Matthew Spear, MD
Dr. Spear has been working in oncology and gene therapy research and development for over 25 years. He received a B.A. degree from the Johns Hopkins University and an M.D. degree from Stanford University. Post-graduate training was in the Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard University program. He has served as an Associate Professor on the faculty of the USC Keck School of Medicine, and the UCSD Medical School / UCSD Cancer Center where he managed a clinical practice, drug discovery/gene therapy research, and clinical trial programs for cancer. Dr. Spear led multiple oncology clinical development programs at Pfizer. He subsequently served as Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice-President at Nereus Pharmaceuticals, followed by Head of Oncology and Head of Biotherapeutics at Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, then as Vice-President at Incyte and Sangamo Therapeutics. He is currently Chief Medical Officer at Poseida Therapeutics developing multiple CAR-T cell and gene therapy products, and a CIRM CAR-T cell principal investigator. He has also served on NIH / NCI study section, CPRIT grant review panel, biotechnology and pharmaceutical advisory boards, IRB/SRC, and scientific journal editorial review committees related to cancer and gene therapy, as well as authoring numerous scientific papers and patent applications.
Shunichiro (Steve) Okada, MD
Shunichiro (Steve) Okada, MD, with more than 25 years of academic and pharmaceutical industry experience, is Vice President and Head of Clinical Strategy T-CiRA Discovery Unit at Takeda Pharmaceutical Corporation. T-CiRA Discovery Unit’s mission is to bring innovative and definitive cell-based and gene therapies to patients with life threatening disease. Before his current appointment, he was Vice President and Head of Exploratory Translational Development at Takeda where he led the experimental and translational medicine group for pre-clinical assessment of early assets and early stage clinical development from candidate nomination to proof-of-mechanism/proof of concept studies. Prior to joining Takeda, Dr. Okada held various senior positions at Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline with extensive experience in early and late phase clinical development, medical affairs, business development, external partnership and collaboration in cardiovascular and metabolic disease areas. In academia, Dr. Okada practiced medicine and led numerous studies funded by the National Institutes of Health and American Heart Association at three leading US academic medical centers. Dr. Okada received his undergraduate degree at Johns Hopkins University and his medical degree from University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. He is a board certified in internal medicine and holds subspecialty certification in Cardiovascular Disease.
Dan Kaufman, MD, PhD
Dr. Kaufman is a Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Regenerative Medicine and Director of the Cell Therapy program at the University of California- San Diego. Dr. Kaufman does clinical work in hematology/BMT. His research focuses on use of human pluripotent stem cells to study development and clinical translation of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells, lymphocytes, and other blood cell lineages.
George Smith, PhD, MBA
Dr. Smith is developing next generation TIL based therapies at Turnstone Biologics. Prior to Turnstone, he led strategy and operations at Myst Therapeutics, which was acquired by Turnstone. Dr. Smith founded the IQVIA Cell and Gene Therapy Center where he helped companies with and developed novel solutions for cell and gene therapy development. He is a subject matter expert for clinical and preclinical development strategy and planning, pharmacology, translational medicine, due diligence and indications evaluation. Prior to the Center, he led due diligence programs at IQVIA and worked for small and large biopharma companies where he gained experience with drug development from concept through Phase III for a wide variety of therapeutic areas and modalities. He also has experience as an advisor for multiple companies and providing and acquiring capital. Dr. Smith received his Ph.D. and MBA from UCSD.
Richard Lin, PhD
Dr. Lin is the founder of Explora BioLabs. Dr. Lin pioneered the concept of vivarium-as-a-service (now trademarked by Explora) in 2004, when he recognized that early stage biotech companies can accelerate their preclinical research by using high quality third party on-demand vivarium that comes with equipment, essential staff and regulatory support. After growing the company to 7 facilities in San Diego and the Bay Area, Dr. Lin successfully navigated the acquisition of Explora by the Seabright Fund, a search fund, in mid-2018. Dr. Lin currently serves as an advisor to Explora and BioXceed, bio-manufacturing innovation hub. He is an investor at the San Diego Angel Conference, an angel investment fund and an accelerator program. Dr. Lin is passionate about community building. He currently serves as the chairman of LaunchBio and leads the Biocom CRO committee. He is a member of the Industry Advisory Board of the Southern California Biotech Center, a training program based in Miramar College. Prior to founding Explora, Dr. Lin served in various senior research positions in several early stage biotech companies. He received his PhD in Zoology (cancer research) from UC Berkeley.
Srihari Sampath, MD, PhD, MPhil
Dr. Sampath is Co-Founder of Function Oncology, a molecular information company dedicated to making comprehensive and functional precision medicine a reality for cancer patients. Before that, he served in drug development and translational roles at Novartis. He is board-certified in Diagnostic Radiology and serves as Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California, San Diego. He completed his fellowship training at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, residency at Stanford University, MD at Cornell University Medical College, PhD in molecular immunology at the Rockefeller University, Masters in medical oncology at the University of Cambridge, and BA at Cornell University.
Srinath Sampath, MD, PhD
Dr. Sampath is a physician-scientist whose career has spanned industry and academic environments. He completed his undergraduate and medical degree at Cornell University, graduate training at the University of Cambridge and The Rockefeller University, clinical residency and postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University School of Medicine, and clinical fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. He is Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Function Oncology. Prior to Function, he served as a Senior Investigator and Translational Research Expert at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation. He also serves as Assistant Clinical Professor at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.
Martin S. Kleckner PhD, MBA
Dr. Kleckner has 31 years of experience in operations and business development in the life sciences and healthcare. He has advised over 115 emerging and Fortune 100 companies with corporate planning and strategy, commercialization, economics, and public policy. He was founder/co-founder in five venture start-ups with two successful exits consisting of an alternative to botulinum neurotoxin (BoTox®) for topical anti-aging/wrinkle inhibition and hyperhidrosis; a bioengineering simulation tool for cardiology and ophthalmic therapy applications; three dimensional (3D) engineered liver tissue for drug discovery and bio-artificial liver support; a chest tube insertion device, and a diagnostic technology for cervical, ovarian and oral/pharyngeal cancers. He served as a healthcare economist for Roche, Respironics, Toshiba Medical, and Terumo Interventional while also training for General Electric at its Crotonville, New York campus and through Europe, Asia, and the Americas. He was the co-founder/CEO of a counter-intelligence device which was showcased worldwide on BBC, NBC, CBS and Fox (receiving an 11-minute lead story) and then was used to help solve a crime in a May 2004 episode of ‘CSI Miami’. Previously he was Director of Venture Development with American Healthcare Systems and worked with its two venture capital funds serving in the founding group growing the company to $45 million in annual revenue eventually selling to Premier, Inc. He currently provides commercialization, capital funding, SBIR/STTR & foundation grant proposal advisory support to startup ventures through the University of California, Riverside Office of Technology Partnerships, and the University of San Diego Brink SBDC. He is an Adjunct Faculty member for the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps™ teaching business model discovery and validation principles at research universities throughout the U. S., the University of California, Riverside and for eleven research universities in Chile.
Jon Wilensky, MD, MBA, FACS
Dr. Wilensky is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon entrenched in the emerging world of implantable biotechnology and cellular therapeutics. He has been the Lead Surgeon on two clinical trials involving implantable sensors and implantable cell therapy, and consults for numerous other early- and mid-stage companies with such technologies. Dr. Wilensky currently focuses his Plastic Surgery patient care on Palomar Health, the largest public health district in California, and a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network. He strives to apply his passion for innovative technology to the reconstructive care of his patients. Dr. Wilensky completed his medical and residency training at University of Michigan, and received a Fellowship to complete an MBA from the Rady School of Management, UCSD, with an emphasis on Technology Commercialization, Disruptive Innovation & Entrepreneurship.
Samuel D. Riccitelli, MS
Mr. Riccitelli is an entrepreneurial executive with more than 30 years of public and private company general management, operations management and new product development experience in a wide variety of healthcare related businesses including diagnostic services, healthcare information management and medical devices. Most recently, Mr. Riccitelli served as President and CEO and board member for Signal Genetics, Inc., a publicly traded molecular diagnostic company. Prior to Signal Genetics, Mr. Riccitelli served as the Executive Vice President and COO of Genoptix, Inc., a publicly traded diagnostic services company focused on the needs of community hematologists and oncologists. Mr. Riccitelli served in a number of R&D and general management leadership positions for Becton, Dickinson and Company, including most recently as a vice president and general manager and as a board member for BD Ventures, LLC., a venture capital fund. Mr. Riccitelli is currently Chairman of the Board of Directors for Precipio, Inc., a publicly traded diagnostic services company [NASDAQ: PRPO]. Mr. Riccitelli also currently serves on the Board of Directors of Orthopediatrics, Inc. [NASDAQ: KIDS] a publicly traded orthopedic device company uniquely focused on the orthopedic repair needs of children. Mr. Riccitelli received a B.A. in Biology from Washington and Jefferson College and a M.S. Engineering degree from The University of Texas in Biomedical Engineering.