Executive Committee

Frank Grassler, JD, Board Chair

Mr. Grassler comes to UT Southwestern after working as a consultant for Genentech Inc. From 2008 to 2011, he was Vice President for Intellectual Property at Gilead Sciences. Prior to that, he was Vice President of U.S. Intellectual Property for GlaxoSmithKline for 12 years. Earlier in his career, he was in private practice as an attorney and worked in patent law for Merck.

At GlaxoSmithKline, Mr. Grassler conceived the intellectual property structure of The SNP Consortium, originally comprising 10 pharmaceutical companies, a British philanthropic organization, and four academic research centers. Members of the consortium consented to share data and intellectual property rights for DNA sequence variations called single nucleotide polymorphisms, an agreement that lifted institutional and legal barriers and unleashed important work in drug discovery. He earned degrees in pharmacy and law from the University of Colorado, and did additional coursework in mechanical engineering, materials science, and immunology at the University of Colorado, Denver.

Deborah Jenkins Hutchinson / Co-Chair

Ms. Hutchinson has over 30 years of senior management experience with a track record in successfully taking early and mid-stage healthcare, biotech and technology companies from concept, through product development and sales. She brings extensive international experience to the Company with past experience in Europe, China, the Americas and Asia. She serves on the Board of Directors for Private Access, Inc.

Terry L. Foster, Ph.D., Treasurer

Terry L. Foster, Ph.D., is retired from a history of education, research, entrepreneurship, clinical trials, and improvement of patient care. During these endeavors, he has always promoted the wealth of medical and scientific talent in Texas. While a biology professor at Hardin-Simmons University, he co-founded the HSU Science Research Center based upon his research with NASA’s Planetary Quarantine Program in addition to research funded by pharmaceutical and medical device companies. This research led to his co-founding a microbiological and immunological diagnostic company in Abilene, TX. The remainder of Terry’s career was spent in the development, testing, and market-introduction of numerous pharmaceutical drugs. He retired as a Medical Science Liaison with Amgen, supporting nephrology and cardiology in North Texas. Terry earned his Bachelors and Masters Degrees from North Texas State University and his Ph.D. in Microbiology from Texas A&M. Terry and his wife, Vickey, a retired Petroleum Landman, live in North Richland Hills where they enjoy traveling as well as spending time with their two sons and their families.

Jorge Varela, CEO / President

Jorge Varela’s is an entrepreneur, startup evangelist, international speaker, consultant, and investor. He has started and/or been a part of the executive team at numerous companies most notably in telecom, software, and IT, with financially successful exits in each market segment. He has mentored and coached startups in the life sciences with exits in the last 5 years exceeding $3 Billion.

Jorge is CEO, of BioNorthTexas, the nonprofit that represents, connects, and promotes the life sciences and healthcare industries in North Texas. He is also Managing Director of AltusVista, a consultancy that works with leadership to build better companies, non-profits and executives.

Jorge was most recently Founder and CEO of VelocityTX, an innovation superhub offering incubation, mentorships, and seed investments to startups with disruptive technology. VelocityTX is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Texas Research & Technology Foundation (TRTF) where Jorge served as Executive Vice President of Innovation & Investments and managed the McDermott Legacy Fund. TRTF is a non-profit dedicated to economic development through investments both in early stage companies and in the entrepreneurial ecosystem with a focus on biosciences, medtech, & technology – especially cyber security.

Jorge is on the Executive Board of the Alliance of Texas Angel Networks, an organization consisting of accredited angel groups in Texas. He is also a reviewer for the National Science Foundation on SBIR/STTR grants.

Jorge’s passion is working with leadership to develop and grow for- and non- profit organizations to enable:
• financial independence and the creation of economic opportunities globally; and,
• to improve the quality of life through the commercialization of new technologies.




Jorge Varela, CEO/President

– Bio Above

Darlene M. Boudreaux, CFO

After nearly 20 years as a CPA specializing in international tax with Andersen, Darlene co-founded a pharmaceutical manufacturing company with her father and brother.  Her father died soon after the company was founded and Darlene bought her brother’s half of the company and became the CEO, leading the company to tremendous growth. She was named the only American on the list of the nine Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World in 2004 and was on the Inc 500 list for three years in a row.  Following her sale of the company in 2006, she became Executive Director of TechFW, a technology business incubator in Fort Worth, establishing multiple programs for entrepreneurs, universities and angel investors, including the Cowtown Angels Network.  She has coached dozens of local startup companies.  Darlene has served on the national boards of the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, the International Business Innovation Association, and DePauw University, as well as several local boards, including Junior Achievement, Girl Scouts, and the American Heart Association.  Since stepping down as the Executive Director of TechFW in November 2018, Darlene has continued her work with entrepreneurs:  coaching TechFW clients, investing as a member of the Cowtown Angels, joining the management team of BioNorth TX, and working with VIC Technology Venture Development to commercialize university technologies.  She holds a BA in math and German from DePauw University, an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and a graduate certificate in genealogical research from Boston University.

Miriam D’Souza, Administrator

Miriam D’Souza, a Chicago area native, comes to bionorthTX with 10 years of non-profit management experience, and over 10 years of combined experiences in customer relations and project management. Miriam enjoys working on a team that fosters ideas to spur innovation and collaboration. She currently resides in Flower Mound and spends her time exploring the DFW Metroplex and surrounding areas.