Director of Biology
Ron Laethem, Ph.D., is the Director of Biology and a drug disposition scientist with nearly 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology areas with expertise carrying out in vitro ADME studies. Ron comes to Altis Biosystems from BioIVT where he was the Director of ADME Services Operations at the site located in RTP. He was responsible for setting up and overseeing the in vitro ADME group focusing on non-GLP, drug-drug interaction studies for IND and NDA filings. Prior to BioIVT, he was with QPS, LLC as an Associate Director heading up the site located in RTP. He oversaw the daily business operations of the site and acted as the test facility manager for all in vitro studies carried out there. Ron joined QPS after leaving Triangle Research Labs, LLC where he served as the Senior Director of R&D, starting up and overseeing the company’s in vitro ADME contract research group. Ron spent 8 years at BD Technologies working on improved in vitro tools for ADME scientists and before that he was one of the founders of HepatoTech, Inc., a start-up that was acquired by CellzDirect. Ron began his career at GSK and spent 9 years there working on developing and implementing new in vitro ADME tools and studying cytochrome P450 induction for project teams.
Jos Joore is a biotech entrepreneur with over 18 years of executive level bio-business experience and 8 years in biosciences. As CEO and co-founder of MIMETAS, Jos closed deals with most top-10 pharma companies, secured series A and B investment rounds and enabled mass production & global marketing of OrganoPlates. Previously, he has held managerial positions within biotech companies Pepscan, Skyline Diagnostics, Kreatech and Westburg. Jos holds a masters degree in Biology, a Ph.D. in Developmental Biology and a cum laude masters degree in Business Marketing.
Director of R&D
Global Head Sales & Marketing
SCREEN Holding Group
Liz comes to Altis Biosystems from KBI Biopharma, where she was a Process Development Scientist I in Cell Line Development. Prior to working at KBI, she completed a postdoc at The Georgia Institute of Technology, and received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from The City College of New York (CCNY). Her expertise is in biomaterials and cellular & organ biomechanics. At Altis, Liz is working on the development of scaffolds and a 3D RepliGut Crypt model.
Assistant Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering
University of Southern California
Shannon Mumenthaler, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. Dr. Mumenthaler is a cell biologist by training, with over 15 years of experience working with various tumor models and cell biology techniques. Her research program is centered around the development and utilization of physiologically relevant, organ-dependent tumor models that will allow for characterization of colorectal cancer cellular dynamics, and serve as a platform for testing specific therapeutic modalities to prevent or delay tumor progression. Dr. Mumenthaler is also the Laboratory Director for the Ellison Institute of USC, which is a translational institute that bridges research and innovation by bringing together researchers, patients, and physicians dedicated to improving health of the human condition.
Terry Van Vleet
Head of Investigative Toxicology, Pathology, Molecular & Computational Toxicology
Dr. Van Vleet received a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology from Weber State University and a doctorate in Toxicology from Utah State University. His postdoctoral training was at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Van Vleet is a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology. He currently manages the Investigative Toxicology group at AbbVie. During his career in industry, he has served on several drug safety consortia, published more than 40 peer reviewed manuscripts, identified/characterized numerous mechanisms of toxicity, and developed novel molecular assays using a number of computational, analytical chemistry, molecular biology, and biochemistry techniques.
Scientist - Investigative Toxicology
Aaron Fullerton is a Scientist of Investigative Toxicology at Genentech. Prior to this, he was a postdoctoral fellow conducting laboratory research in the Molecular and Cellular Toxicology Section within the Laboratory of Molecular Immunology at the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.
Head of Emerging Technologies
Szczepan Baran is Head of Emerging Technologies at Novartis In this position, Dr. Baran leads development & implementation of strategic vision for emerging technologies to optimize non-clinical models of efficacy, mechanism, and safety that improve endpoint prediction, reproducibility and clinical predictivity. He spearheads - digital biomarker and endpoint strategy and alignment with disease areas and clinical franchises - internal groups and resources for platforms that offer alternatives to traditional pre-clinical modeling, such as microphysiological systems - & builds high performance cross-functional teams that accelerate validation and readiness of emerging technologies that foster a culture of collaboration and high performance innovation.
Piyush Bajaj got his PhD from the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign in Bioengineering. Dr. Bajaj then did a postdoc at Los Alamos National Lab developing organs-on-a-chip/microphysiological systems (MPS) which were used for both efficacy and safety assessment. After this, he moved to Pfizer’s PDM group where he developed human pluripotent stem cell-derived three-dimensional kidney organoids which were used for ADME and toxicity testing. He was also involved in de-risking of different target organ toxicities by developing physiologically relevant bespoke in vitro models. Dr. Bajaj then moved to Takeda’s drug safety group where he led liver and kidney de-risking strategies/teams which were applied for proactive management of potential safety liabilities of compounds in the discovery stages. Now he is part of Sanofi’s investigative toxicology group and responsible for the oversight of MPS strategy within preclinical safety which is applied during different stages of the drug discovery pipeline.
Senior Principal Scientist
Hansjoerg Keller currently works at Musculoskeletal Disease Area, Novartis. Hansjoerg does research in 3D Bioprinting, Cell Biology, Endocrinology and Molecular Biology. His current projects are discovering new muscle wasting drugs through myokine research and generating in vitro human microphysiological muscle assay systems using 3D bioprinting for functional compound testing.
Staff Scientist - 3D Bioprinting Core
National Institute of Health Sciences
South Korea and Texas A&M University, focusing on soft tissue mechanics. Dr. Song moved to Case Western Reserve University for his Ph.D (Melissa Knothe Tate’s lab) majored in Biomedical Engineering. During his study, he used a multi-physics computational prediction and experimental tools to achieve the precise delivery of mechanical cues to stem cells seeded within a tissue engineering scaffold to direct the stem cell fate into osteolineage. After graduation, his interest in mechanobiology led him to the respiratory research as a postdoctoral fellow at Bioengineering department of the University of Pennsylvania (Susan Margulies’s lab). He studied how mechanical stretch affected the barrier functions and permeability of alveolar epithelium and stretch-induced signaling pathways, studying ventilator induced lung injury. He further developed an imaging based quantitative method to assess permeability of the epithelium in an in vitro system. In 2014, he joined an NEI team to engineer a vascular tissue model to study age related macular degeneration under collaboration with NCATS. His previous experiences of tissue engineering and cell mechanobiology significantly contributed to the projects during his postdoctoral fellow and research fellow at NEI (Kapil Bharti’s lab). In 2018, he became a staff scientist and bioprinting core lead at NEI, and he has expanded his model to skin, brain, and omentum at the bioprinting group of NCATS. He is currently a senior scientist at NCATS tissue printing team (Director: Marc Ferrer), and leading multiple projects for the models towards the respective disease models for preclinical studies.
Director - Drug Metabolism & Pharmacokinetics Project Leader
Dr. Niresh Hariparsad, PhD is a Director, at Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. Dr. Hariparsad received his B. Pharm. and MMed Sc (Clin Pharm) degrees from the University of Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa. Dr Hariparsad received his PhD from the University of Cincinnati and worked as a Senior Research Chemist in the Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics Department at Merck and Co. before joining Vertex in 2010. His research interests include the use of novel tools to predict drug-drug interaction risk in the clinic.
Associate Professor - Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Dai is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at Northeastern University. Dr. Dai received his B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Peking University, Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from MIT’s HST Program (Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology). He completed his Post-doctoral training in Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School (Center for Excellence in Vascular Biology). Current researches in his lab focus on the 3-D bioprinting technology, stem cells and vascular bioengineering, and are funded by major grants from NSF, NIH and American Heart Association. Dr. Dai received the Scientist Development Award from American Heart Association, Faculty Early Career Award from National Science Foundation, Rising Star Award from Biomedical Engineering Society, Institute’s Faculty Career Award (RPI), and College of Engineering Faculty Fellow (Northeastern). He is the elected Fellow of American Heart Association (FAHA).
Senior Director & Head of Complex In Vitro Models
Dr. Jason Ekert is head of the Complex In Vitro Models (CIVM) group at GlaxoSmithKline. He leads an integrated enterprise strategy for R&D applications of complex human-relevant and translatable complex in vitro models (eg Spheroids, Organoids, Microphysiological systems and bioprinting). He’s the vice-chair for the IQ-MPS affiliate. Dr Ekert received his PhD in Medical Science from Adelaide University in Australia. He performed post-doctoral training at the University of California, Davis and Coriell Institute for Medical Research. Before coming to GlaxoSmithKline Dr Ekert worked for 11 years at Janssen BioThereapeutics in early biotherapeutic drug discovery in target discovery, drug validation and mechanism of action studies applying complex cell-based assays across multiple therapeutic areas.
Scientific Program Manager
Passley Hargrove-Grimes is a scientific program manager for the trans-NIH Tissue Chip for Drug Screening program, for which she serves as a liaison between funded investigators, NIH administrative and program management staff, and external stakeholders, including the Food and Drug Administration and members of the pharmaceutical industry. She manages more than 15 teams in both the Tissue Chips for Disease Modeling and Efficacy Testing and “Clinical Trials” on a Chip initiatives, under the direction of Danilo A. Tagle, Ph.D., M.S. Her work focuses on translating NIH-funded basic research into the development of potentially transformative tissue-chip technology to counter the systematic challenges in drug development. Hargrove-Grimes joined NIH in 2012 as a graduate student in The George Washington University Partnership Program with the NIH. She performed research at the National Eye Institute under the guidance of Anand Swaroop, Ph.D., in the Neurobiology Neurodegeneration and Repair Laboratory, and focused on developing mouse models to study the cellular mechanisms that underlie retinal degenerative disease pathogenesis. Hargrove-Grimes’ research enumerated the significance of the intertwined endocytic and autophagic pathways in mammalian photoreceptor development and function. After receiving her doctorate in molecular medicine from The George Washington University in 2018—with a concentration in neuroscience—Hargrove-Grimes continued to study photoreceptor degeneration disease mechanisms as a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Eye Institute. During her postdoctoral training, she heard NCATS Director Christopher P. Austin, M.D., speak about the importance of translating scientific discoveries into medical interventions and decided to dedicate her career to supporting translational science and accelerating the drug-development pipeline. In her most recent position, she worked as a scientific project leader for Translational Oncology Solutions at Champions Oncology, where she was responsible for managing an array of preclinical drug-development studies in patient-derived xenograft mouse models of human cancers.
Microphysiological Systems Scientific Lead
Dr Rhiannon David is Scientific Lead for Microphysiological Systems (MPS) in Clinical Pharmacology and Safety Sciences at AstraZeneca, Cambridge, UK. Rhiannon received her PhD from the University of Birmingham in 2009 following which she joined the Department of Medicine at Imperial College, London, where she spent 5 years as a postdoctoral scientist, undertaking research into the genotoxicity of mixtures. During this time, Rhiannon developed an interest in novel techniques that would improve the in vivo relevance of in vitro assays. Rhiannon joined AstraZeneca in 2015 where she has led the development of a bone marrow MPS for improved pre-clinical safety assessment as well as taking an active interest in the development of MPS more broadly for advancing safety assessment.
Graham Marsh is a Scientist, Translational Cell Sciences at Biogen. He is working at Biogen to develop and build novel 3D tissue models to study neurological disease. His background is in bioengineering and he obtained my PhD in the lab of Richard Waugh at the University of Rochester
Dr. Ozbolat is a Hartz Family Associate Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics Department, Biomedical Engineering Department, and Neurosurgery Department, and a faculty member of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, Materials Research Institute, Center for Neural Engineering, Center for Innovative Materials Processing through Direct Digital Deposition, and Center for Research on Advanced Fiber Technologies at the Penn State University. Previously, he was a faculty member of The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA and spearheaded the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Group and the Biomanufacturing Laboratory. He received his Ph.D. in tissue engineering from the University at Buffalo (SUNY) in Buffalo, New York, and dual B.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering and in Industrial Engineering from Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey. Dr. Ozbolat's major research thrust is in the area of Bioprinting and Tissue Engineering. His research on bioprinting for tissue and organ fabrication has been published in several high-quality venues, received various awards and has been featured in national and international media, broadcast TVs and press numerous times. He frequently gives talks at national and international forums, conferences and seminars and organizes demonstrations and events to the public and youths to encourage participation of future's engineers in medicine, engineering and science. His technology spun off two start-up companies and he is a member of American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society, IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, Alpha Pi Mu, Society of Manufacturing Engineers, and Regenerative Medicine Manufacturing Society.
University of Gothenburg
Göran Landberg is an active researcher within molecular medicine and molecular pathology with a specific focus on breast cancer. He is a professor and senior consultant in pathology and has established several national and international centers focusing on cancer research both in Sweden and in England. Since 2013 he is working at the Sahlgrenska Cancer Centre in Gothenburg, Sweden linked to one of the largest hospital in Northern Europe with an outstanding potential for running translational cancer projects. In total, he has published more than 170 articles and has supervised 24 PhD students to graduation. The long term goal within his research group is to develop novel treatments and diagnostics for cancer patients better targeting and identifying true malignant features by understanding key tumour biological issues and properties including the tumour microenvironment. He is one of the founders of Iscaff Pharma AB.
Merck & Co
Linda Lieberman is Principal Scientist at Merck & Co Linda is a Principal Scientist at Merck’s Exploratory Science Center and has been with Merck for 3 years. Her work focuses on understanding epithelial biology in the context of inflammation and infection. To this end, her group utilizes physiologically relevant primary in vitro cultures. Linda received her PhD in Immunology from the University of Pennsylvania.
Denise de Almeida Nagata
Denise Nagata is a scientist in Safety Assessment at Genentech, CA. She has a degree in veterinary medicine and a PhD in immunology from Sao Paulo State University. She worked in Genentech as a cancer immunologist for 5 years and now is involved in the company's efforts to utilize microphysiological systems.
Nicholas A. Geisse
Chief Scientific Officer
Head of Strategy & Business Development, Technologies for Pharmaceutical R&D
Senior Advisor for Toxicology Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Dr. Suzanne Fitzpatrick is the Senior Advisor for Toxicology in the Office of the Center Director at Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the US Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Fitzpatrick is a board-certified toxicologist in the US and in Europe. Dr. Fitzpatrick is also an Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Fitzpatrick received her BA from the University of California at San Diego and her PhD from Georgetown University. Dr. Fitzpatrick was the FDA lead for the FDA NIH Common Fund award to Wyss Institute to develop a heart lung micromachine. She then helped develop the FDA DARPA NCATS program on Organs on a Chip and continues to work and give presentations on this evolving area. She developed a research agreement with Emulate to bring the first organ on a chip model into an Dr. Fitzpatrick is the FDA lead for Tox 21 and is the FDA Principal Representative to ICCVAM. She chaired the FDA Predictive Toxicology RoadMap Committee and is on the FDA Leadership Council for the FDA Roadmap Implementation Committee. She is on the EU Tox Risk Regulator Committee. Dr. Fitzpatrick has received several awardsincluding the 2019 SOT Enhancement of Animal Welfare Award. Dr. Fitzpatrick served on the planning committees for SOT Future Tox I, II, and III, and the co-chair of Future Tox IV. She is a Past President of the American College of Toxicology. Currently she is the Secretary Elect on the Society of Toxicology Council. Dr. Fitzpatrick believes strongly in working with together with all stakeholders both nationally and internationally to develop new alternative methods for regulatory testing.
Professor, Dept. of Nutritional Sciences & Toxicology
The overarching goal of our laboratory is to reengineer lipid fluxes in the context of obesity related disorders to protect certain tissues, such as the liver, from detrimental effects of ectopic lipid deposition and to generate metabolically highly active tissues that can serve as a safe destination for excess fatty acids. To this end, we are investigating molecular mechanisms governing lipid uptake, particularly for fatty acids and CoQ, hepatobiliary diseases, and adipocyte biology. Toward the later, we have been working on novel bioengineering based approaches to expand and activate brown adipose tissue. Further, to facilitate the assessment of altered nutrient fluxes, we have been developing and testing innovative bioluminescent imaging approaches to quantitatively assess macro- and micronutrients in vivo. I have taken on various leadership roles as member of the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology and the College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley. I was the Executive Committee Member and Head Graduate Student advisor for the Comparative Biochemistry Graduate Group (2012-2016), served as elected member of the College’s Executive Committee (2015-2017), and as Department Vice Chair from 2013-2016 and as Chair from 2016-2019. Currently I am the Head Graduate Student Advisor for the Metabolic Biology program and are focused on the expansion and integration of UCSF Diabetes Center faculty members into the program.
Biopharmaceutical Development and Life Sciences
Dr Norman Peterson has recently started a new position as the Director of In Vivo Sciences & Technology at Seattle Genetics. Prior to that he was the Director of Veterinary Sciences and Head of the In Vivo Imaging Center at Medimmune/AstraZeneca for 15 years. His expertise is in animal model development and preclinical biopharmaceutical development. While at his former institution, Dr. Peterson’s laboratory was engaged in the development of in vitro liver models as a means of predicting the pharmacokinetics and toxicity of antibody-based biotherapeutics.
Professor & Principal Investigator
Dr. Alice Soragni’s lab focuses on two major and overlapping areas of research. First, they investigate how protein aggregation affects cancer development and progression, with a special focus on p53 aggregation. They exploit protein aggregation as a therapeutic target by designing peptides that interfere with the process. Second, and in parallel, the lab focuses on developing clinically-relevant organoid models for cancer biology, as well as drug discovery and development applications. In particular, they establish tumor organoids from surgical specimens (patient-derived tumor organoids) and perform high-throughput drug screenings to individualize cancer therapy to each patient.
Scientific Technical Leader & Principal Scientist
Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR)
Olivier Bonneau is Scientific technical leader at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR). His main focus is around drug discovery in the respiratory field. He has worked for Novartis for over 17 years and has had the ability to move around labs to gain experience in the fields of pharmaco-kinetics, asthma, COPD and GI disorders.
Senior Research Scientist
Dr. Evelyn Aranda is a distinguished scientist with vast experience in the cancer field, and specifically the implementation of in vitro and in vivo assays to study the role of therapeutic targets in tumor growth. At Xylyx Bio, Dr. Aranda is responsible for establishing in vitro models of cancer metastasis incorporating Xylyx Bio tissue-specific ECM platform as a predictive tool for drug efficacy studies.
James J. Hickman
Professor NanoScience Technology Center
University Central Florida
James J. Hickman is the Founding Director of the NanoScience Technology Center and a Professor of Nanoscience Technology, Chemistry, Biomolecular Science, Material Science and Electrical Engineering at the University of Central Florida. Previously, he held the position of the Hunter Endowed Chair in the Bioengineering Department at Clemson University. Dr. Hickman has a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Chemistry. For the past twenty-five years, he has been studying the interaction of biological species with modified surfaces, first in industry and in the latter years in academia. While in industry he established one of the first bioelectronics labs in the country that focused on cell-based sensors and their integration with electronic devices and MEMS devices. He is interested in creating hybrid systems for biosensor and biological computation applications and the creation of functional in vitro systems for human body-on-a-chip applications. He has worked at NSF and DARPA in the area of biological computation. He is also the founder and current Chief Scientist of a biotechnology company, Hesperos, that is focusing on cell-based systems for drug discovery and toxicity. He has 135 publications and 20 book chapters, in addition to 22 issued patents out of 44 total patent applications. He is a Fellow of both the American Institute of Medical and Biomedical Engineers (AIMBE) (2004) and the American Vacuum Society (AVS) (2007). He was a Board Member for AIMBE from 2009-2013 and Co-Chaired 6 AIMBE/NIH Workshops on “Validation and Qualification of New In Vitro Tools and Models for The Pre-clinical Drug Discovery Process” held at the NIH Campus, Bethesda, MD (2012 – 2017). He was also a Charter Member, NIH Bioengineering of Neuroscience, Vision and Low Vision Technologies (BNVT) Study Section. Dr. Hickman along with Dr. Michael Shuler, won the Lush Prize, in the Science Category, which Supports Animal Free Testing in 2015.
Joep Beumer is a 5th year PhD student in the group of Hans Clevers (I will have graduated by the time of the summit), in the Hubrecht Institute in The Netherlands. He uses organoid models to study the signals guiding homeostatic turnover and the generation of differentiated lineages in multiple mammalian tissues. He focuses on the gut endocrine cells, enigmatic cells that produce dozens of hormones regulating key physiological processes. He has engineered different genetic organoid models to study these hormone-producing cells in-depth, with the goal of developing new therapeutic targets for metabolic diseases. In a separate line of work, Joep and two fellow PhD students developed an organoid model of the snake venom gland, that uncovered novel regulators of toxin production in snakes.
University of Miami
Ashutosh Agarwal, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Pathology and a core faculty member of the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute at the University of Miami (BioNIUM). He received his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Florida in 2009 and postdoctoral research experience at Columbia University and Harvard University. Dr. Agarwal joined the University of Miami as a faculty member in 2014 where he heads the Physiomimetic Microsystems Laboratory. His research laboratory is focused on developing organ on chip platforms that mimic human organ level complexity within a fluidic microsystem capable of measuring functional readouts.
President & CEO
Dr. Frazier received her Ph.D. from Tulane University School of Medicine, graduating from the Biomedical Sciences Program in 2012. Her dissertation training projects involved the use of cryopreserved adult mesenchymal stem cells derived from adipose tissue for clinical use in tissue reconstruction and regenerative medicine applications. She has held tenure-track faculty positions at Delgado Community College and served as Program Chair in the Chemistry and Chemical Technology Department at Dillard University.