Frank Tufaro, PhD, Chief Executive Officer. Frank Tufaro has extensive experience with the founding, financing, and operation of biotechnology firms. Prior to DNAtrix, Frank was part of the founding team of Neurovir, Inc., a Vancouver-based biotech company with a mission to develop herpes-simplex virus oncolytic vectors for treating cancer. Frank was instrumental in raising venture financing that established NeuroVir as the major player in the field of viral oncology. Frank also co-founded Nurel Therapeutics (Pittsburgh) a gene therapy company later sold to Diamyd Medical AB (Sweden), and Allera Health Products, Inc. (St. Petersburg, FL). From 1987-2002, Frank was a Professor of Microbiology at the University of British Columbia, wherein his laboratory worked on herpes simplex virus and gene therapy for cancer. Frank received his BSc in Cell and Molecular Biology, a PhD in Developmental Biology from McGill University in Montreal, Canada and was a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Steve McKnight, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (Seattle, WA) and the Carnegie Institution of Washington (Baltimore, MD).
Imre Kovesdi, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer. Dr. Kovesdi serves as the Chief Scientific Officer of DNAtrix. Prior to joining DNAtrix, Dr. Kovesdi served as the Chief Executive Officer of Vectorlogics Inc, a privately-held biotechnology firm based in Birmingham, Alabama. Prior to joining Vectorlogics, he served as Chief Scientific Officer with GenVec Inc (NASDAQ:GNVC). He joined GenVec in 1993 as one of its first employees and held several senior positions directing research, development and manufacturing before being appointed as CSO. Dr. Kovesdi was also a major contributor to GenVec’s intellectual property portfolio. Prior to joining GenVec, he led projects in the development of gene expression systems and therapeutic gene design at the Medical Research Division of the New York-based American Cyanamid Company. He was a postdoctoral fellow at The Rockefeller University in New York, holds a PhD in molecular biology from Simon Fraser University and a degree in electrical engineering from University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Dr. Kovesdi is the holder of over 100 US and foreign patents and has authored over 130 scientific articles in the areas of virology, gene delivery and molecular biology. Dr. Kovesdi has served on the boards of a number of biotechnology and information technology companies.
Joanna Peterkin, MD, MS, Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Peterkin’s clinical development experience covers drugs, natural health products, biologics (particularly gene transfer and virus agents), for a wide range of medical indications in multiple fields such as dermatology, infectious diseases, disorders of the central nervous system and oncology (e.g., leukemia, brain and solid tumors: lung, prostate, ovarian, breast, head and neck, lymphoma, malignant melanoma, colorectal). Prior to joining DNAtrix, she co-founded and was the head of Medical Affairs and Drug Development for eLancers Inc., a pharmaceutical industry and biotechnology consulting firm. She also founded a second medical research consulting company and served as the President and CEO. Dr. Peterkin has designed and directed phase I-IV clinical trials, overseen new product safety, organized and participated on Data and Safety Monitoring Boards, overseen Regulatory Affairs, and frequently interacted with regulatory authorities. Many companies that have sponsored national and international clinical trials, have benefited from her expertise, and strong operational and organizational skills especially in the area of safety vigilance. During her tenure at The University of California, San Diego she served as a clinical investigator for several large pharmaceutical companies. Thereafter, she made the transition into the pharmaceutical/biotech industry assuming roles such as Medical Director, Vice President of Medical Affairs, Executive Director of Clinical and Regulatory Affairs, and Chief Medical Officer for various start-up and established companies. Dr. Peterkin holds advanced degrees in medicine, science and nutrition.
Brian Mooney, MBA, Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Mooney has over 20 years of senior management experience in software, services, and financial industries both as a Chief Operating Officer and as a Chief Financial Officer. Brian brings broad experience in venture capital, deal structuring, and mergers & acquisitions, having been a Managing Partner of a venture lending fund and a boutique merchant bank. Brian has successfully structured and closed transactions with total value of more than $250 million. Mr. Mooney has served on multiple boards of directors and has served as an acting CFO on several occasions. Brian has also managed a wholly owned subsidiary of a publicly traded company and been in charge of subsidiary reporting. Mr. Mooney received a Bachelor of Arts in Finance from Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland and a MBA from Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, Maryland.
Erin Mitchell, PhD, Director of Manufacturing. Erin Mitchell has 10 years of experience in process development and manufacturing in several different firms. As Director of Manufacturing and Process Development at MediGene Inc., Erin assembled and directed a team of scientists and technicians that developed a scalable manufacturing process for herpesvirus. Prior to that, Erin was a key part of the team that developed the process used for the phase I clinical trial of NeuroVir’s herpesvirus product and oversaw the successful production of that material at a Contract Manufacturing Organization. Erin received her BSc in Biochemistry from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, her MSc in Biochemistry from The University of Toronto in Toronto, Canada and her PhD in Immunology from Cambridge University (Cambridge, England).
Brett Ewald, PhD, Vice President, Development. Brett has extensive oncology experience in the clinical development of investigational agents for the treatment of solid tumors and hematological malignancies. He joined DNAtrix from Novartis Oncology, where he focused on progressing early stage biologics and small molecules from first-in-human clinical trials into late stage development. Brett completed postdoctoral and graduate training at MD Anderson Cancer Center in the department of Experimental Therapeutics where he researched novel ways to combine synergistic drugs for leukemia. He holds a PhD in Pharmacology from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and undergraduate degrees in Biology and Economics from Villanova University.
Imran Alibhai, PhD, Managing Director, Houston. Imran Alibhai serves as the Managing Director of the Houston office of DNAtrix. Prior to DNAtrix, he was an investment banker in Peter J. Solomon Company’s Healthcare Advisory Group, focused on M&A transactions in science based markets including biopharmaceuticals, medical devices/diagnostics and life science tools. Previously, he was the Senior Director of Alexandria Venture Investments, where he was responsible for the firm’s investments in emerging companies and funds in the healthcare sector. He also directed investments for PIPE’s and long/short positions in MPM Capital’s BioEquities hedge fund. Imran began his career in early stage venture capital at the Accelerator Corp., where he was involved in every facet of company / project formation and management. Imran holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Neuroscience from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and a B.S. in Biology from Duke University.