PepTalk 2017
PepTalk 2017

SPEAKER BIOGRAPHIES: Recombinant Protein Therapeutics

Keith Foster, Ph.D., FSB, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Syntaxin, Ltd.

Following a first degree in Natural Science from the University of Cambridge, Dr. Foster completed his doctorate on the biochemistry of permeability changes to eukaryotic cell membranes caused by enveloped viruses at St. George's Hospital Medical School, University of London in 1980. Following post-doctoral research into inositol phosphate metabolism in neuronal tissue with Professor Tim Hawthorne at the University of Nottingham, he moved to Beecham Pharmaceuticals, subsequently SmithKline Beecham, where his research focused on arachidonic acid metabolism and signal transduction in inflammatory cells. He left SB in 1992 to join the newly established Speywood Laboratory Limited. Here he was responsible for establishing, de novo, a research facility and team to undertake studies into the therapeutic potential of botulinum neurotoxin fragments. In 1995, Dr. Foster moved to CAMR, now the UK Health Protection Agency (HPA) at Porton Down, to continue the work on the neurotoxin fragments. This work established proprietary technology for the targeted delivery of clostridial neurotoxin endopeptidase activity that is the basis of TSI proteins and led to the spin-out of Syntaxin Ltd., of which Dr. Foster is a Founder, from the HPA in 2005. Dr. Foster is an internationally recognised expert in botulinum neurotoxin biology, with over 20 years' experience in the field, and is currently Chief Scientific Officer of Syntaxin Ltd. 

Agamemnon Epenetos, Ph.D., Chairman, Trojan Technologies Ltd.
Agamemnon Epenetos qualified in medicine from Glasgow University, Scotland in 1973 and subsequently specialised in Medical Oncology at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London where he currently holds an Honorary Consultant appointment in Medical Oncology. He has been a practising Oncologist and Cancer Researcher over the last 30 years. He is a visiting Professor at Imperial College London and the School of Pharmacy, London. He has published widely on novel cancer therapies and has received much international recognition.

Wei-Chiang Shen, Ph.D., John A. Biles Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Southern California

Wei-Chiang Shen received his B.S. in Chemistry from Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan, in 1965 and Ph.D. in Bio-organic Chemistry from Boston University, Boston, MA, in 1972. After his postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School and Brandeis University, he joined Boston University School of Medicine as an Assistant to Associate Professor of Pathology and Pharmacology from 1976 to 1987. Dr. Shen moved to Los Angeles in 1987, and is currently John A. Biles Professor in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy. Dr. Shen's research interests focus on the development of novel systems for improving peptide and protein drug delivery. Current research projects in Dr. Shen's laboratory at USC include (a) receptor-mediated transcytosis of recombinant transferrin fusion proteins in intestinal epithelial cells for oral delivery of protein drugs, and (b) membrane transduction of cationic cell penetrating peptides for cytosolic or nuclear delivery of macromolecular drugs. Dr. Shen has published more than 130 papers in different areas of biomedical sciences, including biochemistry, cell biology, pharmaceutics, and immunology. He is an inventor or co-inventor of 14 issued and 3 pending US patents in drug delivery and a co-author of the textbook Immunology for Pharmacy Students. Dr. Shen was elected to Fellow of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) in 1992 and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) in 2000, and was the recipient of the Grand Prize of Eurand Award for Outstanding Novel Research in Oral Drug Delivery in 2002. 

Katja Arndt, Ph.D., Professor, Molecular Biotechnology, Institute for Biochemistry and Biology, University of Potsdam

Katja M. Arndt received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry under the supervision of Professor Andreas Plückthun, University of Zurich, Switzerland, and Professor Tom Alber, University of California, Berkeley. With the acceptance to the Emmy-Noether Excellence program of the German Research Foundation (DFG) in 2003, Katja M. Arndt became head of the group 'Protein Engineering in Biosystems' in the Department of Biology, University of Freiburg, Germany. In 2008, she became a principle investigator in the excellence cluster 'bioss' (biological signaling studies) and was appointed as Junior Fellow in the School of Life Sciences (LIFENET) of the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS). She was appointed to the faculty of the University of Potsdam as a Full Professor of Molecular Biotechnology in 2010. Her academic achievements have been recognized by many awards and scholarships. 

Dafne Müller, Ph.D., Scientist, Biomedical Engineering, Institute of Cell Biology and Immunology, University of Stuttgart

Dafne Müller studied Biochemistry at the University of Concepción (Chile) and received her PhD from the University of Stuttgart (Germany). At present, she holds a group leader position at the department of Biomedical Engineering at the Institute of Cell Biology and Immunology of the University of Stuttgart. Working in the field of recombinant antibodies for about 10 years, her current research focuses on the development of recombinant antibody fusion proteins with immune stimulatory or co-stimulatory properties for targeted cancer immunotherapy. 

J. Andrew Mackay, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Southern California

Dr. MacKay received his B.S. in chemical engineering and biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1999. A Howard Hughes Medical Institute Predoctoral Fellow, he completed his Ph.D. at the University of California at San Francisco and Berkeley in the joint graduate group in Bioengineering in 2005. As a Kirschstein National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Mackay studied at Duke University in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. In 2008, Dr. MacKay joined the faculty at the University of Southern California in the Departments of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biomedical Engineering. His group explores biomolecular engineering and nanomedicine. 

Thomas Schirrmann, Ph.D., Research Group Leader and Lecturer, Biotechnology, Technische Universitaet Braunschweig

Thomas Schirrmann is research group leader and lecturer at the Department of Biotechnology, Technische Universitaet Braunschweig, Germany. His research focuses on antibody engineering for research, diagnostics and therapy of tumor diseases, antibody selection, in vitro evolution, engineering, and recombinant production. He is author and co-author of more than 50 publications, co-inventor of several patents, and co-founder of the mAb-factory GmbH. 

Bazbek Davletov, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Biomedical Sciences, University of Sheffield

Prof. Bazbek Davletov is a protein biochemist by education (Moscow State University, 1985). He obtained his PhD from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas in 1994, where he helped to decipher molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal communication. Following postdoctoral training at the Imperial College, London, he moved to Cambridge in 1997 to become a Principal Investigator at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology. Prof. Davletov made seminal contribution to uncovering mechanisms of action of several neurotoxins, molecular mechanisms of neurotransmission and recently invented 'protein stapling' technology utilizing his knowledge of neuronal proteins. In 2012, Bazbek Davletov took up the Chair of Biomedical Science at Sheffield University, UK. 

Pedro Berraondo López, Ph.D., Staff Scientist, Division of Gene Therapy and Hepatology, CIMA, University of Navarra

Dr. Berraondo completed his B.S. Degree in Pharmacy at the University of Navarra (Spain) in 1999 and earned his Pharm.D. in drug design, synthesis and evaluation from the University of Navarra (Spain) in 2004. His main project was the production and evaluation of an adeno-associated virus encoding interferon alpha for the treatment of chronic hepatitis in the woodchuck model. Dr. Berraondo carried out postdoctoral research at the Institut Pasteur in Paris (France) under the supervision of Dr. Claude Leclerc, where he worked on tumor immunotherapy for the European project THERAVAC. In February 2007, he joined the Gene Therapy and Hepatology department at the Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA). Dr. Berraondo primary research interests include tumor gene immunotherapy and therapeutic protein and peptide delivery. 

Rachel Rennard, Senior Scientist, Merrimack Pharmaceuticals

Rachel Rennard is a Senior Scientist at Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, where she has been involved in antibody and protein engineering efforts, including the engineering of MM-141, an anti-ErbB3 and anti-IGF1R bispecific antibody in late preclinal development. 

Simon Brack, Ph.D., Director, Discovery Research, Covagen AG

Simon Brack serves as Director Discovery Research at Covagen. He joined Covagen in 2007 to contribute to the development of the Fynomer technology. Before working for Covagen, Simon Brack was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Oxford (UK) in Professor Herman Waldmann's lab. He earned his PhD from the ETH Zürich for his work on antibody fragments for tumor targeting carried out in Professor Dario Neris group. 

Volker Schellenberger, Ph.D., CSO, Discovery, Amunix

Volker is currently Chief Scientific Officer of Amunix Inc, which he co-founded with Willem Pim Stemmer in 2006. Volker is lead inventor of Amunix' XTEN technology enabling the engineering of biotherapeutics characterized by long vivo half-life, low safety risk due to their biodegradable nature, and efficient recombinant production. Volker has 18 years of industry experience in protein engineering and drug discovery. He served as Director of Genencor's Protein Engineering department, where he invented combinatorial consensus mutagenensis, selection by micro-compartmentalization as well as mutator technology. He focused on the discovery and engineering of antibody-enzyme fusion proteins. Prior to his work on biotherapeutics, Volker led projects optimizing enzymes for industrial applications as well as microbes for metabolic pathway engineering. Volker received his Ph.D. from Leipzig University in 1986 for studies on protease catalyzed peptide synthesis. After postdoctoral studies at the Institute for Protein Research in Pushchino (Russia) he moved to the University of Göttingen where he developed a novel method for the production of peptides from recombinant peptide-multimers. After a postdoc with Bill Rutter at the University of California, San Francisco he joined Genencor in 1994. Volker is author of over 40 scientific papers and inventor of more than 70 issued or pending patent applications. He is the recipient of the Karl Lohman award of the German Society of Biochemists. 

Joachim Feldwisch, Ph.D., Director, Pre-Clinical Development, Research, Affibody AB

Dr. Feldwisch joined Affibody AB in 2002 where he worked as Project Manager Biotherapeutics and later as Director Preclinical Development. He received his MSc in Biology with main focus on biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Cologne and earned his PhD at the Max-Planck-Institute für Züchtungsforschung in Cologne in 1992. In the following years he worked at Pharmacia, Pharmacia&Upjohn and later Biovitrum both with biologicals and small molecule pharmaceuticals. His current research interests include optimization of small scaffold proteins as well as preclinical and clinical development of Affibody molecules for imaging and therapy. 

Arieh Gertler, Ph.D., Professor, Biochemistry, Nutrition and Food Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Prof. Arieh Gertler has authored over 240 reviewed papers in the fields of Enzymology, Animal Nutrition, Molecular Endocrinology and Biotechnology. During the last 30 years, his main search interests included: hormonal control of development and differentiation of bovine mammary gland; purification and characterization of prolactin receptors from various species, cloning of prolactin and growth hormone receptors extracellular domains; investigation of the mitogenic effect of prolactin, preparation of recombinant hormones and investigation of structure-function relationship of growth hormones and placental lactogen by site-directed mutagenesis. Over the years, he had prepared over 400 different recombinant proteins or their mutated analogues which are used by numerous investigators worldwide. Since 1998 one of his focuses has been leptin and over 60 papers concerning this subject have been published. The culmination of this research was the most recent development of human, ovine, rat and mouse superactive leptin antagonists. 

José Luis Millán, Ph.D., Professor, Sanford Children's Health Research Center, Sanford-Medical Research Institute

José Luis Millán received his early training in clinical chemistry/biochemistry at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and joined La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation, the predecessor of Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, in 1977 as a trainee in Clinical enzymology. Dr. Millán then completed his Ph.D. studies at the University of Umeå, Sweden from 1981-1983 and after a period of postdoctoral training at the La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation he was appointed Assistant Professor in 1986 and promoted to Associate Professor in 1989 and to Full Professor in 1994 at the same institution. He held the Chair of Medical Genetics at the Department of Medical Biosciences, School of Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden from 1995 to 2000. Dr. Millán is currently Professor at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, and he has adjunct affiliations with the Royal Academy of Medicine and Surgery, Murcia, Spain.
Dr. Millán’s current research in elucidating the basic mechanisms that control the initiation of skeletal mineralization has lead to significant translational applications, such a the development and implementation of the first successful treatment for Infantile Hypophosphatasia (a genetic form of rickets) and current efforts to prevent and treat medial vascular calcification, a condition common in end-stage renal disease, obesity, diabetes and aging. His research also focuses on understanding what factors determine the composition of the gut microbiota and control fatty acid absorption, a subject of relevance to understanding obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, all major afflictions of our modern, often sedentary, way of life.

Gert Moll, Ph.D., CSO, Lanthio Pharma

Presently: Chief Scientific Officer Lanthio Pharma BV. Previously: projectleader Biomade Technology Foundation. Postdoc University of Groningen NL. Postdoc University Universita di Padova It. Postdoc INSERM U251 Paris Fr. PhD: University of Utrecht NL.