procedures. She played a pivotal role in designing and initiating operations of the Invivotek’s Award winning barrier facility. Prior to joining Invivotek, Caroline was managing vivarium operations and projects at AAALAC accredited animal facilities at Palatin Technologies and Xenogen Biosciences. In addition, Caroline has extensive experience with production, breeding and conducting assays on genetically modified rodents and with in vivo compound testing for drug discovery from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Xenogen Biosciences and Palatin. She is an AALAS Registered Laboratory Animal Technician (RLAT). Ms. Giordano received her B.S. in Animal Sciences from Rutgers University.