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CONFIRM
Team of Experts

Acepodia’s management team is comprised of expert cell biologists, biochemists, oncologists and engineers with extensive experience in immune cell therapy R&D. With deep roots in cell therapy development and expertise in driving the clinical and business operations of biopharmaceutical companies such as Genentech/Roche and Juno Therapeutics, Acepodia’s leadership is well-equipped to deliver value to its stakeholders and successfully advance its cell therapy candidates through clinical trials and into the hands of patients in need.

MANAGEMENT
  • Patrick Y. Yang, Ph.D.

    Patrick Y. Yang, Ph.D.

    Chairman and Co-Founder
    Dr. Yang is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Acepodia. Dr. Yang was formerly Executive Vice President at Juno Therapeutics. Prior to Juno, he served as Executive Vice President of Technical Operations at Roche and Genentech, where he was responsible for biopharmaceutical manufacturing, process development, engineering, technical regulatory, quality, procurement, and global supply chain management. Prior to Genentech, he served in various leadership roles in the industry with Merck, General Electric and Life Systems. Dr. Yang earned his B.S. in Engineering from National Chiao Tung University (Taiwan), his M.S. from the University of Cincinnati, and his Ph.D. in Engineering from Ohio State University.
  • Sonny Hsiao, Ph.D.

    Sonny Hsiao, Ph.D.

    Chief Executive Officer, President and Co-Founder
    Dr. Hsiao is the Chief Executive Officer, President and Co-Founder of Acepodia. He was awarded Dr. Y-T Lee Prize, which named after Nobel Laureate Dr. Lee, for his research achievement in Chemistry. Dr. Hsiao has extensive research experience in immune cell therapy development, which led to the discovery and invention of Acepodia’s novel cellular immunotherapy development platform, ACC (Antibody-Cell Conjugation). Dr. Hsiao earned his B.S. in Chemistry from National Taiwan University, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry and Molecular Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Mark J. Gilbert, M.D.

    Mark J. Gilbert, M.D.

    Executive Vice President of R&D
    Dr. Gilbert has decades of experience leading strategic drug development and portfolio management in medical oncology for several U.S. biotech and pharmaceutical companies. He was previously the chief medical officer of Juno Therapeutics, where he led the clinical development of its CAR-T cell therapy pipeline, and previously held similar positions at Bayer Schering Pharmaceuticals, Berlex Pharmaceuticals and its parent company Schering, AG, and Immunex. Dr. Gilbert received a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Iowa and his M.D. from the University of Iowa Medical School. He trained in internal medicine, infectious disease and medical oncology at the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Washington, respectively. Prior to his executive industry positions, Dr. Gilbert was a faculty member at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington, and he trained in the laboratory of Dr. Phil Greenberg, one of scientific co-founders of Juno Therapeutics.
  • Jimmy Lai, CPA

    Jimmy Lai, CPA

    Chief Financial Officer
    Jimmy Lai is a seasoned financial expert with more than 30 years of financial management and capital markets experience both in the US and in China. During his US tenure, Mr. Lai helped take three companies public and served as chief financial officer for multiple US-listed companies. Mr. Jimmy Lai currently serves as an independent director and audit chairperson for multiple NYSE-listed companies, including Youdao (NYSE: DAO), the leading intelligent learning company in China, Finnovation Inc. (NYSE: FINV), an online consumer finance provider in China, and as an independent director on the board of Huami corp., a NYSE-listed (NYSE: HMI) biometric and activity data-driven wearable device company. 

    He received his bachelor’s degree in statistics from the National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan and his MBA from the University of Texas. Mr. Lai is a US certified public accountant licensed in the State of Texas.
  • Michael Brock, MBA

    Michael Brock, MBA

    Chief Strategy Officer
    Michael Brock joined Acepodia in May 2021 as Chief Strategy Officer after 20 years of experience in Healthcare Investment Banking, focused on Biotechnology and emerging Specialty Pharmaceutical companies. Most recently, Michael was a Managing Director in the Investment Banking Biopharma coverage group at Wells Fargo Securities. Previously, he was a Director in Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Healthcare Investment Banking group from 2004 through 2011, and he began his investment banking career in 2000 with SG Cowen Securities. Michael’s experience includes mergers and acquisitions, buy-side and sell-side transactions for both public and private companies, cross-border transactions, strategic alternatives assessments, acquisition financing, and fairness opinions. In addition, he has advised and executed on a range of capital raising transactions, including initial public offerings, follow-on offerings, private placements, convertible debt offerings, and investment grade and non-investment grade debt offerings.

    Michael earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Clemson University and an M.B.A. from the Mason School of Business at the College of William & Mary.
  • Thorsten Graef, M.D., Ph.D.

    Thorsten Graef, M.D., Ph.D.

    Chief Medical Officer
    Dr. Graef has extensive experience leading successful global clinical organizations, including direct medical accountability for more than 50 clinical trials spanning Phase 1 through Phase 4 over the last 12 years. He joined Acepodia from AbbVie Pharmaceuticals, where he served as the Vice President of the Oncology Early Development Unit where he supervised the filing and execution of numerous INDs in broad platform areas including small molecules, large molecules, antibody drug conjugates, bispecifics, and a CAR-T. Prior to AbbVie Dr. Graef was the Head of Clinical Development at Pharmacyclics, where he led the clinical development of IMBRUVICA® in a variety of different tumor types and was responsible for the successful submission of multiple NDAs and PMAs. In addition, Dr. Graef was part of the executive team during the acquisition and integration of Pharmacyclics into AbbVie. Before joining Pharmacyclics, Dr. Graef led the development and execution of ZOLINZA® and various other small molecules and biologics for oncology at Merck & Co.

    Dr. Graef earned his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the Heinrich-Heine University in Germany. In addition to being awarded with various investigator and industrial research grants, he also received a Mildred Scheel Postdoctoral Fellowship Award from the German Cancer Aid Society.
  • Joseph S. McCracken, D.V.M., M.S.

    Joseph S. McCracken, D.V.M., M.S.

    Senior Vice President of Business Development
    Dr. McCracken has more than 25 years of experience in research, strategic business development and commercial roles in biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. He was previously vice president and global head of business development and licensing for Roche Pharma, where he was responsible for Roche Pharma’s global in-licensing and out-licensing activities. Prior to joining Roche Pharma, Dr. McCracken held the position of vice president of business development at Genentech for more than nine years, and previously held similar positions at Aventis Pharma and Rhone-Poulenc Rorer. Dr. McCracken holds a B.S. in Microbiology, a M.S. in Pharmacology, and a D.V.M. from Ohio State University. 
  • Bill Mackin, Ph.D., RAC

    Bill Mackin, Ph.D., RAC

    Head of Regulatory Affairs
    As a seasoned drug development and regulatory affairs expert with over 25 years in the biopharmaceutical industry, Dr. Mackin has held senior leadership positions in regulatory and manufacturing functions within a number of biopharmaceutical companies and consultant agencies, including Aptuit Consulting. Dr. Mackin received his B.S. in Biology and Microbiology from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Mackin was a post-doctoral fellow at University of Connecticut Health Center. Dr. Mackin also currently serves as President of WMackin & Associates.
  • Heather Hughes

    Heather Hughes

    Vice President of Clinical Operations
    Heather is a seasoned Clinical Operations expert. Prior to joining Acepodia, she was Senior Operations Portfolio Lead for Cellular Therapy at Juno Therapeutics, a Bristol-Myers Squibb company, where she helped build out the CAR T Clinical Operations infrastructure. Prior to Juno Therapeutics, Heather led clinical operations and study management at several startup biotechnology companies, including HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals and Acucela Inc. Heather earned her bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences from London South Bank University, and trained as a State Registered Nurse at King’s College Hospital, London.
  • Anita Kawatra

    Anita Kawatra

    Advisor on Corporate Affairs
    Anita Kawatra is Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at nference, the AI-driven health technology company. She has more than two decades of experience as a leader in the life sciences and global public health sectors, holding senior management positions across the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. She was a founding executive of Inheris Biopharma and previously served in global roles at Elan Pharmaceuticals, Prothena Biosciences, Merck & Co. and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.Prior to her work in biopharmaceuticals, she served in the administrations of New York City Mayor David Dinkins and New York Governor Mario Cuomo.

    Ms. Kawatra is a board member of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, the largest public health system in the U.S. She also serves on the boards of Sanctuary for Families and GrowNYC. In 2020, she was named among the 100 most influential Asian Americans in New York politics and policy. For 10 years, she served as an adjunct professor at New York University. She holds a master’s degree from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Yale University.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
  • Patrick Y. Yang, Ph.D.

    Patrick Y. Yang, Ph.D.

    Dr. Yang is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Acepodia. Dr. Yang was formerly Executive Vice President at Juno Therapeutics. Prior to Juno, he served as Executive Vice President of Technical Operations at Roche and Genentech, where he was responsible for biopharmaceutical manufacturing, process development, engineering, technical regulatory, quality, procurement, and global supply chain management. Prior to Genentech, he served in various leadership roles in the industry with Merck, General Electric and Life Systems. Dr. Yang earned his B.S. in Engineering from National Chiao Tung University (Taiwan), his M.S. from the University of Cincinnati, and his Ph.D. in Engineering from Ohio State University.
  • Sonny Hsiao, Ph.D.

    Sonny Hsiao, Ph.D.

    Dr. Hsiao is the Chief Executive Officer, President and Co-Founder of Acepodia. He was awarded Dr. Y-T Lee Prize, which named after Nobel Laureate Dr. Lee, for his research achievement in Chemistry. Dr. Hsiao has extensive research experience in immune cell therapy development, which led to the discovery and invention of Acepodia’s novel cellular immunotherapy development platform, ACC (Antibody-Cell Conjugation). Dr. Hsiao earned his B.S. in Chemistry from National Taiwan University, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry and Molecular Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Sue Yang, Ph.D.

    Sue Yang, Ph.D.

    Dr. Yang has many years of experience working in various operations of the global pharmaceutical and biotech industry. She has held management and analytical positions in market analysis at Merck, Genentech and Roche. The most recent position was serving as a VP of business operations for a start-up company. Dr. Yang is an expert in market research, market strategy development, and big data analysis. She received a M.S. from Ohio University and a Ph.D. from Ohio State University.
  • Hong Jen Chang, M.D.

    Hong Jen Chang, M.D.

    Dr. Chang is Chairman and CEO of YFY Biotech Management Company and is an adjunct professor at the Institute of Public Health at National Yang-Ming University. Prior to joining YFY Group, Dr. Chang held several key positions in the Taiwanese Ministry of Health and served as President and CEO at the Bureau of National Health Insurance (BNHI) and has extensive experiences in health care and disease control. During Dr. Chang’s tenure at BNHI, he established the Smart Card System for every citizen’s access to health care. Dr. Chang earned his M.D. from National Yang-Ming University and he also received his M.P.H. from National Taiwan University and M.S. in Health Policy and Management from Harvard School of Public Health.
  • Robin Andrulevich

    Robin Andrulevich

    Robin Andrulevich is currently the Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer at Sana Biotechnology. Robin has more than 25 years of experience in human resources and operations at high-growth companies. Most recently, Robin served as the Senior Vice President of People at Juno Therapeutics. She has also held several key senior leadership roles in human resources and talent at Amazon and Google. She has worked in early-and mid-stage venture capital with firms including Madrona Venture Group and Union Square Ventures. Robin earned her B.A. in communications science from the University of Connecticut.
ADVISORS
  • Gwendolyn Fyfe, M.D.

    Gwendolyn Fyfe, M.D.

    Dr. Fyfe has more than 20 years of drug development experience in oncology and currently serves as a board member of Molecular Partners AG. Prior to joining Molecular partners AG, she had held various position at Genentech Inc. and played an important role in the development of Genentech’s approved oncology agents including Rituxan®, Herceptin®, Avastin® and Tarceva®. Dr. Fyfe is a recognized expert in the broader oncology community and has been an invited member of Institute of Medicine panels, National Cancer Institute working groups and grant committees and American Society of Clinical Oncologists oversight committees. Dr. Fyfe is a graduate of Washington University School of Medicine and a board-certified pediatric oncologist.
  • Alice Yu, M.D., Ph.D.

    Alice Yu, M.D., Ph.D.

    Dr. Yu is Distinguished Chair Professor and Co-Director of the Institute of Stem Cell and Translational Cancer Research at Chang Gung University (Taiwan). She is also the Academician and Visiting Research Fellow of the Genomic Research Center at Academia Sinica (Taiwan), Professor in Pediatrics and Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Yu earned her medical degree from the National Taiwan University, her M.S. from Yale University, and her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from University of Chicago.
  • Ping-Chih Ho, Ph.D.

    Ping-Chih Ho, Ph.D.

    Dr. Ho serves as adjunct Ludwig scientist and associate professor in the Department of Oncology at the University of Lausanne. Dr. Ho’s research focuses on immunometabolism in T cells and macrophages, and how the metabolic crosstalk between cancer cells and tumor-infiltrating immune cells shapes the immunosuppressive microenvironment. His team leverages this knowledge to develop cancer immunotherapy. Dr. Ho has been awarded the Swiss Bridge Award, Anna Fuller Award, Cancer Research Institute-CLIP investigator award, Melanoma Research Alliance-SITC Young investigator Award and a European Research Council Starting Grant. Dr. Ho received his M.S. degree from the Institute of Biochemical Science at National Taiwan University and his Ph.D. from the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Minnesota.
  • Sanchi Chen, M.D.

    Sanchi Chen, M.D.

    Dr. Chen is a clinician at the Department of Oncology, Taipei Veterans General Hospital. Dr. Chen has extensive experience in research and development of immunotherapies in solid tumors and has overseen numerous successful enrollment efforts in several major pivotal immunotherapy trials in liver cancer. Dr. Chen received his M.D. from Taipei Medical University.
  • Akira Matsuno

    Akira Matsuno

    Mr. Akira Matsuno is an experienced entrepreneurial biotech executive. He served as the CFO and Head of Corporate Development at Lyell Immunopharma. Prior to Lyell, he was Vice President of Finance and NEX-T Platform Program Lead for Juno Therapeutics, supporting the merging of Juno with Celgene following Juno’s acquisition. Mr. Matsuno started his career at Lehman Brothers after he earned his B.S. in Finance and Management from the Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania.
  • Harry Lam, Ph.D.

    Harry Lam, Ph.D.

    Dr. Lam is Executive Vice President of Technical Operations at JW Therapeutics.  Previously, he was Head of Therapeutic Technical Operations at 23andMe, Vice President and Head of Manufacturing at Sanofi and Shire Regenerative Medicine. Prior to Sanofi and Shire, he worked in various leadership roles in CMC and manufacturing engineering at Genentech-Roche. Dr. Lam received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Birmingham, and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
  • Michael Kurman, M.D.

    Michael Kurman, M.D.

    Dr. Kurman has spent over thirty years in the oncology drug development field. He is a board-certified medical oncologist who practiced community oncology and has participated as an investigator in oncology clinical trials sponsored by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) and the Memorial Adjunct Staff Oncology Group (MASOG). During his career in the pharmaceutical industry, he has held positions of progressive responsibility at Janssen Pharmaceutica as Director of Oncology, and has held similar positions at Cytogen Corporation, U.S. Bioscience, and Quintiles’ (now IQVIA) Oncology Therapeutics Division. During his career in the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Kurman has been involved in the regulatory review or commercial launch of four new oncology products. Dr. Kurman received his B.A., summa cum laude in biology from Syracuse University and his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College. He received his training in internal medicine at the State University of New York – Upstate Medical Center, and his oncology training at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York. 
  • Eileen Higham, Ph.D.

    Eileen Higham, Ph.D.

    Dr. Eileen Higham has over 20 years of experience leveraging diverse strategic, scientific, and technical expertise to develop innovative strategies to rapidly deliver novel cell-, viral-, and protein-based therapies to improve human health.

    Dr. Higham is currently Senior Vice President, Head of Technical Operations at Intergalactic Therapeutics, a stealth non-viral gene therapy company. Prior to Intergalactic, Dr. Higham was Vice President, Head of Analytical & Process Development at Sana Biotechnology, where she led a team developing best-in-class manufacturing processes and analytical packages for production of next generation cell and gene therapies. Prior to Sana, Dr. Higham was Senior Director, Head of Analytical & Process Development at Juno Therapeutics (Celgene/Bristol Myers Squibb), where she provided strategic, scientific, and technical leadership for development of best-in-class manufacturing processes and analytical packages for production of autologous T cell therapies. In this role, she led an organization of 100+ scientists and engineers developing strategies to enable robust, well-controlled, and well-characterized Drug Product process design and associated analytical packages to support Phase 0 through commercialization.  Prior to Juno, Dr. Higham served as Associate Director/Product Development Team Leader - Adoptive Cellular Therapy at MedImmune/AstraZeneca, with joint appointments in Biopharmaceutical Development (BPD) and the Oncology Innovative Medicines Unit (iMED). Dr Higham started her career in industry at Merck as a Biochemical Engineer developing in-house, serum-free cell culture media for use in the efficient-large scale production of viral products.

    Dr. Higham received a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University and a Doctorate in Biological Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.