Douglas A. Hamilton, BSc, MBA
Mr. Hamilton was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of the company on October 1, 2018. Mr. Hamilton has over 25 years’ experience in the life-sciences industry with broad domain expertise including financial management, management consulting, venture capital, and R&D operations management. Previously he served as President, CEO and Director of MetaStat, a precision medicine oncology company. From 2012 to 2014 Mr. Hamilton served as CFO for SEA Medical Systems, a Silicon Valley health-tech company. In 2007, Mr. Hamilton founded and serves as Partner at New Biology Ventures, a life-sciences incubator accelerator and consulting firm. From 1999 to 2006, Mr. Hamilton served as CFO and COO for Javelin Pharmaceuticals, a commercial stage pharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of a portfolio of acute pain medications. While at Javelin, Mr. Hamilton helped build a late stage product pipeline, took the company public, and raised over $82 million in financing. Prior to Javelin, Mr. Hamilton was the CFO and Director of Business Development for PolaRx Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. At PolaRx he helped developed the orphan drug Trisenox®and co-led the $45.2 million merger with Cell Therapeutics (currently owned by Teva Pharmaceuticals). Mr. Hamilton served as Project Manager for the Vfend®and Zithromax®product teams at Pfizer, in addition to the Aranesp®, Epogen®, Stemgen®, MGDF, and Cell Therapy product development teams at Amgen. Prior to Amgen, Mr. Hamilton served in the sales and marketing group at Pharmacia Biotech (now GE Healthcare Life Sciences), and in the recombinant DNA vaccine research group at Connaught Laboratories (now Sanofi-Pasteur). Mr. Hamilton earned his honors Bachelor of Science degree from the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of Toronto and his MBA from the Ivey Business School at Western University.
Ghania Chikh, PhD
Dr. Chikh has over 21 years experience in drug development. She acquired her experience in both academic and biopharmaceutical/biotechnology settings. She served as a Senior Director of Pre-Clinical Research at EnGene Inc., managing development of a non-viral gene therapy for localized expression of immunomodulatory proteins in mucosal tissues for inflammatory diseases and cancer treatments. Prior to EnGene, Dr. Chikh worked as a senior member of the R&D team for Pfizer Inc., developing vaccines against infections, allergies, addictions and cancers. Several vaccine projects she was involved in have undergone clinical trials and are currently still ongoing. In addition to leading PoC and IND packages, Dr. Chikh was also managing biomarker and clinical assay development.
Before Pfizer, Dr. Chikh held positions at INEX Pharmaceuticals (currently Arbutus) and Coley Pharmaceuticals. She was also a Research Fellow at the BC Cancer Agency. Dr. Chikh obtained her PhD in Immunology/Biochemistry from France and conducted her PhD thesis on nanoparticle-based cancer vaccines at the Department of Experimental Therapeutics at the BC Cancer Agency. Dr. Chikh has published numerous manuscripts and has invented/co-invented various applications leading to several patents within the immunotherapy field.
Ken Sokoll, PhD
Dr. Sokoll has managed several groups in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, including companies such as Aventis-Pasteur (now Sanofi) and United Biomedical Inc. with increasing responsibilities in the fields of pharmaceutical development and regulatory affairs. He has more than two decades of direct experience in the development of small molecule drugs and biologics specializing in advancing lead clinical candidates through the IND/CTA process and into Phase I and II clinical trials. Dr. Sokoll received his PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Waterloo.
Board of Directors
Parimal Nathwani, MSc, MBA
Mr. Nathwani has over 15 years of experience in various aspects of the biotechnology industry including corporate finance, business development, transactions, intellectual property management, technology development and operations. He has been actively involved in forming and managing start-ups, preparing and executing on business plans, raising early-stage capital and in- and out-licensing activities.
Before joining MaRS Innovation, Parimal was a healthcare analyst with a boutique investment bank, where he conducted equity research on publicly-traded biotechnology companies in Canada and the U.S. He has also led commercialization activities out of BC Women’s and Children’s Hospital as part of his role at the University of British Columbia’s Industry Liaison Office, and was a research scientist at a start-up biotechnology company involved in drug discovery targeting ABC Transporters.
Parimal received his MBA from Simon Fraser University and his M.Sc. from the University of British Columbia. He currently sits on the boards of TRIUMF Innovations, Zucara Therapeutics, Cohesys Inc. and Vasomune Therapeutics and is an observer on the board of Encycle Therapeutics.
Niclas Stiernholm, PhD
Dr. Niclas Stiernholm has decades of executive experience in the biotechnology industry, most recently as President and Chief Executive Officer of Trillium Therapeutics. Under his direction and leadership Trillium grew from one to 65 employees, raised over $200 million in the capital markets, and transitioned from a discovery-based academic spin-out venture to a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company, listed on both Nasdaq and the Toronto Stock Exchange. Dr. Stiernholm joined Trillium from YM BioSciences where he was Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer when the company successfully completed its Initial Public Offering in 2002. In the past Dr. Stiernholm has served on numerous corporate, scientific and non-profit boards. He received his Ph.D. in immunology from the University of Toronto, where he also completed his postdoctoral training.
Michael is Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, a major academic health science centre in Toronto, Ontario. With over 30 years of health care experience, Michael has worked in both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations; both in the Canadian and U.S. health care systems. In Ontario, he held past positions as Vice-President, Information and Corporate Services and C.F.O. at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre; Vice-President, Finance and CFO at Markham Stouffville Hospital; Director of Financial Services at the Wellesley Hospital; and Vice-President, Finance at the Riverdale Hospital (now BridgePoint Health). Michael’s private sector and U.S. experience was gained as C.F.O. and Chief Medicare Compliance Officer for the U.S. operation of Dynacare Laboratories (a $300M medical laboratory NASDQ company); Chief Operating Officer of a privately owned diversified holding company; Regional Vice-President for the Canadian operations of Gentiva Health Services (a $1.5B NASDQ home health care company), where he was responsible of full Canadian subsidiary operations; and Managing Director, Bayshore HealthCare (a division of Bayshore Health Group), where he conceived and orchestrated the purchase of and subsequent integration of Bayshore and Gentiva. Michael is a graduate of the University of Toronto. He articled with Ernst and Young, Chartered Accountants and received his CA (now CPA) designation in 1984. He is currently on the boards of CImTeC (Centre for Imaging Technology Commercialization) and CPSR (Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery) and is a past Board Member and Chair of the Finance Committee of Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation and past Chair of Booth Centennial Hospital Linen Services.
Scientific Advisory Board
David Andrews, PhD
Dr. David Andrews is Director of and Senior Scientist in Biological Sciences at Sunnybrook Research Institute, Professor of Biochemistry and Medical Biophysics at University of Toronto and a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Membrane Biogenesis. His research includes, the molecular mechanisms by which Bcl-2 family proteins regulate apoptosis at mitochondria, mechanisms of protein-protein interactions, the assembly of proteins into membranes, high-content screening and development of new microscopes for fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy.
Dr. Andrews uses fluorescence spectroscopy, fluorescence lifetime imaging and automated fluorescence microscopy to study protein-protein interactions in live cells and in membranes, protein localization in cells and the effects of drugs on cells. At Sunnybrook Research Institute he established a facility for image-based high-content cellular analysis that includes instrumentation for automated imaging and analysis of cells in monolayer and 3D cultures, genome scale gene knockdown and screening of libraries of small molecules. His lab has discovered and characterized small molecules that accelerate and inhibit Bcl-2 family protein mediated mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization that have applications to cancer and regenerative medicine.
Dr. Andrews is active in the public and private sector. In recent years he was president of the Society for Biomolecular Imaging and Informatics. He is a member of the editorial board of Cell Death and Differentiation. He participated in the start-up of two companies, Fermentas and Isogenica and consults for several other companies and academic centers. His group performs collaborative and contract research for a variety of biotech companies including ABBVIE, Eli Lilly, Johnson and Johnson, Novartis and Celgene. He holds licensed patents in areas such as translational regulation, in vitro evolution, peptide display technologies and optical microscopy.
Carolyn S. Calfee, MD MAS
Carolyn S. Calfee, MD MAS is Professor of Medicine and Anesthesia at the University of California, San Francisco, where she attends in the intensive care units. She completed her undergraduate studies at Yale University and medical school at University of Pennsylvania before coming to UCSF for her residency, chief residency, and fellowship training, as well as her Master’s in Clinical Research. Her primary academic focus is the pathogenesis and treatment of the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Her areas of research interest include molecular subphenotypes of ARDS and precision medicine in critical care; the role of environmental exposures including smoking, air pollution, and novel tobacco products in susceptibility to lung injury; and novel treatments for ARDS.
Eddie Fan, PhD, MD
Dr. Eddy Fan is an Associate Professor in the Interdepartmental Division of Critical Care Medicine and the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto and a Staff Intensivist at the University Health Network/Mount Sinai Hospital. Dr. Fan received his undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto, his medical degree from the University of Western Ontario and a PhD in Clinical Investigation from Johns Hopkins University. He is currently the Medical Director of the Extracorporeal Life Support Program at the Toronto General Hospital. Dr. Fan’s research has focused on advanced life support for acute respiratory failure and patient outcomes from critical illness.
Renato Skerlj, PhD
Dr. Skerlj has twenty-five years of experience leading the discovery and development of small molecule drugs to treat rare diseases, cancer, infection and neurodegenerative diseases and deep scientific expertise in the research and development of innovative, genetically-targeted treatments. Currently he is Senior Vice President of Research and Development at X4 Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge MA and previously he held drug discovery and development leadership roles at Cambridge-based Lysosomal Therapeutics, Inc. Prior to that, he was interim Head of Small Molecule Discovery at Genzyme, and was part of the executive team at AnorMED, a publicly-traded company that was acquired by Genzyme in 2006. Dr. Skerlj is an inventor of both plerixafor, a stem cell mobilizer approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2008, and ertapenem, an anti-bacterial approved by the FDA in 2001, and has been responsible for delivering multiple drug candidates into early clinical research. He has authored 65 publications and holds 50 patents. Dr. Skerlj received his Ph.D. in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from the University of British Columbia and completed postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Oxford and Ohio State University.
Dr. Dan Dumont, PhD
Our friend, colleague and co-founder of Vasomune Therapeutics passed away on December 17th, 2015. Dan is remembered as a pioneer in the field of vascular biology; having been the first to discover and describe the importance of Tie2 in blood vessel development and function. Following this pivotal discovery, Dan worked tirelessly to understand the molecular underpinnings of the Tie2 pathway.
Well respected among his peers, Dan’s contributions to the basic understanding of Tie2 signaling were numerous and served to expand scientist’s base of knowledge around how the body responds to vascular injury. Dan’s early work as an investigator, while related primarily to basic research, would later become refocused on translating significant lab discoveries into life-saving medications.
Dan was a senior scientist at Sunnybrook Research Institute and full professor within the Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto. Persevering efforts in the Tie2 space would earn Dan accolades in the form of the Premier’s Excellence Award, William E. Rawls Prize, recognition of excellence from the National Cancer Society Canada and a coveted Tier 1 Canada Research Chair from the federal government.
Dan often spoke of how excited he was to have discovered such an important vascular receptor in his early career and how good fortune would then provide him with the opportunity to develop a drug which could affect a positive outcome for critically ill patients. Dan’s legacy continues with the translation of AV-001 into clinical practice.