Management & Board of Directors

WHO WE ARE

Credit: UAB

William Ho - President and Chief Executive Officer

William has over 17 years of experience in the biotechnology and healthcare industries. He founded Incysus Therapeutics from AlephPoint Capital, a private healthcare focused investment manager which he launched in 2014. Prior to AlephPoint, Will launched the public investments and cross-over portfolio at New Leaf Venture Partners, a leading healthcare venture capital firm. He was a Senior Equity Research Analyst at Bank of America and an Analyst at Piper Jaffray & Company covering the biotechnology and life-science tools sectors. He was Institutional Investor's All-America Research Team Best Up-and-Comer in 2008. Earlier in his career, he led operational and financial analysis at CuraGen Corporation, one of the leading genomics era companies, where he restructured the company and was an Associate on the Healthcare Investment banking team at Cowen & Co.

Will holds an MBA from the University of Notre Dame and a BS in Biochemistry, with honors from McMaster University in Canada.



 

Lawrence Lamb, PhD - Scientific Co-Founder

Dr. Lawrence S. Lamb is a leader in the field of gamma-delta (γδ) T cells.  He is Clinical Laboratory Immunologist and Professor of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) specializing in transplantation immunology.  He also holds appointments in Pathology and Pediatrics and is board-certified by the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation for Advanced Practice in Oncology Nursing (AOCNS).  Dr. Lamb is the Director of the UAB Cell Therapy Laboratory in the Section of Bone Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapy.  While a Transplantation Medicine postdoctoral fellow at the University of South Carolina, Dr. Lamb was the first to describe homeostatic reconstitution of γδ T cells in patients who receive alpha-beta T cell depleted bone marrow grafts as well as an association between γδ T cell recovery and disease-free survival in allogeneic bone marrow transplantation. He currently directs research programs for evaluation and translation of γδ T cell-based therapies for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme and for leukemia & lymphoma.  Dr. Lamb's research has been funded by the NINDS, NCI, Elsa Pardee Foundation, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Brendan Franco Foundation, and the Southeastern Brain Tumor Foundation.  He also held the National Brain Tumor Society's Samuel Gerson Leadership Chair for Glioblastoma Research from 2008-2010.  Dr. Lamb serves on several national and international committees related to cell and gene therapy and currently Chairs the Scientific Advisory Board for Incysus Therapeutics.

Joy Bessenger - Senior Vice President, Finance and Strategy

Joy has over 25 years of experience in the finance and biotechnology industries, and more than 18 years of experience raising capital for public and privately-held companies.  Most recently, she was Chief Financial Officer of 3D-Forensic, Inc., a technology start-up in the Bay area.  Prior to that, Joy was Vice President of Finance and Strategy for deCODE genetics, Inc., a publicly-traded biotechnology company based in Reykjavik, Iceland that was sold to Amgen.  Joy's responsibilities at deCODE genetics included overseeing financing transactions as well as strategic financial planning, corporate development and investor relations.  Earlier in her career, she worked in finance with a focus on biotechnology and healthcare as an investment banker and later in equity research and financial communications.  Those firms included Noonan/Russo Communications, The Genesis Merchant Group, Volpe Brown Whelan & Company and Robertson Stephens & Company.  

Joy has a BA in International Relations and Economics, with honors, from the University of South Florida. 

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Management & Board of Directors

WHO WE ARE

Credit: UAB

William Ho - President and Chief Executive Officer

William has over 18 years of experience in the biotechnology and healthcare industries. He founded Incysus Therapeutics from AlephPoint Capital, a private healthcare focused investment manager which he launched in 2014. Prior to AlephPoint, Will launched the public investments and cross-over portfolio at New Leaf Venture Partners, a leading healthcare venture capital firm. He was a Senior Equity Research Analyst at Bank of America and an Analyst at Piper Jaffray & Company covering the biotechnology and life-science tools sectors. He was Institutional Investor's All-America Research Team Best Up-and-Comer in 2008. Earlier in his career, he led operational and financial analysis at CuraGen Corporation, one of the leading genomics era companies, where he restructured the company and was an Associate on the Healthcare Investment banking team at Cowen & Co.

Will holds an MBA from the University of Notre Dame and a BS in Biochemistry, with honors from McMaster University in Canada.



 

Lawrence Lamb, PhD - Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Lawrence S. Lamb is our Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer as of January 2019.  He is a co-founder of Incysus and is recognized as a leader in the field of gamma-delta (γδ) T cells.  He was previously a Clinical Laboratory Immunologist and Professor of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) specializing in transplantation immunology.  He also held appointments in Pathology and Pediatrics and is board-certified by the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation for Advanced Practice in Oncology Nursing (AOCNS).  Dr. Lamb concurrently held the position as the Director of the UAB Cell Therapy Laboratory in the Section of Bone Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapy.  

 

While a Transplantation Medicine postdoctoral fellow at the University of South Carolina, Dr. Lamb was the first to describe homeostatic reconstitution of γδ T cells in patients who receive alpha-beta T cell depleted bone marrow grafts as well as an association between γδ T cell recovery and disease-free survival in allogeneic bone marrow transplantation. He currently directs research programs for evaluation and translation of γδ T cell-based therapies for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme and for leukemia & lymphoma.  Dr. Lamb's research has been funded by the NINDS, NCI, Elsa Pardee Foundation, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Brendan Franco Foundation, and the Southeastern Brain Tumor Foundation.  He also held the National Brain Tumor Society's Samuel Gerson Leadership Chair for Glioblastoma Research from 2008-2010.  Dr. Lamb serves on several national and international committees related to cell and gene therapy and currently also Chairs the Scientific Advisory Board for Incysus Therapeutics.

Lou Vaickus, MD FACP - Chief Medical Advisor

Lou Vaickus, MD FACP, is currently serving as Chief Medical Advisor to Incysus. Dr. Vaickus is Chief Executive Officer and Founder of akta Pharmaceutical Development LLC (aktaPD®). He has served as Interim Chief Medical Officer at several biotech companies, most recently at Vedanta Biosciences, Verastem, Inc., and InVivo Therapeutics Holdings Corp. Dr. Vaickus’ therapeutic areas of specialization include development of cell therapies, biologics, NCEs, biosimilars, and live biotherapeutic products in oncology, hematology, pulmonary and other fibrotic disorders, infectious diseases, autoimmunity, rare metabolic disorders, immunology, and medical devices. He has over 30 years of experience that began as an academic scientist and practicing physician, then spanned into industry with preclinical, clinical, and globally marketed pharmaceutical products. In industry, Lou served as Vice President and Head of Clinical Development, Global Medicines Development and Affairs at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Before joining Vertex, Dr. Vaickus was Chief Medical Officer of Tolerx, Inc. from 2002 to 2011. Previously, he served as Vice President of Clinical Research and later as Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs at Sunovion (formerly Sepracor, Inc.), Medical Director of Oncology/Immunology at EMD Serono (formerly Ares Serono), where he supervised clinical and medical affairs for Rebif®, and Associate Medical Director, Medical Director, and later Medical Marketing Director for the Rebif® Multiple Sclerosis Strategic Business Unit at Serono.

 

Dr. Vaickus attained board certification in Internal Medicine, Hematology and Hematologic Malignancies, and Medical Oncology. He completed postdoctoral fellowships in hematology, oncology, and immunology at the Mayo Clinic and Stanford University. Dr. Vaickus has held faculty positions at the U of Iowa (Division of Hematology/Oncology) and at Roswell Park Cancer Institute/SUNY Buffalo (Divisions of Clinical Immunology, Bone Marrow Transplant, Hematologic Malignancies, and Solid Tumor Oncology and Investigational Therapeutics). Dr. Vaickus holds an M.D. from Loyola University's Stritch School of Medicine.

Rozanna Yaing - Senior Vice President, Quality and Regulatory Affairs

Rozanna has over 20 years of global experience in life sciences with expertise in quality and regulatory strategies and drug development life-cycle processes, spanning from clinical development to product launch and commercialization. She joins Incysus from Axogen Corporation, where she was Vice President of Quality.  In that position, she established quality and regulatory compliance strategies to realize sustainable growth and achieve BLA approval. Previously, Rozanna was in the regenerative medicine, cell and gene therapy space for almost a decade holding senior leadership roles at Unum Therapeutics, Inc., and Biostage, Inc., where she helped achieve major strategic business, regulatory and technical product development milestones. She also played a key role in the establishment and qualification of a large commercial-scale GMP gene therapy manufacturing facility at uniQure in Lexington, MA. Earlier in her career, Rozanna founded BioCompass, Inc. a consulting firm specializing in program management, quality and regulatory compliance for eight years where she helped companies such as Shire HGT.  Across her career, Ms. Yaing has played key roles in the development, scale-up and/or commercialization of products including, Glybera®, VPRIV®, Replagal®, Elaprase®, Cerezyme®, Taxus® Paclitaxel-Eluting Stents, and OP-1 Putty.

 

Rozanna holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management and a BS in Chemistry from Boston College.

 

Melissa Beelen - Vice President, Clinical Operations

Melissa has over 25 years of experience in oncology and clinical research operations.  She joined Incysus as Head of Clinical Operations in April 2019 from Epizyme, Inc., a Cambridge, Massachusetts located biotechnology company developing epigenetic therapies for the treatment of cancer.   At Epizyme, she held the position of Senior Director and Head of Clinical Operations, managing a clinical team developing products for follicular lymphoma, and epithelioid sarcoma.  She moved to Epizyme in 2015 from Quintiles (now IQVIA), the contract research organization (CRO), where she managed a large program for Eisai Oncology that moved six assets into Phase 2 programs.  Earlier in her career Melissa worked with GlaxoWellcome as a Study Manager and later joined GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), following the merger, as a Clinical Scientist in the Clinical Pharmacology and Discovery Medicine group where she helped bring lapatinib (TYKERB®) through a successful new drug application (NDA) and ultimately to patients.  She left GSK as a Clinical Program Manager, responsible for additional oncology programs including trametinib (MEKINIST® - a MEK1/2 inhibitor) and dabrafinib (TAFINLAR® - a BRAF inhibitor).  Melissa started her clinical career in 1992 as an Oncology nurse at Duke University Medical Center in the division of Oncology/Bone Marrow Transplant.

Melissa holds a B.S. in Nursing, focused in oncology/hematology and bone marrow transplantation from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a B.S. in Zoology with a Minor in Genetics from North Carolina State University. 

Board of Directors

Peter Brandt - Director

Mr. Brandt has over 30 years of operational and Board experience in the biopharmaceutical industry.  Most recently, he was the President and Chief Executive Officer of Noven Pharmaceuticals.  Prior to leading Noven, Mr. Brandt spent 28 years at Pfizer, most recently as President, U.S. Pharmaceuticals Operations.  In that position, Mr. Brandt helped deliver revenue and earnings growth while engineering major change within the organization.  Prior to that position, Mr. Brandt led the Latin American Pharmaceuticals Operations, as well as the Worldwide Pharmaceuticals functions of Finance, Information Technology, Planning and Business Development.  He also oversaw the operations of Pfizer’s care management subsidiary, Pfizer Healthcare Solutions. 

 

Currently, Mr. Brandt is the Chairman of Rexahn Pharmaceuticals and serves as a Trustee of The Population Council.  He has also served on the Boards of Auxilium Pharmaceuticals, ePocrates, and Noven Pharmaceuticals.  Mr. Brandt holds a BA from the University of Connecticut and an MBA from the Columbia School of Business.

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Thomas Cirrito, PhD - Director

Tom Cirrito, PhD is a serial inventor, entrepreneur and founder of multiple companies in the life sciences. Dr. Cirrito is Founder and CEO of Filament BioSolutions, Biotagenics, and Immunovent. He is also the CEO of AGelity BioMechanics, the first start up company out of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Dr. Cirrito previously served as Vice President of Research and Development and Director of Business Development at Stemline Therapeutics (NASDAQ: STML) until March 2012. Dr. Cirrito joined Stemline in 2005 as the second full-time employee, and was responsible for business development, preclinical, intellectual property, manufacturing, analytical, and operations. He identified, in-licensed and launched the clinical program for ELZONRIS (tagraxofusp-erzs), the FDA approved, CD123 targeted therapy for Blastic Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cell Neoplasm (BPDCN).  Prior to joining Stemline, Dr. Cirrito was a biopharmaceuticals equities analyst at Piper Jaffray, where he covered large and small cap biotechnology companies. Previously, he was a life sciences consultant for A.G. Edwards Capital Partners, a venture capital group.

Dr. Cirrito received a B.A. in Biological Sciences and a PhD in Immunology from Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri). He currently serves on the Scientific and Business Advisory Board of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. He serves as an investor, mentor and Board Member to early stage biotechnology and health care companies. He has published in a wide variety of scientific fields and is the inventor on numerous technologies.

Travis Whitfill, MPH - Director

Travis Whitfill is a Partner at the venture capital firm, Bios Partners and serves as the Chief Science Officer of Azitra Inc. His background began in molecular biology and biochemistry after receiving scientific training at the MD Anderson Cancer Center and Duke University. He is the co-founder of several startup companies, including Azitra Inc. and several biotech and healthcare startups. He brings strong background in entrepreneurship and business and was recently acknowledged as Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in 2018. Mr. Whitfill is also the Senior Analyst at Bios Research, which brings experience in public markets and finance.

 

Mr. Whitfill received degrees from Yale University (MPH) and Dallas Baptist University (BS).  He also is an Associate Research Scientist with appointments in the Departments of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine at Yale University. He holds several patents and has co-authored over three dozen publications and book chapters.

William Ho - Director

William has over 18 years of experience in the biotechnology industry. He founded Incysus Therapeutics from AlephPoint Capital, a private healthcare focused investment manager which he launched in 2014. Prior to AlephPoint, Will launched the public investments and cross-over portfolio at New Leaf Venture Partners, a leading healthcare venture capital firm. He was a Senior Equity Research Analyst at Bank of America and an Analyst at Piper Jaffray & Company covering the biotechnology and life-science tools sectors. He was Institutional Investor's All-America Research Team Best Up-and-Comer in 2008. Earlier in his career, he led operational and financial analysis at CuraGen Corporation, one of the leading genomics era companies, where he restructured the company and was an Associate on the Healthcare Investment banking team at SG Cowen.

 

Will holds an MBA from the University of Notre Dame and a BS in Biochemistry, with honors from McMaster University in Canada.

 

Scientific Advisory Board

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Bianca Santomasso, MD, PhD

Neuro-Oncologist - Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center 

Dr. Bianca Santomasso, MD, PhD is a Neuro-Oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) specializing in the care of patients with primary and metastatic brain tumors as well as neurologic complications of cancer. Her research focuses on examining mechanisms of resistance to glioblastoma immunotherapy within the tumor microenvironment as well as using translational immune monitoring tools to identify predictors of toxicity and response after immunotherapy. She received her BS from Yale and then attended the Tri-Institutional MD-PhD program, obtaining her MD degree from Weill Cornell Medical College and PhD in immunology from The Rockefeller University. She completed her medical internship and neurology residency at New York Presbyterian Hospital Cornell, and her fellowship in neuro-oncology at MSK. She is a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties in Neuro-Oncology.

Bruce Levine, PhD

Professor in Cancer Gene Therapy and Director, Clinical Cell and Vaccine Production Facility - University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Bruce Levine, Barbara and Edward Netter Professor in Cancer Gene Therapy, is the Founding Director of the Clinical Cell and Vaccine Production Facility (CVPF) in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and the Abramson Cancer Center, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. He received a BA in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in Immunology and Infectious Diseases from the Johns Hopkins University. The CVPF develops and tests novel cell and gene therapies in clinical trials in patients with hematologic malignancies, solid tumors, HIV infection, and genetic disease. First-in-human trials include the first use of a lentiviral vector, the first infusions of gene edited cells, and the first use of lentivirally-modified cells to treat cancer. Dr. Levine has overseen the production, testing and release of 2,800 cellular products administered to >1,000 patients in clinical trials since 1996. Through these technologies, personalized and enhanced immunity has been engineered. T lymphocytes from HIV+ subjects have been rendered resistant to HIV infection and reinfused. T lymphocytes from cancer patients have been redirected with chimeric antigen receptors to hunt and destroy their malignancies. This investigational therapy received unanimous recommendation for approval by the FDA Oncologic Drug Advisory committee to treat pediatric, young adult r/r B-cell ALL. Dr. Levine is co-inventor on 23 issued US patents and co-author of >130 publications with a Google Scholar citation h-index of 68. He has been interviewed by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, National Geographic, Forbes, BBC, and other international media outlets.

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Dieter Kabelitz, MD

Professor and Director Institute of Immunology - University of Kiel

Dieter Kabelitz, MD, is a full Professor at the University of Kiel and Director of the Institute of Immunology since 1999. His scientific expertise is in the field of the functional characterization of human T cells with a special focus on γδ T cells. Current projects aim to explore the potential of human γδ T cells for the immunotherapy of cancer. From 1992 to 1999 he was Head of the Department of Immunology at the Paul-Ehrlich Institute in Langen, Germany. Previously, he was Associate Professor for Cellular Immunology at the University of Heidelberg. Dr. Kabelitz studied medicine in Freiburg and Munich, Germany, and was a post-doc in Uppsala, Sweden and at The Rockefeller University in New York. Dr. Kabelitz was chairman of the Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 415 "Specificity and Pathophysiology of Signal Transduction Pathways"  funded at Kiel University by the German Research Foundation (DFG).  He is a founding member and member of the Steering Committee of the DFG-funded Cluster of Excellence "Inflammation-at-Interfaces".  He was President of the German Society for Immunology (DGfI) in 2011 and 2012, and he is a Council member of the International Union of Immunological Societies (IUIS) and active in the Education Committee (EDU) of IUIS.

Marcela Maus, MD, PhD

Director of Cellular Immunotherapy, Cancer Center - Massachusetts General Hospital 

 

Marcela Maus, MD, PhD, is the Director of Cellular Immunotherapy at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center. She is a member of the Center for Cancer Immunology and the Department of Medicine at the MGH, and an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School. Her laboratory is generating new forms of chimeric antigen receptors directed to new targets and bringing them to the clinical setting to treat patients with hematologic malignancies and solid tumors.

 

Dr. Maus trained in internal medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as a hematologist and medical oncologist.  Dr. Maus’ post-doctoral work was with Michel Sadelain and Carl June, where she focused on pre-clinical development and correlative studies relevant to T-cell immunotherapies, designing early-phase trials of T-cell therapies for multiple myeloma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and glioblastoma.

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Siraj Ali, MD, PhD

Senior Director, Clinical Development - Foundation Medicine

Dr. Siraj Ali is a physician-scientist and leads translational research efforts at Foundation Medicine.  He focuses on identifying predictive biomarkers for targeted anti-neoplastic and cancer immunotherapies, which encompasses both basic cancer biology and exceptional responders in the clinic.  Siraj has co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed manuscripts, which have accrued 13,000 citations, in journals such as Cancer Discovery, Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO), The Oncologist, and others.  He has given invited and juried presentations at various international conferences. Siraj serves as a reviewer for multiple life-sciences journals and is a member of a NIH study section focused on drug development for oncology. 

 

Siraj earned his BS in Biophysics Phi Beta Kappa from Johns Hopkins University and MD-PhD program from Harvard Medical School supported by a HHMI fellowship and the Medical Scientists Training Program.  He completed residency training at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School in Boston and is board-certified in Anatomic Pathology.

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