Actym Therapeutics is based in Berkeley, CA. We are dedicated to the discovery and development of immunotherapies that overcome the hostile tumor immune microenvironment (TME) and bring durable benefit to cancer patients. Our proprietary technology is designed to seek out and enrich in solid tumors. Once there, our therapies deliver powerful immunomodulatory payloads in a tumor-specific manner. This therapeutic approach is uniquely capable of reprogramming the TME to destroy tumor cells, with the potential to treat many types of cancer.

Leadership

Christopher D. Thanos, PhD President, CEO, and Cofounder

Chan Whiting, PhD Chief Development Officer and Head of Research

James Stutz Chief Business Officer

Omkar Joshi, PhD Vice President, Technical Operations

Akshata Udyavar, MS, PhD Senior Director of Immunology and Translational Sciences

Emily Miyashita-Lin, PhD Director, Analytical Development

Nick Eisele, PhD Director, Molecular and Microbiology

Hailey He, BS Associate Director, Process Development

Sheriese Rush, MBA Head of Operations

Christopher D. Thanos, PhD President, CEO, and Cofounder

Christopher D. Thanos, PhD, assembled the founding team at Actym, raised initial capital ($40.5M), and co-invented Actym’s core therapeutic technology platform (>10 patent applications have been filed both in the USA and internationally). Chris has over 28 years of R&D experience, including 22 years in the biotechnology industry. Chris is a named inventor on 33 issued and multiple pending patent applications in the areas of biological and cellular therapeutics, and a first author of multiple peer-reviewed articles in top tier scientific journals. Chris was recently named one of the top 25 CEOs in biotech for 2022, by Healthcare Technology Report.

Previously, Dr. Thanos was appointed Head of Biotherapeutics Discovery at Halozyme (NASDAQ: HALO), leading Molecular Biology, Immunology, Protein Engineering, and Cell Biology Groups at the company. Chris’ group contributed to the FDA approval of the ENHANZE® therapeutic delivery platform, which is now used in 5 commercial cancer products. He also worked on the team that led to the advancement of PEG-PH20® to a global Phase 3 trial in pancreatic cancer, and an IDE-approved companion diagnostic. Chris is the lead inventor of PEG-ADA2 (US Patent 9,969,998), a checkpoint inhibitor that targets immuno-suppressive adenosine. Translational I/O studies from Dr. Thanos’ group led to a broad strategic alliance between Halozyme and Genentech to study a combination between Tecentriq® (anti-PDL1) and PEG-PH20® in the clinic across 8 solid tumor types. Chris was also the Head of Protein Engineering at Sutro Biopharma (NASDAQ:STRO). He is the lead inventor of core platform technologies used by both Sutro Biopharma and Vaxcyte (NASDAQ:PCVX), formerly SutroVax. Dr. Thanos is a named inventor on 20 issued US patents assigned to Sutro, including 8 patents where he was the lead inventor, which has led to four next-generation ADCs in Phase I clinical development (targeting folate receptor, BCMA, CD74, and Muc1-EGFR). Prior to Sutro, Dr. Thanos co-founded Catalyst Biosciences, where he participated in raising venture capital, and co-invented the company’s therapeutic technology platform.

Earlier in his career, Dr. Thanos was a National Cancer Institute Postdoctoral Fellow under Professor James Wells at UCSF and Sunesis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. He earned a PhD in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from UCLA where he was an NIH Chemistry / Biology Interface Predoctoral Fellow. At UCLA, Dr. Thanos discovered the atomic structure and binding mode of SAM domains- one of the most common protein modules found in eukaryotic cells, work which was prominently featured in Science Magazine. Dr. Thanos is frequently called upon to present as an invited speaker, workshop leader, and conference chairman at international scientific conferences focused on biological therapeutics to treat cancer.

Chan Whiting, PhD Chief Development Officer and Head of Research

Chan Whiting, PhD, is the Chief Development Officer and Head of Research at Actym Therapeutics. Dr. Whiting has over 20 years of experience in the biotechnology industry developing immunotherapies for treatment of autoimmunity, infectious diseases and cancer. Prior to Actym, she was Senior Vice President and Head of Research and Development at Tempest Therapeutics (NASDAQ:TPST). Dr. Whiting joined Tempest as the 3rd member, helped raise $70 million series B financing, built an effective scientific team and oversaw the development of the company’s pipeline. She led the advancement of several programs across multiple drug development areas, spanning discovery research, preclinical target validation, IND-enabling studies, and clinical development. Before joining Tempest, Dr. Whiting was Head of Immune Monitoring and Biomarker Development at Aduro Biotech (currently Chinook Therapeutics, NASDAQ:KDNY). Prior to Aduro, she has held multiple scientific leadership positions at Ingenuity (currently Qiagen, NYSE:QGEN) and Entelos, Inc. Dr. Whiting received her PhD in Microbiology and Immunology at UCLA and completed her postdoctoral studies at Tularik, Inc. (currently Amgen) and Stanford University.

James Stutz Chief Business Officer

James Stutz is the Chief Business Officer at Actym Therapeutics. James is responsible for leading Business Development, Finance and Operations activities for the Company. James has 20 years of experience in the biopharma industry across multiple operating roles, venture capital investment, and management consulting. Prior to Actym, James was Vice President and Head of Business Development for Instil Bio (NASDAQ:TIL). Before joining Instil Bio, James was the Chief Financial Officer at Tolerion Inc., and Chief Business Officer at Tioma Therapeutics, Inc. James also held roles of increasing responsibility at InterMune Inc., CoMentis Inc., and Alios BioPharma, Inc., which was acquired by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, in November 2014. While at Alios BioPharma, James served as the Vice President of Strategy & Business Development where he supported the company’s CBO, and was responsible for business development, as well as financial and strategic planning. In addition to operating roles, James was a Principal with Essex Woodlands Health Ventures where he focused on investments in the biopharma and life sciences tools space including ProteinSimple (acquired by BioTechne), Revance Therapeutics (NASDAQ:RVNC) and Symphogen (acquired by Servier). James was also a consultant with Strategic Decisions Group and prior to his career in life sciences he was a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force.

James graduated with honors, from UC Santa Barbara with a B.A. in Business Economics. He also earned an M.B.A from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. From 2012 through 2017 James held an appointment as Lecturer at Stanford University in the Department of Medicine, Division of Clinical Pharmacology in the School of Medicine.

Omkar Joshi, PhD Vice President, Technical Operations

Omkar Joshi, PhD, is Vice President of Technical Operations at Actym. Omkar is responsible for all aspects of Technical Development, Manufacturing, Analytical Development and Quality at Actym.

Prior to joining Actym, Omkar was Senior Director, MSAT (Manufacturing Sciences and Technology) at Bayer. In his 16-year career at Bayer, Omkar held roles of increasing responsibility spanning Drug Substance and Drug Product Process Development, Analytical Development and Preclinical Research. Omkar has extensive experience working across various modalities including recombinant proteins, monoclonal antibodies, ADCs, Cell Therapy and Gene Therapy.

Prior to his career at Bayer, Omkar earned a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the Oregon State University.

Akshata Udyavar, MS, PhD Senior Director of Immunology and Translational Sciences

Akshata Udyavar, MS, PhD is Senior Director of Immunology and Translational Sciences at Actym Therapeutics. Dr. Udyavar has over 16 years of research experience in bench and translational science including immunology, cancer systems biology, target and biomarker discovery as well as development in immuno-oncology.

Prior to Actym, she was Director of Late Stage Research at InstilBio. She was the non-clinical program lead on the successful clearance of the ITIL-306 IND, their first genetically engineered Costimulatory Antigen Receptor autologous TIL (CoStAR-TIL) therapy recognizing folate receptor alpha.

Prior to Instil, she was Research Fellow (Associate Director) at Arcus Biosciences where she built the bioinformatics pipeline and translational infrastructure for integration and analysis of early clinical biomarker data for the entire company. She led the indication prioritization and early preclinical and clinical biomarker analyses for several of Arcus’s molecules – CD73 inhibitor Quemliclustat, Adenosine A2a/b receptor antagonist Etrumadenant, TIGIT antibody Domvanalimab. She was the biomarker lead on ARC-3, a Ph1/2 clinical trial testing Etrumadenant in combination with FOLFOX in late line metastatic CRC. Her team also led the early mechanism of action and indication selection analyses for the AXL and HIF2a programs.

Prior to Arcus, she was an Associate Scientist at Genentech where she worked on the GI and OBGYN biomarker sub-teams for atezolizumab, xeloda and avastin and led the clinical biomarker analyses for several Ph1-3 clinical trials.

She received her Masters in Biomedical Sciences at UT Memphis and did her research work on adoptive TCR T cell therapy in multiple sclerosis. She received her PhD in Chemical and Physical Biology at Vanderbilt University where she adapted bioinformatics, computational modeling and bench science approaches to discovery of novel targets and biomarkers in small cell lung cancer. She was one of the first students to receive a Certificate in Molecular Medicine, a joint program with Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Howard Hughes Medical Institute and obtained clinical shadowing experience.

Emily Miyashita-Lin, PhD Director, Analytical Development

Emily Miyashita-Lin, PhD, was most recently Director of Analytical Development-Molecular Biology at Vir Biotechnology, Inc where she worked with other analytical leads and QC to establish the analytical development/QC Laboratory at their San Francisco site. Emily assembled the team that qualified methods and executed QC sample/stability testing of VIR-1111, a genetically modified attenuated CMV used as an HIV vaccine, in Phase I. Prior to Vir, Emily established the analytical development laboratory at Aduro Biotech, where she was Associate Director. She developed the Phase III potency assay for CRS-207, a genetically modified attenuated Listeria, and safety assays for the cell-based therapy; GVAX Panc; used together to treat pancreatic cancer. Prior to Aduro, Emily established the analytical development laboratory and team at Jennerex (Sillajen), and was an analytical development scientist at Geron, and worked to enable a Phase I clinical trial for GRNOPC1, a therapy for patients with spinal cord injuries. She executed and directed assay pre-validation activities and coordinated a team of research associates to execute sample testing to support process validation for the cell-based prostate cancer therapy, GVAX Prostate, for Phase III clinical trials. Prior to that, Emily transitioned from research to analytical development at Cell Genesys, and developed assays for the CG0070, an oncolytic virus therapy for bladder cancer, for Phase I. Emily’s entrance to industry was at Fluidigm where she worked with engineers to demonstrate feasibility of high throughput PCR in microfluidic devices that resulted in the Biomark. Emily received her BS in biology from Butler University, PhD in immunology from Tufts University School of Medicine, and completed her post-doctoral training at UCSF.

Nick Eisele, PhD Director, Molecular and Microbiology

Nick Eisele, PhD, has over 15 years of experience in the fields of microbial pathogenesis, molecular biology, and immuno-oncology. Prior to Actym, Nick held positions of increasing responsibility at Atreca, Inc. (NASDAQ:BCEL), including Associate Director of Molecular Biology. At Atreca, Nick was responsible for managing the company’s hit identification efforts toward finding novel therapeutic antibodies to treat cancer and malaria, resulting in the identification of a monoclonal antibody therapy, derived from a human cancer patient, that is currently in a Phase I oncology trial. Before joining Atreca, Nick’s academic studies focused on characterizing host and bacterial factors required for Salmonella and Yersinia pathogenesis. He received his PhD in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Missouri, and completed his postdoctoral studies at Stanford University.

Hailey He, BS Associate Director, Process Development

Hailey He, BS, brings 10 years of bioprocess engineering experience to Actym. She specializes in fermentation and purification unit operations and process development in microbial systems. Prior to Actym, she was Senior Process Engineer at Aduro Biotech (currently Chinook Therapeutics, NSDAQ:KDNY). Hailey established the Process Development Department to develop, characterize, and execute risk assessment for a phase II clinical trial, live microbial product therapeutic candidate. She also established analytical, cellular and chemistry methods and laboratory setups for multiple clinical candidates. Prior to Aduro, Hailey worked in the startup world of synthetic biology and commodity proteins at Bolt Threads, where she developed fermentation and downstream processes for difficult-to-express proteins. Hailey received her B.S. in Bioengineering from UC Berkeley.

Sheriese Rush, MBA Head of Operations

As Head of Operations, Sheriese Rush brings over 23 years of diverse experience in ethical business operations and accounting for startups and established companies. Sheriese was the former Finance and Planning Manager/Treasurer and Operations Manager for Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, LLC, owned by multiple Fortune 500 companies including Intel, Sony, Warner Bros., Comcast, Microsoft, Verizon, and Adobe. Sheriese was also the Founder and Director of Operations of Raptor Surgical LLC. She invented and created the original prototype for an innovative surgical device and surgical method for Achilles tendon repair that was awarded two US Patents in 2016. The intellectual property was acquired by Stryker’s Howmedica Osteonics Corporation, a global leader in orthopedic medical technology. Sheriese has acted as the Head of Operations and Controller for multiple startup companies in the fields of healthcare technology, education, finance and insurance. Sheriese has a Master’s degree in Business Administration from San Jose State. University and a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Science from California State University, Chico.

Board of Directors

Julie M. Cherrington, PhD Board Chair
Benjamin P. Chen, PhD
Kanad Das, PhD
Alexis Ji, PhD
Christopher D. Thanos, PhD

Julie M. Cherrington, PhD Board Chair

Julie Cherrington, PhD, is an accomplished life science executive with extensive insight in bringing drugs into the clinic and through to commercialization. She has been a key contributor to the successful development of multiple FDA-approved products, including SUTENT®, PALLADIA®, VISTIDE®, VIREAD®, and HEPSERA®.

Dr. Cherrington also has extensive experience building and leading biotechnology companies. She has served as President and Chief Executive Officer at several biotechnology companies, including QUE Oncology, Arch Oncology, Revitope Oncology, Zenith Epigenetics, and Pathway Therapeutics. In addition, she served as President and Executive Vice President, R&D at Phenomix Corporation. Earlier in her career, Dr. Cherrington was Vice President of Preclinical and Clinical Research at SUGEN, a Pharmacia/Pfizer company. Dr. Cherrington began her career at Gilead Sciences, where she held a range of positions of increasing responsibility.

In addition to her Board Chair role at Actym, Dr. Cherrington serves on the Boards of Syncona Ltd, Sardona Therapeutics, KisoJi Biotechnology, MycRx, Vaxart, and Mirati Therapeutics. She is a Venture Partner at Brandon Capital Partners and is active in entrepreneurship initiatives through California Life Sciences, UC San Francisco, UC Davis and Equalize 2020/2021/2022.

Dr. Cherrington holds a B.S. in biology and an M.S. in microbiology from the University of California, Davis. Dr. Cherrington received her Ph.D. training in microbiology and immunology from the University of Minnesota and Stanford University. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco.

Benjamin P. Chen, PhD

Benjamin P. Chen, PhD, a Partner at Panacea Venture, is a scientist, entrepreneur, investor and merchant banker. Most recently, Ben served as the CEO of ImaginAb, Inc. a venture backed company developing a cutting-edge platform to address an urgent unmet need in immuno-oncology. Immediately before that, he was the Chairman and CEO of London based Immune Targeting Systems, Inc. leading the immune therapy company through significant strategic growth, innovative product development, and establishing a presence in France and North America. Prior to returning to operational roles, Ben spent nine years as a Managing Director at Burrill & Company, a global life sciences venture firm where he evaluated investment opportunities and assisted a global clientele in completing licensing, partnering and M&A transactions. Earlier in his career as an R&D executive, he gained experience in building talented research teams in immunology, stem cell biology, genomics, gene therapy and molecular diagnostics in both biotechnology start-ups and multinational pharmaceutical companies including Roche Diagnostics and Novartis.

Ben received his academic training in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Stanford University.

Kanad Das, PhD

Kanad Das, PhD, joined the Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund from Merck (MSD) where he was Director, Business Development and Licensing in their West Coast Innovation Hub. At Merck, Dr. Das led efforts in Immuno-Oncology, Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases and Ophthalmology in the preclinical space, up to human proof of concept. Dr. Das started his career at Genentech as a post-doctoral fellow, then worked at KAI Pharmaceuticals as a Medicinal Chemist. While at KAI, Dr. Das was an inventor of Parsabiv®, approved in 2017 for the treatment of Secondary Hyperparathyroidism. After KAI, Kanad worked at Stanford University’s SPARK program, an academic accelerator designed to take basic science discoveries and develop them to fundable assets.

Dr. Das earned a B.S. degree in Chemistry from University of California, Berkeley and PhD in Chemistry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Alexis Ji, PhD

Alexis Ji, PhD, is a Venture Partner at Illumina Ventures, since its founding in 2016. She brings 20 years of experience in life science R&D and venture investment in the biopharmaceutical and genomics industries. Dr. Ji focuses on building pioneering companies that bring disruptive science and technology into novel therapies, diagnostics or research tools. In addition to her Board role with Actym, Dr. Ji currently serves or observes on the board of NanoCellect Biomedical, SQZ Biotechnologies (NYSE:SQZ), and Twist Bioscience (Nasdaq:TWST).

Previously, Dr. Ji was a principal at WuXi Healthcare Ventures, responsible for venture investment in the US, where she was instrumental in the investment in Twist Bioscience, 23andme, Juno Therapeutics, Unity Biotechnology, Vivace Therapeutics, Ideaya Therapeutics, and Medeor Therapeutics, among other companies. Before WuXi, Dr. Ji was an investment consultant at ARCH Venture Partners, where she helped found Twist Bioscience and Nextcode Health and backed Portfolio Operations. Dr. Ji started her career in biotechnology R&D, in early drug discovery at Merck, translational research and clinical development at Roche, and molecular diagnostics and next-generation sequencing at Life Technologies.

Dr. Ji earned her PhD in Molecular Genetics from Washington University School of Medicine and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Christopher D. Thanos, PhD

Christopher D. Thanos, PhD, assembled the founding team at Actym, raised initial capital ($40.5M), and co-invented Actym’s core therapeutic technology platform (>10 patent applications have been filed both in the USA and internationally). Chris has over 28 years of R&D experience, including 22 years in the biotechnology industry. Chris is a named inventor on 33 issued and multiple pending patent applications in the areas of biological and cellular therapeutics, and a first author of multiple peer-reviewed articles in top tier scientific journals. Chris was recently named one of the top 25 CEOs in biotech for 2022, by Healthcare Technology Report.

Previously, Dr. Thanos was appointed Head of Biotherapeutics Discovery at Halozyme (NASDAQ: HALO), leading Molecular Biology, Immunology, Protein Engineering, and Cell Biology Groups at the company. Chris’ group contributed to the FDA approval of the ENHANZE® therapeutic delivery platform, which is now used in 5 commercial cancer products. He also worked on the team that led to the advancement of PEG-PH20® to a global Phase 3 trial in pancreatic cancer, and an IDE-approved companion diagnostic. Chris is the lead inventor of PEG-ADA2 (US Patent 9,969,998), a checkpoint inhibitor that targets immuno-suppressive adenosine. Translational I/O studies from Dr. Thanos’ group led to a broad strategic alliance between Halozyme and Genentech to study a combination between Tecentriq® (anti-PDL1) and PEG-PH20® in the clinic across 8 solid tumor types. Chris was also the Head of Protein Engineering at Sutro Biopharma (NASDAQ:STRO). He is the lead inventor of core platform technologies used by both Sutro Biopharma and Vaxcyte (NASDAQ:PCVX), formerly SutroVax. Dr. Thanos is a named inventor on 20 issued US patents assigned to Sutro, including 8 patents where he was the lead inventor, which has led to four next-generation ADCs in Phase I clinical development (targeting folate receptor, BCMA, CD74, and Muc1-EGFR). Prior to Sutro, Dr. Thanos co-founded Catalyst Biosciences, where he participated in raising venture capital, and co-invented the company’s therapeutic technology platform.

Earlier in his career, Dr. Thanos was a National Cancer Institute Postdoctoral Fellow under Professor James Wells at UCSF and Sunesis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. He earned a PhD in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from UCLA where he was an NIH Chemistry / Biology Interface Predoctoral Fellow. At UCLA, Dr. Thanos discovered the atomic structure and binding mode of SAM domains- one of the most common protein modules found in eukaryotic cells, work which was prominently featured in Science Magazine. Dr. Thanos is frequently called upon to present as an invited speaker, workshop leader, and conference chairman at international scientific conferences focused on biological therapeutics to treat cancer.

Scientific Advisory Board

Greg Barton, PhD
Samuel Miller, MD
Denise Monack, PhD
Paul D. Rennert, PhD
Michel Streuli, PhD
Mario Sznol, MD

Greg Barton, PhD

Greg Barton, PhD, has training and expertise are in the areas of immunology, microbiology, cell biology, and mouse genetics. Research in his lab focuses on microbial detection by the innate immune system and how innate immunity links to adaptive immunity. As a graduate student in Alexander Rudensky’s lab he developed new transgenic mouse strains to address the importance of MHC-bound self-peptides in T cell selection (Barton and Rudensky Science 1999; Barton et al PNAS 2002). Through this training he gained expertise in cellular immunology, T cell biology, and antigen presentation. For his postdoctoral training he worked in Ruslan Medzhitov’s lab, where his work focused on innate immunity. He carried out the first studies demonstrating the importance of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) in controlling induction of adaptive immunity (Schnare*, Barton* et al Nature Immunology 2001). He also began studying how TLRs with specificity for nucleic acids avoid responses to self DNA and RNA (Barton et al Nature Immunology 2006). Both of these topics continue to interest him and his group at Berkeley.

Professor Barton’s lab is known for, among other things, its discoveries of new mechanisms regulating self versus non-self discrimination by TLRs. His research team showed that nucleic acid sensing TLRs require ectodomain processing, which reinforces compartmentalized ligand recognition (Ewald et al Nature 2008; Ewald et al JEM 2011; Mouchess et al Immunity 2011). His group has also characterized key aspects of TLR trafficking which can have profound impacts on receptor function (Lee et al eLIFE 2013). Another area of study focuses on host-microbe interactions, where the lab’s work has uncovered key principles regulating interactions with pathogens (Arpaia et al Cell 2011; Sivick et al Cell Host Microbe 2014) and with the microbiota (Koch et al Cell 2016; Ansaldo et al Science 2019). Professor Barton’s ongoing work continues to explore mechanisms of self versus non-self discrimination, host-microbe interactions, and the mechanisms by which innate immunity regulates adaptive immunity.

Samuel Miller, MD

Samuel Miller, MD, is a Professor of Medicine (Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Microbiology, and Genome Sciences at the University of Washington. Dr. Miller holds a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and a MD from Baylor College of Medicine. He trained in clinical internal medicine and infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital. His scientific training was in the laboratories of Dyann Wirth (Harvard School of Public Health) and John Mekalanos (Harvard Medical School).

Prior to moving to the U of Washington in 1995 he was an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and a Physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Miller is an expert in host-pathogen interactions, with a particular expertise in pathogenic Salmonellae. He has studied Salmonellae for over 25 years and has defined many of its virulence mechanisms. Dr. Miller authors the chapters on Salmonellosis for the major textbooks on internal medicine and infectious diseases. Though he is most known for his work on defining the pathogenesis of Salmonellae species, he has worked on a variety of Gram negative bacterial pathogens including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii, E. coli O157, Shigella spp., Francisella spp., Yersinia pestis, and Burkholderia spp.

His work has spanned many topics, including mechanisms of bacterial sensing, bacterial second messengers, bacterial cell surface remodeling, bacterial virulence protein secretion, mechanism of action of bacterial virulence proteins, bacterial genome analysis, analysis of proteins and lipids with mass spectrometry, innate immune recognition by mammals, the microbiome and human genomic diversity in innate immunity.

Dr. Miller is the past Director of the Northwest Regional Center of Excellence in Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases and past Director of the UW Cystic Fibrosis Research and Development Center and he has directed many multicomponent grant programs. Dr. Miller has advised many companies over the years on bacteria and innate immunity and was a previous Scientific Advisor to Vion Pharmaceuticals. In that role, Dr. Miller designed the first strain of Salmonella given to cancer patients in a phase 1 clinical trial, by advising how to both attenuate the strain for virulence, minimizing its innate immune recognition, and increasing its targeting to cancer cells. Dr. Miller has been honored for his work by election to the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the American Association of Physicians, and the American Academy of Microbiology. He has received the Squibb Award from the Infectious Disease Society of America.

Denise Monack, PhD

Denise Monack, PhD, is the Martha Meier Weiland Professor in the School of Medicine in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University. The primary focus of her research is to understand the tug-of-war between the immune system and bacterial pathogens during infections. She is particularly intrigued by host-adapted enteric pathogens that have evolved to persist within hosts for long periods of time and spread to new hosts. She has discovered specific immune responses that help the host tolerate high levels of pathogen, referred to as “superspreaders”. She studies pathogen-microbiota interactions in the gut and has discovered that specific commensal bacteria-derived metabolites help defend against bacteria that cause food poisoning. In addition, her laboratory studies how immune cells recognize pathogenic bacteria that are residing within them. Her lab discovered that two innate immune pathways are sequentially linked and that this 2-tiered response is a host gauge of the “danger” level before commitment to host cell death.

She has received numerous prestigious awards in microbiology and immunology, including The Burroughs Wellcome Fund Recipient in Infectious Disease, Society of Leukocyte Biology G. J. Thorbecke Award, Stanford University Postdoc Association Mentor Award, Max Planck Sabbatical Award, Elected Chair of Division B, American Society of Microbiologist, and is an elected Fellow and Governor to the American Academy of Microbiology. She is Section Editor at PLoS Pathogens, Editor at Infection and Immunity. She is currently the Principal Investigator of the NIH Training Grant in Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford and Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Monack earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of California, Davis in 1984 and her PhD, from Stanford University School of Medicine in 2002.

Paul D. Rennert, PhD

Paul D. Rennert, PhD, is currently the Acting CEO, President and CSO of Aleta Biotherapeutics, headquartered in Natick, MA.

Paul is a highly-regarded scientist and biotechnology executive with extensive strategic and leadership experience. His expertise covers bench to IND and clinical trial development of small molecule drugs, biologics, and cellular therapeutics. His recent accomplishments include the launch of successful new biotech companies. In 2012 he engaged in the strategic analysis of cancer IO therapeutics with CoStim Pharmaceuticals’ executive and investment team to prioritize and launch that company’s program portfolio. In 2013 he partnered with X-Chem Inc to create XRx Discovery, a privately held drug discovery company focused on oncology, inflammation, and fibrosis. In 2016 he co-founded Aleta Biotherapeutics, a private cell therapy and biologics company that has quickly moved from bench to clinic, having won broad financial support for clinical development through Phase 2 from Cancer Research UK.

Paul is deeply engaged in the biotech community, as a MassBio and ASGCT mentor, through Board service, and as a highly sought speaker and panelist in the IO, cell therapy and investment communities. His ability to work so broadly across the industry has its foundation in his outstanding early career at Repligen and Biogen and is further highlighted by his many successful drug-development campaigns with over 50 patents filed and granted, and approximately 100 peer-reviewed publications including recent publications in Molecular Therapy, Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, Immunity, PNAS USA, and JCI. In 2015 he edited the book “Novel Therapeutic Approaches to the Treatment of Cancer.” Paul’s biotech commentary can be followed on Twitter @PDRennert.

Michel Streuli, PhD

Michel Streuli, PhD, is the Chief Executive Officer at Foundery Innovations Inc. Previously, he was Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of Pionyr Immunotherapeutics, Inc. Prior to Pionyr, Dr. Streuli held senior research positions at Gilead, Merck, Schering-Plough, and Organon, following a decade on the faculties of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School.

During his 20 years in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, he has led numerous drug development programs from discovery through early clinical stage, with a focus on therapies for cancer, chronic viral, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, including overseeing development of the immunomodulatory anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody Keytruda, and chairing the Keytruda early development team that brought Keytruda to the clinic.

Dr. Streuli holds a PhD degree from the University of Zurich, where he was involved in the cloning and characterization of interferon-alpha-2, which led to the development of INTRON A and PEG-INTRON.

Mario Sznol, MD

Mario Sznol, MD, is Professor of Internal Medicine, Leader of the Melanoma-Renal Cancer Disease-Associated Translational Research Team, and Co-Leader of the Cancer Immunology Program at the Yale University School of Medicine.

Dr. Sznol graduated from Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) in Houston, Texas. He trained in internal medicine at BCM and completed a medical oncology fellowship in the Department of Neoplastic Diseases, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York. He spent the next twelve years in the Biologics Evaluation Section (BES), Investigational Drug Branch (IDB), Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program of the National Cancer Institute, and was Head of the BES from 1994-1999. He attended on the inpatient units of the Biological Response Modifiers Program, NCI, from 1988-1996 and the Immunotherapy Service of the Surgery Branch, NCI, from 1997-1999. From 1999-2004, he served as Vice President of Clinical Development and Executive Officer of Vion Pharmaceuticals in New Haven, Connecticut. Dr. Sznol is past President of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC). Dr. Sznol’s areas of interest include early drug development, immunotherapy, and treatments for advanced melanoma and renal cancer.

Clinical Advisory Board

Jean-Pierre Bizzari, MD
Alessandra Cesano, MD, PhD
Lawrence Fong, MD
Mark Frohlich, MD
J. Randolph Hecht, MD
Jason J. Luke, MD
Mario Sznol, MD

Jean-Pierre Bizzari, MD

Jean-Pierre Bizzari, MD, holds a medical degree from the University of Nice (France) and trained as an oncologist at the Pitie Salpetriere hospital in Paris. He trained successively in Toronto (Ontario Cancer Institute – Canada) and Montreal (Mac Gill Cancer Center – Canada) before joining the pharmaceutical industry in 1983 as Head of the Oncology at the Institut de Recherches Internationales SERVIER (France). In 1993, he then joined Rhone-Poulenc Rorer as Vice President of Clinical Oncology, based in Paris, and moved to Collegeville, PA, USA in 1997.

With the merger of Rhone-Poulenc Rorer with HMR (to form Aventis), he was responsible for the Oncology Clinical Development at Aventis as Vice President. From April 2002 until September 2008, he was the Vice President of Clinical Development, Oncology, of Sanofi-Aventis in Malvern, PA. Dr. Bizzari joined Celgene in 2008 (until 2016) as Executive Vice President, Clinical Development Oncology.

Some of Dr. Bizzari’s past accomplishments include the Clinical Development of several anticancer agents such as:

  • Fotemustine (melanoma, glioblastoma)
  • Taxotere (breast, NSC lung, prostate, H&N, gastric)
  • Irinotecan (colon)
  • Gliadel (glioblastoma)
  • Eloxatin (colon)
  • Revlimid (myeloma, MCL)
  • Pomalyst (myeloma)
  • Vidaza (MDS)
  • Abraxane (NSC Lung, pancreas)

Dr. Bizzari has also been involved in the development of numerous compounds such as anti-angiogenics (VEGF-trap), gene therapy, vaccines and bio-reductive agents. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the French National Cancer Institute (INCa), and a board member of the European Organization of Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC)

Dr. Bizzari is also on the Board of several companies such as Halozyme Therapeutics He has published more than 70 articles in peer review journals and more than 160 abstracts in scientific congresses. Dr. Bizzari’s research interests include the methodology of clinical trials, and PK/PD analysis.

Alessandra Cesano, MD, PhD

Alessandra Cesano, MD, PhD, is Actym’s Lead Oncology Advisor. At Actym, Dr. Cesano participates in the design of clinical trials, their operational planning, and the drafting of regulatory documents for the Company. Dr. Cesano provides recommendations on both choice of therapeutic indications and mechanistic & prognostic biomarker strategies to Actym.

In addition to her role at Actym, Dr. Cesano is the Chief Medical Officer at ESSA Pharma, since July 2019. Previously, she was Chief Medical Officer of NanoString Inc from July 2015 until June 2019, where she focused on the development of translational and diagnostic multi-plexed assays for the characterization and measurement of mechanisms of immune response/resistance. Prior to NanoString, Dr. Cesano was Chief Medical Officer at Cleave Biosciences, Inc. and before then she served as Chief Medical Officer and Chief Operations Officer at Nodality, Inc., where she built and led the R&D group, while providing the overall clinical vision for the organization. Between 1998 and 2008, Dr. Cesano held various management positions at Amgen, Biogen Idec and SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals, where she helped to advance various oncology drugs through late-stage development and FDA approvals.

Early in her professional career Dr. Cesano spent 12 years conducting research in tumor immunology, including nine years at the Wistar Institute, an NCI Basic Cancer Center connected with the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Cesano holds membership in several professional and scientific societies including ASCO, ESMO, ASH, EHA, AACR and SITC. Dr. Cesano currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SITC. In addition, she is Associate Editor for the Biomarker section of Journal Immunotherapy of Cancer (JITC, the Journal of the Society), and is a member of the SITC Regulatory Committee. Over her career, Dr. Cesano has been an author on over 140 publications.

Dr. Cesano received an MD summa cum laude, a Board Certification in Oncology, and a PhD in Tumor Immunology, from the University of Turin.

Lawrence Fong, MD

Lawrence Fong, MD, is Head of the Cancer Immunotherapy Program at UCSF where he is a Distinguished Professor in Cancer Biology. He is also the Co-Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at UCSF and co-leads the Cancer Immunology Program in the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is a physician-scientist in the Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology directing both a translational research program and a research lab.

Dr. Fong has focused on cancer immunotherapy for over 20 years and has been involved in both pre-clinical and clinical studies of FDA-approved immunotherapies including sipuleucel-T and immune checkpoint inhibitors. Dr. Fong’s research focuses on understanding the mechanisms that underlie clinical response and resistance to immunotherapies.

Dr. Fong received his MD from Stanford University.

Mark Frohlich, MD

Mark Frohlich, MD, is the former Executive Vice President, Development and Portfolio Strategy of Juno Therapeutics, which was acquired by Celgene in 2018. Prior to Juno, Dr. Frohlich was Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President, Research and Development, at Dendreon Pharmaceuticals. Prior to Dendreon, Dr. Frohlich was Vice President and Medical Director at Xcyte Therapies. Dr. Frohlich is a board-certified medical oncologist and earned his MD from Harvard Medical School. Prior to that, Dr. Frohlich was Chief Resident, Internal Medicine, and a member of the Oncology Fellowship Program at UCSF. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Yale University in Electrical Engineering and Economics, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude.

J. Randolph Hecht, MD

J. Randolph Hecht, MD, is a Professor of Clinical Medicine in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA School of Medicine. He holds the Carol and Saul Rosenzweig Chair for Cancer Therapies Development and is the Director of the UCLA Gastrointestinal Oncology Program. Dr. Hecht graduated from Eastern Virginia Medical School and took his internal medicine residency at Northwestern and completed fellowships in gastroenterology research at the University of Chicago, and in gastroenterology and medical oncology at UCLA. He also the director of the UCLA GI Oncology Program which has one of the largest clinical and research programs in the Western United States.

Dr. Hecht is an internationally known clinical and translational researcher in the field of gastrointestinal cancers. He has published widely on the molecular biology, early detection, and treatment of gastrointestinal malignancies. He has led multiple phase III trials including ones with small molecule VEGFR inhibitors (CONFIRM-1) and anti-EGFR directed therapies (PACCE) in colorectal cancer, HER-2 inhibitors in gastric cancer (TRIO-013/LOGiC) and immunotherapy in pancreatic cancer (SEQUOIA). He has also been the principal investigator of several large, randomized phase II trials in colorectal cancer examining the role of targeted therapies. He is currently leading multicenter trials with novel agents in GI including new approaches to immunotherapy such as oncolytic virus and CAR-T therapies.

Jason J. Luke, MD

Jason J. Luke, MD, is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC Hillman Cancer Center where he is the Director of the Immunotherapy and Drug Development Center. Dr. Luke specializes in early phase drug development for solid tumors (particularly novel immunotherapeutics and biomarkers of immunotherapy activity) as well as the management of cutaneous oncology, particularly patients with melanoma.

Dr. Luke has been a lead international investigator on clinical trials of immunotherapies including but not limited to anti-PD1/L1, CTLA4, many secondary checkpoints, bispecific approaches (checkpoint, CD3 and cytokine), metabolism modifiers (IDO, A2Ar/CD73/CD39 and arginase), innate agonists of STING, TLRs and oncolytic virus as well as solid tumor cellular therapies (TCRs and CART). Dr. Luke has been a major contributor toward the investigation of radiation and the microbiome in relation to cancer immunotherapy. Dr. Luke’s major translational research focus leverages large scale informatics to advance cancer immunotherapy.

Dr. Luke received his MD from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in Chicago. He then pursued internship and residency at the Boston University Medical Center followed by medicine and medical oncology fellowships at Weill Cornell Medical College and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Following fellowship, Dr. Luke was a tenure-track, Type 1 Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School as well as Staff Physician at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Thereafter Dr. Luke was an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago. Dr. Luke is currently Senior Editor at Clinical Cancer Research, Associate Editor at the Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer and Skin Cancer Section Editor for the American Cancer Society journal Cancer.

Dr. Luke is actively involved in several professional societies including the Society for Melanoma Research, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, American Association for Cancer Research and the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO), having served on the scientific program committees for each. Dr. Luke has received several awards for research and clinical care including the Melanoma Research Foundation Humanitarian Award, Crain’s 40 under 40, Department of Defense (DOD) Career Development Award, Paul Calabresi Career Development in Clinical Oncology Award (K12), ASCO Merit Award as well as Young Investigator Awards from the Melanoma Research Alliance, the Cancer Research Foundation and the Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO. Dr. Luke’s research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, DOD, ASCO, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and multiple industry and private foundations.

Mario Sznol, MD

Mario Sznol, MD, is Professor of Internal Medicine, Leader of the Melanoma-Renal Cancer Disease-Associated Translational Research Team, and Co-Leader of the Cancer Immunology Program at the Yale University School of Medicine.

Dr. Sznol graduated from Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) in Houston, Texas. He trained in internal medicine at BCM and completed a medical oncology fellowship in the Department of Neoplastic Diseases, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York. He spent the next twelve years in the Biologics Evaluation Section (BES), Investigational Drug Branch (IDB), Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program of the National Cancer Institute, and was Head of the BES from 1994-1999. He attended on the inpatient units of the Biological Response Modifiers Program, NCI, from 1988-1996 and the Immunotherapy Service of the Surgery Branch, NCI, from 1997-1999. From 1999-2004, he served as Vice President of Clinical Development and Executive Officer of Vion Pharmaceuticals in New Haven, Connecticut. Dr. Sznol is past President of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC). Dr. Sznol’s areas of interest include early drug development, immunotherapy, and treatments for advanced melanoma and renal cancer.

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