About Us

Operating Principles
To create value and relevance financially, intellectually and professionally by enhancing the innovation culture at Jefferson.

A World of Discovery
An Amazing & Optimistic Future - TODAY

In the summer of 2014, Jefferson reintegrated Thomas Jefferson University (TJU) and Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals (TJUH) and began the process of reinventing the academic health center. The basis for this transformation is our “Blueprint for Strategic Action,” which calls for Jefferson to operate around four pillars – Academic, Clinical, Innovation and Institutional Advancement.

As the Innovation Pillar, it is our job to foster ideas and convert them into products and services. The Innovation Pillar is where we test new business models and nurture entrepreneurialism among employees, students and the Jefferson community. We want to make a profound change by adopting new forms of value creation. Universities have always been good at ideas; Jefferson Innovation is going to bring those ideas to you.

Our Goal

It is our goal to create a Jefferson-wide entrepreneurial ecosystem to advance the commercialization of new technologies by supporting members of the Jefferson community through superior services, mentorship, education and partnerships in translating new discoveries into practical applications.



Rose Ritts, MS, PhD
Executive Vice President, Chief Innovation Officer

Creative Brief: As EVP, Dr. Ritts is creating a world-class engine for innovation at Jefferson, advancing our commitment to developing products and services for commercialization, and in partnership with like-minded organizations, driving unique programs that transform how we deliver patient care and education and bring to market novel treatment therapies. In addition to driving innovation efforts for Jefferson Dr. Ritts manages the commercialization staff for the Office of Technology Transfer and Jefferson Accelerator Zone members who support the creation of transformative educational and programmatic initiatives within that group.

Background: With more than 20 years of experience in creating partnerships driven by emerging technology and new business model creation, Dr. Ritts is a leader in her field. In addition to her previous role at Duke University, Dr. Ritts managed emerging venture-capital funded newcos and served as the Director of Biotechnology and Materials at Sarnoff Corporation and Program Manager at the US DoD DARPA. While at DARPA she served on a number of government think tanks and review panels across DoD, NIH, NSF and DOE. Dr. Ritts received her undergraduate degree from Duke University and earned both her PhD and MS degrees from Stanford University.

Robert DeHaven

Robert N. DeHaven, MS
Senior Contract Specialist

Creative Brief: Negotiates and manages all Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) for Thomas Jefferson University.

Background: Joined TJU in 2011 after a career of more than 30 years as a molecular pharmacologist in drug discovery at both large and small pharma and in academia, including Adolor Corporation, Sterling-Winthrop Pharmaceuticals, Merck & Co., and Johns Hopkins University. BA, MS, biology at West Virginia University.

Jennifer Daug

Jennifer Daug
Intellectual Property Specialist

Creative Brief: Manages Thomas Jefferson University’s patent portfolio working closely with inventors to guide them through the patent process from the inception of an idea through the grant of a patent. Responsible for compliance and reporting under the Bayh Dole Act.

Background: Jennifer joined the Innovation Pillar in 2016 after an almost fifteen year career as a paralegal where her practice focused on all aspects of IP prosecution and enforcement; corporate formation and governance; mergers and acquisitions; nonprofit formation and compliance; and municipal bond financing.

Michael Accordino

Mike Accordino
Manager, Business Development

Creative Brief: Mike manages the financial and administrative functions of the Innovation Pillar.  

Background: After five years with Jefferson Treasury Shared Services, Mike joined the Innovation Pillar in May 2017.  Mike earned his MBA from Temple University. 


Kate Koons
Innovation Fellow

Creative Brief: Kate works alongside the Innovation Pillar staff, assisting in projects relevant to innovation and entrepreneurship at Jefferson. Her specific responsibilities include surveying venture investments in target market spaces to identify areas of opportunity to create synergies among divisions, and supporting the Innovation Evaluation Committee with patent and market research linked to disclosed inventions and identifying potential business development opportunities.

Background: Kate joined the Innovation Pillar at Jefferson in June of 2017. She studied mechanical engineering at Johns Hopkins University and subsequently completed a post-baccalaureate pre-medical program here at Jefferson.

Donna Gentile O'Donnell, PhD

Donna Gentile O'Donnell, PhD
Senior Vice President, Innovation Partnerships & Programs
Special Assistant to the President

Creative Brief: Designer of leadership strategies. Past roles include Managing Director of the Life Sciences portfolio of the Eastern Technology Council; President of the Franklin Health Trust; special limited partner in PA Early Stage Partners Fund III; advisor to a number of life science startups and venture capital groups; member of the CURE Board, distributing $11 billion in tobacco settlement funds over 25 years; the Boards of Trustees of Drexel University, Drexel College of Medicine, and Drexel Law; and PNC's Women's Financial Services Network Advisory Board. Served in the Rendell administration as Deputy Health Commissioner of Policy and Planning, and advises Senator Robert P Casey on health issues.

Public roles: Author of book Provider of Last Resort, columnist and TV commentator in numerous national and regional venues. Before joining Jefferson, consulted for non-profits and corporations on strategic planning and project implementation in life sciences and health care.

Background: PhD, University of Pennsylvania. Joined Jefferson 2013.

Heather M. Rose, PhD, JD

Heather M. Rose, PhD, JD
Director, Technology Licensing

Creative Brief: Dr. Rose works with Jefferson faculty, staff and students to identify patentable subject matter within their work and coordinate invention disclosures and patent filings. Dr. Rose oversees patent prosecution on University owned intellectual property by outside counsel, assists with strategic de-risking, identifies suitable commercial partners and coordinates targeted marketing efforts. When suitable partners are identified Dr. Rose negotiates the agreements necessary to effect commercialization efforts.

Background: Heather Rose PhD, JD joined the Innovation Pillar as the Director of Technology Licensing in February 2017. Prior to joining the Innovation Pillar at Jefferson, Dr. Rose worked for five years in the Drexel University Office of Technology Commercialization as a Licensing Manager focused on commercializing inventions in the life science disciplines. In addition to a JD with a concentration in intellectual property law obtained at the Kline School of Law, Dr. Rose also holds a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. At Penn, Heather performed and presented research about how retroviruses choose genomic locations for insertion of the viral DNA into the host chromosome with an overarching focus on safety and predictability in delivering therapeutic gene doses for gene therapy applications. While in law school Heather interned for two consecutive terms at the Corporate Intellectual Property Department of GlaxoSmithKline. Heather is a member of the PA, NJ, and United States Patent Bars.


Anthony Sorendino
Communications Coordinator

Creative Brief: Manages communications and web content for the Innovation Pillar.

Background: Anthony joined Abington Jefferson Health in 2012, working in community health and medical education. In late 2016, he transferred to the Innovation Pillar at Jefferson. He attended Penn State University where he earned a BS in Business.

Robert Arcadipane

Robert Arcadipane
Executive Assistant

Creative Brief: Robert assists the Chief Innovation Officer at all levels of administrative support, planning and research. Robert also supports the Innovation Pillar via event planning, meeting logistics and office management.

Background: Robert joined TJU in October of 2016 after moving to Philadelphia from New York, where he provided support to C-level Executives for 6 years in the publishing and advertising industries. A University of Delaware alumni, Robert has spent his career as an executive assistant focusing on process improvement and knowledge sharing platforms.


Timothy Layman, DNP, MSN, RN, NE-BC
Vice President, Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Creative Brief:  Dr. Timothy R. Layman is a board-certified nurse executive driven to re-imagine the future of healthcare by supporting and enabling those with insider knowledge across all levels of the healthcare system to succeed as innovators, change agents and entrepreneurs.  He has consistently delivered collaborative outcomes within hospitals and medical centers, with demonstrated success in creating and implementing system-wide strategic initiatives that enhance clinical services and drive forward the innovative solutions of the transformed healthcare future.    

Background: Dr. Layman began his career by earning his Associates of Science in Electrical Engineering (EET) Certification and working in microwave engineering and design. As he transitioned to nursing and ultimately received his Doctorate from Yale University, he maintained a hands-on, solutions-oriented approach to problem-solving.  He brings to Jefferson his experience working with other nurses and healthcare professionals to conceptualize and create cost-effective solutions to pressing issues in healthcare.  He is a Board Certified Nurse Executive, and an active member of the American College of Healthcare Executives.


Dan Whitzer
Project Coordinator

Creative Brief: Dan manages logistics for events including the hackathon, the JAZ Tank business plan competition, The Innovation/PEL Jumpstart Concert Fundraiser; and the Innovation Engagement Speaker Series/GC 698. He coordinates innovation integration with our partner institutions, including Kennedy and  Jefferson East Falls He also supports all creative content for the office, including social media and video production; and manages the Jefferson Accelerator Zone (JAZ), Jefferson Innovation’s collaboration work space

Background: Dan’s experience spans content creation, management of social media platforms and event organizing.   Prior to joining Jefferson, Dan was a Music Assistant at ESPN, a Marketing & Licensing Supervisor at Spencer’s, and a digital marketing content creator for both a startup and a digital marketing agency.   Dan is a graduate of Full Sail University, Rowan University, and holds a Masters from Northumbria University in the UK, where he lived and studied. Additionally, he is an accomplished drummer, previously touring with an independent artist from Philadelphia.