wugen

team

JOHN P. MCKEARN, Ph.D.

Chief Executive Officer and President
Dr. McKearn has three decades of drug discovery, development and investing experience in life sciences.  Dr. McKearn has been with RiverVest Venture Partners since 2008 and focuses primarily on early stage biotechnology deals.  Prior to RiverVest, Dr. McKearn was president and CEO of Kalypsys.  From 1987 to 2003, Dr. McKearn held increasingly responsible positions at Searle/Pharmacia, including Senior VP of Research. He helped establish the groundwork for studies that led to the commercialization of several major products, including DayPro, Arthrotec, and Celebrex, one of the leading pharmaceuticals to treat arthritis. Prior to 1987, Dr. McKearn was a senior scientist at E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company, a member of the Basel Institute for Immunology in Basel, Switzerland, and a research associate in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Dr. McKearn is also on the boards of Allakos, OncoResponse, Good Therapeutics, Arch Oncology and Adarza Biosystems.  He previously served on the boards of IDM Pharma (acquired by Takeda), Epimmune, Kalypsys, Keel Pharmaceuticals, Lumena Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Shire), Otonomy and ZS Pharma (acquired by Astra Zeneca).  Dr. McKearn has co-authored more than 70 published, peer-reviewed scientific papers, and holds more than 50 patents and numerous patent applications, primarily in the areas of cancer treatment and inflammatory disease.

Dr. McKearn holds a Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Northern Illinois University.

MATTHEW COOPER, Ph.D.

Founder and Chief Scientific Officer
Dr. Cooper has 15 years of research experience in the field of oncology and is dedicated to translation of medical research to patients through entrepreneurial enterprise. Currently, Dr. Cooper is an Instructor in Medicine in the Division of Oncology at Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis.  He completed his post-doctoral studies under the mentorship of Dr. John DiPersio, a renowned expert in the field of leukemia and stem cell biology.  Dr. Cooper’s work has focused on developing novel strategies to overcome barriers, such as GVHD and fratricide, that prevent the use of cellular therapies for treatment of T-cell malignancies.  His work at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis led to the development of an ‘off-the-shelf’ fratricide-resistant CAR-T for the treatment of T-cell malignancies.  This work was fundamental to the inception of WUGEN.  Dr. Cooper has also been critical in establishing commitment and collaboration between WUGEN and Washington University.

Dr. Cooper holds a Ph.D. in Cancer Genetics from the University of Surrey, Guildford, UK.

KENNETH CHROBAK, Ph.D.

VICE PRESIDENT, PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
Dr. Chrobak has more than 10 years of experience in process development and manufacturing support. Dr. Chrobak was most recently at Allogene Therapeutics, and prior to Allogene’s acquisition of their CAR-T portfolio, he was with Pfizer. In his role as a Principal Scientist for Process Development and later in Manufacturing Sciences and Technology, he was responsible for developing allogeneic CAR-T processes and leading technical transfer activities. Dr. Chrobak has also held multiple positions of increasing responsibility at Baxter in Process Science and Technical Operations, supporting both clinical and commercial products.

Dr. Chrobak received his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Boston University and his Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

KAREN GHEESLING MULLIS, Ph.D.

Vice President, Corporate Development
Dr. Gheesling Mullis has over 20 years of experience in drug discovery and development in large and small biopharma companies.  She joined RiverVest in 2016 where she is President of RiverVest’s Archer Seed Venture Partners, L.L.C., investing in early stage biopharma companies.  Before joining RiverVest, Dr. Gheesling Mullis was Director Project Management at Pfizer where she worked as a team leader responsible for successful registration of XALKORI® for ROS1 positive NSCLC patients.  Dr. Gheesling Mullis worked in Clinical Development at Pfizer for over 12 years as an asset project manager for over two dozen early clinical development drugs in Oncology and Cardiovascular diseases including IBRANCE ® from early clinical development through commercial launch.   Prior to that, Dr. Gheesling Mullis worked as a scientist with Searle and Pharmacia organizations where she worked in roles of increasing leadership and management responsibilities in Cardiovascular Research, Business Development, Portfolio Management and Project Management.  Earlier in her career she was a postdoctoral fellow and research instructor at Washington University in St. Louis.

Dr. Gheesling Mullis completed her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at University of Alabama, Birmingham and holds a B.S in Chemistry from Emory University.

MARY CELINE SCOTT, Ph.D., MBA

Vice President, Regulatory Affairs
Dr. Scott has spent ~30 years in the global pharmaceutical/biotech industry working to develop novel small molecules and a wide range of biotherapeutics, including monoclonal antibodies, vaccines, peptibodies, siRNA and other novel constructs. Dr. Scott has served as the Principal for Katovar Consulting for four years and continues in that role. Prior to her role as an independent consultant, she served in positions of increasing responsibility at Trius Therapeutics, Pfizer, Amgen and Schering-Plough, providing regulatory support for therapeutics from the pre-IND/CTA stage to marketing applications, and marketed product support, in a wide range of therapy areas, with an emphasis in the oncology field. She has also provided development team leadership, document authoring/management team leadership, and worked with internal and external teams to support preclinical (drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics) programs.

Dr. Scott received a Ph.D. from Purdue University in Pharmacology (specialization neuroscience), followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in the emerging field of pharmacogenetics. She also holds an MBA in Pharmaceutical/Chemical Studies from Fairleigh-Dickinson University, an MS in Biology from California State University, Long Beach and a BS in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Irvine.

AYMAN KABAKIBI, Ph.D.

Vice President, Research and development
Dr. Kabakibi has more than 20 years of experience in advancing research programs to the clinic. Prior to joining Wugen, Dr. Kabakibi served as Vice President of Biology and co-founder of Tollnine, an immune-oncology company, and prior to that as Executive Director, Head of Biology and Pharmacology at Solstice Biologics where he led the immune-oncology and RNAi technology research efforts. Dr. Kabakibi also held positions at Traversa Therapeutics as Head of Biology and Pharmacology, at Kalypsys as Head of Pharmacology and at Pfizer as Senior Scientist in the Arthritis and Inflammation group.

Dr. Kabakibi received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Massachusetts Lowell and his Master of Science in medical laboratory sciences from Northeastern University.

MARK LEWIS, Ph.D.

Vice President, finance and business operations

Dr. Lewis has over five years of oncology research experience. Prior to joining Wugen, Dr. Lewis served as a Venture Capital Fellow at BioGenerator, an evergreen investor that creates, grows and funds innovative companies and talented entrepreneurs in the St. Louis region. Dr. Lewis also served as a Research Associate at the Monsanto Company, a global agriculture company specializing in products and tools that help farmers grow crops more efficiently.

Dr. Lewis received his Ph.D. in molecular biology and Master of Art in biology from Washington University in Saint Louis and his Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from Eastern Connecticut State University.