By delivering breakthrough therapies that can harness the immune system, we aim to conquer cancer and save lives
Amunix is an immuno-oncology company leveraging our proprietary, clinically validated Pro-XTEN technology platform to discover and develop transformative T cell engagers (TCEs) and cytokine therapies for patients with cancer. We aim to expand the therapeutic index of TCEs and cytokines, which have demonstrated anti-tumor clinical activity, but have not realized their potential due to dose-limiting on-target, off-tumor toxicity.
We address this challenge by using our universal, protease-releasable masking technology (Pro-XTEN), to create next generation, conditionally active TCEs (XPATs®) and cytokines (XPACs), that are preferentially activated in tumors as compared to healthy tissues.
Experience and culture matter. At Amunix, we challenge ourselves and our colleagues, and bring a critical eye and rigor to everything we do. Biology is complex and hard to predict, but with deep experience, diversity of thinking, and scientific rigor, we believe we maximize our chance of making a real difference for cancer patients.
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Additional Senior Management
Mika Kakefuda Derynck, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Derynck is the Chief Medical Officer of Amunix. She is an accomplished drug developer with over 25 years of experience in cancer research, including a 15-year career at Genentech/Roche. She has deep expertise in oncology drug development, which spans multiple therapeutic modalities, tumor types, and all phases of development. During her tenure at Genentech/Roche, she oversaw the approvals and/or global development for over a dozen drugs, including Perjeta®, Avastin®, Tecentriq®, Cotellic®, ipatasertib, taselisib, pictilisib, and apitolisib. Most recently, she served as the Global Head for Cancer Immunotherapy, GI/GU Cancers, Angiogenesis Franchises and China Oncology Development. She also served as the Co-Chair of the Cancer Immunotherapy Committee (CITC), the GI/GU Franchises Committee, and the Breast Cancer Disease Area Team. Dr. Derynck was also a Senior Group Medical Director of Exploratory Clinical Development at Genentech, serving as the development lead for multiple early-stage programs. Before Genentech, Dr. Derynck was an Assistant Clinical Professor in the UCSF Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and Division of Hematology / Oncology. Dr. Derynck holds a B.A. from Boston University and an M.D. from Boston University School of Medicine. She completed an internal medicine residency at Johns Hopkins, followed by a fellowship in Hematology / Oncology at UCSF and a postdoctoral fellowship at UCSF.
Maninder Hora, Ph.D.
Chief Technical Operations Officer
Dr. Maninder Hora currently serves as the Chief Technical Operations Officer of Amunix. Dr. Hora has served the biopharmaceutical industry for more than 30 years with demonstrated leadership in process, analytical and pharmaceutical sciences, manufacturing and quality functions. He has been part of teams that have successfully filed 50+ INDs and registered 11 biopharmaceutical products worldwide. Prior to joining Amunix, he served as the Chief Technical Operations Officer of Nektar Therapeutics, where he spearheaded strategic direction and execution of all process and product development as well as manufacturing activities. Prior to Nektar, he served as Vice President of Product Operations & Quality at Facet Biotech/ PDL BioPharma (now a part of Abbvie) and Vice President of Process and Product Development at Chiron Corporation (now Novartis). Prior to that, he held positions of increasing responsibilities at Chiron, Pfizer and GSK.
Dr. Hora received his Ph.D. from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bioengineering (Materials) in 1980 and held a Fulbright fellowship at the University of Washington, Seattle. He holds 23 US Patents and has authored scores of publications and delivered numerous presentations in international forums. He serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for Cristal Therapeutics, an emerging nanotechnology-based biopharmaceutical company.
Anne Keane, J.D.
Senior Vice President of Regulatory and Quality
Anne Keane, J.D. is the Senior Vice President of Regulatory and Quality. Anne is an experienced regulatory leader with extensive experience across numerous therapeutic areas and phases of development. She has contributed to more than 20 development programs at both small and large companies including Lyell, Achaogen, Genentech, Merck KGaA, Jazz and Arginox Pharmaceuticals. Prior to joining Amunix, Anne served as the Vice President of Regulatory Lyell Immunopharma, where she had the opportunity to lead the drafting of a Friends of Cancer White Paper: Designing the Future of Cell Therapies, which proposed a number of opportunities to accelerate early cell therapy research. While at Achaogen, Anne led the regulatory and clinical quality organizations through the development and approval of Zemdri®, an important new antibiotic for gram negative infections. Earlier experience includes leading successful regulatory filings for Avastin® and Perjeta®.
Anne received a law degree from the University of Washington Law School and a Physician Assistant Degree from the Albany Medical College Physician Assistant program.
Darcy Mootz, Ph.D.
Amunix Site Head
Dr. Mootz is the Amunix Site Head. Before joining the company, she was an independent consultant working with VCs and pharmaceutical companies on a wide range of corporate development and strategy projects, including new company formation, product launch strategy, and M&A strategy. Prior to that, she served as Chief Business Officer of ORIC Pharmaceuticals, where she had a broad role spanning corporate development and a variety of operational functions. While VP of Corporate Development at Achaogen, she helped the company complete a successful IPO, led the project team for the company’s lead Phase 3 antibiotic (now launched as ZEMDRI), and helped raise over $200M in capital. Earlier experiences include playing key roles in a successful M&A while at BiPar Sciences, and in a successful new indication launch for Avastin while at Genentech.
Dr. Mootz started her career in industry at L.E.K. Consulting, where she worked with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies on a wide range of projects. She earned a B.S. in Biology from Duke University and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Harvard University.
Volker Schellenberger, Ph.D.
President and Chief Technology Officer
Dr. Volker Schellenberger is a co-founder of Amunix and currently serves as President and Chief Technology Officer. Dr. Schellenberger has extensive industry experience in protein engineering and drug discovery. Previously, he headed the Protein Engineering department at Genencor, where he invented combinatorial consensus mutagenesis, selection by micro-compartmentalization, as well as mutator technology. In addition, he initiated and led collaborations with Seattle Genetics that focused on antibody-enzyme fusion proteins. Prior to his work on biotherapeutics, Dr. Schellenberger directed projects optimizing enzymes for industrial applications as well as microbes for metabolic pathway engineering.
Dr. Schellenberger received his Ph.D. from Leipzig University, where he studied 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 postdoctoral fellowship with Bill Rutter at the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Schellenberger joined Genencor in 1994. Dr. Schellenberger is the author of over 40 scientific papers and an inventor on more than 70 issued and pending patent applications. He is also the recipient of the Karl Lohmann award of the German Society of Biochemists.
Nicky Barber, CPA
Senior Vice President of Finance
Nicky Barber serves as the Senior Vice President of Finance at Amunix. She is a skilled finance executive with over 20 years of experience guiding financial strategy and managing the accounting function for both private and publicly traded companies in the life sciences and medical tech industry. Prior to joining Amunix, Ms. Barber was Corporate Controller at Invuity Inc., where she oversaw the accounting team and worked with the C-Suite to ensure SEC/SOX compliance as a public company. As an integral part of the Invuity diligence team in the company’s acquisition by Stryker, she oversaw the transition of the accounting function as well as determined the accounting and cash impact upon acquisition close. Prior to Invuity, Ms. Barber was the Corporate Controller at Singulex where she was responsible for accounting and general administration, as well as preparation of IPO-related filings. In addition to these roles, Ms. Barber worked at Chemocentryx and at Exelixis in various accounting functions where her roles and responsibilities included SEC/SOX oversight, financial oversight of clinical trials, payroll, equity, and taxes. Ms. Barber received a B.A. in Biopsychology from Vassar College and is an active California Certified Public Accountant.
Vice President of Quality Assurance
Kimberly Baxter serves as the Vice President of Quality Assurance at Amunix. She has oversight of quality in the GMP, GLP, and GCP functional areas, including quality systems, supplier management and qualification, audits, training, and computerized system validation. She has 20 years of quality assurance experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, with a focus on clinical development. Her experience includes small and large molecules in the areas of oncology, mitochondrial disease, hyperkalemia, and anemia. Kimberly headed the GMP Quality function and built an effective team at Forty Seven. Her other previous roles in quality include positions at Gilead, BioElectron (now PTC Therapeutics), Relypsa (now Vifor Pharma), and Affymax. She has extensive experience working with contract manufacturing organizations and laboratories, and providing quality support for regulatory submissions.
Kimberly received a BS in Plant Biology from University of California, Davis, and an MA in Biology from Stony Brook University.
Vice President of Investor Relations & Corporate Communications
Katherine Bock has approximately 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry, including positions of increasing responsibility in finance/investor relations, communications, corporate strategy, corporate development and research. She most recently served as Head of Investor Relations & Corporate Strategy at Arcus Biosciences where she executed on the company’s successful $348 million financing in May of 2020 and navigated investors, as well as sell-side analysts, through deal economics and announcement of the company’s 10-year partnership with Gilead to develop next-generation cancer immunotherapies. Previously Katherine Bock led Corporate Development & Investor Relations at Nevro, a medical device company focused on neuromodulation. During her tenure, she held various roles which included taking the company public on the NYSE in 2014, as the first medical device company to price above their range since 2007. She also helped lead subsequent financings, including the largest medtech follow-on in at least 10 years and a convertible raise of $172.5 million. Katherine was also an Associate in Lazard’s Healthcare Investment Banking Group where she focused primarily on M&A advisory roles and capital market transactions. She has held additional positions at Adverum Biotechnologies, Genentech (a Member of the Roche Group) and Corgentech. Katherine has over 5 years of biotech research experience including positions in the small molecule Translational Oncology Group at Genentech and the Oncology Group at Corgentech.
Katherine received her M.B.A. from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 2009 and received her B.S. in Applied Mathematics at San Francisco State University in 2002.
Katherine has also been active in the community with the Board of the Northern California Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as the former Treasurer.
Vice President of Clinical Operations
Ms. DeWitt has over twenty years of drug development experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries spanning clinical operations and program management, including fifteen years focused on oncology therapeutic indications in both solid tumor and hematologic malignancies. She has a proven ability in leading cross functional teams and overseeing large global complex studies from start-up through successful execution at various pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and contract research organizations (CROs). Her clinical management experience ranges from early phase trial development through Phase 3 and post marketing studies and has included Avastin®, VELCADE®, PEGPH20 and multiple kinase inhibitors. Ms. DeWitt has held roles of increasing responsibility at companies including Halozyme, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Genentech and most recently, Denovo Biopharma. Ms. DeWitt received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from San Diego State University with certifications in PMP and pharmacy technology.
Head of People
Michelle Heath serves as the Head of People at Amunix. She has over 20 years of experience in both strategic and hands-on HR leadership in the biotechnology and non-profit sectors, including companies such as Christine Mathews Consulting, CytomX Therapeutics, Monogram Biosciences, Codexis, R2 Technology and BUILD. She brings extensive experience working in companies during high growth periods. Leveraging her collaborative and creative approach to HR, she has been responsible for building and managing systems, processes, and resources to support high performing teams and overall business strategy. Michelle holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Vice President of Contracts
Robert Jones serves as the Vice President of Contracts at Amunix. He brings over 18 years of extensive contract negotiation experience in both small and large companies, including Sierra Oncology, Pharmacyclics, Gilead, and Abbott Vascular. Before joining Amunix, Robert served as Senior Director of Contracts at Sierra Oncology, where he negotiated manufacturing, collaboration, and clinical supply agreements, and managed CRO contract-related issues. He was also responsible for all domestic and international clinical trial contracts, as well as informed consent form reviews. Prior to Sierra Oncology, Robert worked at Pharmacylics, where he led the Contracts Management team through the development and approval of Imbruvica (ibrutinib), developed the infrastructure between Contracts Management and Finance, and provided leadership on budgeting, contract negotiation, and outside counsel management across functions.
Robert attended Clarendon College and Phoenix College.
Nabeela Rasheed, Ph.D., J.D.
Senior Vice President of Intellectual Property
Dr. Nabeela Rasheed serves as the Senior Vice President for Intellectual Property at Amunix. Before joining Amunix, Dr. Rasheed served as Section Head of Intellectual Property at AbbVie, where she devoted her time to building and securing intellectual property portfolios in therapeutic areas including immunology, oncology, antiviral, women’s health, renal disease, and neuroscience. Prior to that, she spent 20 years working at a law firm specifically focused on intellectual property law as it applies to the biopharmaceutical industry, as well as advising clients on related regulatory and legislative changes in fast-evolving legal markets. She has been integrally involved in implementing strategic plans and launches of several pharmaceutical products.
Dr. Rasheed is a member of the State Bar of Illinois, holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, and a Juris Doctorate Degree from Chicago Kent College of Law.
Geetha Shankar, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President of Clinical Science and Clinical Operations
Dr. Geetha Shankar serves as the Senior Vice President of Clinical Science and Clinical Operations at Amunix. She has over 25 years of experience in drug discovery and development, with expertise extending from high throughput screening and drug discovery, to clinical development (IND to phase III), regulatory filings, and market access. Before joining Amunix, Dr. Shankar spent 10 years at Genentech as Group Clinical Science Director. In this capacity she oversaw US, EU, and global approvals of Tecentriq® in non-small cell lung cancer. She was also a key contributor on the PI3K program and worked in both breast and lung cancer indications on proof-of-concept studies. Prior to Genentech, she worked at Exelixis for six years, first as a team leader on drug discovery projects, and later transitioning to clinical development. In the latter function, she worked on early trials for cabozantinib in medullary thyroid cancer. Prior to Exelixis, she worked at Ceretek LLC, an oncology startup focused on lipid G-protein coupled receptors.
Dr. Shankar received a Ph.D. in Molecular Pharmacology from Northwestern University School of Medicine and an M.S. in Medicinal Chemistry from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. She also holds a B.Pharm. from the College of Pharmacy in Bangalore, India.
Gary T. Taniguchi, Ph.D.
VICE PRESIDENT OF BIOANALYTICAL SCIENCES
Dr. Taniguchi serves as the Vice President of Bioanalytical Sciences at Amunix. He has over 25 years of experience in biopharmaceutical drug development from pre-IND to post-marketing in the areas of oncology, inflammation, and rare diseases like MPS and PKU. Gary has strategic and scientific expertise in the areas of CMC analytical and bioanalytical, which includes analytical characterization and comparability and PK, immunogenicity and PD biomarker development. Prior to joining Amunix, he has led analytical, bioanalytical, and/or Quality groups at various companies including Coherus BioSciences, BioMarin, Genentech, Abbott, and PDL BioPharma/Facet Biotech (now part of Abbvie). While at Genentech and BioMarin, Dr. Taniguchi along with other biopharmaceutical industry scientists wrote the early manuscripts for strategies in detecting and characterizing the immunogenicity of biotherapeutics.
Dr. Taniguchi received his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of California at San Francisco.
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