Immuno-Oncology Investing & Partnering Speaker Biographies
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Robert Ang, MD, CBO, Neon Therapeutics
Robert Ang is Chief Business Officer at Neon. Prior to Neon, Robert served as SVP of business development at Bavarian Nordic, an international biotechnology company developing and manufacturing novel cancer immunotherapies and vaccines for infectious diseases. In this role, Robert was primarily responsible for conducting the transaction between Bavarian Nordic and Bristol-Myers Squibb for PROSTVAC, a Phase 3 immuno-oncology asset, in a landmark $975M deal completed in March 2015. Prior to joining Bavarian Nordic, Robert served as both head of business development and medical affairs for Cadence Pharmaceuticals.
Prior to Cadence Pharmaceuticals, Robert worked at Frazier Healthcare Ventures, a leading health care venture capital firm. At Frazier, he led two investment rounds in Cadence Pharmaceuticals alongside other investments in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, including Incline Therapeutics (now The Medicines Company), Alnara Pharmaceuticals (now Eli Lilly) and Collegium Pharmaceuticals (which spun out PreCision Dermatology, now Valeant Pharmaceuticals). Robert also has experience in management consulting with the Boston Consulting Group and general surgical residency training.
Robert holds an M.B.B.S. (Doctor of Medicine) from the University of Western Australia and an MBA with honors from Columbia Business School.
Kaan Certel, PhD, Head, Oncology External Innovation, Global Business Development & Licensing, Sanofi
Dr. Certel received his Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of Iowa and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, where he studied the molecular and cell biological basis of tumor progression and metastasis in the context of human melanoma. Prior to moving to his current role as the Head of External Innovation, Oncology at Sanofi, Dr. Certel was a Group Leader in the Therapeutic Discovery Sciences group at X-Chem Pharmaceuticals, where he was instrumental in new venture creation efforts. In this capacity, Dr. Certel played a key role in establishing the first X-Chem spinout dedicated to small molecule drug discovery in immunooncology. In addition to helping efforts to shape the multi-target pipeline, he also led the immunooncology research portfolio, overseeing activities from target production and early discovery to preclinical animal model studies. Prior to joining X-Chem, Dr. Certel led antibody discovery efforts in oncology and autoimmune disease therapeutic areas at X-Body Biosciences, which is now a part of Juno Therapeutics.
Stephen Curtis, PhD, Principal, MPM Capital
Dr. Stephen (Steve) Curtis joined MPM as a Principal in 2018. Prior to joining MPM, Steve was Senior Director of Business Development – Emerging Technology and Innovation for Eli Lilly and Company, out of Lilly’s external research hub in Cambridge, MA. In that role, he focused on Lilly’s strategic limited partnerships in top-tier venture funds, direct equity investments in selected biotechnology companies, “build-to-buy” investments, and other “shared-risk” drug discovery and early development relationships.
Previously, Steve held diverse roles in business development and venture investing. He co-led the Bioscience Ventures group within 2M Companies, the Dallas-based family office of Morton H. Meyerson, headed the Technology Evaluation and In-Licensing program at Reata Pharmaceuticals, and interned at Siemens Venture Capital in Boston while finishing his graduate studies. Steve completed his Ph.D. in biological and biomedical sciences at Harvard Medical School in Boston, earned a dual B.S. degree (summa cum laude) in molecular biology and applied economics and management from Cornell University, and completed the Kauffman Fellows Program as a member of Class 20.
Michael Gladstone, Principal, Atlas Venture
Michael Gladstone is a Principal at Atlas Venture. Michael was a member of the founding teams of several Atlas Venture-originated companies, including Padlock Therapeutics (acquired by BMS), Surface Oncology (NASDAQ: SURF), and IFM Therapeutics (acquired by BMS). He serves as a board member of Akrevia Therapeutics and as a board observer for IFM Therapeutics, Kyn Therapeutics, Obsidian Therapeutics, and AvroBio. He has also been closely involved with Atlas’s immuno-oncology investments CoStim Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Novartis) and Unum Therapeutics (NASDAQ: UMRX).
Prior to joining Atlas in 2012, Michael was a senior associate consultant in the life sciences practice at L.E.K. Consulting, where he focused on business development and corporate strategy for biopharma clients. Previously, Michael worked in the Viral Pathogenesis department of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center where he led research on cellular HIV vaccines with Harvard Medical School Professor Norman Letvin. His research focused on elucidating the role of interleukin-21 in CD8+ T cell memory response to viral antigens.
John Gustofson, Managing Director, AbbVie Ventures
John Gustofson is a Managing Director of AbbVie Ventures and invests across AbbVie’s therapy areas of Immunology, Oncology, and Neuroscience. He currently sits on the Board of Ribometrix and is a Board Observer for Disarm Therapeutics.
Prior to joining AbbVie, John worked at AstraZeneca as a Director of Strategic Partnering and Business Development focused on oncology licensing. John has 20+ years professional experience as a bench scientist and in various roles of market and business development. In addition John has worked in numerous biotechnology companies including Altus Pharmaceuticals, Therion Biologics, Boston Life Sciences and Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals. John also spent approximately 4 years in strategy consulting to the life sciences industry.
He holds a Master Degree in Molecular Biology from the Miami University and an MBA from the Boston University.
James Healy, General Partner, Sofinnova Ventures
Jim joined Sofinnova in 2000 as a General Partner. He focuses on funding clinical stage private and publicly traded bio-pharmaceutical companies. He has financed or served on the board of ten companies which received drug approvals from either FDA or EMA, seventeen companies which completed initial public offerings, and eleven companies which were acquired as private or as public companies. Jim currently represents Sofinnova on the board of directors of Ascendis (ASND), Coherus (CHRS), Edge (EDGE), Natera (NTRA), Obseva (OBSV), Nucana (NCNA), Iterum and Y-mAbs.
Prior to Sofinnova, Jim worked at Bayer (Miles) and Sanderling. In 2011, Jim won the IBF Risk Innovator Award and was named as one of the industry’s top Life Science investors in 2013 by Forbes Magazine. Jim has authored or co-authored thirteen peer reviewed articles and invited reviews, including three papers published in Nature. Jim received his MD and PhD in Immunology from Stanford University. At Stanford, he was a Beckman Scholar, received a Novartis Bursary Award and was funded by the NIH Medical Scientist Training Program.
Len Pagliaro, PhD, CEO, Siva Therapeutics, Inc.
Len Pagliaro is CEO of Siva Therapeutics, based in Austin Texas. He has 20 years of experience with successful commercialization of biotechnology products, services, and technology licensing. He has managed R&D and business teams, and developed product, service, and technology licensing programs from inception to revenues to profitability in 2 previous biotech startups. He managed P&L for a business unit of Thermo Fisher Scientific, selling tools and services for drug discovery, after successful acquisition of BioImage A/S, a Danish biotech he helped found. Len started commercialization at BioImage from concept to $1M in revenue in 1 year, revenues tripled in each of the following 2 years, and after acquisition and integration by Thermo, his P&L grew to $26M. A small molecule oncology therapeutic project he led was successfully partnered with TopoTarget and is now in the clinic.
Following the acquisition of BioImage by Thermo, he moved to Colorado to complete business and technology transfer of BioImage to its new parent company. After a one-year transition period, and successful integration of the BioImage business, he co-founded Siva Therapeutics, where he has provided seed funding, recruited a management team, assembled a strong and growing IP portfolio, and raised founding capital from angel investors and grants. Grants received by Siva include a prestigious Breakout Labs (Thiel Foundation) grant, grant from the State of Colorado, and a grant from the Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory for extensive preclinical testing of Siva’s injectable nanorods. Siva has generated strong proof-of-concept and safety preclinical data, has a research collaboration with Plexxikon, Inc., and a development collaboration with NanoHybrids, Inc.
Prior to his industrial career, Len was a professor of Bioengineering and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Washington, where his laboratory studied basic aspects of cellular metabolism, with an emphasis on cancer and inflammatory disease. His laboratory received funding from the NSF, the NIH, DOD (Office of Naval Research), and other state and private sources. Len received his Ph.D. in cell biology from Wesleyan University, completed postdoctoral training in biophysics at Carnegie Mellon University, and has participated in postgraduate professional business training.
Richard Purcell, Executive Vice President, Research and Development, Generex Biotechnology, Inc.
Richard Purcell is the Executive Vice President of Research & Development at Generex Biotechnology, a life sciences holding company, with subsidiary organizations that provide end-to-end solutions for disease management from drug and device development to medical services management to pharmacy and patient support. In his role at Generex, he provides M&A support, scientific oversight, and regulatory guidance to subsidiary companies on new business strategy, operations management, clinical development, and data solutions for clinical and medical applications. One of the subsidiaries in the Generex family is Antigen Express, where Rich served as COO from 2012 through 2014.
Rich has a 35-year career in biotechnology and drug development, and manages a consulting practice, DNA Healthlink, Inc. He graduated with a degree in Biochemical Sciences from Princeton University, and attended Rutgers Graduate School of Management majoring in marketing and finance. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Biology at Monmouth University where he developed and teaches The Business of Biotechnology from the Bench to the Market.
Paul Rennert, President & CSO, Aleta Biotherapeutics, Inc.
Paul is President & CSO of Aleta Biotherapeutics. His biopharma expertise covers bench to clinical trial development of diverse therapeutics for oncology, autoimmunity, inflammation and fibrosis (Repligen, Biogen, X-Rx). Since 2012 he has been involved in the genesis of novel biotechnology companies, most recently as co-founder of Aleta. Aleta Biotherapeutics develops transformative technologies to advance adoptive cellular therapies for the treatment of diverse cancers. Paul has authored numerous publications and patents, and recently served as editor for the review volume "Novel Immunotherapeutic Approaches to the Treatment of Cancer".
Margaux Stack-Babich, Program Manager, Immunotherapy Foundation
Margaux is the Program Manager of Immunotherapy Foundation (IF), joining the team in 2017. Most recently, Margaux worked as a communications consultant for life science companies on both coasts. She began her career in life sciences in 2012 as a research analyst for the New York-based corporate finance advisory boutique Torreya Partners, progressing to vice president of knowledge management for subsidiary Torreya Insights, where she product managed the creation of AvaRx, now deals.bio, a web-based life sciences asset marketplace. Margaux then moved into the life sciences communications field, working for New York-based Russo Partners and San Diego-based Canale Communications. Margaux holds a bachelor’s degree from Fordham University, where she graduated cum laude in philosophy and anthropology and as a member of Phi Sigma Tau.
Claudina Stevenson, PhD, Director, Search and Evaluation, Oncology, AbbVie
Claudina Stevenson has a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Her academic research was focused on cancer biomarkers of multidrug resistance. In industry, she led clinical biomarker programs at Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research. She also established strategic global partnerships with Academic Centers of Excellence at AstraZeneca. Currently, she is a Director of Search and Evaluation, Oncology at AbbVie, where she is leading diligence activities to fortify and evolve AbbVie Oncology portfolio with a focus on Immuno-Oncology.
RJ Tesi, MD, CEO & CMO, INmune Bio
Dr. Tesi has been President, Chief Executive Officer and acting Chief Medical Officer since the formation of the Inmune Bio in September 2015. From November 2011 to May 2015, Dr. Tesi was CEO, President and Acting Chief Medical Officer of FPRT Bio Inc., a development-stage biotech company formed to develop XPro1595 for the treatment of neurodegenerative disease and other inflammatory diseases. From November 2010 to October 2011, Dr. Tesi was Chief Medical Officer of Adienne SRL, an emerging biotech company in Bergamo, Italy focused on products to treat patients with hematologic malignancy. From June 2007 to September 2010, Dr. Tesi was CEO and President of Coronado Biosciences, a company he founded. Dr. Tesi entered the biotech arena with Sangstat Medical Corporation in 1997 after a career as an academic transplant surgeon. Dr. Tesi received his MD degree from Washington University School of Medicine in 1982.
Maude Tessier, PhD, Vice President, Business Development, Kyn Therapeutics; Former Executive Director, Business Development, Boston Innovation Hub, Merck
Dr. Maude Tessier brings over 12 years of business development, licensing and alliance management experience in pharma, biotech and academia. Most recently, she served as Executive Director, Business Development & Licensing at Merck & Co, leading oncology partnering in the Boston Innovation Hub. Prior to joining Merck, Maude was Assistant Director, Business Development and Strategic Initiatives in the Technology and Innovation Development Office at Boston Children’s Hospital. In this role, she forged discovery alliances with industry partners, as well as built and managed the marketing & communications team. Maude began her career at Xanthus Pharmaceuticals, a small venture-backed oncology biotech company in Cambridge, MA, where she had key roles in Business Development, and Program Management of a Phase 3 asset and its eventual FDA approval. Maude is Co-Chair of the Business Development & Finance Working Group at MassBio. She holds a B.Sc. in Biochemistry from McGill University and a Ph.D. from the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto.
Michael Woo, MBA, Director, Search & Evaluation, Business Development & Licensing, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Inc.
Michael Woo is Director, Search & Evaluation, Business Development & Licensing, at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. He is responsible for S&E for Immuno-Oncology. Michael has broad experiences in business development and drug development. Prior to re-joining Novartis, Michael was leading S&E in IO and also a member of the IO Leadership Team responsible for the IO strategy at EMD Serono. Before EMD Serono, Michael had increasing responsibilities in Business Development & Licensing in Novartis Oncology, leading Due Diligence and participating in S&E for oncology and IO opportunities. Prior to his initial engagement at Novartis, Michael was leading Due Diligence in a number of therapeutic areas including Oncology, Immunology, Infectious Diseases, and Neurosciences at Roche. Michael has also served on global program teams responsible for the development of small molecules and biologics in Oncology from Phase 1 through Regulatory filing at Bristol-Myers Squibb and at Roche. Michael received a BScPhm from the University of Toronto, an MSCI from Vanderbilt University, an MBA from New York University Stern School of Business, and a Doctor of Pharmacy from Wayne State University. Michael completed his residency at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and post-doctoral fellowships at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Michael is also a member of AACR and ASCO.
Ilan Zipkin, PhD, Vice President, Business Development, Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy
Ilan Zipkin is the vice president of business development at the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, responsible for leading PICI’s collaboration and partnering activities with academic institutions and biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. He brings more than 16 years of life sciences venture-capital experience, including institutional and corporate venture investing, company management, and board of director roles. His focus is on the intersection of biology and business, as well as the translation of basic discoveries into drug development.
Most recently, he served as Senior Investment Director with Takeda Ventures, the strategic venture arm of Takeda Pharmaceuticals. At Takeda, he helped develop the corporate venture strategy and operations in conjunction with the research and development strategy.
Prior to working at Takeda Ventures, he was a partner at Prospect Venture Partners in Palo Alto and MPM Capital in South San Francisco. Prior to joining MPM Capital, Zipkin was the science editor of BioCentury Publications Inc., a biotechnology news and analysis publication.
A native San Franciscan, Zipkin holds a doctoral degree from UCSF in biochemistry and cell biology. He earned his bachelor’s degree in molecular and cell biology from the University of California, Berkeley