2017 Speaker Biographies

Sudhir Agrawal, D.Phil., FRSC, President, Research, Idera Pharmaceuticals

Dr. Agrawal currently serves as President of Research at Idera Pharmaceuticals. He joined the company as a founding scientist, and has since served in various leadership roles, including Chief Scientific Officer and Chief Executive Officer. Over the last 25 years, Dr. Agrawal’s research focus has been in the field of nucleic acid therapeutics, including antisense technology and Toll-like receptor targeted compounds. Using a chemistry-based approach, a number of novel compounds have been created and reached clinical evaluation. He has authored over 300 research papers and reviews, and is the named inventor on over 400 issued or pending patents. Dr. Agrawal received his D.Phil. in Chemistry and conducted research at the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK. Working with Paul Zamecnik, M.D., he conducted pioneering work in antisense technology. Based on this technology, Idera Pharmaceuticals was founded.

Mamoun Alhamadsheh, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Pharmaceutics & Medicinal Chemistry, University of the Pacific

Mamoun Alhamadsheh is an associate professor in the Department of Pharmaceutics and Medicinal Chemistry at the University of the Pacific, CA. He received his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at the University of Toledo and did his postdoctoral studies in Chemical Biology at Portland State University and Stanford University. Alhamadsheh’s research group employs an interdisciplinary approach to study protein amyloidosis. His group recently developed AG10, a small molecule that prevents amyloidogenesis of the plasma protein Transthyretin. Alhamadsheh’s group is also developing novel technologies to enhance the in vivo half-life of therapeutic peptides. These technologies would decrease the production cost of therapeutic peptides and increase the clinical success rate. Dr. Alhamadsheh is the recipient of New Investigator Award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. He is a co-founder of Eidos Therapeutics and has authored four patents and 18 articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Taiji Asami, Ph.D., Associate Director, Medicinal Chemistry Research Laboratories, Pharmaceutical Research Division, Takeda

Taiji Asami, Ph.D. is in responsible for all of the fundamental research and applications relating to peptide chemistry at Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited. He received his BS, MS and Ph.D. degrees in medicinal chemistry from the University of Tokyo, Japan in 1988, 1990 and 2015, respectively. He joined Takeda in 1990 and has over 20 years' experience in the field of peptide science including basic research and peptide therapeutics. He has applied more than 20 patents for peptide therapeutics, e.g., kisspeptin analogues. He is currently a Councilor of The Japanese Peptide Society and a Councilor of Division of Biofunctional Chemistry of The Chemical Society of Japan.

Jim Barsoum, Ph.D., Chair, Scientific Advisory Board, Rigontec GmbH

Jim Barsoum is a scientist and biopharmaceutical executive with 9 years of academic research experience and 30 years of industry experience in drug discovery and development. Dr. Barsoum is Chair of the Scientific Advisory Boards of Rigontec and RaNA Therapeutics and serves as a consultant with multiple biotechnology companies. Previously, he was the Chief Scientific Officer at RaNA Therapeutics, a biotechnology company using oligonucleotides to target noncoding RNA for selective gene upregulation. Prior to that, he was Senior Vice President and Head of Research at Synta Pharmaceuticals, a company focused on small molecule drug discovery and development in oncology and inflammatory diseases. For many years, Jim held various leadership roles at Biogen, focusing on technology development, protein therapeutics and gene therapy. He received a Ph.D. in Biology from MIT and held postdoctoral fellowship positions at Stanford University and the Whitehead Institute at MIT.

Serge Beaucage, Ph.D., Chief, Laboratory of Biological Chemistry, CDER, FDA

Balkrishen (Bal) Bhat, Ph.D., Vice President, Chemistry, RaNA Therapeutics

Dr. Balkrishen Bhat is Vice President, Chemistry at RaNA Therapeutics located in Cambridge MA, a company dedicated to advancing novel approaches to selectively upregulate endogenous mRNA. Prior joining RaNA, Dr. Bhat spent about 20 years at Isis Pharmaceutical (now Ionis) and Regulus Therapeutics. He has more than 25 years of experience in the discovery and development of RNA therapeutic modalities including cell biased delivery systems. He has co-authored over 90 publications and is co-inventor of more than 100 patent applications (50 issued U.S. patents).

Jay A. Berzofsky, M.D., Ph.D., Branch Chief, Vaccine Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, NIH

Dr. Jay Berzofsky was appointed Chief of the new Vaccine Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, in 2003, after being Chief of the Molecular Immunogenetics and Vaccine Research Section, Metabolism Branch, National Cancer Institute, NIH, since 1987. He graduated Summa cum Laude from Harvard (1967), and received a Ph.D. and M.D. from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. After interning at Massachusetts General Hospital, he joined NIH in 1974. Dr. Berzofsky's research has focused on antigen processing and presentation by MHC molecules, the structure of antigenic determinants, cytokine and regulatory cell control of T cell function and avidity, and translation to the design of vaccines for AIDS, cancer, and viruses causing cancer. He has 493 scientific publications and a number of awards. He was elected as President of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (1993-94), a member of the Association of American Physicians, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and was elected Distinguished Alumnus of the Year for 2007 by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He was also elected Chair of the Medical Sciences Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for 2007-2008. In 2008, he received the NIH Director’s Award and the NCI Merit Award, and in 2011 he received another NCI Director’s Merit Award.

Laurent Bialy, Ph.D., Section Head, R&D IDD Medicinal Chemistry, Research & Development Integrated Drug Discovery Medicinal Chemistry, Sanofi

Dr. Laurent Bialy has studied Chemistry at the KIT (Karlsruhe, Germany). He obtained a Ph. D. degree in 2002 in the group of Prof. H. Waldmann at the Max-Planck Institute of Molecular Pharmacology and University of Dortmund (Germany), with the first total synthesis, structural elucidation and SAR studies of the anti-metastatic natural product cytostatin. He then moved to  the group of Prof. M. Bradley in 2003 (Southampton, UK) as a post-doctoral fellow where he worked on the combinatorial synthesis and deconvolution of PNA encoded peptide libraries. Laurent Bialy started his career at BASF AG in 2005 (Ludwigshafen, Germany). He then joined Sanofi in Frankfurt in 2006, where he has worked on several drug discovery projects as medicinal chemistry lead and project head on a variety of targets and indications. He is currently Section Head of Medicinal Chemistry and involved both in small molecule and peptide projects.

John N. Bonfiglio, Ph.D, MBA, President and COO, TapImmune

Dr. John N. Bonfiglio has over 30 years experience in the pharmaceutical/biotechnology business. Dr. Bonfiglio started his career with Allergan pharmaceuticals as a scientist and moved into project management, strategic marketing and business development. Two of his projects while at Allergan are now marketed products- Tazarotene and AlphaGan. He spent 3 years at Baxter HealthCare before starting a career in small biotech companies. He rose to the position of CEO at Peregrine Pharmaceuticals where he turned around the struggling and financially strapped company by reducing the burn rate, licensing technologies and raising capital in the public markets. He also was COO at Cypress Biosciences, CEO of the Immune Response Corporation and CEO at Argos Therapeutics Finally, most recently he completed a successful stint at Oragenics in Tampa, Fl. Here he completed two strategic deals with Intrexon Corporation, raised $29M in three financings under very favorable terms, relisted the company on the NYSE:MKT.

Casey Case, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Research and Nonclinical Development, Asterias Biotherapeutics

Mark G. Currie, Ph.D., President and CSO, Ironwood Pharmaceuticals

Dr. Currie has made critical scientific discoveries that have greatly advanced our understanding of the regulation of blood pressure and the balance of sodium and water in the body. These discoveries have played a role in finding novel treatments for a broad range of diseases including congestive heart failure, acute and chronic pain conditions associated with arthritis and more recently a novel approach to treat patients with painful GI conditions. Dr. Currie’s discoveries and efforts have help to improve the lives of patients throughout the world. Mark serves as Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Senior Vice President of Research and Development and Chief Scientific Officer. He has led the company’s R&D efforts since joining in 2002. Dr. Currie has over 30 issued US patents and is the primary inventor of linaclotide which is a 14 amino acid peptide that activates guanylate cyclase-c and is first in class and has been approved for the treatment of chronic idiopathic constipation and IBS-C in adults. Linaclotide is marketed in the US as Linzess and in Europe as Constella. The drug, which reduces abdominal pain and addresses large unmet need, has had 4 highly successful phase 3 trials in chronic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Linaclotide has the potential to markedly improve the treatment of IBS patients suffering from chronic abdominal pain.

Jesse Dong, Ph.D., Vice President, Peptide Chemistry, Neon Therapeutics

Jesse Dong is Vice President, Peptide Chemistry at Neon Therapeutics. At Neon he is leading the peptide chemistry activities of developing personalized cancer vaccine NEO-PV-01. Prior to joining Neon, he was the founder of Amphitide. Jesse worked at Ipsen from 1993 to 2013 as Vice President of Compound Discovery, heading global peptide chemistry division and leading peptide-based R&D programs. He is the inventor of Abaloparatide, Relamorelin, Setmelanotide, Taspoglutide and Dopastatin (BIM-065). Jesse is named inventor or co-inventor in 64 issued US patents and over 80 US patent applications.

Alexey Eliseev, Ph.D., Chief Business Officer, RXi Pharmaceuticals

Elena Feinstein, M.D., Ph.D., CSO, Quark Pharmaceuticals

Elena Feinstein M.D., Ph.D. is a Chief Scientific Officer for Quark Pharmaceuticals, Inc. She received her M.D. degree from the Russian State Medical University (former 2nd Moscow State Medical School) and Ph.D. degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Since joining Quark 19 years ago, she has held increasingly senior positions, first leading the high-throughput functional gene discovery programs in numerous disease areas and then taking the lead in discovery of siRNA therapeutics. Prior to joining Quark, Dr. Feinstein conducted academic research in the fields of apoptosis and cancer in the Weizmann Institute of Science. She is a principal or senior author of dozens of publications in the high-impact peer-reviewed journals and an inventor on multiple awarded patents.

John Freeman, Ph.D., Principal Scientist, Formulations Development Department, Mannkind Corporation

John Freeman earned his MS in chemistry from Polytechnic University. He has over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry which started at Emisphere Technologies, where he designed and synthesized small molecules for use as oral drug delivery carriers. He joined MannKind Corporation in 2003 and is currently a principal scientist in the R &D department at MannKind. In this role, he is responsible for conducting synthetic chemistry, manufacturing process development, and formulations development work that support MannKind’s inhaled insulin, AFREZZA®, its product line extensions, and new products based on MannKind’s Technosphere® oral inhalation platform.

Shanthi Ganesh, Ph.D., Associate Director, Preclinical Oncology, Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Dave Garman, Ph.D., CTO, NoNO, Inc.

Dave Garman is currently the Chief Technology Officer for NoNO Inc, a biotechnology company directed at the development of novel peptide therapeutics to treat neurological disorders with unmet medical needs. His roles have encompassed most aspects of the development of a peptide therapeutic for the treatment of stroke from initial animal results in the laboratory through Phase 3 clinical trials. Dr. Garman’s primary responsibilities include all aspects of manufacturing and regulatory interactions related to CMC, preclinical safety pharmacology and toxicity assessment of peptide therapeutics, intellectual property development and the development of both next generation and novel peptide therapeutics for the company pipeline.

Andy Geall, Ph.D., Vice President, Formulations and Chemistry, Avidity NanoMedicines

Soumitra S. Ghosh, Ph.D., CSO, Avexegen Therapeutics, Inc.

Soumitra Ghosh is Co-Founder and CSO of Avexegen Therapeutics, Inc., an early stage development company working on novel first-in-class therapies for GI disorders. His research interests lie at the interface of chemistry and biology, and have spanned proteomics, genomics, drug development and drug delivery. Prior to Avexegen, he held R&D leadership positions at Amylin Pharmaceuticals and MitoKor, where he directed research programs for the development of small molecule, peptide and protein based drug candidates for the treatment of metabolic diseases and CNS disorders. He was involved in the development and commercialization of several drugs that emerged from the Amylin pipeline. In addition, multiple drug candidates were advanced to the clinic, or were partnered with companies for clinical development. He has been a recipient of multiple SBIR and California state grants. His other current roles are Co-Founder and Scientific Advisor, BioShore Partners, Inc., and President of the Peptide Therapeutics Foundation.

David Giljohann, Ph.D., CEO, Exicure

Dr. Giljohann has served as Chief Executive Officer of Exicure since November 2013. Prior to that, Dr. Giljohann was the founding scientist of Exicure in 2009. Dr. Giljohann completed his Ph.D. in the laboratory of Dr. Chad A. Mirkin where he developed oligonucleotide-modified nanoparticles, including NanoFlare™, and Spherical Nucleic Acid (SNA™) constructs. Dr. Giljohann has been recognized for his work with a Materials Research Society Gold Award, Baxter Innovation Award, Rappaport Award for Research Excellence, NSEC Outstanding Research Award, and as a finalist in the National Inventors Hall of Fame Collegiate Inventors Competition. He was also named to the Analytical Scientist's "Top 40 Under 40 Power List" in 2014. Dr. Giljohann has contributed to over 25 manuscripts and over 100 patents and applications. Dr. Giljohann obtained his Ph.D. in 2009 from Northwestern University.

Reina Improgo, Ph.D., Research Scientist, Idera Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Dr. Reina Improgo is a Research Scientist in the Discovery Team at Idera Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing nucleic acid therapeutics for the treatment of certain cancers and rare diseases. Prior to her current role, Dr. Improgo was a postdoctoral scientist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, where she harnessed next-generation sequencing data to understand somatic and germline mutations driving chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). She was concurrently a visiting postdoctoral scientist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Dr. Improgo received her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where she studied the role of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in lung cancer.

R.P. (Kris) Iyer, Ph.D., Co-Founder & CSO, Spring Bank Pharmaceuticals

R.P. (Kris) Iyer is the co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Spring Bank Pharmaceuticals. He has more than 25 years’ experience in drug discovery and development in diverse fields including antivirals, inflammation, and immune-oncology. Kris is an innovator in the fields of nucleic acid chemistry, bioorganic chemistry, and pharmaceutical sciences with over 100 publications and 150 issued and filed U.S. and international patents. Prior to Spring Bank, Kris was the co-founder and VP of Discovery at Origenix Technologies.

Lutz Jermutus, Ph.D., Senior Director, Product Development Team Leader, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Diseases iMED, MedImmune

Jan Johansson, M.D., Ph.D., CEO & President, Artery Therapeutics, Inc.

He is a serial Biotech entrepreneur and has as founder and/or corporate officer helped take 3 companies’ public and raised more than $400M in private and public markets. Jan is trained as a basic scientist, practiced cardiovascular medicine for 18 years and has translational and development background with particular reference to cardiovascular technologies. In the CVD space, Dr. Johansson has led basic research groups and clinical phase 1-3 programs; he was also responsible for an NDA/product registration (Omacor/Lovaza). He has published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles, and more than 100 abstracts in the CVD area, and is the inventor of more than 30 patents. Jan enjoys long bike rides and cross country skiing.

Dennis Jul Hansen, MSc, Ph.D., Scientist, Oligo Synthesis, Discovery Operations, Roche Pharma Research and Early Development, Roche Innovation Center Copenhagen A/S

Dennis Jul Hansen has studied chemistry at Aarhus University in Denmark. In 2014 he obtained a Ph.D. within the field of nucleoside and oligonucleotide chemistry. He is currently employed at Roche Innovation Center Copenhagen, where his focus is on chemical development activities to support the synthesis of oligonucleotides and oligonucleotide conjugates in various scales entering the drug discovery portfolio.

Pravin T.P. Kaumaya, Ph.D., Professor, Division of Vaccine Development/Peptide & Protein Engineering Laboratory, Ohio State University

We have created and established a portfolio of validated peptide epitopes against multiple receptor tyrosine kinases and we have identified the most biologically effective combinations of EGFR (HER-1), HER-2, HER-3, VEGF and IGF-1R peptide vaccines/mimics to selectively inhibit multiple receptors and signaling pathways. This presentation will detail our ongoing studies based on the development of combinatorial immunotherapeutic strategies that act synergistically to enhance immune-mediated tumor killing aimed at addressing mechanisms of tumor resistance for several tumor types.

Kamaljit Kaur, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director, Center for Targeted Drug Delivery, Chapman University School of Pharmacy

Dr. Kamaljit Kaur is an Associate Professor of Targeted Drug Delivery and Biomedical Diagnostics at the School of Pharmacy of Chapman University. She recently (2015) moved to Chapman University School of Pharmacy, Irvine, CA from the University of Alberta, Canada where her group made important contributions in the fields of peptide-mimetics (beta-peptides), cancer targeting peptides (to increase the therapeutic index of current chemotherapeutic drugs), Glucosamine-peptide prodrugs (to increase the bioavailability of glucosamine) and class IIa bacteriocins (to develop diagnostics for pathogens and substitutes for conventional antibiotics). She has published 54 peer reviewed articles, 4 book chapters, been listed as an inventor in 1 approved patent, and has presented 23 invited talks.

Anastasia Khvorova, Ph.D., Professor, Molecular Medicine, RNA Therapeutics Institute, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Anastasia Khvorova, Ph.D., is Professor in the RNA Therapeutics Institute and the Program in Molecular Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) in Worcester, Massachusetts. Before joining the UMMS faculty, she held leadership positions in industry, including Vice President of Research & Development and Chief Science Officer of Dharmacon, Founder and Scientific Advisor of Advirna, and Chief Science Officer and Senior Vice President of RXi Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Khvorova’s industry experience in drug discovery and development collaborations with pharmaceutical companies along with her expertise in chemistry and cell biology allowed her to establish a lab at UMMS that brings together organic chemists and RNA biologists to develop novel approaches and solutions to understanding natural and therapeutic RNA trafficking and delivery.

Miriam Kidron, Ph.D., CSO and Director, Oramed Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Dr. Kidron currently serves as Chief Scientific Officer and Director of Oramed Pharmaceuticals, which she co-founded in 2006. She is a pharmacologist and biochemist, who earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. For close to 20 years Dr. Kidron was a senior researcher in the Diabetes Unit at Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel, earning the Bern Schlanger Award for her work on diabetes research. She was formerly a visiting professor at the Medical School at the University of Toronto and is a member of the American, European and Israeli Diabetes Associations.

Thomas Kieber-Emmons, Ph.D., Professor, Pathology, Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Thomas Kieber-Emmons, Ph.D., is known for his work on developing peptide mimetics of carbohydrate antigens as vaccines in both the cancer and pathogen areas, and is an acknowledged pioneer in this field. Dr. Kieber-Emmons received a BS in Environmental Engineering Technology from the Florida Institute of Technology and went on for his Ph.D. in Biophysics, focusing on computational chemistry and biology, at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute/State University of New York at Buffalo. Dr. Kieber-Emmons did his post-Doctoral studies in Molecular Immunology at Roswell Park were his research focused on the structural basis for molecular mimicry of antigens. He then moved to Idec Pharmaceuticals (now Biogen) in San Diego where he was head of IDEC’s peptide therapeutics program and worked on anti-idiotypic vaccines for lymphoma. He was recruited in 1990 to the Wistar Institute and the University of Pennsylvania. After 12 years in Philadelphia, Dr. Kieber-Emmons was recruited in 2002 to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences where he holds the Jossetta Wilkins Chair in Breast Cancer Research, and is Associate Director for prevention research at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. His group is moving forward with bringing the first structurally designed carbohydrate mimetic peptide into the clinic targeting breast cancer and other malignancies.

Kent Kirshenbaum, Ph.D., Professor, Chemistry, NYC Chemistry

Dr. Kirshenbaum leads a research program at New York University in the area of bioorganic chemistry and molecular pharmacology with a focus on peptidomimetics. He is an expert on peptoids and biological applications for “foldamer” compounds. Recent efforts include the development of peptoids to create precise multivalent displays. Dr. Kirshenbaum holds a BA in Chemistry from Reed College in Portland, Oregon. His Ph.D. studies were conducted in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at UC San Francisco and as a visiting scientist in the bioorganic chemistry group at Chiron Corporation. His post-doctoral training in protein chemistry was conducted with Prof. David Tirrell at Caltech. Dr. Kirshenbaum has been on the faculty at NYU since 2002, where he is a member of the Cancer Center and a co-founder of the Biomedical Chemistry Institute.

Eric Kitas, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Roche

Keith L. Knutson, Ph.D., Professor, Immunology, Director, Mayo Clinic Florida Cancer Research Program, Mayo Clinic Center for Immunology and Immune Therapies

Dr. Keith L. Knutson, Ph.D. is a Professor of Immunology and Director of Cancer Research at Mayo Clinic Florida. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia in Physiology and Pharmacology in 1995 and completed two post-doctoral fellowships in immunology. He was a 2004 recipient of a Howard Temin Award from the NCI. He is an internationally known leader in the field of tumor immunology and is a Komen Scholar. Dr. Knutson's research focuses on the immunotherapy of breast and ovarian cancers, both the basic and translational immunobiology. His laboratory research on cancer vaccines focuses on augmenting CD4 helper T cell immunity using peptide epitopes. He is a member of the NIH Tumor Microenvironment Study Section and a member of the DOD Ovarian Cancer Research Program Integration Panel. Dr. Knutson has over 125 publications and received $21 million in research funding over the past 10 years from various Federal and Foundational sources. Dr. Knutson previously served as a member of the DOD Breast Cancer Research Program Integration Panel, as the Director of the Tumor Vaccine Group in the Division of Medical Oncology at the University of Washington, as the Director of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center Immunology and Immunotherapy Program and as the Co-director of Mayo Clinic Immune Monitoring Core.

Thomas Kodadek, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry & Cancer Biology, Chair, Department of Cancer Biology, The Scripps Research Institute

Prof. Thomas Kodadek received his BS in Chemistry at the University of Miami (FL) in 1981 and his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Stanford University in 1985. He then pursued post-doctoral studies in the laboratory of Prof. Bruce Alberts at the University of California, San Francisco Medical School from 1985-1987. In the fall of 1987 he joined the faculty of Chemistry & Biochemistry at the University of Texas at Austin, rising to the rank of full professor. In 1998, he moved to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas where he served as Professor of Internal Medicine and Molecular Biology as well as the Director of the Division of Translational Research. In June, 2009, Prof. Kodadek moved to the Scripps Research Institute campus in Jupiter, FL where he is currently Chairman of Cancer Biology and Professor of Chemistry.

Art Krieg, M.D., Founder and CEO, Checkmate Pharmaceuticals

Art Krieg founded Checkmate Pharmaceuticals in 2015 to develop CpG-A oligonucleotides for cancer immunotherapy. Prior to that role, Art was CSO at Sarepta until July, 2014; co-founder and CEO at RaNA Therapeutics from 2011 to 2013; and CSO of Pfizer’s Oligonucleotide Therapeutics Unit from 2008 to 2011. Art discovered the immune stimulatory CpG DNA motif in 1994, and co-founded Coley Pharmaceutical in 1997 to develop this platform, serving as its CSO until its acquisition and incorporation into Pfizer in 2008. Art co-founded the first antisense journal, Nucleic Acid Therapeutics, and the Oligonucleotide Therapeutic Society, for which he is currently President-elect. Art received his M.D. from Washington University in 1983, and was Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Iowa until he left academia and joined Coley full-time in 2001. He has published more than 250 scientific papers and is an inventor on 48 issued U.S. patents covering oligonucleotide technologies. He serves on the scientific advisory boards of Intellia Therapeutics, Mirna Therapeutics, RaNA Therapeutics, and Solstice Biologics.

Jonathan R. Lai, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Dr. Jonathan Lai is Associate Professor of Biochemistry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He received his B. Sc. (Hons.) in Biochemistry from Queen's University in Ontario, Canada, followed by his Ph. D. is Chemistry and Biophysics at the University of Wisconsin - Madison where he worked with Prof. Sam Gellman on protein and peptide engineering. He was Helen Hay Whitney Post-Doctoral Fellow at Harvard Medical School from 2004-2007 in the groups of Prof. Chris Walsh and Prof. Stephen Harrison. Dr. Lai began his independent position at Einstein in 2007. His group has broad interests in protein engineering and has focused in recent years on application of these methods to discovery of new antiviral agents for Ebola, HIV-1, and Dengue viruses.

Fa Liu, Ph.D., Director, Medicinal Chemistry, Novo Nordisk

Fa Liu is currently the Director of Chemistry at Novo Nordisk Research Center at Indianapolis. Dr. Liu received his Ph.D. from the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry in 2004 followed by a five year stay at the National Cancer Institute as a postdoctoral fellow (2004-2007) and a scientist (2007-2009). He started his industrial career at Eli Lilly and Co. in 2009 where he spent five years. He joined Calibrium Biotech as Director of Chemistry in 2014 and started his current role in Novo Nordisk in Jan 2016. His research focuses on peptide therapeutics and the development of novel peptide chemistries.

Patrick Y. Lu, Ph.D., President & CSO, Sirnaomics, Inc.

Patrick Y. Lu, Ph.D., is the Founder and President of Sirnaomics, Inc., USA, and Founder and Chairman of Suzhou Sirnaomics Pharmaceuticals, Ltd. and Guangzhou Nanotides Pharmaceuticals, Co. Ltd. Dr. Lu started his biopharmaceutical industry career in 1993 and served as a lab head and senior scientist in Novartis and Digene (Until 2000). Dr. Lu was the co-founder and Executive VP of Intradigm Corporation (2001-2006). Patrick has authored more than 50 scientific papers, review articles and book chapters, and is an inventor for 38 issued and pending international and China patents. He has been an invited speaker in many international conferences throughout the world, and awarded a number of grants from NIH and the State of Maryland governments. Under his leadership, Sirnaomics has developed an enriched pipeline of novel siRNA therapeutic programs and established partnerships with Chinese Pharmaceutical companies and U.S. biotech companies.

Robert Lutz, Ph.D., Head, Oncology R&D, Bicycle Therapeutics

Dr. Robert Lutz is the Head of Oncology for Bicycle Therapeutics and has been working on Bicycle Drug Conjugates (BDCs) at Bicycle since 2015. Before Bicycle, Dr. Lutz held various R&D roles over a 23 year span at ImmunoGen, Inc., most recently as Vice President of Translational Research and Development with responsibility for all early stage antibody drug conjugate (ADC) development programs. Prior to his role leading development programs, Dr. Lutz was responsible for ImmunoGen’s ADC research and discovery efforts. He also served as ImmunoGen’s research lead on Genentech’s now approved trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1) program. Earlier, Dr. Lutz was part of ImmunoGen’s Apoptosis Technology Inc subsidiary where he conducted research leading to the discovery of the BH3 domain of the BCl-2 family of death regulatory proteins. Dr. Lutz was a research and postdoctoral fellow at the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute in Colorado and earned his doctoral degree in Biochemistry at Brandeis.

Thomas Madden, Ph.D., President & CEO, Acuitas Therapeutics Inc.

Dr. Madden obtained his BSc and Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of London, UK. He has held senior academic and industry positions including Assistant Professor in Pharmacology at the University of British Columbia and Senior Director, Technology Development and Licensing at Tekmira Pharmaceuticals. At Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Dr. Madden was responsible for product development of several liposomal anticancer agents including Marqibo™ (liposomal vincristine). Dr. Madden founded Acuitas Therapeutics in February 2009 and through his role as President and CEO has guided the company in its corporate relationships. Dr. Madden has over 50 publications relating to LNP technology and development of pharmaceutical products.

Muthiah (Mano) Manoharan, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Drug Discovery, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Claudio Mapelli, Ph.D., Principal Scientist, Discovery Chemistry Modalities, Merck Research Laboratories

Dr. Mapelli is currently a Principal Scientist in the Department of Modalities Chemistry, Merck Research Laboratories, Kenilworth, NJ. After receiving his doctoral degree in Organic Chemistry from the University of Padua in Italy, he moved to the US where he held post-doctoral appointments at the University of Georgia and University of Louisville from 1983 to 1988. He began his industrial career at EniChem Americas, where he worked in the biotech division. In 1991 he joined Bristol-Myers Squibb, where he was until October 2016. Since then, he has been at Merck Research Laboratories. His research interests include peptide-based medicinal chemistry, peptidomimetic therapeutics and chemical development of peptides. Dr. Mapelli is a co-inventor on seventeen patents and has co-authored more than thirty peer review papers. He is a reviewer for several journals including Organic Letters, Journal of Organic Chemistry, Journal of Medicinal Chemistry and Organic Process Research & Development.

William S. Marshall, Ph.D., President and CEO, miRagen Therapeutics

William S. Marshall, Ph.D., is miRagen’s President, Chief Executive Officer, Co-Founder and Director. Prior to establishing miRagen, Dr. Marshall was Vice President of Technology and Business Development for Bioscience at Thermo Fisher Scientific. In this role, he was responsible for leading technology assessment and strategic planning for the Thermo Fisher Biosciences Division, a unit with revenues of approximately $1 billion that manufactures and supplies a wide range of products and services across the general-chemistry and life-sciences arenas. Dr. Marshall was one of the scientific founders of Dharmacon, Inc., which was acquired by Fisher Scientific International, serving as the Executive Vice President for Research and Operations and General Manager. Prior to joining Dharmacon, Dr. Marshall served in many capacities at Amgen, Inc., most recently as Associate Director of Research, Site Head for Research and Head of the Nucleic Acid and Peptide Technology Department. In these positions, he participated in a variety of therapeutic development approaches throughout the drug discovery process leading to the development of clinical candidates. Dr. Marshall earned his BS in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his Ph.D. in Chemistry in the laboratory of Professor Marvin Caruthers at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is author and co-author of over 50 research papers and 80 patents. Dr. Marshall currently serves on the Boards of BiOptix, Inc., and the Colorado BioScience Association.

Andres Montefeltro, Ph.D., CEO, nLife Therapeutics, S.L.

Melissa J. Moore, Ph.D., CSO, mRNA Research Platform, Moderna

In her role as Chief Scientific Officer of Moderna’s mRNA research platform, Dr. Melissa Moore is responsible for leading all mRNA biology research at Moderna. She joined Moderna from the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS), where she served as Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology, Eleanor Eustis Farrington Chair in Cancer Research and Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Dr. Moore was also a founding Co-Director of the RNA Therapeutics Institute (RTI) at UMMS, and was instrumental in the creation of the Massachusetts Therapeutic and Entrepreneurship Realization initiative (MassTERi), a faculty-led program intended to facilitate the translation of UMMS discoveries into drugs, products, technologies and companies. Dr. Moore’s research at UMMS and HHMI encompassed a broad array of topics related to the role of RNA and RNA-protein (RNP) complexes in gene expression and touched on many human diseases including cancer, neurodegeneration and preeclampsia. Prior to UMMS, she spent 13 years as a professor at Brandeis University. She began working on RNA during her postdoctoral training with Phillip Sharp, Ph.D., Institute Professor, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, where she also received her Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry. Dr. Moore holds a BS in Chemistry and Biology from the College of William and Mary. Upon joining Moderna, Dr. Moore has retained her academic affiliation with UMMS as a part-time faculty member.

Fernando Pastor Rodríguez, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, Aptamers, Molecular Therapy, CIMA

Pamela Pavco, Ph.D., Chief Development Officer, RXi Pharmaceuticals Corp.

Dr. Pavco is Chief Development Officer for RXi Pharmaceuticals, overseeing programs in dermatology and ophthalmology. She has over 25 years of research and development experience in oligonucleotide therapeutics. Prior to 2007, she held leadership roles at Sirna Therapeutics and RPI Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Pavco received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Virginia Commonwealth University and completed her postdoctoral work at Duke University. She has authored numerous scientific articles and contributed to approximately 69 patents and patent applications in the oligonucleotide therapeutics field. She is a member of the American Association of Cancer Research and the Association for Research and Vision in Ophthalmology.

Bradley L. Pentelute, Ph.D., Professor Pfizer-Laubach Career Development, Department of Chemistry, Associate Member, Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT

Thazha P. Prakash, Director, Medicinal Chemistry, Ionis Pharmaceuticals

Dr. Prakash is a Director at Ionis Pharmaceuticals. Ionis Pharmaceuticals is a world leader in antisense technology-based drug development. He is a co-inventor of LICA technology for antisense therapeutics. He was also involved in development of Gen 2 and Gen 2.5 chemistries for antisense drugs and co-led Ionis ss-siRNA and siRNA programs. Dr. Prakash obtained a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, India. Subsequently, he held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Riverside, California and at the Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Carlsbad, California. His research interests lie in the area of nucleoside, nucleotides and oligonucleotide-based drug development. He authored or co-authored more than 80 papers and more than 50 patents or patent applications.

Raheleh Rezaei-Araghi, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Associate, Biology Department, MIT

I received my Ph.D. degree in Peptide Chemistry  at Free University of Berlin, Germany, in 2011. I am currently a postdoctoral associate in Department of Biology at MIT. I’ve worked as visiting postdoc at Dana Farber Cancer Institute since 2013. My chief interests are in design and application of chemical tools to control and regulate peptide and protein interactions and apply this knowledge to exploit and manipulate cell function and drive the development of next-generation therapeutics.

Joël Richard, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Peptides Development, Ipsen

Dr. Joël Richard graduated from Ecole Normale Supérieure (1984, Cachan, France) and then got his Ph.D. in Materials Science/Colloids & Interface Science from University of Paris VI (1987). Dr. Richard has more than 25 years of experience in chemistry and biopharmaceutical R&D, including several global senior leadership positions in various Biotech and Pharma companies, such as Ipsen, Merck Serono, Serono and Ethypharm. He also had an entrepreneurial experience, co-funding Mainelab (France), a drug delivery company specialized in developing solvent-free processes for protein delivery systems (1999-2004). Dr. Richard is presently leading all the CMC Development activities of Peptides & Small Molecules for the Ipsen Company, from Pre-Clinical Development to Phase III, Filing, Registration and Life Cycle Management.

Dmitry Samarsky, Ph.D., CSO, Silence Therapeutics

Tomi Sawyer, Ph.D., Distinguished Scientist, Discovery Chemistry Modalities, Merck Research Laboratories

Tomi is currently Distinguished Scientist, Discovery Chemistry Modalities, at Merck, where he leads the Peptide Drug Hunter Network of more than 100 scientists who are actively engaged in multidisciplinary programs and initiatives to advance peptide drug discovery as well as innovative core capabilities and knowledge engine. He is an entrepreneurial drug hunter with >33 years of industrial experience in both large pharma and biotech. Tomi is well known for his contributions to GPCR, kinase, protease and protein-protein interaction drug discovery. He has two marketed drugs, including Scenesse® (a peptide superagonist of MCR1 for the treatment of the orphan skin disease known as erythropoietic protophyria and other related indications) and Iclusig® (a small-molecule inhibitor of Bcr-Abl kinase for the treatment of resistant forms of chronic myelogenous leukemia). Some other examples of his drug development campaigns include the peptidomimetic renin inhibitor Ditekiren, a natural product macrocycle mTOR antagonist Ridaforolimus and the first stapled peptide dual MDM2–MDMX antagonist ALRN-6924. Tomi is credited with more than 500 scientific publications, patents, and presentations and holds several Adjunct Professorships at the University of Massachusetts, the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Northeastern University Center for Drug Discovery. He is a Distinguished Alumni Scholar from his undergraduate alma mater, Minnesota State University at Moorhead, and he has served a member of the MSUM Alumni Foundation Board of Directors. At his graduate alma mater, the University of Arizona, Tomi has recently received a Professional Achievement Award, and he serves as a member of the External Advisory Board for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Roel Q.J. Schaapveld, Ph.D., MBA, CEO, InteRNA Technologies BV

Roel served as Chief Operating Officer when InteRNA became operational until he was appointed Chief Executive Officer in May 2009. Prior to InteRNA, Roel was senior manager in the corporate finance biotech team at the Dutch merchant bank Kempen & Co involved in private funding, M&A and IPOs at Euronext of life sciences companies. Previously, he held several management positions at Kreatech Diagnostics (sold to Leica Biosystems), among which VP Corporate and Business Development. Roel holds MSc and Ph.D. degrees from Radboud University Nijmegen (NL). During his academic career he worked at the Roche Institute for Molecular Biology (Nutley, NJ), at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Boston, MA) and at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam. Roel received his MBA from Nyenrode Business School (NL).

Steffen Schubert, Ph.D., Head, In Vitro Pharmacology – Drug Discovery, Silence Therapeutics

Steffen Schubert is Head of the in vitro Pharmacology/Drug Development department with Silence Therapeutics in Berlin. He has more than 15 years of experience in the oligonucleotide and siRNA fields both in academic and industry settings. Steffen received his doctorate degree in Biochemistry from the Free University in Berlin and went on to study mechanisms of miRNA processing and their roles in melanoma metastasis in Carl Novina’s lab at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Subsequently, he became Group Leader and later Director of R&D at Cenix Bioscience in Dresden, focusing on high-throughput, high-content siRNA screens. Steffen joined Silence Therapeutics in 2015.

Alan Smith, Ph.D., Vice President and Co-Founder, 4P Therapeutics

Alan Smith, Ph.D., is Vice President and Co-Founder of 4P Therapeutics, a private company that focuses on the research and development of novel drug delivery technologies and therapeutics. 4P partners with pharmaceutical and medical device companies to develop drug delivery technologies and therapeutic compounds into marketed pharmaceutical products. Dr. Smith has over 20 years of experience in the research & development of pharmaceutical drug delivery systems, medical devices, and diagnostics. Previously, he was with Altea Therapeutics, most recently as Vice President, Product Development, where he led research and development programs on transdermal proteins and peptides with companies such as Eli Lilly, Amylin, Elan, and Novartis. Dr. Smith has experience in developing drug, biologic and vaccine delivery systems for treatment and management of diabetes, chronic pain, cardiovascular disease, and infectious diseases. He earned Ph.D. and MS degrees in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He currently serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of Expert Opinion on Drug Delivery.

Michael Sofia, Ph.D., CSO, Arbutus Biopharma, Inc.

Ved Srivastava, Ph.D., Vice President, Peptide Chemistry, Intarcia Therapeutics

Dr. Ved Srivastava is Vice President of Peptide Chemistry at Intarcia therapeutics. Prior to that he co-founded and was Vice President of Chemistry at Phoundry Pharmaceuticals, a peptide therapeutic discovery company that was acquired by Intarcia. Prior to Phoundry he was the Head of Peptide Chemistry at GlaxoSmithKline. Ved spent several years in leadership role with Amylin Pharmaceuticals where he focused on discovery and development of novel peptide hormones for diabetes, obesity and neuropsychiatric therapies. He has privileged to participated in the development and commercialization of SymlinTM, ByettaTM and BydeureonTM,  first-in-class medicines for the treatment of diabetes. Ved has over 25 years of experience with expertise in drug discovery and development in the area of metabolic diseases, CNS, and inflammation with major emphasis in peptide medicinal chemistry, chemistry manufacturing and control (CMC) and peptide drug delivery

Cy A. Stein, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Medicine and Experimental Therapeutics & Molecular and Cellular Biology, City of Hope National Medical Center

CA Stein, M.D., Ph.D. (Chemistry), has been involved in oligonucleotide therapeutics for the past 30 years. A native of NY, he received the Ph.D. from Stanford, the M.D. from Einstein, and after medical residency, was on staff at the NCI. This was followed by 13 years on the faculty of Columbia University, 9 years at Einstein, and now 5 years at the City of Hope. His major interests are in the delivery of oligonucleotides to cells, and particular in the gymnotic uptake and functioning of LNA mixmer and gapmer oligos, a phenomenon that he and his co-workers discovered.

Eric von Hofe, Ph.D., President, Antigen Express

Dr. Eric von Hofe is President of Antigen Express, leading the development of novel immunotherapeutics for cancer and infectious diseases. The lead compound (AE37) is the subject of a controlled, randomized Phase II study where it has shown an encouraging trend toward reduced relapse in patients with early stage breast cancer. During the course of those studies, the focus has been on elucidating the immunological consequences of cognate CD4+ T helper cell activation. Prior to joining Antigen, Dr. von Hofe held positions of increasing responsibility at Millennium Pharmaceuticals. He also held the position of Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center studying mechanisms of carcinogenesis. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in Experimental Pathology and was a postdoctoral fellow both at the University of Zurich and at Harvard.

Laixin Wang, Ph.D., Vice President, Bioanalytical, NovaBioAssays LLC

Bruce Wentworth, Ph.D., Former Vice President, Biology, Sarepta Therapeutics

Sunita Yadav, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Chemical and Pharmaceutical Profiling, Novartis

Sunita Yadav is a Senior Scientist in chemical and pharmaceutical profiling at Novartis, Cambridge. She has more than eight years of experience in the advanced drug delivery area with expertise in design and development of liposomal and polymeric-based drug delivery systems for biotherapeutics. Sunita has worked on multiple disease targets at Novartis, including cardiovascular, oncology, respiratory and neuroscience. Sunita has received several awards in her career at Novartis, namely the “NIBRI Spot,” “Fusion,” and “NIBR Catalyst.”. Sunita holds a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences and drug delivery systems from Northeastern University, Boston. At NEU, her research was focused on intranasal delivery of peptides to the brain. She has previously worked at Boston Scientific Corporation on various medical devices, such as drug-eluting stents and controlled drug-eluting polymer films.

Jingtao Zhang, Ph.D., Principle Scientist, Merck

Dr. Jingtao Zhang is a principal scientist in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Merck Research Laboratories at West Point, Pennsylvania. Over the 10 years’ industrial tenure, he has extensive experiences in diverse modalities including synthetic peptides, small molecules, synthetic conjugates, and oligonucleotides. His current role is in the preformulation and drug delivery research supporting the development of synthetic peptides and small molecule therapeutics. His current research interest is in biophysical characterization, peptide aggregation, and technology development for microneedle and implant drug delivery. His past roles were in the formulation, biophysical characterization, and analytical testing of siRNA drug delivery systems to advance the clinical development of siRNA therapeutics. Prior to Merck, he received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2007. He published more than 20 articles in peer-reviewed journals and presented extensively in industrial and academic conferences.