By delivering breakthrough therapies that can harness the immune system, we aim to conquer cancer and save lives
The Amunix site focuses on immuno-oncology, 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 the Amunix site, 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.
Sanofi Governance page: https://www.sanofi.com/en/about-us/governance
Mika Kakefuda Derynck, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Derynck is the Chief Medical Officer at our Amunix site. 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 at our Amunix site. 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.
Chief Technology Officer
Dr. Volker Schellenberger is a co-founder of Amunix and currently serves as 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 our Amunix site. 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.
Grace Jiang, Ph.D.
Head of Regulatory
Dr. Grace Jiang serves as Head of Regulatory at our Amunix site. 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.
Geetha Shankar, Ph.D.
Head Of Clinical Development Oncology
Dr. Geetha Shankar serves as the Head Of Clinical Development Oncology at our Amunix site. 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.
Head OF BIOANALYTICAL SCIENCES
Dr. Taniguchi serves as the Head of Bioanalytical Sciences at our Amunix site. 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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