Leadership positioned to operationalize autophagy therapiesExplore team by:
- All Casmaniacs
- Board of Directors
- Founders & Scientific Advisors
Leadership positioned to operationalize autophagy therapiesExplore team by:
Andrea Ballabio, M.D.
Director & Founder, TIGEM
Andrea Ballabio is the founding director of the Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine (TIGEM) of Pozzuoli and professor of medical genetics in the department of translational medicine at the Federico II University of Naples and visiting professor in the department of molecular and human genetics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.
Andrea’s work centers on the elucidation of the biological mechanisms underlying genetic diseases and the development of innovative therapeutic approaches. His team has identified numerous genes whose mutations cause human inherited diseases, leading to the discovery of their pathogenetic mechanisms. His current research focuses on the transcriptional regulation of lysosomal biogenesis and autophagy, on the role of the lysosome as a signaling hub, and on the mechanisms underlying lysosomal storage disorders and common neurodegenerative diseases.
Andrea was the president of the European Society of Human Genetics and Council member of the European Molecular Biology Organization. He is a recipient of two consecutive Advanced Investigator Grants of the European Research Council, in 2010 and 2016, which recognize the best European scientists. He has received numerous national and international awards for research and culture, including the 2007 Award of the European Society of Human Genetics. In 2007, he received the “Knighthood of the Italian Republic” from the president of Italy. In 2016 he was the first in Italy to win the prestigious Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine for his contribution to understanding the molecular mechanisms controlling the function of lysosomes in health and disease.
Andrea earned his medical degree at the University of Naples and did his residency in pediatrics. He completed his postdoctoral studies at Guy’s Hospital in London and the International Institute of Genetics and Biophysics in Naples, Italy.
Beth Levine, M.D.
Former Professor of Internal Medicine & Microbiology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Beth Levine was professor of internal medicine and microbiology, director of the Center for Autophagy Research, and Charles Cameron Sprague Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. She was also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Beth was recognized for her work on autophagy in physiology and disease and was known particularly for her work on the mammalian autophagy gene, BECN1, and the role of Beclin 1 and other components of the autophagy pathway in tumor suppression, innate immunity, aging and metabolism. The primary research focus of her lab was to understand the molecular regulation and biological functions of autophagy, with the expectation that doing so would lead to major discoveries in the pathogenesis and treatment of human diseases, including cancer, infectious diseases, neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes and aging.
After serving as a faculty member in the department of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons from 1992 to 2004, Beth joined UT Southwestern to become chief of the division of infectious diseases. In 2011, she became director of the Center for Autophagy Research at UT Southwestern. She was a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the American Association of Physicians and the National Academy of Sciences. In 2014, she received the ASCI/Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award in recognition of fundamental contributions to our understanding of autophagy.
Beth graduated from Brown University in 1981 and from Cornell University Medical College in 1986, followed by a residency in internal medicine. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in infectious diseases and virology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Robert Tepper, M.D.
Scientific Advisor, Board Director
Partner, Third Rock Ventures
Bob Tepper is a partner of Third Rock Ventures, which he co founded in March 2007, and focuses on the formation, development and scientific strategy of Third Rock’s portfolio companies, as well as actively identifying and evaluating new investments. Prior to joining Third Rock, Bob served as president of research and development at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Previous to Millennium in 1994, he served as principal investigator in the laboratory of tumor biology at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. Bob is also a founder and former member of the scientific advisory board of Cell Genesys/Abgenix Inc.
Bob serves as an adjunct faculty member at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital and is an advisory board member of several health care institutions, including the Research Advisory Council of the Massachusetts General Hospital and the External Advisory Board of the School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts Medical School.
Bob holds an A.B. in biochemistry from Princeton University and received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School.
SVP, People & Culture
Caren joined Casma in September 2018, and serves as a strategic business partner, coach, and mentor to the entire Casma organization. With a focus on growing and retaining talent and maintaining a healthy organization, Caren creates and sustains people programs that support the business. Specialties include creating and sustaining culture, providing thought leadership on organizational development, developing best practices, talent acquisition, supporting core values, creating performance management and career pathing programs, defining the company’s talent brand, and implementing scalable programs.
Prior to joining Casma, Caren held the positions of SVP of People & Culture at GNS Healthcare, Head of Human Resources for Neon Therapeutics, a TRV portfolio company, VP of Human Resources for Daktari Diagnostics, and HR roles with The RMR Group, and Core2 Business Consulting.
Caren holds a Master’s degree in Business & Organizational Communication from Emerson College and a Bachelor’s degree in English – Speech/Theatre/Media from Kean University. Since 2000, she has been a mentor with Women Unlimited, an organization that develops female corporate leaders.
Cary Pfeffer, M.D.
BD Advisor, Board Director
Partner, Third Rock Ventures
Cary Pfeffer joined Third Rock Ventures at its inception in 2007 and has more than 20 years of business development and transaction experience, along with a broad array of biotech product development experience.
Cary leads Third Rock’s partner development efforts, including building and maintaining strong relationships to work with large biotech and pharmaceutical companies. He has played an instrumental role in a number of innovative alliances and collaborative company building efforts across the portfolio, including an industry-leading global strategic collaboration between Agios and Celgene in the field of cancer metabolism. Cary supports and advises on business development efforts across the Third Rock portfolio and has assumed active leadership roles in its portfolio companies, functioning as chief executive officer and chief business officer through the first 12-18 months after launch.
Before joining Third Rock, Cary founded The Pfeffer Group, a boutique consulting firm that provided business development and strategy advisory services, completing multiple transactions for leading biotechnology and life sciences companies. Prior to that, Cary spent more than a decade at Biogen, where he held a variety of senior and executive level U.S. and global management roles focused on business and market development, product development and commercial operations. Earlier in his career, Cary spent several years in corporate finance in the Healthcare Investment Banking Group of Lehman Brothers.
Cary earned his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, his MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and holds a B.A. in biochemistry from Columbia University.
Christian Grimm, Ph.D.
Professor of Molecular Pharmacology at the Walther-Straub-Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medical Faculty, Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) Munich, Germany.
Christian has been working in the field of ion channels, in particular TRP channels for more than 20 years, starting as a PhD Student (Dr. rer. nat.) at the Free University (FU) of Berlin, Germany, followed by postdoctoral research fellowships at Harvard University and Stanford University, USA (2004-2009). In 2009 Christian joined pharmaceutical industry (Pfizer Ltd., UK) as a principal scientist working on ion channels as targets to treat neuropathic pain. In 2011, Christian returned to Germany and to academia as a group leader in pharmacology at the Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy of the LMU Munich. Since then he has focused his research on endo-lysosomal ion channels, in particular TRPML channels and two-pore channels (TPCs), resulting in several high-profile publications in PNAS, EMBO J., Nature Commun., Nature Protoc., and Science. For his work he received several awards, the Ernst-Reuter Award of the Free University Berlin (2005), the NCL Foundation Award (2016), and the Care for Rare Award of the LMU Munich Childrens’ Hospital (2017). Christian has also a PhD in Philosophy (Dr. phil.).
Dan Baird, Ph.D.
Vice President, Molecular Biology
Dan is a highly experienced researcher and Sr Director of Drug Discovery Biology with a deep understanding of biochemistry and structural biology. He earned his PhD from Cornell University, where he began his graduate work as a Physical Chemist, but soon found himself drawn to the study of cellular signaling and molecular pathways. After completing postdoctoral studies in Scott Emr’s lab at HHMI/UCSD and Cornell, where he focused on lipid signaling, Baird fully dedicated himself to drug discovery. He spent 9 years at Novartis, working in the Chemical Biology and Therapeutics department, gaining expertise in a wide range of disease areas, from oncology to ophthalmology. However, his passion for molecular pathways, and autophagy in particular, never wavered, and he ultimately left Novartis to help establish Casma’s drug discovery unit, where he continues to unlock the potential of autophagy as a therapeutic pathway.
Finny Kuruvilla, M.D., Ph.D.
Chief Investment Officer, Eventide Funds
Finny serves as the chief investment officer for Eventide Funds, lead portfolio manager on the Eventide Gilead Fund, and portfolio manager on the Eventide Healthcare & Life Sciences Fund. Dr. Kuruvilla has a unique background in healthcare, statistics, and investing. Concurrent with Eventide, he was a principal at Clarus Ventures, a leading healthcare and life sciences venture capital firm. Before that, he was a research fellow at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, a clinical fellow at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital Boston, and a postdoctoral scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Kuruvilla holds an M.D. from Harvard Medical School, a Ph.D. in chemistry and chemical biology from Harvard University, a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a bachelor’s degree from California Institute of Technology in chemistry.
Frank Gentile, Ph.D
Chief Executive Officer, Casma Therapeutics
Frank Gentile joined Casma Therapeutics in October 2018 as Chief Operating Officer and assumed the position of Chief Executive Officer in January 2023. Prior to joining Casma, Frank was a Venture Partner at Third Rock Ventures, where he focused on research and development opportunities throughout the portfolio. He brings nearly 25 years of experience working with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, including spending 12 years with Tekla Capital Management LLC, formerly Hambrecht & Quist Capital Management LLC, where he most recently served as senior vice president. In this role, Frank oversaw and executed biotechnology and healthcare investments in public and private companies in the areas of oncology, cardiovascular, infectious diseases, rare diseases, medical devices and diagnostics and discovery tools and served as a member of the board of directors in several private companies.
Prior to Tekla, Frank oversaw technology research and development programs while serving as vice president, technology program management at Millennium Pharmaceuticals and earlier in his role as vice president, product development at Curis. Before that, Frank served as vice president, program management at Reprogenesis, Inc., where he was responsible for all program management, partnership and intellectual property functions. Earlier in his career, Frank held roles of increasing responsibility at CytoTherapeutics, Inc. He served as an adjunct associate professor of pharmacology and biotechnology in the division of biology and medicine at Brown University.
Frank competed his post-doctoral work at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was a G.E. Fellow. Additionally, Frank holds a B.E. in chemical engineering from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.
Director of Business Development, Amgen
Gladys is responsible for venture investments activities including leading investment diligence, deal execution and board observer roles for several portfolio companies including Celsius, Kernal Bio, DJS Antibodies, Ribometrix, and Obsidian. Gladys joined Amgen in 1997. Gladys has over 25 years’ experience in pharma/biotech experience including 8 years in Amgen Ventures and 12 years in the business development group. Prior to joining business development Gladys worked 7 years in in R&D, concurrent between Amgen and AstraZeneca. During her time in R&D Gladys worked on oncology and inflammation programs and Aranesp /Epogen assay release protocols. Based in Amgen’s Cambridge, Ma site she is a member of the external outreach committee and a member of the cross-site leadership team. Gladys holds an MSc in Biochemical Pharmacology from the University of Southampton in England, and BSc from Marist College in Pre-Med. She also serves as board member for Latinos in Bio and is a member of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA), Bioscience & Investor Inclusion Group and mentor for VC University promoting career development for underrepresented people in the life sciences.
Herbert “Skip” Virgin, M.D., Ph.D.
Chief Medical Officer and Head, Altos Institute of Medicine
Skip Virgin is the Chief Medical Officer of Altos Labs and Head of the Altos Institute of Medicine. Prior to joining Altos, he was Executive Vice President and CSO at Vir Biotechnology, where he built and led an infection-targeted multi-platform immunology research organization and participated in the discovery and development of sotrovimab for the treatment of COVID-19.
He previously served as the Edward Mallinckrodt professor and Chair of the Department of Pathology and Immunology at Washington University School of medicine, and Director and Principal Investigator of an NIH-funded Center for Excellence in Translational Research. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Pathology and Immunology at Washington University School of Medicine and Adjunct professor of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
An infectious disease expert and immunologist, he has identified mechanisms of infection pathogenesis and immunity, discovered murine norovirus, and was the first to culture a norovirus. His research showed that ‘virus plus susceptibility gene’ interactions elicit Crohn’s-like Paneth cell pathology, and linked the human virome to AIDS, inflammatory bowel disease, and type 1 diabetes.
Skip is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the American Academy of Microbiology and the National Academy of Sciences. He received his A.B., M.D., and Ph.D. from Harvard University and trained in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and in infectious diseases at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. He performed graduate work with Dr. Emil Unanue in bacterial immunity and postdoctoral studies with Dr. Bernard Fields in viral genetics and pathogenesis.
James Hurley, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology, University of California at Berkeley
Jim is a professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology at University of California at Berkeley. He is a leader in determining the structure of autophagy core complexes using crystallography, mass spectrometry and cryo-electron microscopy, and in understanding their mechanisms of membrane remodeling and regulation. Prior to entering academia, Jim worked as an investigator at the National Institutes of Health, where his group focused on structural mechanisms of endosomal and lysosomal transport, including autophagy. At NIH, Jim’s lab determined the structures of the ESCRT complexes of endosomal sorting, the first structures of the receptors for ubiquitin and the lipid PI3P, vesicular coat and small G-protein regulatory complexes of the trans-Golgi network and endosomes, cholesterol transporters involved in lipid sorting and the first structures of phosphoinositide lipid modifying enzymes. Jim moved to UC Berkeley in 2013, where he has concentrated on structural studies of the human ULK1 and PI 3-kinase autophagy initiating complexes. Jim won the 2014 Hans Neurath Award from the Protein Society for his work on vesicle coat complexes and a Bakar Fellows Award for work on autophagy.
Jim trained in structural biology with Robert Stroud at the University of California, San Francisco, where he completed a Ph.D. in biophysics in 1990. He also trained with Brian Matthews at the University of Oregon, where he was a postdoctoral fellow from 1990 to 1992.
Jeff Saunders, Ph.D
Jeff brings over 25 years of drug discovery, team building and leadership experience in start-up and early-stage discovery organizations, pioneering and leading development of outsourcing models for effective and highly productive drug design teams. Jeff joined Casma as SVP of Drug Discovery in 2018 and transitioned to Scientific Advisor in January 2023. Prior to Casma, Jeff served as a vice president of chemistry at Nuvalent Therapeutics and was previously a co-founder of Resilience Therapeutics, a company developing therapies for anxiety- and trauma-related disorders. Prior to that, he was vice president of small molecule drug discovery at Ember Therapeutics. Before that, Jeff was the vice president of chemistry at Agios. He also worked as a consultant at Elixir Pharmaceuticals, where he managed all chemistry and related intellectual property for five years. Prior to this, he held the position of principal investigator at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Previously, he was a research scientist at the Squibb Institute for Medical Research. Jeff received his Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry at the University of South Carolina and held an NIH postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. He holds an A.B. in chemistry from Hope College in Michigan.
Keith Dionne, Ph.D.
Keith is an industry veteran with 20+ years of experience leading U.S. and international biotechnology companies. Most recently, he was the founding CEO of Casma Therapeutics through January 2023.
Previously, Keith was president and CEO of Constellation Pharmaceuticals – an oncology focused epigenetics company. Prior to joining Constellation, he was an entrepreneur-in-residence at Third Rock Ventures. Before that, he served as the CEO at Surface Logix, Inc. which was acquired by Nano Terra, Inc. Keith was the president and CEO of Alantos Pharmaceuticals, leading the company’s acquisition by Amgen for more than $300 million in 2007. Prior to joining Alantos, Keith was with Millennium Pharmaceuticals (now Takeda) where he held positions of increasing responsibility, concluding his seven-year tenure as vice president of business development and general manager, technology business. Prior to Millennium, Keith led implantable drug delivery research at ALZA Pharmaceuticals where he spearheaded the development of Viadur™, a 12-month implantable treatment for prostate cancer. He was one of four original scientists at CytoTherapeutics, a cell transplantation company. Keith has also served as an adjunct professor in the Biomedical Department at Brown University.
Keith received both his Ph.D. in chemical engineering and his M.S. in the program for technology policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Leon Murphy, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Officer
Leon has broad expertise building and leading teams that develop novel therapeutics for cancer, neurodegeneration, metabolic and inflammatory disorders. He is an industry-leading expert in Autophagy, mTOR and PI3-Kinases and has authored several patents and published in high-impact journals such as Cell, Molecular Cell and Nature Cell Biology. Leon brings nearly 20 years of drug discovery and development experience, in both academic and industry settings and is a frequent invited speaker at and organizer of international research conferences. Prior to joining Casma Therapeutics, Leon was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Third Rock Ventures where he helped in the discovery and launch of new companies including Casma.
At the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, where he worked for 13 years, Leon was the Director of Chemical Biology and Therapeutics and led a global drug discovery team that worked on both rare genetic disorders and common diseases. During this time Leon advanced multiple programs from target and lead discovery, optimization, nomination of development candidates and first-in-human clinical trials. Prior to joining Novartis, Leon was an instructor and research fellow in the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School where he led projects on RAS-MAPK, functional genomics and an external partnership with large pharma. Leon received funding from the American Cancer Society and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Leon earned his B.S. in Biochemistry from The Queen’s University of Belfast in Northern Ireland and his Ph.D. in Biomedical Science from Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha.
Martin Kampmann, Ph.D
Associate Professor in the UCSF Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics and the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases.
Dr. Kampmann received his BA in Biochemistry from Cambridge University and his PhD in Biophysics/Cell Biology from Rockefeller University.
He co-invented the CRISPRi and CRISPRa screening technologies, and his lab has pioneered CRISPR-based screens in human brain cell types such as neurons, microglia and astrocytes. He leverages this unique technology to uncover mechanisms and new therapeutic strategies for Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. Two central questions are:
1. Why do proteins aggregate in these diseases, and what about protein aggregation is toxic to neurons?
2. What controls disease states of other brain cells, such as microglia and astrocytes, and how can these cells be reprogrammed for therapeutic benefit?
Dr. Kampmann was named an NIH Director’s New Innovator, an Allen Distinguished Investigator, a Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Award, an Alzheimer Association Zenith fellow, and he received the Rainwater Prize for Innovative Early Career Scientists.
Millie Ray, Ph.D.
Partner, The Column Group
Millie is a partner on the investment team at The Column Group where she is active in all elements of company formation including sourcing new ideas, recruiting key scientific talent and founders, developing scientific, business, and operating plans, and taking on interim scientific and operational roles. Before that, she helped develop and launch Foghorn Therapeutics working in business development and scientific strategy. Millie also serves as a director on the board of Hexagon Bio. Millie was instrumental in establishing one of the first onsite next-generation sequencers for Ebola viral surveillance via Harvard University and the Broad Institute in West Africa. She also traveled to Kenya with Seeding Labs and Harvard University to facilitate the transfer of surplus lab equipment to universities adopting research. Concurrently, Millie completed her doctoral studies on the effects of long non-coding RNAs on chromatin regulation and has studied epigenetic regulation in embryonic stem cells. Millie received her Ph.D. in genetics and genomics from Harvard University and holds an S.B. in mathematics and in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Nagesh Mahanthappa Ph.D., M.B.A.
Nagesh is a distinguished entrepreneur with extensive executive experience, most recently the founding president and chief executive officer of Scholar Rock, Inc. During his eight-year tenure, Nagesh took the company public and led two distinct drug candidates into clinical testing. His previous experiences include being the founding employee and vice president of corporate development at Avila Therapeutics, Inc. (acquired by Celgene), and previously a founding employee of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals where he rose to the position of vice president of scientific & strategic development. Before that, he served as manager of business development at Vertex Pharmaceuticals and had several positions with scientific and commercial responsibility at Ontogeny (now a part of Curis, Inc.). Nagesh started in the biotechnology industry as a staff scientist at Cambridge NeuroScience, and was a founder of TwistDx, a DNA diagnostics company acquired by Inverness Medical Innovations (now a part of Abbott Laboratories).
Nagesh completed his post-doctoral training at E.K. Shriver Center for Mental Retardation (then an affiliate of Massachusetts General Hospital) and Harvard Medical School after receiving his Ph.D. in neurobiology from the California Institute of Technology. Nagesh received his B.A. in biology and chemistry from the University of Colorado, and his M.B.A. from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Management at Babson College.
Pietro De Camilli, M.D.
John Klingenstein Professor of Neuroscience and Professor of Cell Biology
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Director, Program in Cellular Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration and Repair
A native of Italy, De Camilli earned his M.D. degree from the University of Milano in 1972. In the late 1970’s he was a postdoctoral fellow with Paul Greengard in the Department of Pharmacology at Yale, and subsequently an assistant professor in the Yale Section of Cell Biology. Following a return of a few years to Milan, he moved back to Yale in 1988 where he is currently John Klingenstein Professor of Neuroscience, Professor of Cell Biology and Director of the Yale Program in Cellular Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration and Repair (CNNR), a Program he co-founded in 2005. He served as Chair of the Department of Cell Biology (1997-2000), chair of the Department of Neuroscience (2015-2021) and Director of the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience (2015-2022). In 2017 he served as President of the American Society of Cell Biology. Since 1992 he has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. He is an elected member of EMBO, of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), the National Academy of Medicine (USA), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a foreign member of the italian “Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei”.
The De Camilli lab is interested in the mechanisms underlying the dynamics of cell membranes with emphasis on the role of these mechanisms in neuronal physiology and synaptic transmission. His studies on synaptic vesicle recycling have contributed to the general fields of neurotransmitter secretion and of membrane shaping mechanisms. His discovery and characterization of the role of phosphoinositide lipids in the control of endocytosis have broad implications in the fields of phospholipid signaling and of membrane traffic. More recently he helped advance the field of subcellular organelle cross-talk at membrane contact sites. His studies have also contributed to the elucidation of pathogenetic processes in human diseases, including, most recently, Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Sascha Martens, Ph.D.
Vice-Dean, University of Vienna
Sascha has worked at the Max Perutz labs, University of Vienna for over 10 years where he is currently the Vice-Dean of the Institute. As a principal investigator, Sascha leads research on the foundations of autophagy, exploring how the numerous factors required for autophagy work together to form the autophagosomes that engulf and dispose of harmful cellular material. He is the author of dozens of papers on the factors and processes involved in autophagy and has received several prestigious research grants, including the Human Frontier Science Program grant, the European Research Council Starting and Consolidator grants, and was elected EMBO member in 2020. He has a diploma degree in biology and a Ph.D. in genetics from the Institute for Genetics of the University of Cologne, Germany, where he worked with Jonathan C. Howard (FRS) on cell autonomous immunity. He conducted postdoctoral research with Harvey T. McMahon (FRS) on synaptic vesicle fusion at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, U.K.
Satoshi Konagai, M.B.A
Senior Investment Manger, Astellas Venture Management LLC
Satoshi Konagai joined Astellas Venture Management LLC (AVM) in 2020. Before joining AVM, he worked at the Strategic department at Astellas Pharma Inc. based in Tokyo HQ since 2015. He has led various internal projects and evaluation of external later stage opportunities across multiple therapeutic areas and modalities including Oncology, Ophthalmology and regenerative medicine. In parallel, he served as a member who develops corporate global R&D strategy and business strategy for regenerative medicine using his scientific and business intelligence. From 2004 to 2015, he was engaged in Oncology research programs including kinase inhibitors, Immuno-Oncology and biologics from target discovery to clinical stage as a pharmacology research scientist in Drug Discovery Research Center at Astellas Pharma Inc. Mr. Konagai has received his Master of Life Science degree in the field of Integrated Life Science from Kyoto University and Master of Business Administration, Entrepreneurship and Innovation from University of Massachusetts Lowell.
Sharon Tooze, Ph.D
Principal Group Leader, The Francis Crick Institute
Sharon Tooze is a Principal Group Leader at the Francis Crick Institute, and holds an ERC advanced grant. Sharon is an EMBO member, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and Fellow of the European Academy of Sciences. Sharon is a member of a number of editorial boards of scientific journals, and participates in review panels and grant agencies across Europe and the UK. Sharon has organized a number of conferences including Gordon Conference, Keystone Meetings and EMBO workshops in Europe. Sharon completed her PhD and post-doctoral work at EMBL, Heidelberg in the Cell Biology Programme. Sharon then became a group leader at ICRF, London, later called the London Research Institute, Cancer Research UK, London, and now the Francis Crick Institute. Sharon’s training in cell biology was the foundation for her career-long interest in organelle biogenesis, first applied to neuroendocrine dense core secretory granules, followed by her research into autophagosome formation and autophagy. Her expertise is in protein trafficking, including subcellular fractionation, in vitro reconstitution, protein targeting, and structure-function analysis of proteins. Since 2004, Sharon’s lab has been focused on understanding how autophagy occurs in mammalian cells. Her laboratory identified some of the key mammalian proteins, ULK1, ATG9 and WIPI2, and now studies these proteins to gain an understanding of their function in autophagy. Her work on the early stages of autophagosome formation mediated by these key proteins, as well as the recruitment and function of the ATG8 protein family have elucidated mechanisms involved in phagophore composition and membrane expansion.
Steven Gygi, Ph.D.
Professor of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School
Steven received his Ph.D. from the University of Utah in Pharmacology and Toxicology performing small molecule mass spectrometry. He went on to pursue postdoctoral work with Ruedi Aebersold at the University of Washington in 1996. A revolution in biological mass spectrometry was occurring which allowed for the measurement of protein expression levels and a new field, Proteomics, was born. In 2000, Dr. Gygi moved to Harvard Medical School and joined the Department of Cell Biology. Currently, he is the faculty director of two MS core facilities (Taplin Biological MS Facility, and the Thermo Fisher Center for Multiplexed Proteomics—TCMP@HMS).
Research in the Gygi lab centers around developing and applying new technologies in the field of mass spectrometry-based proteomics. These include the systematic and proteome-wide measurements of many protein properties including their expression levels, modification states, structure, localization, function, and interactions. For example, the Gygi lab, together with the Harper lab at HMS, is creating a genome-scale map of the protein-protein interaction landscape in cells (termed BioPlex). In addition, sample multiplexing techniques like Tandem Mass Tags (TMT) are being improved to allow up to 16 proteomics samples to be analyzed simultaneously using high resolution mass spectrometry.
Tomotaka Okino, Ph.D.
Investment Director, OVI
Tomotaka is an Investment Director of OVI since May 2020. Prior to joining OVI, he has been responsible for planning and managing research collaborations with biotech companies and academia to accelerate and/or complement research activities at Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. for more than 10 years. He planned and managed numerous collaborations in the US, Europe and Japan for variety of indications and modalities. Dr. Okino has earned a PhD degree in pharmaceutical sciences in 2005 from Kyoto University in Kyoto, Japan.