Mauro is the founder of Abilita Therapeutics, Inc. and inventor of its core EMP™ technology. He has gained significant experience over 20 years of conducting academic membrane protein research and contributing to industry drug discovery projects. Mauro has authored eighteen peer-reviewed scientific articles, including publications in Cell, Nature, PNAS, and JACS. He received his Ph.D. from the Max Planck Institute under Nobel laureate Prof. Hartmut Michel and carried out his postdoctoral studies as a Pfizer fellow at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in one of the world’s top lab for GPCR structural studies. Prior to founding Abilita Bio in 2014, Mauro worked as a Structural Biologist at Receptos, Inc. and has consulted for Eli Lilly & Company.
Michael is the CSO of Abilita Therapeutics with a joint position as Director of Technology at the Frost Institute for Chemistry and Molecular Sciences at the University of Miami. He has over 20 years of research and entrepreneurial experience, co-founding StructureTx and serving as CTO, founding and leading the GPCR Consortium as President, and serving as Director of Structural Discovery at Receptos. Michael played a significant role in building and implementing a “toolbox” of techniques for working with and determining structures of integral membrane proteins such as GPCRs. In addition, he has led early-stage discovery contributing to three clinical-stage programs, including Zeposia, an approved therapy for multiple sclerosis and ulcerative colitis.
Joel is the Chief Business Officer of Abilita Therapeutics. He has 23 years of industry experience ranging from established biopharma to startup companies in the areas of corporate strategy and development, business development, and alliance management. In his previous role as Chief Business Officer at Biosion, Joel played a pivotal role in closing their B round of financing and two material partnerships. He previously worked at Ionis, most recently as Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Operations, where he led material corporate strategy initiatives. He also helped bring in over $3.5B in partnering revenue, managed collaborations resulting in two drug approvals, and supported one drug launch during his 13 years at the company. Prior to that, he held business and scientific roles at Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Lexicon Pharmaceuticals. Joel earned an M.B.A from Colorado State University and holds a B.S. in Psychology from Ball State University.
Jim Schmidt serves as Chief Financial Officer of Abilita Therapeutics. He has over 30 years of executive financial experience in the biomedical and technology sectors. Since 2013, he has worked with companies as consulting CFO ranging from private, early formation to publicly traded. He served as Vice President of Finance and Administration at Receptos, Inc. from founding until successful IPO. He was formerly Senior Director of Finance and Operations at Conforma Therapeutics until its acquisition by Biogen Idec in 2006, where he assisted in the transition and integration of the companies. Prior to that, Mr. Schmidt served in various financial and operational roles. He started his career with Coopers Lybrand and received his B.S. in Accounting and Corporation Finance from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
Chris brings more than ten years of innovation in membrane protein engineering, structural biology and drug discovery to Abilita Therapeutics. He most recently served as a Research Scientist at Receptos, Inc. from 2009 to 2015, where he was a founding member of the scientific team and the lead inventor of critical GPCR protein engineering technologies that were patented and licensed to domestic and international industry partners. Prior to joining Receptos, Dr. Roth conducted postdoctoral research in GPCR structural biology at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), where he also earned his PhD. Dr. Roth earned his B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Among his many contributions to the field of G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) drug discovery, Alexander’s most pivotal was the personal conception and development of a generic membrane protein stability assay known as the CPM assay, widely regarded by many in the field to be transformational for the measurement of thermostability. Prior to Abilita Therapeutics, he served in Scientific positions of increasing responsibilities at Takeda San Diego and Heptares Therapeutics, and completed his postdoctoral studies at the Scripps Institute (TSRI), and David Bredt’s lab at University of California, San Francisco. Alexander received his PhD in Biophysics from the University of California, Berkeley.
Karen brings over 10 years of molecular and cell biology experience to the team and has a broad background in the fields of plant biology, HIV and neurodegenerative diseases. She completed her postdoctoral training in Dr. Edward H. Koo’s laboratory at UCSD, after earning her Ph.D. in Translational Biology and Molecular Medicine from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.
Roberto brings a strong research background and track record of working for top laboratories, most recently for Dr. Rusty Gage at the Salk Institute, where he contributed to projects in Parkinson’s disease animal modeling, viral gene delivery and CRISPR-Cas9 editing technologies. He completed his postdoctoral training with Nobel laureate Prof. Sydney Brenner at The Scripps Research Institute, where he developed a novel genetic system to analyze the interactions between soluble and membrane proteins. Roberto has previously held research scientist positions at Lynx Therapeutics, Acidophil, and Salgomed.
Sunghoon adds to the core strengths of the company through his research into the structure, biochemistry and biophysical properties of ion channels and other challenging membrane proteins. He developed an outstanding expertise in the study of membrane proteins through his Ph.D. research in Biophysics at Vanderbilt University and Postdoctoral training at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Le recently joined Abilita Therapeutics as a Research Scientist and brings key expertise in membrane protein biophysical characterization, purification and formulation. Previously, she worked as an Analytical Scientist at Catalent Pharma Solutions. Le completed her postdoctoral studies at Oak Ridge National Lab after earning a Ph.D. in Chemistry from North Carolina State University.
Prior to joining the company, Kin worked at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) focusing on a range of research methods in molecular biology from vector construction to protein expression and cell culture. He played a major role in the lab’s high-throughput GPCR initiative and contributed to over 40 publications.
Mr. Bradbury has over 35 years of experience leading global, fast-growing life sciences companies. Since January 2020 Mr. Bradbury has served as Executive Chairman of Equillium, Inc., a public biopharmaceutical company he co-founded in 2017 and led as CEO until the end of 2019. In addition, Mr. Bradbury has been Managing Member of BioBrit, LLC, a life-sciences consulting and investment firm, since 2012. Mr. Bradbury is the former President, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Amylin Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company based in San Diego, CA, focused on metabolic diseases. During his 18-year tenure at Amylin, the company launched three first-in-class medicines, including the first once-a-week therapy to treat diabetes, and was listed on the Nasdaq 100. He served as Amylin’s Chief Executive Officer from March 2007 until its acquisition by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company in August 2012. Prior to joining Amylin, Mr. Bradbury worked at SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals and its predecessor companies for ten years in various sales and marketing positions. Mr. Bradbury serves on the Board of Directors of Biocon Limited (NSE: BIOCON), Castle Biosciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSTL), Equillium, Inc. (NASDAQ: EQ), Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ICPT) and a number of private companies and philanthropic organizations. Mr. Bradbury received a Bachelor of Pharmacy from Nottingham University and a Diploma in Management Studies from Harrow and Ealing Colleges of Higher Education in the United Kingdom.
Michael Goguen is the founder and managing partner of Two Bear Capital, a venture capital firm headquartered in Whitefish, Montana with offices in Boston, San Diego, and the San Francisco Bay area. With $275 million under management, Two Bear Capital focuses on early stage startup companies in the areas of biotechnology, bioinformatics, artificial intelligence/machine learning, enterprise software and cybersecurity. The firm has invested in companies solving difficult problems in everything from neurodegenerative disease to precision oncology, from advanced network architecture to data analytics.
Previously, Mike spent 20 years as a partner at Sequoia Capital where he led 54 company investments to a combined market value exceeding $64 billion and had 26 exits above $100 million.
Mike holds a B.S. from Cornell University and an M.S. from Stanford University, both in Electrical Engineering.
Mauro is the founder of Abilita Therapeutics, Inc. and inventor of its core EMP™ technology. He has gained significant experience over 20 years of conducting academic membrane protein research and contributing to industry drug discovery projects. Mauro has authored eighteen peer-reviewed scientific articles, including publications in Cell, Nature, PNAS, and JACS. He received his Ph.D. from the Max Planck Institute under Nobel laureate Prof. Hartmut Michel and carried out his postdoctoral studies as a Pfizer fellow in the Stevens lab at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), widely regarded as the world’s top lab for GPCR structural studies. Prior to founding Abilita Bio in 2014, Mauro worked as a Structural Biologist at Receptos, Inc. and has consulted for Eli Lilly & Company.
Rachel Tsunemoto Hislop is a Principal at Two Bear Capital where she focuses on investments in innovative therapeutics and life science companies. She serves as a Board Observer for Abilita Therapeutics and Novoron Bioscience, two companies funded by Two Bear Capital. Prior to joining Two Bear Capital, Rachel’s experiences in the therapeutic development process spanned from preclinical to post-approval. Most recently, Rachel was part of the Medical Affairs team at Acorda Therapeutics. Previously, she was a researcher on a California Institute of Regenerative Medicine grant in the laboratories of Dr. Lawrence Goldstein and Dr. Samuel Pfaff. Trained as a neuroscientist, Rachel earned her Ph.D. from the University of California San Diego in Neuroscience where her work in the laboratory of Dr. Kristin Baldwin led to publications in Nature, Nature Neuroscience, and The EMBO Journal. She received her B.S. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Brain and Cognitive Sciences with a minor in Biomedical Engineering.
Tom Boone has more than 37 years of accomplishments in the discovery and development of protein therapeutics. Tom worked at Amgen for 28 years and served in positions of increasing responsibility in growing Amgen Protein Sciences to an organization of over 300 researchers across five different sites while maintaining a long tradition of industry excellence. His career at Amgen began in 1981 as a bench scientist with the isolation and cDNA cloning of novel cytokines and growth factors including G-CSF. He was also responsible for purifying many of Amgen’s recombinant proteins. Tom’s responsibilities grew from Scientist to Director and he developed proprietary processes used to produce recombinant G-CSF and other therapeutic candidates for clinical applications. His continuing success led to leadership of all research protein technologies, and the evolution of Protein Sciences as an independent organization. Tom was the first Vice President of Amgen Protein Science and his teams were responsible for the majority of the current Amgen product portfolio and late stage clinical programs. Tom was the lead scientist in the development of Nplate®, a treatment of thrombocytopenia. His critical role in the discovery and process development of G-CSF (Neupogen) is widely recognized. Tom has recently helped start several companies and has helped them license in clinical stage molecules. He is also currently a consultant or scientific advisor for more than 25 companies.
Dr. Handel received her PhD in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1989 and did post-doctoral work in protein design/biophysics at E. I. Du Pont de Nemours with William DeGrado from 1989-1992. When Du Pont de Nemours became Du Pont Merck Pharmaceuticals, she was hired as a Principal Investigator and led an inflammatory disease group targeting the chemokine receptor CCR2, and initiated structural studies of its ligand MCP-1 (CCL2). In 1994 she joined the faculty of the Molecular and Cell Biology Department at the University of California Berkeley, where she continued to work on chemokines, particularly from a structural perspective focused on the ligands. After receiving tenure in 2000, Dr. Handel began pursuing structural studies of chemokine receptors, which was a daunting endeavor at the time. In 2005, she moved to the University of California San Diego (Skaggs School of Pharmacy and the Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine) and began collaborating with the GPCR Network on structural studies of chemokine receptors. Dr. Handel’s laboratory contributed to the first chemokine receptor structure to be determined: CXCR4 in complex with a small molecule inhibitor and a cyclic peptide antagonist. In 2015 her laboratory solved the first structure of a chemokine receptor in complex with a chemokine. Dr. Handel continues to pursue other complexes of chemokine receptors with both small molecules and natural ligands to support drug discovery efforts. Her laboratory is also conducting single molecule fluorescence studies of chemokine receptor dynamics, and cell biology, signaling and molecular modeling to leverage further information from our structural studies, and to better understand the complex behavior of these proteins in heath and in disease.
Anke Kretz-Rommel, Ph.D. has followed her passion for the discovery and development of biologics to improve patients’ lives for over 25 years. She is highly versed in all aspects related to biologics, including toxicology, pharmacology, CMC and early clinical development. She has innovated cancer and autoimmune disease vaccines, brought multiple first in class and best in class antibodies from discovery through Phase 1 clinical trials in oncology, rheumatology and metabolic diseases. She has been part of founding teams in multiple successful biotech companies, as well as gained experience in larger companies such as Alexion Pharmaceuticals. She has obtained her Ph.D. at the Institute of Toxicology/ETH Zurich, Switzerland, followed by a post-doc at The Autoimmune Disease Center at The Scripps Research Institute. As CTO at Bird Rock Bio, Inc, she built out a GPCR antibody discovery platform and successfully brought the first in class anti-CB1 GPCR antibody nimacimab from discovery to Phase 2 clinical trials.
She is highly experienced in putting together strategies for INDs, overseeing IND-enabling studies, CMC and early clinical trials. She has built teams in the US and China, is well at home at many CROs and CDMOs all over the world with her hands on approach of leveraging external teams. She loves the work hard, play hard, fast paced biotech environment to bring forward novel medicines.
Dr. Ramsdell received his Ph.D. from UCLA and did post-doctoral work at the National Institutes of Health, then joined Immunex Research Corporation to characterize T cell activation and tolerance, including the cloning and characterization of a variety of TNFR family members and their respective ligands. In 1995, he joined Darwin Molecular Inc. (later acquired by Celltech R&D, Inc.) to establish and lead its immunology program. At Darwin Molecular, Dr. Ramsdell developed programs in immunology and genetics that led to the discovery of Foxp3 and determined this to be the defining gene for regulatory T cells, the absence of which leads to the fatal human autoimmune syndrome, IPEX. After moving to ZymoGenetics, Inc. in 2004, Dr. Ramsdell identified and characterized several novel proteins with regulatory activity in lymphoid cells. In 2008, he moved to Novo Nordisk to establish the Inflammation Research Center in Seattle, where he led the Discovery Immunology group. In 2014, he joined aTyr Pharma as VP of Immunology and in 2016 joined The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy (PICI).
Dr. Solforosi is currently a Senior Scientist at Janssen Infectious Disease Vaccine in Leiden, The Netherlands. She has extensive experiences in academic as well as industry research. Her background is in microbiology, molecular biology and immunology including antibody generation and vaccine development. She has led and contributed to projects for the development and characterization of pathogens’ tumor specific antibodies and characterization of B cell response following vaccination. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Padova, Italy, and performed her postdoctoral work in Dr. Burton laboratory at the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), in La Jolla California, recognized as the leading laboratory for anti-HIV antibodies generation and HIV vaccine development. Dr. Solforosi continued her work at TSRI as an Assistant Professor and also worked as senior scientist at the Tyrolean Cancer Research Institute, Innsbruck, Austria, and at the University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Milan, Italy.
Don Rindell is the Managing Director of Camino International, a consulting firm specializing in business development and drug delivery. Over the last two years Don has supported a number of key licensing agreements, and he has led device development programs for two multinational firms that included initial development of the programs, negotiations with vendors and ultimate oversight of the project. From 2005 – 2014 he served as Senior Director of Business Development for Amylin Pharmaceuticals, which was purchased by Bristol Myers Squibb. At Amylin, he lead a number of key global transactions including Shionogi Pharmaceuticals, BIOCON, Takeda Pharmaceuticals and several device delivery companies. Prior to joining Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Mr. Rindell had a successful consulting practice, during which time he served as Acting President of Medical Device Group, Inc., an acute care and respiratory company, and Vice President of Business Development of CardioNet, Inc., a “real-time” 24/7 cardiovascular monitoring company. His responsibilities included corporate marketing, mergers and acquisitions activities, product planning and new strategic initiatives. Prior to his consulting practice, he served as Vice President of Corporate Development & Strategic Planning of Advanced Tissues Sciences, Inc. (“ATS”), a La Jolla, California – based biotechnology company. Prior to his tenure at ATS, Mr. Rindell was the Vice President for Global Business Management of Braun/Thermoscan, a division of The Gillette Company. At Braun/Thermoscan, he played a major role in building its medical device business to achieve sales exceeding $170 million. Mr. Rindell was also employed by Hybritech, a division of Eli Lilly and Company as Executive Director of Sales and Marketing. Mr. Rindell received his B.S. degree in Economics from the College of Wooster and an M.B.A. from Pepperdine University Graduate School of Business.
Dr. Charlie Rodi is Founder and CEO of RhoDx, Inc., a company dedicated to the early detection of cancer through screening using cell-free nucleic acids. He has over thirty years of experience leading projects in both Big Pharma and Biotech start-ups, which includes leading high-throughput sequencing and genotyping organizations and a CLIA lab as well as technology and assay development groups. Dr. Rodi has brought products to the marketplace for genetic analysis and molecular diagnostics at Sequenom and Trovagene. While at Monsanto/GD Searle he was a member of both the Genomics Leadership Team and the Genomics Business Team and led the New Technologies Initiative. He has led teams involved in cancer diagnostics, screening for anti-inflammatory drugs, and the development of antineoplastic drugs. Previous positions include Director, Monsanto Genome Sequencing Center; EVP, Genomics at Sequenom, and CTO at Trovagene. Dr. Rodi received a Ph.D. in Cellular and Developmental Biology from the University of Minnesota.
Dr. Struthers is Founder and CEO of Crinetics Pharmaceuticals Inc. Prior to Crinetics, he was Senior Director and Head, Endocrinology and Metabolism at Neurocrine Biosciences. There he initiated and led the company’s efforts to discover and develop orally active, nonpeptide GnRH antagonists. This resulted in a first-in-class compound, elagolix, which has demonstrated safety and efficacy in over 40 clinical trials totaling more than 3,000 patients. Prior to Neurocrine, he co-founded ScienceMedia Inc. to develop eLearning solutions for the life sciences and higher education markets and led contract research efforts at Biosym Technologies to develop and apply computational tools for drug discovery and structural biology. Dr. Struthers is also a co-founder of the San Diego Entrepreneurs Exchange (sdentrepreneurs.org) and currently serves as it’s President. He is an author of more than 75 scientific publications in the fields of computational and medicinal chemistry, endocrinology, receptor biology and clinical pharmacology. He holds Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology from the University of California, San Diego.