Scientific Advisory Board
- The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), part of the National Institutes of Health
- Dr. Stefan Knapp, a leading structural biologist from the Structural Genomics Consortium, University of Oxford
- Dr. Henry Brem, a ground breaking brain cancer researcher from Johns Hopkins University
- Dr. Curt Civin, a pioneering cancer stem cell biologist and physician from the University of Maryland Baltimore
Jeffrey W. Strovel, Ph.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Strovel has significant experience in developing and implementing innovative platforms for the discovery and development of small-molecule drugs. Prior to the formation of ConverGene, he was the Head of Discovery Research at Avalon Pharmaceuticals where he played a critical role in the development of many of the company’s novel biomarker-driven discovery systems while simultaneously leading discovery efforts including the company’s seminal product development candidate, a mechanistically novel cancer drug candidate targeting a major, previously intractable target pathway in colorectal cancer. Dr. Strovel has led programs for small-molecule drug discovery and development including drug target discovery, hit-to-lead, drug lead optimization, and biomarker discovery and validation. Earlier in his career, Dr. Strovel held positions at the University of Maryland and the National Cancer Institute.
CPA Chief Financial Officer
Mr. Cappeluti has more than 35 years of experience in finance and public accounting with more than 25 of those years spent in the biotech industry working for BioReliance, Human Genome Sciences (HGS), and CoGenesys. As the second employee of HGS in 1992, at the start of the human genome sequencing effort, he held positions of increasing responsibility and served for many years as Vice President of Finance. He has managed both large and small internal financial operations and has participated directly in approximately $4 billion of corporate financing transactions including private and public financings; IPOs; mergers and acquisitions; and real estate transactions. He led one of the largest real estate transactions in Maryland history while at HGS when the company executed a sale lease back on its corporate headquarters and large-scale GMP manufacturing facilities. Mr. Cappeluti was a member of the team that spun out CoGenesys from HGS in 2006 and was the CFO until the company was sold to Teva Pharmaceuticals in 2008. Mr. Cappeluti is also the President and CFO of Noble Life Sciences. He graduated from Old Dominion University in 1977 earning a B.S. in Accounting.
Makoto Yoshioka, Ph.D.
VP of Research
Dr. Yoshioka currently serves as VP of Research for ConverGene. He is currently heading optimization work for the Company’s lead compounds. Prior to joining ConverGene, Dr. Yoshioka held various technical positions at Gene Logic and CuraGen – two pioneering companies in the field of genomics, pharmacogenomics and toxicogenomics – interfacing with international pharmaceutical companies for collaborative research projects that involved target discovery for cancer and schizophrenia, as well as pharmacogenomics and toxicogenomics studies. Most recently, Dr. Yoshioka was Technology Manager at TechCatalyst, a business unit of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific non-profit organization. With ACS TechCatalyst, he provided technology scouting and consulting services to client companies, including startup companies and Fortune Global 100 companies, working on a variety of technical subjects ranging from performance fibers, renewable chemistry, energy storage, separation methods, materials science, controlled-release technologies and pharmaceutical development. Dr. Yoshioka received his Doctorate degree in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Vermont and held a post-doctoral position at National Center for Toxicological Research, US FDA.
Elizabeth Smith, Ph.D., MBA
Executive Director Partnering and Strategy
Dr. Smith has over 15 years experience in biotechnology corporate business development. She worked for 5 years as Associate Director, Technology Search and Development at Celsion Corporation (an oncology therapeutics company) and since then has worked with dozens of biotech pre-revenue companies providing assistance in areas such as commercialization strategy, licensing & partnerships, and patent strategy. At Celsion, she led the ThermoDox®+ MRgHIFU non-clinical program for metastatic bone pain palliation in partnership with Philips Healthcare. This was the first ever non-approved Drug-Device combination to receive phase II IND clearance from the FDA. At Celsion, she also strategically managed the intellectual property portfolio, grants programs, the scientific advisory board and in-licensing opportunities. Before Celsion, she worked for 5 years in the University of Chicago technology transfer office where she managed out-licensing and start-ups efforts for over 30 patent portfolios from The Division of Biological Sciences. Dr. Smith, Principal of Somax Consulting, has assisted over 50 biotech start-ups.
Jian Jin, Ph.D.
Scientific Advisory Board
Dr. Jin is currently Professor of Structural and Chemical Biology, Oncological Sciences, and Pharmacology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Over the last six years, Dr. Jin’s research has focused on discovering chemical probes of protein methyltransferases and functionally selective ligands of G protein-coupled receptors. Prior to joining the faculty of the Icahn School of Medicine, Dr. Jin was a member of the faculty of the Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and served as an associate director of medicinal chemistry in the Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery from 2008 to 2014. Before moving to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dr. Jin was a medicinal chemist with GlaxoSmithKline where he was a manager from 2003 to 2008. Dr. Jin received a B.S. degree in chemistry from University of Science and Technology of China in 1991 and a Ph.D. degree in synthetic organic chemistry from the Pennsylvania State University in 1997, and completed postdoctoral training at the Ohio State University. Dr. Jin has published 81 peer-reviewed papers (including 59 papers since 2008) and delivered more than 50 invited talks. He is also an inventor of 9 issued U.S. patents and 37 published PCT patent applications.
Stefan Knapp, Ph.D.
Scientific Advisory Board
Dr. Knapp is currently Principal Investigator, Epigenetics and Chemical Biology, with the Structural Genomics Consortium, University of Oxford. He is also Professor of Structural Biology at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine and Director of Chemical Biology at the Target Discovery Institute (TDI). Dr. Knapp’s research focuses on understanding molecular mechanisms that regulate protein function with a particular interest in protein interactions module of the bromodomain family that specifically recognize ε-N-lysine acetylation motifs. From 1999 to 2004, Dr. Knapp held research positions with Pharmacia (Nerviano, Italy). He has authored more than 150 peer-reviewed papers. Dr. Knapp studied Chemistry at Marburg University and at the University of Illinois. He completed his Ph.D. in Prof. Ladenstein’s laboratory at the Karolinska Institutet.
Rob Lane, Ph.D.
Scientific Advisory Board
Rob Lane, PhD, head of the dopamine pharmacology laboratory and R.D. Wright Biomedical Fellow, Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, and visiting professor in psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center.
Dr. Lane’s research focuses on a large family of cell surface receptor proteins called G protein-coupled receptors. This family of proteins are important in virtually every physiological process, including critical processes in the nervous system, and are the target for one-third of medicines in the clinic. Unfortunately, the discovery of new therapeutics that target these receptors remains challenging, often because the action of such drugs at the right receptor protein but in the wrong cell or tissue can cause undesirable side effects. This means that the current treatments for many diseases such as schizophrenia and Parkinson’s remain suboptimal. Dr. Lane has a particular interest in exploring new concepts of drug action at these receptors as a means to develop more selective, safer therapeutics. Much of Dr. Lane’s recent research has focused on applying these concepts to the dopamine receptors.
PharmD, MBA – Interim Exec. Director of Clinical Operations
Dr. Benjamin has over 30 years of Clinical Development experience (Clinical Operations and Program Management) resulting in 5 NDA and 2BLA submissions and approvals. He is experienced in various therapy areas including Oncology, Infectious Disease, CNS, CVS and Nephrology. Dr. Benjamin was most recently with Inovio Pharmaceuticals, as a Director of Clinical Operations & Development. Prior to that he provided Clinical Operational oversight to a large Immuno-Oncology program funded by NCI. From 2012 to 2015 he spent time at DOD/USAMMDA in clinical development providing leadership and direction to the TBI and PTSD programs which were in NeuroPsych. From 2004 to 2011 he led the clinical operations teams at Celsion & OxThera, in Oncology and Nephrology respectively. His early career was in major pharma companies starting as a clinical scientist and advancing into clinical operations and program management.
David Maloney, Ph.D.
For the past nine-years Dr. Maloney was at the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), where he was a Group Leader in Chemistry and co-led an interdisciplinary project team. NCATS was established to transform the translational science process so that new treatments and cures for disease can be delivered to patients faster. During his tenure at NCATS, Dr. Maloney led a team of senior scientists in lead-identification and late-stage lead optimization efforts in a broad range of therapeutic areas. He has co-authored over 75 scientific publications and is co-inventor on over 10 composition of matter patents. Dr. Maloney earned his PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Virginia and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.