Dennis Kasper, M.D. — Co-Founder
William Ellery Channing Professor of Medicine and Professor of Microbiology and Immunobiology, Harvard Medical School
For more than three decades, Dr. Dennis Kasper has conducted research in microbiology, infectious diseases and public health while discharging a broad range of administrative and educational responsibilities. Dr. Kasper has studied the carbohydrates of group B Streptococcus, the foremost cause of serious neonatal bacterial infections and Bacteroides fragilis, an important intestinal commensal and cause of intraabdominal infections and abscesses. His studies innovatively integrate structural carbohydrate chemistry, microbiology, immunology, biochemistry, and genetics. Dr. Kasper’s investigations have opened new fields of research on the role of carbohydrates in shaping immune system development and probing the microbiome for new therapeutics.
Dr. Kasper was previously the Director of the New England Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research and was the Chairman of the National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity. He has served as Executive Dean for Academic Programs at Harvard Medical School, Chair of the NIAID’s Board of Scientific Counselors and as President of the International Society for Infectious Diseases. Dr. Kasper is also a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science. Since 1990, Dr. Kasper has served as the Infectious Disease Editor for Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine (HPIM). He was Editor-in-Chief of the 16th edition of HPIM and is currently Editor-in-Chief of the 19th edition. He is the author of more than 350 research and clinical publications encompassing an array of topics in infectious diseases and microbiology.
Sarkis Mazmanian, Ph.D. — Co-Founder
Louis & Nelly Soux Professor of Microbiology in the Division of Biology & Biological Engineering, California Institute of Technology
Dr. Sarkis Mazmanian’s laboratory at Caltech is focused on symbiotic organisms and bacterial pathogenesis. It has been appreciated for several decades that mammals display developmental defects of lymphoid tissues in the absence of bacterial colonization. Mostly, these defects have been observed in the immune responses of the gastrointestinal tract, where the greatest numbers and diversity of bacteria are found. As hundreds of different species permanently reside in the mammalian intestine, no single organism has been experimentally shown to correct these processes. Dr. Mazmanian’s work has demonstrated that not only do the immune deficiencies in the absence of bacterial colonization extend to the entire systemic immune response, but further identified a specific molecule of a single commensal species which is both required and sufficient to direct host immune maturation. His research provides experimental validation that directly extends to the “hygiene hypothesis” concept that relates the gastrointestinal flora to the underlying development of human disease.
Dr. Mazmanian has been recognized by numerous awards, including the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award, the Searle Scholar Award, “Best Brains in Science under 40” award by Discover Magazine, Helen Hay Whitney Fellowship, Damon Runyon Cancer Foundation Innovation Award, Burroughs Wellcome Fund Award, and W.M. Keck Research Excellence Award. He received his doctoral training at the University of California, Los Angeles in microbiology and immunology, studying the mechanism by which Gram-positive pathogens anchor surface protein adhesins during bacterial infection, and was a Helen Hay Whitney Post-doctoral Fellow at Harvard Medical School.
Lloyd Kasper, M.D. — Co-Founder
Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College
Dr. Lloyd Kasper has been actively involved for many years in basic and applied neuroimmunology supported by research grants from the National Institutes of Health, March of Dimes, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and industry. He has published extensively on the immunology of the obligate intracellular parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, having identified critical antigens and immune pathways that are involved in disease pathogenesis. Some of these parasite antigens have been patented and extensively utilized by industry to develop neonatal screening for toxoplasma infection in the US and Europe. He established and was the long-time Director of the Dartmouth MS Center that serves an MS population of >1500 patients in northern New England. His basic research interests in MS are related primarily to understanding disease pathogenesis, the role of specific regulatory populations elicited by current and novel therapies, and the role of the gut microbiome in the regulation of CNS demyelination.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), NIH and industry have awarded multiple grants to him to support this work. Dr. Kasper has been PI and co-investigator for NIH supported clinical trials in MS including anti-CD40L (CD154), CombiRx, estriol plus glatiramer and CTLA4-Ig. He has served as an advisor for industry (Biogen Idec, Novartis, Genzyme, Sanofi, Teva Neuroscience, Mederex, Centocor, Bayer Healthcare, EMD Serono, ONO Pharmaceuticals, Genentech) on clinical and research protocol development for a number of clinical trials in MS including rituximab, ocrilizumab, alumtuzumab, daclizumab, ONO-4641, anti-IL12p40, lacquinimod, anti-CD40, CTLA-4Ig, TACI-Ig, and FTY-720. He has served in ad hoc, permanent and chairperson positions on NIH and NMSS study section. He has organized three Keystone symposia including Opportunistic Infections in AIDS, Translational Medicine in Autoimmunity and most recently the Role of the Gut Microbiome: Effector/Regulatory Networks that was held in February 2013. Dr. Kasper has authored over 175 research and clinical articles related to his basic research interests in immunology and clinical expertise in multiple sclerosis.
Sheila Mikhail, J.D., M.B.A.
Sheila Mikhail joined Symbiotix Biotherapies in 2017 as Executive Chairman. She is Co-Founder and CEO of Asklepios BioPharmaceutical, Inc., a company she started in 2002. Most recently, Ms. Mikhail co-founded and was CEO of Bamboo Therapeutics, Inc., which in 20 months raised $50 million, advanced a therapeutic into the clinic, completed Pre-IND studies for a Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy therapeutic, and built a GMP manufacturing facility. Bamboo was acquired by Pfizer in August 2016 in a deal valued at $860 million. Prior to that, she was part of the management team at Chatham Therapeutics, which was acquired by Baxter in 2013. Earlier, she was Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of NanoCor Therapeutics, Inc., which completed a strategic partnership and investment with Medtronic.
Trained as a lawyer, Ms. Mikhail practiced law for over 15 years, including a law firm that she founded, Life Sciences Law, which serviced clients such as Bayer, Gilead, GSK, Sanofi, and Aventis. She also practiced with Ropes and Gray in Boston. She also previously worked as a management consultant for A.T. Kearney and Arthur Andersen, where she advised several of the Fortune 100 on operational and strategic matters. Ms. Mikhail earned a J.D., with honors, from Northwestern University; a finance M.B.A., with honors, from the University of Chicago; and a B.S., with highest honors, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Nader Yaghoubi, M.D., Ph.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer,
Symbiotix Biotherapies, Inc.
Dr. Yaghoubi has over 20 years of experience in the creation, operations and financing of life science companies. He joined Symbiotix in 2010 to establish the first company developing molecular therapeutics based on the microbiome. Prior to Symbiotix, he was the first employee at Selecta Biosciences (Nasdaq:SELB) and BIND Therapeutics (Nasdaq:BIND), where he worked with the founders to launch the companies and establish operations and corporate development. Previously, he was at Zero Stage Capital, a venture capital firm where he was responsible for investing in the life sciences sector, and earlier completed an internship at Advent International. Prior to this, he was a Health Care Entrepreneurship Fellow at Boston University, where he worked with scientists and physicians to develop new businesses in the healthcare and life science sector. Before his fellowship, he trained in the Department of Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
Dr. Yaghoubi received an M.D. and Ph.D. in Molecular Pharmacology from the combined degree program at Boston University School of Medicine. His doctorate work on the development of high-throughput automated electrophysiological systems resulted in five issued US patents, received one of the University’s highest awards for dissertational research, and was the basis of a venture-backed biotechnology company focused on ion channel electrophysiology. He is extensively involved in mentoring young companies, and has served/serves as a mentor, advisor and reviewer with MBC’s MassCONNECT program, Mass Life Sciences Center programs, Springboard Venture Capital Forum and numerous university business plan competitions.
Shawn Hillier, Ph.D.
Senior Director of Research and Development
Dr. Shawn Hillier joined Symbiotix Biotherapies in 2018 as Senior Director of Research and Development. He joined Symbiotix from Moderna Therapeutics and has over 12 years of experience in drug discovery and development, having advanced several compounds from discovery research, through lead optimization, IND enabling and clinical testing. His expertise in pharmacology, cell biology and biochemical assays resulted in the advancement of multiple new chemical entities to enter clinical trials, including Azedra (a radiotherapeutic for the treatment of rare cancers), MIP-1404 (a prostate cancer diagnostic), MIP-1095 (a prostate cancer therapeutic), and M3814 (a DNA-PK inhibitor for the treatment of solid tumors).
Prior to Moderna, Dr. Hillier was at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, where he supervised a team of pharmacologists to advance the oncology and immuno-oncology pipeline. Earlier, he was at Molecular Insight Pharmaceuticals as one of the first biologists. Dr. Hillier earned a Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross. He is the author of over 30 peer reviewed research publications and holds over 15 patents.