Group leader responsible for a cell-based assay team supporting biologics drug development. Responsibilities include development of a wide diversity of cell-based assays and technology platforms to support discovery and development of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies. Expertise includes cytokine release assays, Fc effector assays, characterization / potency-release assays, and in vitro pharmacology in human cells. Additional experience with functional genomics, RNAi, microarrays, and cell-based high-throughput screening. Leading functionally diverse and geographically dispersed teams to leverage innovative technology platforms to address/solve scientific challenges in a pragmatic and timely manner.
As part of Merck's Biologics Discovery site in Palo Alto, I am a group leader of a senior team of cell based assay experts. Our mission is to support the development of new biologics drugs including a new class of drugs which use a cancer patient's own immune system to target their tumors. This type of cancer immunotherapy has revolutionized oncology treatment and generated amazing results in the clinic. Nature profiled this in 2014 and Science named cancer immunotherapy the breakthrough of the year in 2013. In September 2014, Merck's pioneering cancer immunotherapy drug Keytruda was approved by the FDA.
Prior to my work on developing biologics, I was focused leveraging cell based assays to elucidate the function of noncoding RNAs (miRNAs, other novel small RNAs and long intergenic noncoding RNAs) and their regulation of cellular processes such as protein function, signal transduction, gene expression, and cell proliferation. At Merck, as part of the Sirna Therapeutics division, I applied this expertise towards engineering methodologies and technologies to improve the efficacy of therapeutic siRNAs. My work on RNA has been published in Science, Nature, Cell, Nature Reviews, and JACS. The New York Times published a great article on the scientific mechanisms and therapeutic potential of RNA interference. In addition to traditional small RNAs, they discuss the regulatory potential of transcriptional "dark matter" -- whole genome transcription of noncoding RNAs. This area was popularized by the work of Tom Gingeras at Affymetrix (my old boss). A separate NY Times article discusses "the rest of the genome" and profiles Tom. As a postdoctoral research associate in Peter Schultz's lab at the Scripps Research Institute, I pursued aspects of functional genomics including noncoding RNA with collaborators at the Genomics Institute for the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF). Screening a set of evolutionarily conserved ncRNAs, I discovered a novel noncoding RNA which modulates the activity of the NFAT transcription factor family.