Meet the team

Jake Becraft, Ph.D.

CEO, Co-founder
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Jake Becraft is a synthetic biologist and entrepreneur. He is the co-founder and CEO of Strand Therapeutics, and serves on its Board of Directors. Together with colleagues at MIT’s renowned Synthetic Biology Center, he led the development of the world’s first synthetic biology programming language for mRNA. Jake has been featured in Fierce Biotech, Bloomberg, the Boston Business Journal, and BioCentury, among others, for his vision and mission at Strand of applying this unique platform for real world disease applications. He has also been the recipient of prestigious national and international awards for his scientific and entrepreneurial achievements, including the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Award, the Andrew Viterbi Fellowship of MIT, Amgen Fellowship, and the Bristol-Myers Squibb 2018 Golden Ticket for recognition of Strand as an innovative startup. Beyond his work at Strand, Jake’s broader interests span synthetic biology, biologically engineered organism-machine interfaces, and the intersection of tech and biotech methodologies. He is an advocate among the life science entrepreneurial ecosystem for supporting young founders in biotech entrepreneurship. Currently, he serves on the advisory board of Starlight Ventures, an early stage venture firm, and also serves on the Executive Board of Public Health United, a non-profit focused on helping scientists better communicate their research for maximum impact. Previously, he served as a Science and Technology advisor to legislators in the Massachusetts State Legislature. Jake received his Ph.D. in Biological Engineering and Synthetic Biology from MIT and his B.S. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, graduating Magna cum Laude with distinction. He is an author or inventor on numerous high profile publications, patents and white papers, including in top tier journals such as Nature Chemical Biology and PNAS.

Tasuku Kitada, Ph.D.

President, Head of R&D, Co-founder
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Tasuku Kitada is President and Head of R&D of Strand Therapeutics. He co-founded Strand and serves on its Board of Directors. Prior to Strand, Tasuku was Senior Biotechnology Analyst at Candriam Investors Group, where he conducted due diligence for the company’s multi-billion-dollar biopharma public equity investment strategy. At Candriam, he focused on cell and gene therapy companies, and also covered numerous oncology companies. Currently, Tasuku continues to serve Candriam Investors Group as an advisor. Prior to Candriam, Tasuku was a researcher at the Synthetic Biology Center at Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he became the first scientist to create synthetic gene circuits using synthetic mRNA. This was the first demonstration of post-transcriptional circuits that can be “wired” to create a variety of networks of increasing complexity, which enabled cell type specific expression as well as small-molecule based control of gene expression from synthetic mRNA. This important research led to publications in Science, Nature Biotechnology, and Nature Chemical Biology. The mRNA synthetic biology platform developed from this research has been exclusively licensed to Strand. Tasuku holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from University of California, Los Angeles and a B.S. in Biophysics and Biochemistry from University of Tokyo.

Samta Kundu, MBA

Chief Operating Officer
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Samta Kundu is the Chief Operating Officer of Strand Therapeutics. She has nearly three decades of business strategy and operations experience spanning pharma and biotech. She spent over a decade at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), and was a member of the leadership team of Molecular Discovery Technologies, a department within BMS’ Discovery organization. During her tenure at BMS, she also led initiatives to increase the company’s visibility in the Cambridge/Boston life science community to support the opening of BMS' Cambridge R&D site. A key initiative she launched and executed was the company’s “Golden Ticket” contest to award lab space to innovative local startups, of which Strand was a 2018 winner. Previously, Samta was in business development at Adnexus Therapeutics, acquired by BMS in 2007, where she supported deal execution, management of the IP portfolio, and diligence operations. Post BMS acquisition, Samta led business operations for the newly acquired Adnexus-BMS site and executed a number of research transactions on behalf of the site. Earlier in her career, Samta held business development roles at Dyax and Consensus Pharmaceuticals, and was a project manager at Genzyme Tissue Repair. Samta began her career at LEK Consulting, providing strategic analysis to a number of healthcare and biotech clients. She received her MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Business and a B.A. from Princeton University.‍

Wuhbet Abraham, B.S.

Staff Scientist, In Vivo Discovery
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Wuhbet is a Staff Scientist, In vivo Discovery at Strand Therapeutics. She is an experienced researcher with a demonstrated history of contributing to the development of novel vaccine platforms. Her primary focus as a former member of the Irvine Lab in the Koch Institute at MIT was targeted and temporally controlled delivery of cancer immunotherapies and HIV vaccines. Her background includes extensive experience as Environmental Health and Safety personnel to ensure compliance of lab practices, a certificate in Biomedical Laboratory Sciences from Boston University, and B.S. in Biology from University Of Asmara.

Dahyana Arias Escayola, Ph.D.

Scientist, mRNA Programming
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Dahyana is a Scientist of RNA Discovery Biology at Strand Therapeutics. She is a molecular biologist interested in the development of new mRNA therapeutics. Prior to joining Strand, Dahyana received her Ph.D. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University. Her research interests at Yale included developing new tools and techniques to understand biological systems, specifically those involved in RNA processing. Dahyana’s PhD research focused on comprehensively characterizing the Cajal Body, a nuclear body essential for proper RNA processing in cells. She received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Mount St. Mary’s University.

Demet Aybar, M.S.

Director of Lab & Facilities Operations
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Demet Aybar has over 19 years of laboratory experience and is currently the Director of Lab and Facilities Operations at Strand Therapeutics. She provides direction and guidance to shared and private lab and facility operations. Prior to joining Strand Team, she spent many years as Director of Laboratory Operations at biotech companies. Her role included: planning and coordinating laboratory quality assurance and safety programs, managing lab budgets for consumables, conducted EH&S audits; audit compliance to policies, procedures, and regulatory requirements; evaluate effectiveness of EH&S program, analytical assay development, leading the team SARS-CoV-2 Biosafety Program and Covid Task Force. Aybar’s management experience includes overall safety programs and operations of Strand managed facilities, equipment process development, monitoring internal day to day laboratory operation procedures and tracking system to ensure maximum functionality, and interfaces with resident companies to ensure that they have the resources they need to meet their unique goals. She also provides strategic and project management support for finding relocating and opening new lab spaces. Aybar is a chemist and received a Master of Science degree in Analytical Chemistry from The Marmara University School of Pharmacy, Istanbul, Turkey. When she is not in the lab you can find her boating, snowboarding, or cooking.

Jean Balch, B.S.

Executive Administrator
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Jean Balch is the Executive Administrator for Strand Therapeutics where she assists the leadership team and research staff members. She has decades of experience in startup, academic, and corporate environments, during which time she has facilitated productivity efforts to meet a wide range of targeted objectives. Jean spent over a decade with Bristol-Myers Squibb in support of research group projects and compliance activities, as well as group travel arrangements and events. Prior to her time with BMS, she handled a variety of administrative activities such as operations, HR, legal, and technical relations for several other startup companies, including: Advanced Inhalation Research, Pulmatrix, and Molten Metal Technology. Earlier in Jean’s career, she managed the Student Office for MIT’s Graduate Department of Chemical Engineering overseeing admissions, registration, recruiting, and financial support. Jean received her Bachelor’s Degree from Michigan State University. In the years since, she has studied management and earned professional certifications in both HR and paralegal activities.

Andrea Banks, B.S.

Associate Director of Quality Assurance Operations
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Andrea Banks is the Associate Director of Quality Assurance Operations at Strand Therapeutics. She has more than 20 years of industry experience with the majority of her career working in a quality role including quality oversight, quality operations, and quality product strategy. She is experienced in working in all areas of product lifecycle from pre-clinical through commercial product. Andrea is a graduate of the University of Delaware where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry.

Joe Barberio, B.A.

Sr. Director, mRNA Process Development
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Joseph Barberio is a biochemist and molecular biologist with a proven track record of solving complex problems with innovative solutions. He is the Director of mRNA Process Development at Strand Therapeutics and oversees Strand’s manufacturing strategy to support clinical development. With over fifteen years of industry experience, Joe specializes in process and analytical development and has extensive expertise in manufacturing of both viral and RNA based gene therapy medicinal products. The majority of Joseph’s career has been focused on building platforms for small biotech organizations. Most recently at bluebird bio, he constructed and led the mRNA process development team, a group designed to enable gene editing programs. Earlier in his career, Joe held process development roles at Moderna, Percivia, and Acceleron Pharma. In addition to his work at Strand, Joseph also serves on the Board of Directors of Sophie’s Hope Foundation, a non-profit charity supporting research for Glycogen Storage Disease (GSD). He received his B.A. in Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology at Connecticut College, graduating Cum Laude with distinction.

Taylor Bauer, B.S.

Research Technician, Vector Engineering
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Taylor is a research technician on the vector engineering team at Strand Therapeutics. She recently graduated from Baylor University, receiving her B.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology. Prior to joining Strand Therapeutics, Taylor obtained her medical Spanish certificate and assisted in programs designed to breakdown language barriers for the Hispanic community in Waco, TX. She enjoys spending time with her friends and family, cooking, and exploring new coffee places.

Sarah Bening, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist, Vector Engineering
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Sarah is a Senior Scientist leading Vector Engineering efforts at Strand Therapeutics. Driven by an interest in how parts work together, whether in a biological system or a research team, Sarah works with other members of the Molecular Biology department to develop Strand’s mRNA vector toolkit. Prior to joining Strand Therapeutics, Sarah was a Siebel Scholar and NSF Graduate Research Fellow at MIT, where she received her Ph.D. in Biological Engineering. At MIT, Sarah’s research focused on microbial systems biology, using genetic and metabolic perturbations to understand and ultimately enhance antibiotic efficacy. Sarah received her B.S. from the University of Minnesota in Biomedical Engineering.

Michael Bertram, B.S.

Controller
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Mike Bertram is the Controller of Strand Therapeutics and has over 15 years of accounting and finance experience. Prior to joining Strand, Mike was the Controller of Viela Bio, a public biotechnology company which was acquired by Horizon Therapeutics for $3 billion in 2021, and Senseonics, a public medical technology company. Prior to joining Senseonics, Mike worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers in the assurance practice serving clients in various industries, specifically life sciences, healthcare, and venture capital. Mike received his B.S. in Accounting from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland.

Rio Boothello, Ph.D.

Scientist, Translational Biology
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Rio joins our Translational Biology team as a Scientist. In his new role he will be responsible for leading pharmacology studies to support discovery and translational biology at Strand. Prior to Strand Rio was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia where he led the design and development of in vitro screens and in vivo efficacy, pharmacokinetic, mechanistic and toxicity evaluations of cancer stem cell targeting agents. During his postdoc he also developed cutting-edge three-dimensional models of human colorectal/liver normal vs. tumor organoid library strategy to enable personalized therapeutics and toxicity screening strategies. Rio achieved his Ph.D. from Virginia Commonwealth University where he obtained robust training on the execution of principles in drug discovery, design, and development. He also holds a Bachelor’s of pharmaceutical sciences degree from University of Mumbai.

Kavya Borde, B.S.

Senior Associate Scientist, Immune Cell Engineering
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Kavya Borde is a Senior Associate Scientist for the Immune Cell Engineering Department at Strand Therapeutics. She started out as an intern in the department and became part of the team in early 2021. She has previously worked as an undergraduate researcher in the regenerative cellular biology department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and food microbiology department at Mahidol University, Thailand. She is currently supporting cell culture and molecular biology experiments as part of the in vitro molecular biology platform development efforts at Strand Therapeutics. She received her B.S. in Microbiology with a certificate in the science of fermented foods and beverages at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Errol Brown, A.A.

Sr. Lab Technician
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Errol Brown is a Sr. Lab Assistant working in the facilities group with approximately 5 years of experience. He previously worked as a DENS contracted technician where he was responsible for tasks ranging from biowaste management to scheduling Pm’s for various instruments. He has a degree in graphic design and is always eager to flex his artistic muscle when possible. In his personal time, he enjoys playing darts, watching movies, listening to music, and staying current in the latest technology.

Tyler Cabral, B.S.

Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition
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Tyler Cabral is the Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition at Strand Therapeutics. Tyler is an outgoing professional who is passionate about identifying and placing talent into functions that support the design, development and commercialization of novel therapeutics. After completing his undergraduate studies, Tyler worked in manufacturing at Organogenesis, a regenerative medicine biotech, where he supported the development and scale up of Organogenesis’ commercial products. He ultimately made the decision to transition into recruiting at Pharmalogics Recruiting, a retained recruiting agency that focused on providing recruitment services to life science organizations across the globe. He supported multiple clients ranging from small startup organizations to multinational biopharmaceutical corporations, and placed individuals in all areas of R&D, commercial, and corporate G&A. With his scientific background, recruiting skill set, and passion for helping others, Tyler oversees talent acquisition at Strand and streamlines hiring processes as the organization continues to grow. Tyler holds a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences from Quinnipiac University.

Emily Clinton, B.S.

Associate Scientist, In Vivo Pharmacology
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Emily Clinton is an Associate Scientist, In Vivo Pharmacology, at Strand. She has previously worked at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard as a research veterinary technician in the Humanized Immune System Mouse Program researching an optimal mouse model to be applied to viral disease research. Emily received her B.S in Biology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Aidan Coia, B.S.

Senior Associate Scientist, pDNA Process Development
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Aidan Coia is a Senior Associate Scientist conducting mRNA/pDNA process development. He is working to scale mRNA production by optimizing processes related to both synthetic biology and mRNA development. Prior to joining Strand, Aidan worked in pharmaceutical drug development and, most recently, worked to develop high-throughput COVID-19 testing processes. He received his B.S. degree in cell and molecular biology/genetics from Boston University.

Kyle Costa, B.S.

Associate Scientist, In Vivo Pharmacology
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Kyle is an Associate Scientist working in In Vivo Pharmacology at Strand. He has ten years of experience working in hollow organ tissue engineering utilizing silk based biomaterials in various urological disease animal models at Boston Children’s Hospital. He received his B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Neuroscience from Emmanuel College. 

Madhuri Dey, Ph.D.

Scientist, Translational Biology
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Madhuri is a Scientist in the Translational Biology group at Strand Therapeutics. Her research expertise involves developing 3D in vitro tumor models for understanding immune-cancer interactions and pre-clinical drug testing. As a Scientist in the Translational Biology group at Strand, she is responsible for establishing cutting-edge patient-derived models, ex vivo and in vivo assays to interrogate how novel mRNA therapies modulate the tumor microenvironment. Prior to joining Strand, Madhuri earned a Ph.D. degree in Chemistry from Pennsylvania State University where she studied the breast tumor microenvironment and developed 3D dynamic-flow based bioprinted platforms for chemo and immunotherapeutic testing. She also holds a Master's degree in Chemistry from the University of Hyderabad, India, and a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry from St. Xavier’s College, India. Madhuri has authored and co-authored publications in peer-reviewed journals such as Advanced Biology, Science Advances, Biofabrication, Biomaterials and has been cited over 1500 times. 

Britt DiMarzio, B.S.

Associate Scientist, In Vivo Discovery
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Britt DiMarzio is an Associate Scientist, In Vivo Discovery, at Strand Therapeutics. She has previously worked as a research assistant at Massachusetts General Hospital with the Genetics and Aging research Unit studying Alzheimer's disease and Spinocerebellar Ataxia type 1 through analyses of mouse models and cell culture. Britt received her B.S. in Neuroscience from the University of Vermont.

Alison Duhamel, B.S., M.A.

Senior Director of Clinical Operations
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Alison Duhamel is the Senior Director of Clinical Operations at Strand Therapeutics. She brings 25 years of pharmaceutical and biotech experience, which includes data management, project management, site contract/budget negotiations, vendor selection, oversight and management, and GCP Quality. She builds strong collaborative teams across vendor and sponsor companies and uses her education in organizational development to promote solid working relationships that bring safe and effective products to patients. Alison has worked in both large (Wyeth, Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck KGaA) and smaller (Vertex, Agios, Surface Oncology) pharma/biotech companies and has received multiple commendations for her work and her devotion to her teams throughout her career. She has continued to build her industry knowledge by taking on challenges, completing coursework beyond Clinical Operations, and being an active member of consortiums that provide pharmaceutical and biotech executives a forum to collaborate and share insights and experiences. Alison earned her Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology at the University of New Hampshire and her Master of Arts in Organizational Psychology at William James College.

Rachel Eichman, B.S.

Associate Scientist II, Molecular Biology
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Rachel Eichman is an Associate Scientist for the Molecular Biology Department at Strand Therapeutics. In previous academic research, she leveraged molecular biology techniques for the creation of novel bacteria plasmids for both protein expression and validation of in-vivo active long-recognition endonucleases. She received her B.S. in Biomolecular and Chemical Engineering from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

Stephanie Esonwune, B.A., M.A.

Associate Scientist, mRNA Programming
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Stephanie Esonwune is an Associate Scientist II for the mRNA Programming Department at Strand Therapeutics. She has previously worked for the Functional Genomics Platform at Whitehead Institute optimizing lentiviral transduction conditions in patient derived ovarian cell lines. She received her BA in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and her MA in Biotechnology at Boston University.

Shivani Gaikwad, M.S.

Associate Scientist, LNP Formulations Development
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Shivani Gaikwad is an Associate Scientist in the mRNA Nanoparticle Formulation Development group. She has experience working with mRNA nanoparticles. She is looking forward to contributing and learning more along the way. Her internship at Cipla Research and Development and the undergraduate research have been the driving force in her career path. She received her M.S. degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences with a concentration in Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy from Mumbai.

Danny Gately, B.S.

Principal Associate Scientist, mRNA Process Development
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Danny Gately is a Principal Associate Scientist in Strand’s mRNA Process Development team. He is currently working to build Strand’s mRNA analytical and process development platforms and supporting process automation efforts. Danny is experienced in working with mRNA therapeutics. Before joining Strand in December 2020, he worked in mRNA analytical development at bluebird bio, where he helped to build the mRNA process and analytical platforms to a point of clinical readiness. Danny is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he received his B.S. degree in Microbiology.

Daniel Hartman, B.S.

Engineer, Data Analytics and Machine Learning
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Daniel Hartman is an Engineer, Data Analytics and Machine Learning at Strand Therapeutics. He completed his Bachelors in Biochemistry at Northeastern University. Prior to joining Strand Therapeutics, Dan worked in the Zupanc Neurobiology Laboratory at Northeastern, where he studied endogenous oscillators and the ionic mechanisms that drive their oscillation. He is proficient in exploring high-dimensional biological data sets and brings knowledge of high-performance computing to his role at Strand where he supports data-driven biological modeling using statistics and machine learning. Dan works primarily to design, build, and validate software tools for analyzing and optimizing mRNA therapeutics.

Tim Hayden, B.S., M.B.A.

Sr. Director, Financial Planning and Analysis
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Tim Hayden is the Senior Director of Financial Planning & Analysis at Strand Therapeutics. He has nearly two decades of finance experience spanning pharma and biotech. Formerly, he worked at Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi, Pfizer, Esperion Therapeutics and TCR2. Throughout his tenure, he has supported early development all the way through launch and commercial success, (Xtandi, Bavencio, Nexletol, Nexlizet). Tim has effectively led co-promote alliances, regional partnerships, and various financing transactions. The majority of Tim’s career has been focused on leading finance to establish discipline, process, and planning recently in the therapeutic areas of oncology, cell therapy and cardiovascular disease. Most importantly working with leadership to make effective decisions around use of cash and capital structure management. He received his B.S. in Management and his M.B.A. from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Tiffany Hu, B.S., B.A.

Staff Scientist
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Tiffany is a Scientist in the NGS division at Strand Therapeutics. Perpetually excited about the continuous growth and intersection between mathematics and genetics, Tiffany found her niche in the sequencing world, which gave her the chance to freely cross-talk between experimental wet-lab work and bioinformatics. Before joining Strand Therapeutics, Tiffany worked at bluebird bio/2seventy bio in their core sequencing team, working to develop sequencing assays to meet the needs of cross-functional projects. Outside of the lab, she also consults in bioinformatics. Tiffany received her B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology, B.A in Biophysics, and B.A. in Mathematics from Johns Hopkins University.

Anita Huang, B.S., M.S.

Associate Scientist, mRNA Process Development
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Anita Huang is an Associate Scientist II for the mRNA Process Development team. She is working on mRNA production and process optimization. Prior to joining Strand, she focused on protein purification for pharmaceutical development and production. Most recently, she worked as a manufacturing associate for enzyme and oligonucleotide production at Cepheid. She received her B.S. in molecular biology and M.S. in Biotechnology from Northwestern University.

Elena Jacob, B.A.

People Sciences Associate
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Elena Jacob is the People Sciences Associate for Strand Therapeutics and is dedicated to facilitating a transparent and collaborative work environment. She holds a B.A. in Sociology and worked in the nonprofit world during her undergrad. Elena has built her career in Human Resources within a variety of industries, including sporting goods, banking, and food & beverage. She made her transition into the biotech space during Covid-19 where the importance of mRNA therapy became evident to everyone. In her role, she is responsible for supporting all things Human Resources, or as we like to call it, People Sciences. Outside of work, Elena enjoys going for walks, dancing, traveling, and trying new foods.

Harish Janagama, Ph.D.

Associate Director of Analytical Development
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Harish Janagama is a molecular biologist with expertise in developing robust analytical methods to assess drug product potency, function, safety, and release. As Associate Director at Strand, he oversees Analytical Development. Before joining Strand, Harish was instrumental in expanding the team's analytical capabilities via adopting novel technology platforms and developing the overall analytical strategy at Umoja Biopharma for its FIH in-vivo CAR-T product. In addition, Harish has significant experience leading analytical teams in developing, qualifying, and transferring analytical methods for early and late-stage programs. Harish received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and did a postdoc at Texas A&M. His academic research spanned discovering novel genetic pathways by which mycobacteria persist inside granuloma and has published multiple peer-reviewed journal articles.

Kunjan Khatri, M.S.

Engineer, Data Analytics and Machine Learning
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Kunjan Khatri is an Engineer, Data Analytics and Machine Learning at Strand Therapeutics. Kunjan works closely with the drug discovery and platform teams to analyze biological data from a variety of sources and build machine learning-based tools for drug design. He is proficient in statistical methods and machine learning, including common software tools. Prior to joining Strand Therapeutics, Kunjan interned in the Computational Science team at the Jackson Laboratory, biomedical research institution working on omics data to apply genomics analysis and quantitative research. Kunjan received his M.S. in Data Science from Northeastern University.

Jaspreet Khurana, Ph.D.

Director, mRNA Programming
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Jaspreet Khurana is a molecular biologist with over 15 years of combined academia and industry research experience in target discovery and validation. He is skilled at mRNA therapeutics, genome engineering as well as next-generation sequencing. At Strand Therapeutics, he is leading the in vitro molecular biology platform, which encompasses vector development, mRNA production and in vitro POC studies for target validation. Previously, he was at Omega Therapeutics as the Senior Scientist in the Biology team. During his academic career, he elucidated novel functions for various epigenetic pathways including non-coding RNAs using cutting edge genomics. He received his Ph.D in Biomedical Sciences from University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, followed by a postdoc focused on RNA biology and genomics at Princeton and Columbia Universities. He also holds a Masters in Biotechnology from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), India. He has published several high profile peer- reviewed publications in journals such as Cell, Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, PLoS Biology, PLoS Genetics and has been cited more than 1200 times.

Danielle Klausman, B.S.

Associate Director of Regulatory Sciences
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Danielle leads the Regulatory Affairs function at Strand Therapeutics. She joins with 14 years of expertise in emerging biotech, big pharma, and consulting. Danielle’s career spans Regulatory and CMC functions across a broad range of therapeutic areas, technological modalities, and stages of development. She comes most recently from Verve Therapeutics where she was primarily responsible for all Reg CMC activities contributing to the FIH use of base editing. Previously, she served as a regulatory consultant on a high variety of projects with Halloran Consulting Group. Earlier in her career, she held roles in analytical development at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Millennium Pharmaceuticals (now Takeda Oncology) working at the laboratory benchtop and creating a strong CMC foundation for her career. Danielle earned her BS in Chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University.

Justin LeTendre, Ph.D.

Scientist, Synthetic Biology
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Justin is a synthetic biologist with expertise in genetic circuit design and is passionate about using synbio to program more targeted and effective therapies. As a Scientist of Synthetic Biology at Strand, his work centers around understanding how to leverage the unique microRNA signatures of different cell phenotypes to define how therapies will be targeted to and operate in each cell. Before joining Strand, Justin completed his Ph.D. at Boston University where he developed gene circuits to implement complex signal processing programs and cell-cell communication systems in mammalian cells. Additionally, he holds a M.S. from Boston University and B.S. from the University of Connecticut, both in biomedical engineering. Justin’s work has been featured in several high-impact peer-reviewed journals including Cell, Nature Communications Biology, and Circulation.

Alexander Lemaire, B.S.

Senior Scientist, mRNA Process Development
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Alexander Lemaire is an experienced process and analytical development associate in Strand’s Process Development group. He’s tasked with building Strand’s mRNA production and analytical platform. Alexander has experience in developing robust analytical assays and release strategies for regulatory interactions and IND enabling activities. Additionally, Alexander prides himself on making processes and analytics higher throughput and scalable through the use of automation and robotics. Previously, Alexander was at bluebird bio, where he developed, qualified and implemented novel release assays to evaluate clinical grade mRNA. Alexander graduated with a B.S. in Biology.

Francois Levasseur, B.S.

Associate Scientist
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Francois Levasseur is an Associate Scientist on Strand’s Cellular Analytical Development team. Francois has experience in small-molecule drug discovery, where he efficiently managed cellular compound screening towards lead generation. He is proficient in screening automation and integration to generate consistent and precise data in an efficient and practical manner. Francois also has experience in mRNA target validation through alternative splicing mechanisms. His undergraduate research explored viral entry mechanisms in human glial cells using super-resolution microscopy (FPALM). Francois graduated from the University of Maine, achieving a dual B.S. degree in Molecular & Cellular Biology and Biochemistry.

Melissa Lucas, B.A.

Manager of Business Operations
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Melissa Lucas is a Manager of Business Operations at Strand Therapeutics. Melissa has over 8 years’ experience in operations in multiple industries. She started her career in the United States Army at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington State as a Healthcare Specialist. She provided medical support to service members and civilians while providing oversight of day-to-day operations. After completing her contract in Washington, she was stationed at the US Army Research Institute of Environmental medicine as a Healthcare Supervisor and Project Manager. She coordinated and managed the medical evaluations and medical documentation requirements for research volunteers. Melissa also managed and supported all security elements in the company which included publication reviews, employee contracts, and vendor services. After leaving the service, Melissa transitioned to an Operations Specialist at Dakota Systems’ Inc. In this role, Melissa supported the Quality department in process improvement and development, root cause and data analysis, and all regulatory requirements. She also managed multiple complex projects that required constant oversight for success. Ultimately, Melissa made the decision to transition to the Biopharmaceutical Industry to follow her dream of improving people’s lives. With her vast experience in Operations, her passion to learn, and her desire to help people, Melissa will support day-to-day functions at Strand and develop, improve, and streamline all business operations. Melissa holds a B.A in Business Administration, Management from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is currently in the B.S. in Mechanical Engineering Technology at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

Margaret Mason, B.S.

Sr. Director, Quality Assurance
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Margaret Mason is the Head of GXP Quality at Strand Therapeutics. She brings three decades of pharmaceutical experience with the majority of her career working in a quality role including product quality oversight, implementation of quality systems and managing regulatory agency inspections. She is experienced with building quality programs and departments in both large and small pharma/biotech companies including Abbott Laboratories, Takeda, Shire and Surface Oncology. At Takeda, Margaret built and managed a team responsible for internal and external audits, regulatory agency inspections and product recalls. She received Takeda’s Outstanding Contributor of the year award two years in a row for her work in supplier qualification and recall management. Margaret’s position as Head of GXP Quality at a small biotech company, she utilized her hands-on approach building a GXP Quality organization. In this role Margaret applied Operational Excellence knowledge to map a path to expedited IND filings. Throughout her career, she has continued to develop her quality knowledge by completing course work required for Qualified Person and her management experience by completing the Harvard Manage Mentor, and risk management and courses. Margaret earned her Bachelor of Science focusing on microbiology and biotechnology at University of Illinois.

Nandita Menon, M.S.

Associate Scientist, LNP Formulations Development
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Nandita is an Associate Scientist in the mRNA Nanoparticle Formulations Development group at Strand Therapeutics. Nandita was previously a Research Associate at the Koch institute, MIT where she worked on engineering a micro-particle platform for single injection, self-boosting vaccine delivery. Nandita received her Master's in Bioengineering from Tufts university and holds a Bachelor's in Biotechnology. She seeks to use her background in Polymer Chemistry, Biology and Micro-device Fabrication to develop innovative solutions in the bioengineering space.

Ashley Miller, B.A.

Executive Assistant to the CEO and Co-Founder
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Ashley Miller is the Executive Assistant to Jake Becraft, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder at Strand Therapeutics. Prior to joining Strand, Ashley supported the Chief Executive Officer, several members of the Executive Suite, and the Board of Directors at Jounce Therapeutics. At Jounce, Ashley managed Business Development and Investor Relations conferences and meetings, as well as partnering with Human Resources and Legal to coordinate management team agendas, meeting materials, and contracts. Prior to Jounce, Ashley worked at Celsius Therapeutics supporting the Chief Scientific Officer, the Chief Data Officer, and the Research and Development team with special projects, scheduling, and travel. While at Celsius, Ashley focused on project support for the Chief Administrative Officer, including organizing interviewing and onboarding, creating an employee recognition system, and planning events. Before joining the biotech industry, Ashley spent four years at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute where she worked directly with patients, patient billing, and patient resource programs. At Dana-Farber, Ashley also worked in the Information Services department where she managed the Division of Philanthropy’s intranet and document management system, IT onboarding, budgets, contracts, licenses, and equipment. Ashley has a BA in Communications from Simmons University.

Colleen Moran, B.S.

Associate Scientist, mRNA Programming
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Colleen is an Associate Scientist on the mRNA Programming team at Strand Therapeutics. She previously worked studying novel gene functions in the malaria causing parasite at Boston Children’s Hospital. Colleen is a graduate of Union College, where she received her B.S. degree in Biology. 

Abigail Mungcal, B.S.

Associate Scientist, Analytical Development
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Abby Mungcal is an Associate Scientist II, Analytical Development at Strand Therapeutics. She received her BS in Chemistry from Northeastern University, where she worked with the Analytical Development group at Vertex as a co-op. Previously, she has worked at Vor Biopharma, where she ran, developed, and validated several HPLC based assays.

Kelvin Muriuki, B.A.

Principal Associate Scientist, Immune Cell Engineering
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Kelvin Muriuki is a Principal Associate Scientist working with the Immune Cell Engineering team at Strand. Kelvin brings assay development expertise from his extensive experience working on immune related projects at Jnana and Rubius Therapeutics as well as Brigham and Women's hospital. He is skilled in primary immune cells engineering using Crispr-Cas9, immune cells characterization via multicolor flow cytometry and ELISA, and a diverse set of molecular biology techniques. Kelvin graduated from Harvard College with a B.A. in Integrative Biology with a specific focus on Stem Cells and Regenerative Biology. He is passionate about dancing, cycling, jet-skiing, and mixing drinks.

Prashant Nambiar, MBA, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President of R&D
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Prashant Nambiar is Senior Vice President of R&D at Strand Therapeutics where he is leading Discovery, Nonclinical, Translational, and Data Science. Prior to Strand, Prashant was Vice President at 2seventybio and bluebird bio leading the preclinical and translational group developing cell and gene therapies for oncology and rare disease indications. Prashant started his career in academia at MIT followed by 18+ years in biotech and pharma including Genzyme, Pfizer, bluebird bio and 2seventybio. He has worked on various modalities such as small molecules, biologics, AAV, cell and gene editing therapies at various stages of development including discovery, target selection, preclinical development, and beyond. His expertise is in Translational Biology, Pathology, and Toxicology with a focus on bringing transformative therapies from bench to the clinic and beyond. He is passionate about leveraging data in drug R&D and had built a data operations team at Pfizer to execute on that strategy. Prashant’s PhD is in cancer biology, specifically understanding the molecular pathogenesis of precancerous lesions in the colon. He has board certifications in Toxicology and Veterinary Pathology. He also has an MBA from Sloan School of Business, MIT.

Ashley Njiru, B.S.

Senior Associate Scientist, mRNA Programming
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Ashley Njiru is a Senior Associate Scientist for the mRNA Programming Department at Strand Therapeutics. She has previously worked in developing gene editing constructs and dermatological cancer models at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She received her B.S. in Molecular Biology at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences University in Boston, MA.

Ashlesha Odak, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist, Immune Cell Engineering
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Ashlesha is a cell and molecular biologist passionate about developing the next generation of cell and gene therapies. Her research expertise involves cell and gene engineering using systems such as viral vectors and gene editing platforms like CRISPR/Cas9 to deliver therapeutic cargo for translational applications in primary cells. As a Senior Scientist for Immune cell engineering at Strand, she is aiding the development of Strand’s unique mRNA-based cell therapy platform for applications such as CAR-T cells as cancer therapeutics. Before joining Strand, Ashlesha was working as a post-doctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Michel Sadelain at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, focusing on developing novel synthetic biology approaches to improve CAR-T cell therapy particularly for solid tumors. Her work also involved developing novel constructs for optimized, cell-type specific expression of beta globin in erythroid cells for application in gene therapy for beta thalassemia. She earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology from Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell University where she worked on identifying novel genomic locations for targeted CAR-T cell therapy using CRISPR/Cas9. She also holds a Master’s in Biotechnology from the University at Buffalo and a Bachelors in Pharmaceutical Sciences from University of Mumbai. She has authored and co-authored peer-reviewed publications in journals such as Nature and Nature Medicine and also has patents to her name based on her work.

Ryan Patenaude, B.S.

Senior Associate Scientist, In Vivo Discovery
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Ryan Patenaude is a Senior Associate Scientist, In Vivo Discovery at Strand Therapeutics. He joined in late 2021. He has previously worked in developing various animal models, cellular assays, and molecular biology assays as a research assistant at Boston Children’s Hospital, and as an undergraduate researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital. He received his B.S. in Biology, with a concentration in Biochemistry, from Emmanuel College.

William Poon, M.S.

Associate Scientist, RNA Discovery Biology
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William is an Associate Scientist II in the RNA Discovery Biology group at Strand Therapeutics. His research interests have enabled him to explore the intersection of single-cell transcriptomics and CRISPR-Cas9 to decipher the intrinsic aging mechanisms in murine hematopoietic stem cells, where he developed a lentiviral-based CRISPR-Cas9 pipeline to gene-edit primary hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. Separately, he conducted genome-wide CRISPR screens in acute myeloid leukemia models to identify chemosensitizer vulnerabilities. He has also built a solid foundation in cell sorting, flow cytometry, and molecular biology techniques. Outside of academia, William has worked in the field of synthetic biology at Lallemand in the National Research Council of Canada, where he optimized the production process of metabolites within yeast systems. William completed his M.S. in Experimental Medicine at McGill University and B.S. in Biochemistry at the University of British Columbia.

Julian Quiñones, B.S.

Senior Scientist, Bioanalytical Sciences
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Julian is a cell and molecular biologist with 10 years of industry experience where he filled several versatile roles over the years. With experience in early discovery, automation implementation/informatics integration, DMPK, immunology, and translational sciences, he has proven to be a steadfast team player who prides himself on his ability to provide practical solutions for complex challenges. Previously, Julian was at Moderna where he gained invaluable experience in bioanalytics and has leveraged this experience to bring high quality data to early discovery efforts. At Strand, Julian will focus on building internal bioanalytical capabilities as well as managing external collaborations as Strand progresses into a clinical-stage company. Julian holds a B.S. in biology/biotechnology from Endicott College.

Anusha Ramachandran, M.S.

Associate Director of Manufacturing
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Anusha leads the Manufacturing operations at Strand. Anusha brings more than 10 years of experience in GMP manufacturing spanning various modalities from antibodies to cell and gene therapy. Anusha’s career is focused on late-stage PD and CMC. Prior to Strand, she was at Elevatebio, as part of the technical operations teams which helped bring several tech transfers of both Cell therapy and viral based processes from partners in to Elevatebio’s manufacturing facility. She also was part of Bluebirdbio’s manufacturing team and helped bring commercial therapies to the market. Anusha’s late-stage PD experience, her eye for Quality and her passion for problem solving have helped her solve manufacturing problems. Anusha received her MS in Biological Sciences with a certificate in Bioprocessing from UMass Lowell and her B.S in Biotechnology from A.C College of Technology, India.

Grishma Rathod, M.S.

Associate Scientist, Synthetic Biology
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Grishma is an Associate Scientist II in the mRNA evolution team. Previously, she was a co-op at Biogen in the Protein and Cell Engineering team. Her undergrad project ‘Comparative Evolution of marketed eye drop formulations’ increased her curiosity in research further. She realized that what people have achieved in the field of science is barely scratching the surface and there is a lot to come. Grishma received her M.S. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Mumbai.

Brett Rickeard, M.S.

Senior Associate Scientist, LNP Formulations Development
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Brett Rickeard is currently a Senior Associate Scientist in the mRNA Lipid Nanoparticle Formulation Development group at Strand Therapeutics. Brett completed both his B.S. in Forensic Science and his M.S. in Biochemistry at the University of Windsor. His graduate research project focused on investigating the biophysical impact of a potent anti-cancer agent on lipid membranes by using non-invasive techniques, such as neutron and X-ray scattering. Brett has been authored in several journals, including Nanoscale and Biophysical Journal.

John Sexton, Ph.D.

Sr. Scientist, Systems Biology
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John Sexton is a synthetic biologist with deep expertise in genetic circuit design and a solid foundation in computational and programming methods and tools. Prior to Strand, he completed his Ph.D. and short postdoc at Rice University, where he designed and built genetic circuits to improve cell-cell communication in bacteria. He also co-developed an open-source software package for flow cytometry analysis, which is now used in academic and industrial labs around the world. His work has been featured in leading research journals including Molecular Systems Biology and ACS Synthetic Biology. Prior to graduate school, John was a Padawan at Ginkgo Bioworks. John also holds a B.S. in electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

Gautam Shenoy, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist, Translational Biology
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Gautam is an immunologist with expertise in immuno-oncology and cancer immunotherapy, and is focused on in vivo pharmacology studies at Strand as part of their immuno-oncology program. Prior to joining Strand, Gautam was a research scientist at University at Buffalo, where he was involved in translational research to identify and target immunosuppressive extracellular vesicles called exosomes in the microenvironment of solid tumors in order to rescue T cell function and ultimately suppress tumor growth. Gautam has also been involved in designing and validating novel patient-derived xenograft models for preclinically testing the efficacy of immune-based cancer therapies. He earned his Ph.D. from National Institute of Immunology in New Delhi, India, where he worked on identifying mechanisms that regulate death and differentiation in plasma cells. Gautam also has an M.Sc. In Biotechnology from Bangalore University and a B.Sc. in Microbiology & Biochemistry from St. Xavier’s College, University of Mumbai in India. He has authored multiple publications in peer-reviewed journals, including Nature Immunology, Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer (JITC), Cancer Immunology Research and Journal of Immunology. He has also peer-reviewed over 120 research papers submitted for consideration of publication across 20 different journals in the fields of immunology and cancer research and serves on the editorial board of one of these journals.

Kevin Shi, Ph.D.

Associate Director, Data Analytics and Machine Learning
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Kevin Shi is the Associate Director, Data Analytics and Machine Learning at Strand Therapeutics. Kevin's work spans mechanistic and machine learning-based modeling of synthetic biology circuits, analytics for high throughput experimentation, and optimization of drug properties. He also brings expertise in software development for automation and process analytics. Prior to joining Strand Therapeutics, Kevin headed the computational drug design and software development program at Mytide Therapeutics, a peptide drug discovery and manufacturing company. This work entailed building machine learning pipelines for process optimization and structure-guided peptide design and developing a fully automated peptide synthesis platform. Kevin received his Ph.D. in Bioengineering from MIT under the supervision of Prof. Bruce Tidor in the Department of Biological Engineering and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. His research focused on system biology for biochemical signaling pathways and optimal experimental design. He received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Caltech, where he also worked on antibody-drug conjugate design under the direction of Prof. Steve Mayo.

Angelena Simms, B.S.

Associate Scientist, mRNA Process Development
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Angelena Simms is an Associate Scientist II in the mRNA Process Development Department at Strand Therapeutics. She graduated in 2018 from Hofstra University where she received her B.S. degree in Biology. Prior to joining Strand, Angelena worked as a Senior Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing Associate at GSK where she developed downstream protein purification skills in a GMP environment.

Aidan Simpson, B.S.

Senior Associate Scientist, mRNA Programming
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Aidan Simpson is a Senior Associate Scientist in Strand Therapeutics' mRNA Programming Department who started in November 2021. Aidan graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2021 with a B.S. in Biological Engineering and Business Management. During his undergrad at MIT, Aidan interned in the Weiss Lab and the Del Vecchio Lab, both of which focus on synthetic biology. He is currently supporting drug discovery at Strand by performing cell-based assays and molecular biology experiments.

Parth Solanki, M.S.

Associate Scientist, Cellular Analytical Development
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In previous academic research, Parth was working on the project for evaluation of monoclonal antibody target prevalence amongst diverse Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) clinical isolates at AZ. He received his M.S. in Pharmaceutical Science from University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Ryan Sowell, Ph.D.

Associate Director, Immuno-Oncology
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Ryan is an immunologist focused on next-generation immune medicines for cancer and responsible for supporting Strand’s immuno-oncology programs. Prior to joining Strand, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale School of Medicine where he developed cutting edge ‘immune avatars’, an in vivo model system constructed from individual patients’ tumors and their immune systems to enable personalized parallel evaluation immunotherapy combinations. His research interests include T cells and how they adapt to different tissue microenvironments. Ryan earned his Ph.D. in Immunology at Rush University in Chicago, where he identified a novel approach to redirect T cells to mucosal tissues where they are positioned to serve as a barrier to infection. He also holds a M.S. in Biomedical Sciences from University of Texas, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, and a B.S. in Cell & Molecular Biology from University of Northern Colorado. He has authored numerous publications, including in the journals Cell, Nature Medicine, Nature Communications, Blood, Cancer Discovery, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Cell Reports, Journal of Immunology, and has been collectively cited over 1000 times.

Zhijun Su, B.S.

Principal Associate Scientist, Cancer Biology
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Zhijun Su is an Principal Associate Scientist at Strand Therapeutics. She is currently supporting Strand’s cancer immunotherapy program. She is adept at RNA synthesis, immunological analyses, running mouse models, and keeping the lab organized. Prior to Strand, she worked at Koch Institute of Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, Irvine Lab, where she worked on a number of mouse animal studies, and supported cell culture and molecular biology experiments. She earned her B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Alex Taylor, M.S.

Scientist, Analytical Development
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Alex is Scientist, Analytical Development at Strand Therapeutics. He brings analytical expertise from the world of large, GMP pharmaceutical companies as well as from smaller biologics-based startup environments, where he has developed and validated novel phase-dependent analytical methods, advancing human and animal health as well as environmental science. Before joining Strand, Alex was at Invaio, Synlogic, Amgen, NCSU CVM, and Mead Johnson Nutrition. Alex received his M.S. in Biomedical and Integrative Physiology from Penn State.

Emily Tjon, M.S.

Scientist, Bioinformatics
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Emily is a Bioinformatics Scientist on the Data Analytics and Machine Learning team. She has extensive experience analyzing biological data and developing NGS pipelines for both immuno-oncology and neuroscience programs. Prior to joining Strand, she worked at Genocea Biosciences identifying and prioritizing neoantigens for personalized treatments, at Brigham and Women's Hospital investigating auto-immune disease pathways using Next-Gen Sequencing, and at Harvard Medical School supporting structural biology applications. She received her M.S. in Bioinformatics from Northeastern University, and her B.S. in Neuroscience from University of California, Santa Cruz.

Allen Tseng, Ph.D.

Principal Scientist, Synthetic Biology
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Wen Allen Tseng is a Principal Scientist in Synthetic Biology at Strand Therapeutics. Prior to joining Strand, he was in the Research and Development group at Solid Biosciences, a company focused on developing gene therapies for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Before working in industry, Allen was a postdoctoral associate at the MIT Synthetic Biology Center, where he engineered mammalian cells with genetic circuits to control cellular processes such as antibody glycosylation. He obtained his B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Delaware and earned his Ph.D. in Experimental Pathology from Harvard University, where he studied the involvement of an innate immune danger-sensing pathway in age-related macular degeneration.

Laura Visco, B.S., C.V.T.

Associate Scientist, In Vivo Discovery
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Laura Visco is an Associate Scientist, In Vivo Discovery, at Strand Therapeutics. She previously worked at Pfizer as a technical associate in the Comparative Medicine department providing technical support to several research units and ongoing in vivo studies. She received her B.S. in Biology from Salem State University. She is also a certified veterinary technician in the state of Massachusetts.

Karina Winiarskyj, B.S., M.S.

Principal Scientist, mRNA Process Development
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Karina is a process development scientist with over 10 years of industry experience. Most recently, Karina worked at Moderna where she gained experience across many facets of mRNA development and manufacturing. Her work spanned preclinical production and both early and late-stage process development where she furthered the mRNA manufacturing platform and addressed program-specific needs, including tech transfer. Her late-stage PD work was focused on mRNA vaccines and relied on building cross-functional CMC relationships. She received her B.S. in Molecular and Cell Biology and M.S. in Applied Genomics from the University of Connecticut.

Weiyu Zhao, Ph.D.

Sr. Scientist, mRNA Nanoparticle Formulation Development
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Weiyu is a Scientist, in the mRNA nanoparticle formulation development group at Strand Therapeutics. Her research expertise involves the development of functional drug/gene delivery systems. Weiyu received her Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the Ohio State University, where she worked on developing lipid nanoparticles for mRNA based therapeutics. She also holds an M.S. degree in Pharmaceutics and a B.S. degree in Pharmacy from Peking University Health Science Center. Weiyu has authored and co-authored peer-reviewed publications in journals, such as Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Cancer, Nature Biomedical Engineering, Science Advances, and Chemical Science and Biomaterials.

Scientific advisory board

Prof. Darrell J. Irvine, Ph.D.

Scientific Co-founder

Prof. Ron Weiss, Ph.D.

Scientific Co-founder

Prof. K. Dane Wittrup, Ph.D.

Scientific Advisor
Clinical advisory board

Mark W. Frohlich, M.D.

Clinical Advisor