Cathy A. Swindlehurst, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Swindlehurst is a founder and CEO of NovoMedix. She has over 25 years of experience in biotech and has a broad background in assay and biomarker development; drug discovery and development; as well as in project management, business development, and fund raising. Dr. Swindlehurst has held V.P. positions at several companies, including PanCel , MagneSensors, and NovaDx. She has led key collaborations with academic researchers and corporate partners and has been directly involved in raising over $10M in financing. Dr. Swindlehurst is an inventor on NovoMedix’s key issued patents. In her role as CEO of NovoMedix, Dr. Swindlehurst has also raised $5M in non-dilutive funding. Dr. Swindlehurst received a certificate in Business Management from UC San Diego; Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry and Postdoctoral fellowship in Immunology from University of Illinois, Champaign Urbana; and her B.S. in Chemistry from University of California, Irvine.
Leah Fung, Ph.D.
Vice President, Drug Discovery
Dr. Fung has extensive experience in medicinal chemistry and is the former Associate Director of Medicinal Chemistry at Structural Genomix (SGX), former Assistant Director of Medicinal Chemistry at Structural Bioinformatics (SBI) and Project Leader at Celgene. While at SBI, she discovered and optimized HER-2 kinase inhibitors for the treatment of breast cancer and PTB1B inhibitors for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. The PTB1B inhibitors were optimized from hit to lead and were shown to be efficacious in animal diabetes models. While at SGX, Dr. Fung lead the discovery and optimization of novel kinase inhibitors using co-crystal protein structures. While at Celgene, Dr. Fung developed a screening hit into an anticancer agent which entered into Phase II clinical trials; discovered and optimized novel SERMs that have excellent oral bioavailability and efficacy in osteoporosis and cancer animal models and were in pre-IND safety studies. Dr. Fung has extensive experience in the synthesis of a wide variety of chemical moieties. She has designed and synthesized compounds that have demonstrated improved chemical stability, solubility, tissue selectivity, metabolic stability, PK properties, in vivo safety, and in vivo efficacy. Dr. Fung received her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from University of California, Irvine, and her B.S. in Chemistry from Azusa Pacific University.
Robert W. Sullivan, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Drug Development
Dr. Sullivan has extensive experience in medicinal chemistry research and drug development. He started his industrial career as a medicinal chemist working in various drug discovery programs in GPCRs, proteases, nuclear receptors and kinases in CNS, inflammation, cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. He has designed and synthesized small molecules used in preclinical studies through phase II clinical trials, managed all CMC activities (manufacturing, formulation and regulatory filings) of lead compounds; as well as managed the process development and manufacturing activities for several peptide therapeutics including; process development, validation, release testing and NDA filing from 100 gram to multi kilo scale. In addition, Dr. Sullivan oversaw major operations in both generics and new products and developed target profiles for drug substances and related manufacturing processes from development through commercialization stages. Dr. Sullivan received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from University of California, Irvine and a B.S. in Chemistry from University of California, Santa Barbara.
Laura G. Corral, M.S.
Director, Discovery Biology
Laura Corral has over 20 years of experience in drug discovery and cell biology research in the pharmaceutical industry. She started her industrial career as a Research Scientist at Celgene Corp. working in close collaboration with scientists at Rockefeller University. She was part of the small group of scientists led by Dr. David Stirling that performed in vitro and in vivo screening, characterization and optimization of thalidomide analogs, a project that led to the identification of a novel class of compounds known as IMiDs®. Two of these drugs, lenalidomide and pomalidomide, have received regulatory approval in several countries for oncological indications. In addition, Ms. Corral characterization of novel drug candidates contributed to the identification of a PDE4 inhibitor, apremilast, recently approved for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis. Ms. Corral developed new primary cell based assays in an effort to study to mechanism of action of IMiDs® . This effort uncovered different activities of thalidomide analogs, including effect on stem cells expansion and differentiation and antiproliferative effects in leukemic cells from patients. Ms. Corral received her M.S. degree in Cell Biology from New York University and a B.S. degree from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
David I. Stirling, Ph.D.
CEO, BioTheryX, Inc.
Celgene Corporation founder Dr. David Stirling was the Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Vice President, Pharmaceutical Research & Development for Celgene. Dr. Stirling was responsible for initiating the Thalidomide Clinical and Research Program, which led to Celgene’s first clinical product, Thalomid®. Under Dr. Stirling’s leadership, the blockbuster franchise of Thalomid® derivatives (Revlimid®, Pomalyst®, Otezla®) were developed, and these have played a major role in propelling Celgene into the top-tier of public biotechnology companies worldwide. Prior to joining Celgene, Dr. Stirling held various scientific and management positions within the biotechnology group of Celanese Research Company (from which Celgene was spun off). Dr. Stirling received his ` Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Warwick in England, where he studied the industrial applications of novel oxygenase enzymes. Dr. Stirling is the author of numerous publications, and holds over 30 U.S. patents.
Kyle W.H. Chan, Ph.D.
CTO, BioTheryX, Inc.
Dr. Chan has extensive experience in physical and life sciences that includes both drug discovery and diagnostics, from a start-up diagnostic company (NovaDx) to a top five biopharmaceutical company (Celgene) where he was the Senior Director of Discovery Research. He co-founded NovaDx in 1994, a diagnostic company that developed a novel biomarker assay currently marketed by Quidel for arthritis and breast cancer. While at Celgene, Dr. Chan led efforts to study the mechanism-of-action of Thalidomide and Lenalidomide (Revlimid®) using clinically relevant cellular models and to incorporate these compounds into translational studies to identify novel clinical uses. At Signal Research Division of Celgene, Dr. Chan built and headed technology programs in genomics, proteomics, and informatics as well as successfully managed therapeutic programs in virology, estrogen physiology, and the development of small molecule modulators of epigenetic programming and adult stem cells for regenerative medicine. He has served on scientific advisory boards for a number of biotech companies. Dr. Chan received his Ph.D. in electroanalytical chemistry from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
David J. Lefer, Ph.D.
Director, LSU Cardiovascular Center of Excellence
Dr. Lefer is currently Director of the LSU Cardiovascular Center of Excellence and Professor of Pharmacology at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans as well as the Louis Levy II Professor of Cardiology. Dr. Lefer received his Ph.D. degree in Physiology and Pharmacology from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC. He then completed his post-doctoral fellowship training in Molecular Cardiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. Dr. Lefer has held faculty positions in cardiology at Tulane University, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Emory University prior to his current position at LSU Health Sciences Center. His research program is focused on the investigation of the pathophysiology of acute myocardial infarction and heart failure. The Lefer laboratory is currently investigating a number of cardioprotective therapies for the treatment of acute myocardial infarction and heart failure aim at reducing the extent of myocardial cell injury and death. A major area of focus is the study of the pathogenesis of myocardial fibrosis and agents that inhibit fibrosis to treat the failing heart. Dr. Lefer serves on several NIH Study Sections and has served as a grant reviewer for the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA). He also serves on a number of AHA national committees. Dr. Lefer has authored over 200 original research articles in peer-reviewed journals and has a long-standing track record of research support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Heart Lung and Blood Institute.
Shile Huang, PhD
Associate Professor, LSU Health Science Center
Dr. Huang's major research is in studying mTOR signaling in tumorigenesis, cell signlaing, and metastasis. mTOR functions as two complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2, and regulates cell proliferation, growth (cell size), and survival. Dr Huang demonstrated that mTOR also regulates cell motility. Disruption of mTORC1 or mTORC2 by silencing the expression of raptor or rictor down-regulates cell motility, implicating critical roles of mTORC1 and mTORC2 in this cellular process. He is currently focusing on identifying the molecular mechanisms by which mTORC1 and mTORC2 regulate cell motility. In addition, the laboratory is investigating anticancer mechanisms of small molecules such as curcumin, cryptotanshinone, artemisinin, and ciclopirox olamine. Curcumin, cryptotanshinone, and artemisinin are natural products isolated from the plants Curcuma longa, Salvia miltiorrhiza, and Artemisia annua, respectively, whereas ciclopirox olamine is an off-patent synthetic fungicide. Notably, curcumin, artesunate (a water-soluble artemisinin derivative), and ciclopirox olamine are undergoing initial clinical trials as novel anticancer agents. However, the anticancer mechanisms of these compounds remain to be elucidated. Dr. Huang's recent studies indicate that they may execute their anticancer activities by inhibiting cell proliferation, inducing cell death, suppressing cell motility, or inhibiting angiogenesis/lymphangiogenesis. Dr. Huang is currently elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying these effects.
Robert E. Rhoads, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, LSU Health Science Center
Dr. Rhoads is curently Professor Emeritus at LSU and formerly Professor and Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport. Dr. Rhoads has been funded by the NIH for over 36 years to study the mechanism and regulation of eukaryotic protein synthesis, especially as it relates to messenger RNA structure and function, translational control of gene expression, biochemistry and biophysics of initiation factors, regulation of cell growth, and viral pathogenesis involving translation. Current interests include recognition of mRNA by the translational machinery, determinants of mRNA stability, hormonal regulation of protein synthesis in mammary epithelial cells, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, and translational control of meiotic crossing-over and embryogenesis. His laboratory was the first to clone and sequence the cDNAs for the protein synthesis initiation factors eIF4E (cap-binding protein) and eIF4G and to show that overexpression of eIF4E in cultural mammalian cells leads to rapid, dysregulated cell growth. Dr. Rhoads has served as chair of NIH study sections, chair of the Publications Committee of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and President of the Association of Medical and Graduate Departments of Biochemistry. He is co-inventor on four issued patents and two pending patents that deal with protein purification, protein expression, and mRNA stabilization. He earned his B.A. in chemistry at Rice University and Ph.D. in biochemistry at George Washington University and then was an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University.