From the frontlines of vaccine development, our alumni speakers will share behind-the-scenes stories and answer your burning questions about the "fastest vaccine ever." What is the real status of the COVID-19 vaccine, when will it be widely available, and what will the rollout look like? Who has been receiving it in the trials, and who will get it first and last? How do we know that it will be safe? How has the political and economic climate affected the process? What's it like to be in the middle of the vaccine frenzy? For insights on these questions and more, please join us for a panel discussion on Zoom with:

  • Florence Houn, MD, MPH (COL '80), Owner-manager of her own consulting firm that advises industry and health authorities about regulatory science and product development, formerly VP for Global Regulatory Science at Bristol Myers Squibb and Deputy Director of the Office of Vaccines at the FDA
  • Lorence Kim, MD (COL '95), Venture Partner at Third Rock Ventures, formerly CFO of Moderna
  • Carlos Rojas (COL '04), Director of Clinical Research Strategic Initiatives for the Altman Clinical & Translational Research Institute (ACTRI) at the University of California San Diego

    Moderated by Alejandra Casillas, MD, MSHS (COL '01, HMS '05), Assistant Professor of Medicine in Residence, in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Co-sponsored by the Harvard Asian American Alumni Alliance and the Harvard Latino Alumni Alliance.


Florence Houn, MD, MPH is the owner-manager of her own consulting firm that advises industry and health authorities about regulatory science and product development. She was the vice president for global regulatory science at Bristol Myers Squibb and she previously oversaw regulatory policy, intelligence and strategy at Celgene. For 15 years, Dr. Houn held senior management positions at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in vaccines research and review, drug evaluation, and medical devices. Her numerous awards include the 2014 FDA Distinguished Alumni Award, the 2009 US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Career Achievement Award, and for improving the quality of mammography in the US, she was received DHHS Distinguished Service Award in 1998.


With more than 30 years of experience in regulatory and drug development programs, Dr. Houn serves on the advisory board for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Harmonization Center and she is a member of the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’s Medicare Evidence Development and Coverage Advisory Committee. She is also on the board of directors for the International Partnership for Microbicides, a non-profit that develops anti-HIV products targeted for women in Africa.Dr. Houn received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, MD from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine,  MPH from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health and completed her fellowship in cancer prevention and control at the National Cancer Institute.

Lorence Kim, MD is a Venture Partner at Third Rock Ventures. He previously served as the Chief Financial Officer of Moderna from April 2014 to June 2020, raising $4.4 billion of capital for the company and deploying resources to discover and advance a pipeline of 24 development candidates across infectious disease, oncology, rare disease and autoimmune disease. Moderna raised, as of his departure, the three largest private financing rounds, the largest IPO and the largest follow-on offering in biotech history. Dr. Kim joined Moderna after an investment banking career at Goldman Sachs from 2000 to 2014, where he was a managing director and co-head of the U.S. biotechnology investment banking effort. Dr. Kim’s responsibilities included corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions for the biotechnology industry, with several billion in equity and equity-linked financings, and more than $55 billion in M&A transactions. Dr. Kim was a member of the Board of Directors of Seres Therapeutics from October 2014 to June 2020.

Dr. Kim graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with an A.B. in biochemical sciences in 1995. He earned an MBA in healthcare management as a Palmer Scholar from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and an M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine in 2000. He lives with his wife and three children in New York City. 

Carlos Rojas PMP, LSSBB is the Director of Clinical Research Strategic Initiatives for the Altman Clinical & Translational Research Institute (ACTRI) at the University of California San Diego. He has a 15 year background in process improvement and operations consulting across enterprises in healthcare, finance, hi-tech, and the public sector. He started his career at Booz Allen Hamilton and IBM Global Business Services in Washington DC, before shifting to commercial consulting with assignments in Peru, India, Silicon Valley, and the South Pacific.


After flying 80+ times in 2013, Carlos transitioned to clinical research operations at UC San Diego (no traveling!). Since the global pandemic started in early 2020, Carlos has focused  on rapid start up and scaling of vaccine clinical trials at the ACTRI in partnership with the COVID-19 Prevention Network. Eight months in, he continues to navigate the balance between clinical staff workload, patient experience, enrollment targets, and regulatory/scientific integrity. 


Carlos graduated from Harvard University in 2004. He is currently earning an MBA from the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego. 

Alejandra Casillas MD, MSHS is an assistant professor of medicine in residence, in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She practices primary care at UCLA and teaches UCLA medical students and internal medicine residents at the Simms Mann clinic in Santa Monica, a part of the Venice Family Free Clinic. Dr. Casillas completed her undergraduate studies at Harvard College and medical studies at Harvard Medical School, where she received the Dean’s Community Service Award. She then finished her internal medicine and primary care residency training at the University of California San Francisco, also serving as Chief Medical Resident at UCSF Medical Center from 2008-2009. Dr. Casillas returned to her native hometown of Los Angeles as a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at UCLA-- where she completed a health services fellowship, conducted multiple community-partnered research projects, and received a masters’ degree at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. After completing her training, Dr. Casillas worked at the University medical centers in Geneva and Lausanne, with funding from the Swiss Office of Public Health, to address immigrant health disparities in the French-speaking region of Switzerland.


Dr. Casillas’ research focuses on health inequities. She is particularly interested in assessing medical care access and interventions that will improve the quality of life for minority and limited-English-speaking populations. She has led several research projects that focus on reproductive health, depression, and cognitive decline in minority populations. She is currently working on multiple studies that investigate how electronic health tools are received in the Los Angeles county safety net health system, and how the healthcare system can develop a more meaningful experience for these underserved populations.