Executive Team

James-Breitmeyer

James Breitmeyer, MD, PhD

President and CEO

Dr. Breitmeyer has served as President, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Oncternal Therapeutics, Inc. since September 2015. Dr. Breitmeyer is a veteran biotech executive with experience successfully starting and growing biotechnology organizations. He has been responsible for both the development and implementation of both operational and drug development strategies, as well as supervising and managing both large organizations and emerging biotechnology companies. Dr. Breitmeyer served as President of Bavarian Nordic, Inc. and Executive Vice President of Bavarian Nordic A/S, a multinational corporation headquartered in Denmark, from February 2013 to July 2015 where he oversaw business operations and development strategy both for Bavarian Nordic, Inc. and Bavarian Nordic A/S. He served as a director of Zogenix, Inc., then a public pharmaceutical company, from March 2014 until it was acquired by UCB S.A. in March 2022 and was the acting Chief Medical Officer of Zogenix from August 2012 to February 2013 where he was responsible for clinical development and regulatory strategy. He previously served as the Executive Vice President of Development and Chief Medical Officer of Cadence Pharmaceuticals Inc., a public pharmaceutical company, from August 2006 to August 2012, and the Chief Medical Officer of Applied Molecular Evolution Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Co., a global pharmaceutical company, from December 2001 to August 2006. Dr. Breitmeyer was also the founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Harvard Clinical Research Institute, and Chief Medical Officer and Head of Research & Development for North America at Serono Laboratories Inc., an international biopharmaceutical company. Dr. Breitmeyer served as a founding collaborator and scientific advisor to Immunogen Inc., a biotechnology company, and held clinical and teaching positions at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Breitmeyer earned his B.A. in Chemistry from the University of California, Santa Cruz and his M.D. and Ph.D. from Washington University School of Medicine and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Oncology. He holds an active California medical license.

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Richard-Vincent

Richard Vincent

Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Vincent has served as Oncternal’s Chief Financial Officer since April 2017. Mr. Vincent served as an independent Chief Financial Officer to multiple pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device companies, including Avalyn Pharma (co-founder), Meritage Pharma, and Elevation Pharmaceuticals from 2012 through 2017. Mr. Vincent was the Chief Financial Officer and Secretary of Sorrento Therapeutics from January 2011 through February 2015. Mr. Vincent served as Chief Financial Officer for Verus Pharmaceuticals from 2004 to 2008, and Women First Healthcare from 2003 to 2005. Mr. Vincent’s areas of responsibility have spanned all areas of finance, treasury, investor and public relations, human resources, information technology, facilities and project management. From 1987 to 1995, Mr. Vincent held a number of positions with Deloitte & Touche LLP, the last of which was senior manager, where he specialized in emerging growth and publicly-reporting companies. Mr. Vincent became a Certified Public Accountant in California in 1989 and holds a B.S. degree in business with an emphasis in accounting from San Diego State University.

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Salim-Yazji

Salim Yazji, MD

Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Yazji brings to Oncternal over 20 years of experience in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, including successful registrations. Most recently, he was the co-founder and CEO of Ajuta Therapeutics, Inc. and the founder of Elpida Therapeutics. Dr. Yazji held multiple seats as a board member and scientific advisory board member at several biotech companies. Past leadership roles include Chief Medical Officer at PMV Pharma, Inc. and Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Calimmune, Inc., Vice president and Global Therapeutics Head at Baxalta, Inc., and Vice President and Therapeutic Area Head of Oncology at Baxter. Dr. Yazji has also held multiple leadership positions at Novartis Pharmaceutical, Exelixis, Inc., PDL BioPharma, Inc., and Johnson & Johnson. Dr. Yazji obtained his medical degree from the Pavlov School of Medicine, University of St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, Russia, and completed his postgraduate training at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Park Plaza  Hospital,  Houston and Almozov Hospital, St.  Petersburg, Russia.

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Rajesh-Krishnan

Rajesh Krishnan, PhD

Chief Technical Officer

Dr. Krishnan has over 20 years of experience across CMC, technology transfer, and manufacturing sciences for U.S. and international manufacturing sites, involving both internal and partnered programs. From 2018 until 2019, he served as Vice President, Process Development and Manufacturing Sciences at Dynavax Technologies Corporation, where he led manufacturing, drug process development, process validation, analytical sciences and technology transfer efforts for commercial and clinical development programs. From 2012 through 2017, Dr. Krishnan served in several positions at Gilead Sciences, Inc., most recently as Head, Biologics Drug Substance Process Development, leading upstream and downstream process development for multiple clinical biologics programs. From 2000 to 2012, he served in positions of increasing responsibility at Merck & Co., Inc., Amgen Inc. and Pfizer, with a consistent leadership role across process development, technology transfer and CMC for clinical and commercial biologics programs. Dr. Krishnan holds a B.S.E. degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University, a M.S. degree in chemical engineering from the University of California, Davis, and a Ph.D. degree in Biochemical Engineering from the University of California, Davis.

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Chase-Leavitt

Chase Leavitt

General Counsel

Chase Leavitt joined as our General Counsel in April 2021 and previously served as General Counsel of Lineage Cell Therapeutics, Inc., a publicly traded biotechnology company, from May 2019 to April 2021. From June 2018 to May 2019, Mr. Leavitt served as Vice President of Legal Affairs of Tang Capital Management, LLC, a life sciences-focused investment company, and its affiliate Odonate Therapeutics, Inc., a publicly traded biotechnology company. From May 2017 to May 2018, Mr. Leavitt served as the Deputy General Counsel of Switch, Inc., a publicly traded technology company, and previously served as its Associate General Counsel from July 2014 to May 2017. From 2007 to 2014, Mr. Leavitt was a corporate attorney at Latham & Watkins LLP, where his practice focused on public company representation, mergers and acquisitions and capital markets, serving life sciences and technology companies. Mr. Leavitt received a B.S. degree in business administration and a J.D. from the University of Southern California and is admitted to practice law by the State Bar of California.

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Anita-Wiseth

Anita Wiseth

SVP Human Resources

Ms. Wiseth joined as our Senior Vice President of HR in March 2021, bringing over 20 years of experience in increasing roles of responsibility in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. Prior to Oncternal she led an Executive HR Consulting firm, providing services to private and public life science companies from 2015-2021. Past leadership roles include Vice President, HR at Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc., a publicly traded life sciences company from 2006-2015, where she drove all aspects of HR and organization capability while helping  grow the company from 30 to over 200 employees; Senior Director, Human Resources at X-Ceptor Therapeutics, Inc. a privately held biotech company from 1999 until the company was aquired; and Director, HR at Sequana Therapeutics, Inc., from 1994 until the company was aquired in 1998, driving organization capability and change management during extensive growth and IPO, helping grow the company from 2 to over 200 employees. Ms. Wiseth earned a Baccalaureate in International Business and foreign languages in Norway.

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Pablo-Urbaneja

Pablo Urbaneja

SVP Corporate Development

Pablo Urbaneja joined as our SVP, Corporate Development in July 2021. He previously served as Vice President, Corporate Development at Coherus Biosciences, where he helped transform its biosimilars and immuno-oncology late-stage pipeline. Previously, Mr. Urbaneja was in the pharmaceuticals and medical products practice of McKinsey & Company, where he advised clients on business strategy, operational performance, commercialization, and mergers and acquisitions, on a global scale.

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Angela-Pietrofeso

Angela Pietrofeso

VP Clinical Development Operations

Ms. Pietrofeso joined Oncternal in September 2021 as Senior Director Clinical Operations and was promoted to VP Clinical Development Operations in September 2022. Ms. Pietrofeso has over 20 years of extensive global expertise in biopharmaceutical and medical device industries. She has a broad range of therapeutic experience in oncology, ulcerative colitis, cardiovascular medical devices, acute pain, and infectious diseases. Before joining Oncternal, Ms. Pietrofeso held positions of increasing responsibility at Pfizer, Valeant, Metabasis, Cadence Pharmaceuticals, Lithera, W.L Gore & Associates, and Gossamer Bio. Her career highlights include contributions to the successful NDA for Sutent® at Pfizer; the NDA submission for Ofirmev® at Cadence Pharmaceuticals; and the PMA approval of GORE® VIABAHN® VBX Balloon Expandable Endoprosthesis (VBX Stent Graft) at W.L Gore & Associates. Prior to joining industry Ms. Pietrofeso worked as a Research Nurse Manager at the Royal Free Hospital (London UK) and as a Registered Nurse in South Africa and UK. Ms. Pietrofeso holds a Bachelor of Social Science ( Nursing) from University of Natal ( Durban South Africa).

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Brad-Webre

Brad Webre

VP Finance

Mr. Webre has served as Oncternal’s Vice President, Finance since February 2021.  From 2016 to 2021, Mr. Webre served as Chief Financial Officer for Suneva Medical.  From 2013 to 2016, Mr. Webre served as Chief Financial Officer for NEHP and Diversified Fluid Solutions.  From 2002 to 2013, Mr. Webre served in various financial roles at manufacturing, risk consulting, and consumer product companies.  Mr. Webre’s areas of responsibility have spanned all areas of finance, treasury, investor relations, human resources, information technology, and project management. Mr. Webre started his career at Deloitte & Touche LLP, where he specialized in device manufacturing and publicly-traded companies. Mr. Webre is a Certified Public Accountant in California and holds a B.S. degree in business with an emphasis in accounting from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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yisrael-katz

Yisrael Katz, MD

VP Clinical Development

Dr. Katz joined Oncternal Therapeutics in July 2023 as VP of Clinical Development and serves as medical lead on the ONCT-534 and ONCT-808 programs as well as head of pharmacovigilance. Prior to joining Oncternal, Dr. Katz was Senior Medical Director of Clinical Development at Viracta Therapeutics, a San Diego based clinical-stage biotechnology company developing novel targeted therapies for virally-associated malignancies; in this capacity he led the company’s solid tumor portfolio and global safety efforts. He had also led and supported several late-phase programs across multiple solid tumor indications as Medical Director at Exelixis. Prior to this, as Medical Director at Calviri, Dr. Katz oversaw the company’s transition of a robust preclinical theranostics portfolio into initial cancer vaccine clinical trials. He continues to practice inpatient medicine as an attending physician at the University of California San Diego Medical Center, and is a renowned clinical educator having delivered hundreds of invited lectures across dozens of US medical programs. Dr. Katz was recently featured on the “Top 25 Healthcare Technology Leaders of San Diego” report in 2022. Dr. Katz received his B.S. in Neuroscience from Washington University in St. Louis, M.D. from the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, and completed his internal medicine residency at Georgetown University Hospital.

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Board of Directors

David-F.-Hale

David F. Hale

Chairman

David F. Hale has served on our board of directors since the completion of the Merger in June 2019. He was a co-founder and served as a member of the board of directors of Private Oncternal since 2013, and Chairman of the Board of Private Oncternal from December 2018 until the Merger. Since May 2006, Mr. Hale has served as Chairman & CEO of Hale Biopharma Ventures, LLC. He is a serial entrepreneur who has been involved in the formation and development of numerous life sciences companies. He was previously President and CEO of CancerVax Corporation, a cancer therapeutic company from October 2000 through May 2006 when CancerVax merged with Micromet, Inc. He became Chairman of Micromet, Inc. until the sale of the company to Amgen Inc. in 2012. After joining Hybritech, Inc., in 1982, he was President & Chief Operating Officer and became CEO in 1986, when Hybritech was acquired by Eli Lilly and Co. From 1987 to 1997 he was Chairman, President and CEO of Gensia, Inc. He was a co-founder and Chairman of Viagene, Inc. from 1987 to 1995. He was President and CEO of Women First HealthCare, Inc. from January 1998 to June 2000. Prior to joining Hybritech in 1982, Mr. Hale was Vice President and General Manager of BBL Microbiology Systems, a division of Becton, Dickinson & Co. and from 1971 to 1980, held various marketing and sales management positions with Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation, a division of Johnson & Johnson, Inc. Mr. Hale previously served as Chairman of a number of companies, including Santarus, Inc., Somaxon, Inc., SkinMedica, Inc., CRISIMed, Inc., Agility Clinical, Inc., Zerigo Health, Inc., Neurana, Inc., and Conatus Pharmaceuticals Inc. He is a Co-founder and currently serves as a Director of Neurelis, Inc and Dermata, Inc. Mr. Hale also is a co-founder and serves on the Board of Directors of BIOCOM and Connect, is a former member of the board of The Biotechnology Industry Organization or BIO, and the San Diego Economic Development Corporation. Mr. Hale also serves as a board trustee of Rady Children’s Hospital of San Diego, and Chairman of the board of Rady Children’s Institute of Genomics Medicine and serves as a member of the board of the University of San Diego. Mr. Hale holds a B.A. in Biology and Chemistry from Jacksonville State University.

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James-Breitmeyer

Dr. Breitmeyer has served as President, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Oncternal Therapeutics, Inc. since September 2015. Dr. Breitmeyer is a veteran biotech executive with experience successfully starting and growing biotechnology organizations. He has been responsible for both the development and implementation of both operational and drug development strategies, as well as supervising and managing both large organizations and emerging biotechnology companies. Dr. Breitmeyer served as President of Bavarian Nordic, Inc. and Executive Vice President of Bavarian Nordic A/S, a multinational corporation headquartered in Denmark, from February 2013 to July 2015 where he oversaw business operations and development strategy both for Bavarian Nordic, Inc. and Bavarian Nordic A/S. He served as a director of Zogenix, Inc., then a public pharmaceutical company, from March 2014 until it was acquired by UCB S.A. in March 2022 and was the acting Chief Medical Officer of Zogenix from August 2012 to February 2013 where he was responsible for clinical development and regulatory strategy. He previously served as the Executive Vice President of Development and Chief Medical Officer of Cadence Pharmaceuticals Inc., a public pharmaceutical company, from August 2006 to August 2012, and the Chief Medical Officer of Applied Molecular Evolution Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Co., a global pharmaceutical company, from December 2001 to August 2006. Dr. Breitmeyer was also the founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Harvard Clinical Research Institute, and Chief Medical Officer and Head of Research & Development for North America at Serono Laboratories Inc., an international biopharmaceutical company. Dr. Breitmeyer served as a founding collaborator and scientific advisor to Immunogen Inc., a biotechnology company, and held clinical and teaching positions at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Breitmeyer earned his B.A. in Chemistry from the University of California, Santa Cruz and his M.D. and Ph.D. from Washington University School of Medicine and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Oncology. He holds an active California medical license.

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Michael-G.-Carter

Dr. Carter has served as a member of our board of directors since June 2019. Dr. Carter was a non-executive director of Santarus, Inc. from 2004 to 2013, served as a non-executive director of Micromet AG from 2001 to 2005 and of MICROMET, Inc. from 2006 to March 2012, and served as a non-executive director of Fulcrum Pharma, PLC from 2005 to 2010. Dr. Carter was a member of the Advisory Board of Paul Capital Royalty Fund from 2005 to 2008, and was a venture partner with SV Life Sciences Advisors, LLP from 1998 to 2016. He has served as a member of the strategic advisory board of Healthcare Royalty Partners (HCRP) since September 2009 and a member of the HCRP Investment Committee since 2015. Dr. Carter was the non-executive chairman of Metris Therapeutics, Ltd., a biotechnology firm specializing in women’s healthcare from 1999 to 2008. He was also a non-executive director of ONCOETHIX from June 2013 until its sale to Merck & Co., in December 2014. Dr. Carter served on the Pharmaceutical Board of I.C.I. Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, a predecessor company of AstraZeneca, and held various positions with I.C.I. Zeneca from 1984 to 1998, including International Medical Director and International Marketing Director. From 1985 to 1995, Dr. Carter served as a member of the U.K. Government’s Medicines Commission. Dr. Carter is an Elected Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine, and of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. Dr. Carter holds a degree in pharmacy from London University (U.K.) and a medical degree from Sheffield University Medical School (U.K.).

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Jill-DeSimone

Jill DeSimone

Director

Ms. DeSimone was most recently President of U.S. Oncology at Merck & Co., Inc., where she built the company’s oncology division, growing it to over a $9 billion business in just eight years. She led three key product launches and more than 45 indication launches, including Keytruda®. Prior to joining Merck, she served as senior vice president of Global Women’s Health at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd from 2012 to 2014. Prior to her time at Teva, Ms. DeSimone served in several roles of increasing responsibility at Bristol Myers Squibb from 1980 to 2012, including senior vice president of U.S. Oncology & Commercial from 2010 to 2012 and senior vice president of U.S. Virology/HIV from 2006 to 2010. Ms. DeSimone currently serves as a member of the board of directors of Praxis Precision Medicines, Inc. and Affini-T Therapeutics Inc. She also serves as a board member for the Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation, a nonprofit organization that delivers non-medical aid for individuals undergoing cancer treatment. Ms. DeSimone received a B.S. in pharmacy from Northeastern University and completed a fellowship with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

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Bill-LaRue

Bill LaRue

Director

William R. LaRue has served as a member of our board of directors since December 2017. Mr. LaRue currently serves as an independent board member for multiple public and private companies in the life science industry. He served as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Cadence Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, starting in June 2006, and expanded his role to serve as Assistant Secretary at Cadence in April 2007, serving in both capacities until the company’s acquisition by Mallinckrodt plc in March 2014. At Cadence, Mr. LaRue was a member of the Executive Committee with direct responsibility for the company’s financial leadership including corporate financing, investor relations, financial planning and reporting, SEC reporting, accounting, treasury, risk management, tax and information technology. During his tenure, Cadence raised over $375 million in public and private equity and senior debt, including an IPO in October 2006 as the company transitioned from a development stage to a commercial stage company. Prior to joining Cadence, Mr. LaRue served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of CancerVax Corporation, a biotechnology company, from 2001 until its merger with Micromet, Inc. in May 2006. Mr. LaRue currently serves as a member of the board of directors and chair of the Audit Committee of Tracon Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Conatus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Alastin Skincare, Inc. He previously served on the boards of directors of Applied Proteomics, Inc., Neurelis, Inc. and Cadence Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Mr. LaRue received a B.S. in business administration and an M.B.A. from the University of Southern California. 

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Xin-Nakanishi

Xin Nakanishi, Ph.D. has served as a member of Oncternal’s board of directors since November 2018. She has served as the Chief Executive Officer of Shanghai Pharma Biotherapeutics USA Inc since July 2018. Dr. Nakanishi previously served as a venture partner at Yuansheng bioVENTURE from 2017-2018, and was CEO and founder of Sunvita Therapeutics, LLC from 2009- 2018 a company that provided cross border business development for various US and Chinese biopharmaceutical companies. She was also the Director of Biology at Phenomix Inc, a senior scientist at Pfizer, and a group leader at Immusol Inc. Dr. Nakanishi holds a B.A. in Virology from Wuhan University and a Ph.D in Biochemistry from the University of Kansas. 

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Charles-Theuer

Dr. Theuer has served as a member of Oncternal’s board of directors since March 2018. He has been President, Chief Executive Officer and a member of the board of TRACON Pharmaceuticals, Inc. since July 2006. From 2004 to 2006, Dr. Theuer was the Chief Medical Officer at TargeGen, Inc., a biotechnology company. Prior to joining TargeGen, Inc., Dr. Theuer was Director of Clinical Oncology at Pfizer, Inc., a pharmaceutical corporation, from 2003 to 2004. Dr. Theuer has also held senior positions at IDEC Pharmaceuticals Corp. from 2002 to 2003 and at the National Cancer Institute from 1991 to 1993. In addition, he has held academic positions at the University of California, Irvine, where he was Assistant Professor in the Division of Surgical Oncology and Department of Medicine. Dr. Theuer currently serves as a director at 4D Molecular Therapeutics, a position he has held since January 2016. Dr. Theuer received a B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.D. from the University of California, San Francisco, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine. He completed a general surgery residency program at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and was board certified in general surgery in 1997. 

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Robert-J.-Wills

Dr. Wills has served as a member of our board of directors since June 2019. Dr. Wills has over three decades of experience as a leader in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. Dr. Wills joined GTx as the Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors and as Chairman of the Board’s Scientific and Development Committee on March 2, 2015. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of CymaBay Therapeutics, as Board member at Parion Sciences, Inc, as Board member at Go Therapeutics and as a member of the Emerging Companies Section Governing Board of Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). Prior to these roles, Dr. Wills spent over 25 years at Johnson & Johnson. Most recently he was Vice President, Alliance Management, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. He also served as Senior Vice President Global Development, where he was responsible for the R&D pipeline and a member of the R&D Board of Directors. In addition he served on several of the commercial Operating Company Boards and key pharmaceutical group decision-making committees. Dr. Wills began his career at Hoffmann-LaRoche where he spent 10 years in several roles of scientific responsibility. He holds a BS in Biochemistry and an MS in Pharmaceutics from the University of Wisconsin and a PhD in Pharmaceutics from the University of Texas. 

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Daniel-Kisner

Dr. Kisner has served as a member of our board of directors since June 2019. Dr. Kisner currently serves as an independent consultant in the life science industry. He was a partner at Aberdare Ventures from 2003 to 2011. Dr. Kisner served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Caliper Life Sciences from 2002 to 2008, and as President and CEO of its predecessor company, Caliper Technologies, from 1999 to 2002. He held positions of increasing responsibility at Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., from 1991 to 1999, most recently as President and COO. Dr. Kisner previously served in pharmaceutical research and development executive positions at Abbott Laboratories from 1988 to 1991 and at SmithKline Beckman Laboratories from 1985 to 1988. He held a tenured faculty position in the Division of Medical Oncology at the University of Texas, San Antonio School of Medicine until 1985 after a five-year advancement through the Cancer Treatment Evaluation Program of the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Kisner is board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology. Dr. Kisner holds a B.A. from Rutgers University and an M.D. from Georgetown University. Dr. Kisner currently serves as a director at Dynavax Technologies Corporation, and has extensive prior private and public company board experience, including serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors at Tekmira Pharmaceuticals. 

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Rosemary-Mazanet

Dr. Mazanet has served since June 2015 as the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board and since September 2017 as Chief Science Officer for Columbia Care, Inc. She has served as Clinical Advisor to many companies and funds through her consultancy business, R Mazanet LLC, which she has managed as President since May 2004. Dr. Mazanet also has experience in public equity markets as the Managing Partner at Apelles Investment, LLC from 2007 to 2014, and as the Head of Research at Oracle Partners LP from 1998 to 2004. Prior to her public equity work, Dr. Mazanet worked at Amgen, Inc., where she led Clinical Development teams that conducted successful development programs leading to product approvals. Dr. Mazanet served as a director of GTx, Inc. from January 2002 to June 2010, prior to the completion of its merger with the Company in June 2019. Dr. Mazanet has served as a Trustee at the University of Pennsylvania Health System since July 2002, and as the Chair, Executive Advisory Board for the Wharton Leonard Davis Institute since December 2020. Dr. Mazanet holds a B.A. in biology from the University of Virginia, and an M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Mazanet trained as an internist and oncologist in the Harvard Hospitals.

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Scientific Advisors

Michael-Wang

Michael Wang, MD

Cell Therapy

Dr. Wang is Professor in the Department of Lymphoma and Myeloma at MD Anderson Cancer Center. He has published more than 270 peer-reviewed papers and has presented his work at meetings nationally and internationally. He is the Director of the Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL) Program of Excellence, Co-Director of Clinical Trials, and PI of the B-cell Lymphoma Moon Shot Program at MD Anderson. During the past 22 years, he has focused on both preclinical and clinical research. He established the first human primary MCL animal model for the study of the biology and treatment of MCL. He pioneered work to improve the treatment of patients with MCL, including the introduction of BTK inhibitors such as ibrutinib, acalabrutinib, and pirtobrutinib in the treatment algorithm, and has performed extensive work with CAR-T cells for the treatment of patients who relapsed on other therapies. His work has been published in the most prestigious medical journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet.

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Johann-de-Bono

Johann de Bono, MD, PhD

Prostate Cancer

Prof. de Bono is Regius Professor of Cancer Research, and Professor in Experimental Cancer Medicine at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and Director of the joint Drug Development Unit at The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, London. 

Prof. de Bono is a world leader in prostate cancer research, leading advancements in the treatment of prostate cancer through trials of abiraterone, cabazitaxel, and enzalutamide. He has also led the clinical development of multiple PARP inhibitors, including talazoparib, niraparib and olaparib.  He also led on the identification of germline and somatic DNA repair defects in lethal prostate cancer. Prof. de Bono earned his M.D. and Ph.D. from Glasgow University, and he is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, a Member of the Malta Order of Merit and received the prestigious ESMO Award in 2012.

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matthew-r-smith

Matthew R. Smith, MD, PhD

Prostate Cancer

Dr. Smith is Director of the Genitourinary Oncology Program at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is an internationally recognized expert in prostate cancer. He has published extensively on the treatment and prevention of bone metastases, prostate cancer survivorship, and novel androgen receptor pathway inhibitors. He has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed articles including manuscripts in New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, Journal of Clinical Oncology, and Clinical Cancer Research. He graduated summa cum laude from Canisius College with a B.A. in biochemistry. He received his MD and PhD degrees from Duke University School of Medicine. He trained in Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He completed a fellowship in Medical Oncology at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and a postdoctoral fellowship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Evan Yu, M.D.

Evan Yu, MD

Prostate Cancer

Dr. Yu is Professor and Section Head of Medical Oncology at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and the University of Washington in Seattle.

Dr. Yu treats prostate, bladder, and testicular cancer patients.  He is also the Medical Director of Clinical Research Support for the Fred Hutch/University of Washington/Seattle Children’s Cancer Consortium. As a clinician-scientist, he provides a personalized-medicine approach to test novel therapies and discover unique prostate cancer biomarkers. Dr. Yu earned his M.D. at the University of Washington School of Medicine, did his Internal Medicine residency at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and was a fellow in Hematology and Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

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Angela Shen, MD, MBA

Angela Shen, MD, MBA

Cell Therapy

Dr. Shen is currently Vice President, Strategic Innovation Leaders at Mass General Brigham, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School. She received a BS through Rensselaer’s accelerated biomedical program, an MD from Albany Medical College in New York, and MBA from NYU Stern School of Business.

Dr. Shen provides expertise in translational medicine, clinical development, and regulatory affairs for novel therapies being developed at Mass General Brigham, with a focus on the gene & cell therapy portfolio. She has served as Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at multiple venture-backed biotech startups including Walking Fish, Arcellx, NKarta, Arvinas, and acting CMO of Tizona. Dr. Shen has led oncology and rare disease programs in a variety of pharmaceutical settings for 17+ years through all stages of drug development including IND filings, first-in-human trials, registrational trials, and NDA/BLA filings. While working in oncology clinical development at Novartis, Dr. Shen was extensively involved with in-licensing University of Pennsylvania’s CAR-T technology. She assembled and led the clinical team responsible for designing and launching the industry’s first multi-site, registration CAR-T trial, which resulted in the approval of Kymriah® (CTL019, CART-19). Prior to that, Dr. Shen made key contributions to the development of several oncology drugs within Novartis, Exelixis, and Johnson & Johnson.

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Sadik Kassim, PhD

Sadik Kassim, PhD

Cell Therapy

Dr. Kassim, a cell and gene therapy bioprocessing and translational research expert, is currently Chief Technology Officer at the Danaher Corporation, with a focus on new genomic medicines, and is an advisor for the RA Capital ventures team. Most recently, he was Chief Technology Officer at Vor Bio where he built the technical operations team responsible for process development, analytical development, supply chain, and manufacturing support of a CRISPR gene-edited HSPC product and oversaw the company’s CAR-T efforts. Prior to this, he served as executive Director at Kite Pharma, where he led the development of manufacturing processes for autologous CAR-T and TCR-based cell therapies. Before this, he was Chief Scientific officer at Mustang Bio, where he managed the foundational build-out of the company’s preclinical and manufacturing activities. Earlier in his career, he was Head of Early Analytical Development for Novartis’ Cell and Gene Therapies Unit, and a research biologist at the US National Cancer Institute (NCI). Sadik has contributed to the development and successful BLA and MAA filings for all three FDA‐approved T‐cell therapies, Kymriah, Tecartus, and Yescarta.

Sadik holds a bachelor of science degree in Cell and Molecular Biology from Tulane University and earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from Louisiana State University.

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Marcela-Maus

Marcela Maus, MD, PhD

Cell Therapy

Dr. Maus is currently an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, the Paula O’Keefe Chair in Oncology and Director of Cellular Immunotherapy at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center, an Attending Physician in the Hematopoietic Cell Transplant and Cell Therapy division of Oncology at MGH. She is an Associate Member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, and an Associate Member of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard.

Dr. Maus is internationally known for her work as a translational physician-scientist in the field of immunology, particularly as it relates to T-cell immunotherapies and cellular therapies in the treatment of cancer. Her laboratory focuses on the biology of human T cell activation, costimulation, and memory, and on the application of human T cell therapies to human disease, including forward and reverse translation of engineered T cell therapies in early-phase clinical trials. She has authored over 100 papers indexed in Pubmed and holds multiple NIH R01 grants and several Investigational New Drug Applications (IND’s). 

Dr. Maus completed undergraduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and holds graduate degrees (M.D., Ph.D.) from University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Maus trained in internal medicine at University of Pennsylvania and in hematology and medical oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She also serves on several scientific and clinical advisory boards for the biotechnology industry as well as external academic medical centers.

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Howard Soule, Ph.D.

Howard Soule, PhD

Prostate Cancer

Dr. Soule– pro-bono advisor – is Executive Vice President & Chief Science Officer at the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Santa Monica. Dr. Howard Soule leads the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) in funding and accelerating prostate cancer research globally. Dr. Soule is also a member of the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program Integration Panel. He has also served as program director of research and development at Sanofi Diagnostic Pasteur, and vice president of research and development at Corvas International, Inc. Dr. Soule received a Ph.D. from Baylor College of Medicine in Virology and Epidemiology and was a Post Doctoral Fellow in Immunology and Vascular Biology at the Scripps Research Institute.

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Scott Dehm, Ph.D.

Scott Dehm, PhD

Prostate Cancer

Dr. Dehm is Professor and Apogee Enterprises Chair in Cancer Research, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at the University Minnesota, Minneapolis. Dr. Dehm’s research laboratory focuses on the role of the androgen receptor (AR) and alterations in AR signaling in prostate cancer development and progression, studying the changes that occur in the AR in response to drug therapies to understand the mechanisms underlying the progression to therapy-resistant disease. His work has revealed new ways in which cancer cells can re-activate the androgen/AR pathway. Dr. Dehm completed a BS and Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Saskatchewan was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Mayo Clinic.

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Gunnar-Kaufmann

Gunnar Kaufmann, PhD

Prostate Cancer and Cell Therapy

Dr. Kaufmann is currently Senior Vice President, Chief Scientific Officer and Head of Open Innovation at Kyowa Kirin, Inc. San Diego and has extensive experience in discovery and preclinical development of both biotherapeutics and small molecule drug product candidates. Dr. Kaufmann served as Chief Science Officer at Oncternal Therapeutics, Inc. from 2019 to 2022, Senior Vice President, Immunotherapy, Head of Research and Global Partnerships at Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. Dr. Kaufmann was previously a faculty member at The Scripps Research Institute and still serves as Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Immunology and Microbial Science. Dr. Kaufmann holds a B.S. in human biology from Phillips University Marburg, an M.S. in human biology from Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University Greifswald, and a Ph.D. from The Scripps Research Institute’s Biology Program.

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Thomas-Kipps

Thomas Kipps, MD, PhD

Scientific Advisor

Dr. Kipps, MD, PhD, is Director, Center for Novel Therapeutics, Evelyn and Edwin Tasch Chair in Cancer Research, Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Co-Director of Research Operations at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. He received his Ph.D. in Immunology and M.D. from Harvard University and had his residency and fellowship training in Internal Medicine, Hematology, and Genetics at Stanford University.

Dr. Kipps has a national and international reputation for his work in cancer research, immunology, and gene therapy. He has been a leader in the field for many years, and has helped to develop standardized treatment protocols. He is an author on more than 450 publications and is the PI on several peer-reviewed grants, including an award from NCI/NIH to fund the Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Research Consortium (CRC). The CRC involves collaboration with eight other Cancer Centers around the United States and the UK. Dr. Kipps is also the Director of the Blood Cancer Research Fund at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. The Blood Cancer Research Fund concentrates on developing cures for all types of blood related cancers, specifically Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL).

Associated Links:

Thomas Kipps, University of California San Diego

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ramesh-narayanan

Dr. Ramesh Narayanan is a Professor and the Muirhead Chair of excellence in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennesee Health Science Center (UTHSC), Memphis, TN. Dr. Narayanan also serves as the Deputy Director of UTHSC Center for Cancer Research and as the interim Assistant Dean of Research in the College of Medicine. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Madras, MBA from the University of Memphis, and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Baylor College of Medicine. Prior to joining UTHSC, Dr. Narayanan served biotech industry for nine years where he contributed to multiple drug discovery programs to treat cancer and musculoskeletal diseases. The DAARI program was coinvented in Dr. Narayanan’s laboratory at UTHSC. He has published over 70 peer reviewed journal articles, co-authored several book chapters, and is an inventor in over 125 patents. His laboratory is funded by various federal agencies.

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