People

OncoFusion is founded by well-recognized professors and entrepreneurs from University of Michigan and directed by proven leaders in cancer therapeutics field.

Arul M. Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D.  

Dr. Chinnaiyan is the S.P. Hicks Professor of Pathology and Urology and Director of the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology. He is also an Investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

His laboratory is focused on cancer genomics and bioinformatics and is likely best known for the 2005 discovery of recurrent gene fusions in common solid tumors (specifically TMPRSS2-ETS gene fusions in prostate cancer), seminal work on EZH2, and development of the Oncomine cancer database.

Dr. Chinnaiyan co-founded Compendia Biosciences (2006-present) to focus on cancer bioinformatics and Armune Biosciences (2007-present) to develop immune biomarkers of cancer. Compendia Biosciences was UM start-up company that received support from SPARK and the Michigan Development Corporation (MEDC) and has grown to become a profitable company with more than 34 employees and  established partnerships with 15 of the top 20 oncology biopharma. In October of 2012, Compendia had a successful exit for investors and was acquired by Life Technologies for further expansion and development in the State of Michigan.

Dr. Chinnaiyan, through the University, has also licensed cancer diagnostics technology to Gen-Probe, Inc. and Ventana/Roche. He serves as an SAB member or consultant to Gen-Probe, Inc., Ventana/Roche, Compendia Biosciences/Life Technologies, Molecular MD, Wafergen, and Metabolon. Dr. Chinnaiyan has over 280 publications and 8 patents. Dr. Chinnaiyan will serve as Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board and Co-Founder of OncoFusion.

 


 

Shaomeng Wang, Ph.D.

Dr. Wang is a Co-Founder of OncoFusion and will serve as its Chief Scientific Officer.

Dr. Wang is an internationally recognized expert in structure-based drug design and discovery. Dr. Wang is Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis Professor in Medicine and Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, Medicine and Pharmacology at the University of Michigan. Dr. Wang serves as Director of the Cancer Drug Discovery Program and Co-Director of the Experimental Therapeutics Program at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, as well as Director of Therapeutics Discovery at the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology.

Dr. Wang co-founded and has served on the Board of Directors of the cancer therapeutics companies Ascenta (2004-2007) and Ascentage (2009-present). Ascenta raised over $85M in venture funds and has licensed two of its drugs discovered by Dr. Wang’s laboratory to Sanofi and DebioPharm with >$500M milestone payments and additional royalties on sale. Ascentage has raised significant funding from a pharmaceutical company (3SBio) and governments and is progressing multiple drug candidates into clinical development discovered in Dr. Wang’s laboratory.

Dr. Wang has over 230 publications and is an inventor on 40 patents (view publications). Dr. Wang is also the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, the most cited journal in the field of medicinal chemistry. For more information on Dr. Shaomeng Wang, please visit Wang Lab.

 


Kenneth Pienta, M.D.

Dr. Pienta is the Donald S. Coffey Professor of Urology and Professor of Oncology, Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences and Director of Research of the Brady Urological Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.  He is the former Director of Precision Medicine for the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology. He is an American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor and Past-President of the Society of Clinical and Translational Science.

Dr. Pienta is an internationally recognized expert in cancer biology and cancer therapeutics. He has a peer-reviewed track record in organizing and administering a translational research program that incorporates bench research, agent development, and clinical application. His laboratory is focused on understanding cancer resistance by defining cancer as an ecosystem and the implications of tumor cell heterogeneity on therapeutic efficacy.

Dr. Pienta has been the principal investigator on over 30 clinical trials, including chemoprevention, Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III studies. He has expertise in the development of targeted therapies from IND enabling studies through registration. He has recently focused on the development of the application of precision medicine for cancer patients in real time for therapeutic decision making and the importance of developing companion diagnostics for targeted cancer therapies.

Dr. Pienta has served as an SAB member or consultant to Curis, Inc., Amgen, Inc., Johnson and Johnson, Millenium Pharmaceuticals, Inc., GTx, Inc., Myriad Genetic Laboratories, Inc. and Compendia Biosciences. Dr. Pienta has over 300 publications and 3 patents. Dr. Pienta is a Co-Founder of OncoFusion and will serve on the Scientific Advisory Board. For more information on Dr. Kenneth Pienta, please visit kenpienta.com.

 


 

Mel Sorensen, M.D.

Mel Sorensen is Chairman of OncoFusion. A medical oncologist who has dedicated his career to clinical cancer research since completing his oncology fellowship at the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Sorensen has spent seven or more years each in patient care, in academia (at the National Cancer Institute), in leadership positions of clinical cancer research in the pharmaceutical industry (Bayer & GSK), and as President and CEO of private biotech companies (Ascenta & Galera). Dr. Sorensen is President and CEO of Galera Therapeutics, Inc. a private clinical-stage biotech company with superoxide dismutase mimetic technology. The company raised a Series A of $11 million in December 2012.

Dr. Sorensen joined Ascenta Therapeutics as President and CEO in 2004. Ascenta was founded by Dr. Shaomeng Wang and other University of Michigan scientists with technology licensed from Dr. Wang’s laboratory and backed by top-tier venture capital, including Domain Associates and Sofinnova Ventures. Operationally, in about five years, Ascenta advanced 2 unrelated preclinical programs into broad clinical testing, managed multiple clinical trials, and developed an R&D presence in China. The company raised ~$100 million in private financing and secured global partnerships for its technology in 2010-2012, exceeding $500 million in potential milestones.

In addition to OncoFusion, Galera and Ascenta, Dr. Sorensen is on the board of Therasis (as Chairman), a private cancer systems biology company, and Lixte Biotechnology Holdings, Inc., a public cancer therapeutics company (LXTE, Long Island, NY). He is a frequent speaker on optimizing oncology drug development and is an advisor to the Biomarkers Consortium of the National Institutes of Health.

 


 

Brian Wood

Brian Wood manages business development for OncoFusion. Mr. Wood has spent 15 years as a biopharmaceutical executive with broad responsibilities in business development and operations. Mr. Wood is Director of Business Development and Project Management at Galera Therapeutics, a private biopharmaceutical company developing medicines targeting oxygen metabolic pathways implicated in human diseases. As Director of Corporate Development at Ascenta Therapeutics, an oncology development company, he was responsible for obtaining and managing two global sublicensing agreements. In addition, he managed the company’s patent portfolio and provided general management support of company operations.

Prior to Ascenta, Mr. Wood served for 9 years in clinical development roles at GlaxoSmithKline and Wyeth in which he was involved in the development, support, and reporting of global clinical trials. During this time, he contributed to development programs leading to the registration of lapatinib (Tykerb®), temsirolimus (Torisel®), and etanercept (Enbrel®). Mr. Wood has a BS in biology from Rutgers University and completed a one year internship at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland before joining industry.