Vincent R. Zurawski, Jr., Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer, Co-Founder and Board Member
Dr. Vincent R. Zurawski, Jr., a pioneer in the biotechnology industry, is also the president and chief executive officer of Hepregen Corporation. He engineered a major expansion of Hepregen’s micropatterned co-culture liver platform products into the pharmaceutical drug testing and chemical industry marketplaces. He also developed a further expansion of Heprgen’s capabilities with the formation of Ascendance Biotechnology. Dr. Zurawski was a co-founder of Centocor, Inc. and was its chief scientific officer for 14 years. He was founder, president and chief executive officer of Apollon, Inc., and chief executive officer of Compugen, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Compugen Ltd. He also completed a three-year term as a member of the board of directors of Ricerca Biosciences LLC, an Ohio-based contract research organization (“CRO”). Dr. Zurawski has also recently been a co-founder, past chief executive, chairman of the board of directors, and acting vice president of product development of Avraham Pharmaceuticals Ltd., an Israeli company focusing on development of the multifunctional drug, ladostigil, which entered proof-of-concept clinical trials for treatment of both Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a condition often seen as a precursor to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Zurawski received his Ph.D. in 1973 from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana and completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School before embarking on his business career. He also held a faculty appointment at Harvard Medical School during his time at Centocor.
Jeffrey D. Janus
President, Co-Founder and Board Member
Mr. Janus was formally the Chief Executive Officer of ES Cell International Pte Ltd and led the ESI BIO Research Products Division at BioTime Inc. before joining Ascendance as its new president. Mr. Janus previously served as the CEO and founder of Lifeline Cell Technology, LLC, now a subsidiary of International Stem Cell, Inc., and was a member of the founding team that created Clonetics Corporation and the Clonetics brand of primary human cell systems, now owned by Lonza. In addition to his extensive experience in developing and selling cell-based products to the research market, Mr. Janus has led teams of scientists both internally and through external domestic and international collaborations with major academic institutions to conduct stem cell research. Mr. Janus has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from California State University, San Diego and a Bachelor Degree in Biochemistry from the University of California at Davis. He is a published author of breakthrough papers in the development of parthenogenetic stem cells and cell-based assays and is an inventory on several patents in the stem cell field.
Board of Directors
Alfred D. Kingsley
Mr. Kingsley is the Chairman of the Board of BioTime, Inc., and has been general partner of Greenway Partners, L.P., a private investment firm, and President of Greenbelt Corp., a business consulting firm, since 1993. Mr. Kingsley and was Senior Vice-President of Icahn and Company and its affiliated entities for more than 25 years. Mr. Kingsley holds a BS degree in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a J.D. degree and LLM in taxation from New York University Law School. Mr. Kingsley’s long career in corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions includes substantial experience in helping companies to improve their management and corporate governance, and to restructure their operations in order to add value for shareholders.
Michael D. West, Ph.D.
Dr. West is a Co-CEO and Board member of BioTime, Inc. and serves as a Director of BioTime’s subsidiary Asterias Biotherapeutics (NYSE MKT: AST). From 1998 to 2007, Dr. West served as CEO, President, and Chief Scientific Officer of Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. (now Ocata Therapeutics, Nasdaq: OCAT), a company engaged in developing human stem cell technology for use in regenerative medicine. Dr. West is a pioneer in the stem cell field, having created the research consortium with Drs. James Thomson and John Gearhart that led to the first isolation of human embryonic stem cells.
In 1990 Dr. West founded Geron Corporation (Nasdaq: GERN) of Menlo Park, California, which may have been the first regenerative medicine company focused on using stem cells for therapeutic use. He has extensive experience in fundraising for biotechnology companies, securing investment in Geron from Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, Venrock and other venture capital firms. Dr. West received a B.S. Degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1976, an M.S. Degree in Biology from Andrews University in 1982, and a Ph.D. from Baylor College of Medicine in 1989 concentrating on the biology of cellular aging.
Robert G. Wilkins
Bob Wilkins serves as Vice President, Strategic Development of Battelle Ventures where he manages Battelle’s investment strategy and activities, IP commercialization, and deal negotiation in support of alternative business models such as risk / value sharing, as well as support of external Venture Capital investments. Prior to joining Battelle, Bob had consulted on life-sciences deals to Battelle Ventures, and run a successful practice as a marketing and business development consultant. He has been a venture partner at Battelle Ventures, CEO of a Battelle Ventures portfolio company, Endovalve Inc., and a member of the Board of Directors of NellOne Inc., formerly a Battelle Ventures portfolio company. He is a former anesthesiologist and critical care physician, with 10 years of clinical practice and over two decades of international healthcare industry experience in product development, marketing and business development. After leaving medical practice in 1987, Bob served as medical director of Hausmann/Vifor, a Swiss pharmaceutical company in Geneva. Four years later he joined Abbott Laboratories as medical director in the Hospital Products Division, with key roles in the development of new drugs and medical devices. In 1996 he became director of marketing for the HealthSystems Division, leading a team responsible for GPO contracting, Abbott brand management, and marketing of pharmaceutical, device, nutritional and diagnostic products to the top seventy US health systems. Leaving Abbott in 1999 to join Baxter Healthcare’s anesthesia group as director of business development, and then, in late 2000, becoming chief scientific officer and vice president of marketing of Physiometrix, a start-up medical device company, Bob subsequently has been a consultant to venture capital organizations, as well as to a wide range of pharmaceutical and medical device companies.
Mr. Collins has demonstrated major successes in the fields of life sciences, electronic materials, communications and software for over four decades. In 1968, Mr. Collins founded Data Science Ventures (DSV), a pioneering venture-capital firm that had offices in Princeton, NJ and Newport Beach, CA. He was a founder of DSV Associates (DSV II); DSV Partners III (DSV III); DSV Partners IV (DSV IV) and was the managing partner of each since their formation in 1974, 1981 and 1985 respectively. For 30 years as a managing partner in DSV partnerships, Mr. Collins was involved in providing venture capital and management assistance to early stage companies including Datapoint, General Automation, Tandem Computers, Datacom Systems, The Liposome Company, Apollon and Alkermes. Mr. Collins serves as a director of Inovio Biomedical Corporation (AMEX); Kopin Corporation (NASDAQ); Pharos LLC; PD-LD Inc.(Chairman) and Formula Pharmaceuticals. Mr. Collins is member of the Advisory Council to the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Delaware; a member of the Graduate School Advisory Council at Princeton University; a member of the Leadership Council of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Princeton University and a member of the Systems Biology Advisory Council at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J. Mr. Collins served on the New Jersey Governor’s Commission on Science and Technology and is a member of the Research Roundtable of the National Academy of Sciences. He chaired President Reagan’s Task Force on Innovation and Entrepreneurship and served as a technology policy advisor to President George H. W. Bush. He is a former president, director and chairman of the National Venture Capital Association. Mr. Collins was the recipient of the 1989 University of Delaware Medal of Distinction; the recipient of the 1990 New York Venture Forum Award and he received the Delaware Valley Venture Group Award in 1992. Mr. Collins earned his B.S. degree in engineering from the University of Delaware, and his M.A. degree and doctorate in engineering from Princeton University.
Vincent R. Zurawski, Jr., Ph.D.
Dr. Vincent R. Zurawski, Jr., serves as the CEO of Ascendance.
Jeffrey D. Janus
Mr. Janus serves as the President of Ascendance.
Sangeeta Bhatia, M.D., Ph.D., Chair, SAB
Dr. Bhatia is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and the John J. and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology (HST) and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Bhatia is also an associate member of the Broad Institute, a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and a biomedical engineer at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in the Division of Medicine. She is a recipient of the David and Lucile Packard Fellowship and the Global Indus Technovator Award and a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. She is the co-author of the first undergraduate tissue engineering textbook. The research in her laboratory is focused on the applications of micro- and nanotechnology for tissue repair and regeneration. She received her Sc. B in biomedical engineering from Brown University, her M.D. from Harvard Medical School, her M.S. in mechanical engineering and her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Salman Khetani, Ph.D.
Dr. Khetani is an assistant professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at Colorado State University. Dr. Khetani has over 11 years of experience studying and engineering in vitro models of animal and human liver tissues using novel microfabrication technologies and is the co-inventor of Hepregen’s human liver platform. Dr. Khetani received his B.S. degrees, summa cum laude, in electrical engineering and biomedical engineering from Marquette University in 2000, and M.S. and Ph.D degrees in bioengineering from the University of California at San Diego in 2002 and 2006, respectively. He was a Jacobs Fellow at UCSD (2000-2001) and a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow (2001-2004). From 2006 to 2008, Dr. Khetani was a postdoctoral associate in the laboratory of Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia, professor in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology and a world-renowned leader in multi-scale liver tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Dr. Khetani’s research has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Toxicological Sciences, Hepatology, Tissue Engineering, FASEB Journal, Nature Biotechnology, Drug Metabolism and Disposition and recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.