George Prendergast, PhD – Chairman, RiboNova Advisory Board
George Prendergast is President and CEO of the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research. Dr. Prendergast is also Professor, Department of Pathology, Anatomy and Cell Biology, Jefferson Medical College, and Co-Leader, Cancer Cell Biology and Signaling Program, Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. With experience in the pharmaceutical industry as well as in academia, Dr. Prendergast is an accomplished cancer researcher recognized for his expertise in cancer biology, signal transduction, and molecular therapeutics. An emergent theme in Dr. Prendergast’s work has been the development of new therapeutics based on modifier genes that strongly affect disease susceptibility and therapeutic response. In his career he has become known as an innovator who has the ability to translate basic research findings toward clinical application, most recently in developing IDO inhibitors as a novel class of drugs to dramatically improve the immune response and therapeutic outcome in cancers treated with chemotherapy, radiotherapy or immunotherapy. Dr. Prendergast has contributed over 165 publications in the field of cancer research and he is an inventor or co-inventor on 35 published or pending patents. He also serves as Editor-in-Chief at Cancer Research, the field’s most highly cited journal and the flagship publication of the American Association for Cancer Research. Dr. Prendergast is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania where he received his BA magna cum laude with Distinction in Biochemistry in 1983. He obtained his MS in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University in 1984 and his PhD in Molecular Biology from Princeton University in 1989.
Marni Falk, MD
Dr. Falk is Executive Director of the Mitochondrial Medicine Frontier Program at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Clinical Geneticist, and Professor in the Division of Human Genetics in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She works to improve precision clinical care, diagnostic approaches, and genomic resources for mitochondrial disease, including organization of the global Mitochondrial Disease Sequence Data Resource (MSeqDR) consortium. Dr. Falk is the Principal Investigator of an active translational research laboratory group at CHOP that investigates the causes and global metabolic consequences of mitochondrial disease, and targeted therapies, in C. elegans, zebrafish, mouse, and human tissue models of genetic-based respiratory chain dysfunction. She also designs and directs multiple clinical treatment trials in mitochondrial disease patients. Dr. Falk received her B.S. degree in Biology graduating Summa cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa, as well as M.D. degree in the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society from a combined 7-year program at the George Washington University School of Medicine. She then completed dual specialty training in a 5-year Pediatrics and Clinical Genetics residency program at Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Falk has authored more than 115 peer-reviewed publications in the areas of human genetics and mitochondrial disease, and served as Editor for the ‘Mitochondrial Disease Genes Compendium’. Dr. Falk directs the CHOP/UPenn Mitochondria Research Affinity Group that has 275 participants. She is a member of the Scientific and Medical Advisory Board of The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation; founding member of the CHOP Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine; CHOP-site PI of the North American Mitochondrial Disease Consortium; member of the Mitochondrial Medicine Society, Society for Pediatric Research, Society for Inherited Metabolic Disease, American Society of Human Genetics, and American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics; and elected member of the University of Pennsylvania John Morgan Society, Interurban Clinical Club, and American Society of Clinical Investigators.
Robert Sarisky, PhD, MBA (Board Member)
Rob Sarisky has more than 25 years of oncology business and scientific expertise, and served as Executive Vice President of Forma Therapeutics. Dr. Sarisky previously served as Vice President of Oncology Business Development and Licensing at Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson & Johnson company. During his career, Dr. Sarisky held positions of Vice President of External Research and Early Development within Johnson & Johnson, Senior Director of Immunology Research at Centocor, and Director of Virology at GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals. He has authored more than 120 publications and patents and served on the Editorial Board for two scientific journals. He has been active in the academic community by serving on the University of Pennsylvania Executive Advisory Committee for the HHMI Graduate Training in Medical Sciences program, the University of Miami Innovation Corporate Advisory Council, the University of North Carolina Innovation Transfer and Development Initiative, and as an adjunct Professor at Drexel University School of Medicine and an Advisory Board member for Indiana University’s Biotechnology Program. Dr. Sarisky received his BS degree in Biology from the University of Scranton, a PhD in Genetics from the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, completed his postdoctoral training at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and holds an MBA in Marketing from Lehigh University.
Joan Lau, PhD, MBA (Board Member)
Joan Lau is the President and CEO of Spirovant Sciences. Dr. Lau serves on the advisory board and as Associate Course Director of the Roy & Diana Vagelos Program in Life Science & Management at the Wharton School of Business. Dr. Lau also serves on various community and industry boards, including Talee Bio, BioMotiv, the Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) and the Human Rights Campaign. Dr. Lau previously served as Chief Executive Officer and President of Azelon Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Locus Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and as Executive in Residence at BioAdvance. Prior to Locus, Dr. Lau worked at Merck & Co. where she served in roles of increasing responsibility in R&D Project Management, Portfolio Management, and Business Development. Dr. Lau has earned an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, a PhD in Medical Neuroscience from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and a BS in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania.
Ted Torphy, PhD (Board Member)
Ted Torphy served as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Science Officer at BioMotiv, a development company associated with The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development, a national initiative centered at University Hospitals in Cleveland. Dr. Torphy has 30 years’ experience and a successful record in both small-molecule and large-molecule drug discovery. In addition to his role with BioMotiv, he served as a member of the Innovation Support Center of the Harrington Discovery Institute and Board Chairman, Cystic Fibrosis Therapeutics, Inc. Prior to joining BioMotiv, Ted spent 12 years with Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals. His roles included Global Head of External Innovation & Business Models for Discovery Sciences, Vice President and Head of External Research and Early Development, and Corporate Vice President and Head of Johnson & Johnson’s Corporate Office of Science & Technology. In addition, he spent four years at Centocor as Senior Vice President and Head of Discovery and Preclinical Development. During this period SIMPONI®, STELARA® and SYLVANT® entered the Discovery portfolio. Prior to joining Centocor, he spent 17 years with SmithKline Beecham, most recently as Vice President and Head of Biological Research for the Cardiovascular, Pulmonary, Renal, Metabolic Diseases, and Inflammation therapeutic areas. Since 2006, Ted has chaired the Board of Directors of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics, Inc. During his Board tenure, the Foundation initiated its pioneering venture philanthropy drug discovery program. This program led to the introduction of multiple new therapies, including Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ development and launch of KALYDECO® and ORKAMBI®, the first treatments that correct the fundamental defect causing cystic fibrosis. He is the author of more than 120 journal articles, review articles, book chapters and patents. He serves on the editorial advisory boards of several journals, and is a board member of numerous non-profit organizations. Dr. Torphy holds a BS in pharmacy from the University of Wisconsin, and a PhD in pharmacology and toxicology from West Virginia University. He completed his postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Diego.