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 (XPAT® proteins) and cytokines (XPAC™ proteins), 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.
Darcy Mootz, Ph.D.
Amunix Site Head
Dr. Mootz is the Amunix Site Head. Prior to taking on this role, she served as the company’s Chief Business Officer, raising almost $200M in private financings and leading the sale of the company to Sanofi. Prior to Amunix, she served as the Chief Business Officer of ORIC Pharmaceuticals, where she had a broad role spanning corporate development and a variety of operational functions. Before that, while serving as the 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.
Bart Burington, Ph.D.
Head of Biometrics
Bart Burington serves as Head of Biometrics at Amunix. As a Biostatistician, he has been contributing to clinical trial methods research for over twenty years and has been leading Biometrics organizations as a Vice President since 2015. Bart has established expertise in Phase I-III clinical trial design (including Group Sequential and Adaptive designs), companion diagnostic development strategies, predictive modeling and high-dimensional data analysis, bioinformatics, missing data methods, and visualization platform design and implementation. Dr. Burington has worked in academic and industry settings, with his earliest industry experience at Genentech and subsequent leadership roles at Geron and Xencor. He served most recently as Sr. Vice President of Biometrics at CytomX.
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.
Grace Jiang, Ph.D.
Vice President, Head of Regulatory Affairs
Dr. Grace Jiang serves as Vice President, Head of Regulatory Affairs at Amunix. She has two decades of protein research and biotech experience including 15 years career at Amgen Inc. She is an experienced regulatory professional with expertise in immune-oncology across all stages of drug development. She is also a cross-functional leader with broad experience leading teams and initiatives within Regulatory Affairs, Manufacturing and Quality, most recently at Gracell Biotechnologies and prior to that at Amgen.
Prior to Amunix, she served as the Head of Regulatory developing new generation of CAR T cell therapy at Gracell Biotechnologies. While at Amgen, she played key roles in the successful global registration of Blincyto and Kyprolis in multiple regions. She led the crossfunctional China Taskforce that executed the Amgen/BeiGene collaboration and significantly expanded Amgen’s portfolio in China.
Beyond her professional career, Dr. Jiang is a passionate leader supporting the early career development community. She served on the board of the local chapter of the Association for Women in Science and Technology (AWIS) for multiple years and was a speaker for multiple career development events at USC, UCLA and UCR.
Dr. Jiang holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of California at Riverside and a B.S. from Peking University, School of Pharmacy.
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.
Fatema Legrand, Ph.D.
Vice President, Head of Clinical Science and Global Project Head
Dr. Fatema A. Legrand serves as Vice President, Head of Clinical Science and Global Project Head at Amunix. She has over 20 years of research and development experience, with expertise in clinical immunology, early and late clinical development, as well as regulatory filings. Dr. Legrand’s foray into the biotech industry started at Bavarian-Nordic (formerly BN ImmunoTherapeutics) with her directing the translational science program for early and late phase poxvirus-based cancer immunotherapy candidates. She then spent close to 8 years at Genentech working in late-stage development of Kadcyla and Tecentriq. She led the global filing of Tecentriq in urothelial carcinoma and contributed to its successful approval in over 30 countries. Additionally at Genentech, Dr. Legrand functioned as the clinical science lead for the FAP-IL2v and venetoclax late-stage clinical development programs. More recently, she led the clinical development of magrolimab in CRC and TNBC at Gilead. Prior to joining Amunix, Dr. Legrand was the first clinical research team member at ArriVent Biopharma, helping build the clinical development program of furmonertinib, a new 3rd generation TKI.
Dr. Legrand holds a B.S. from UCLA, a master’s degree in biological sciences from Harvard University, and a PhD in Comparative Pathology with a designated emphasis in biotechnology from UC Davis. She completed her postdoctoral training at UCSF/Gladstone Institute of Virology & Immunology. Dr. Legrand has been granted 3 patents from her work at BNIT and Gilead.
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.
Shanrong Zhao, Ph.D.
Vice President, Head of Bioinformatics, Data Analytics and Library Design
Dr. Zhao serves as the Vice President, Head of Bioinformatics, Data Analytics and Library Design at Amunix. He has more than two decades of experience in computational biology, computer science and drug discovery, with strong interdisciplinary skills in immunology and oncology, protein and antibody engineering, single cell technologies, and synthetic biology. He is a recognized domain expert in genomics and NGS, machine learning, cloud computing as evidenced by >30 peer-reviewed papers and >40 invited talks. Prior to joining Amunix, he served as the Vice President in Data Science at AbSci, Director in Bioinformatics at Pfizer, Senior computational biologist at Johnson & Johnson.
Dr. Zhao received his Ph.D. in Computational Chemistry from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, his 2nd MS in Computer Science from San Diego State University, and MBA from Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is a thought leader in computational biology and have strong presence on the external computational biology community.
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