Team

Leslie J. Williams

Co-Founder, Director, President & CEO

Leslie J Williams is a biopharmaceutical industry veteran.  As a serial entrepreneur, an experienced biotech CEO and board of directors’ member, she has proven expertise in building companies, raising funds, and negotiating strategic collaborations both domestically and internationally.  Leslie is founding CEO, President & Director of hC Bioscience, Inc. a pioneer, innovator and leader in protein editing with tRNA based therapeutics targeting genetically defined diseases including cancer.  She serves on the Board of Directors for Ocular Therapeutix (Nasdaq: OCUL), Windtree Therapeutics (Nasdaq: WINT), and Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), CSCRI (Coral Sea Clinical Research Institute) and the Board of Advisors of Life Science Cares.  In addition, she serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of Life Science Leader, is a founding Ambassador of BioBoost and serves as a mentor at the GLG Institute.  She is an EIR at University of Iowa and University of Virginia and is an Operating Partner at Accelerator Life Science Partners. Ms. Williams was formerly Founder, Director, President and CEO at ImmusanT developing immunotherapies for autoimmune diseases until the reverse merger in 2019.  Prior to that she was President & CEO at Ventaira Pharmaceuticals developing therapies using the lung as a portal for delivery until it was sold the end of 2007. Williams was a founding member of the INO Therapeutics team developing a treatment for pulmonary hypertension in newborns. The Nobel Prize was given for the discovery around nitric oxide’s signaling role in the cardiovascular and nervous systems.  INO Therapeutics was sold to Ikaria for $670M in 2007 and then Mallinckrodt in 2015 for $2.3B.  She has prior pharmaceutical experience at Merck and GSK, and drug-delivery and monitoring experience at Datex Ohmeda.  She was a venture partner at Battelle Ventures where she sourced and evaluated deals and assisted early-stage technology companies with strategy, management, business development and M&A. Williams holds an MBA from Washington University, John Olin School of Business, where she initiated, built, and sold her first technology to Hewlett Packard.  Williams graduated cum laude with a B.S. (biology) degree and multiple scholastic and leadership honors from the University of Iowa including membership to Omicron Delta Kappa and Sigma Theta Tau.  She was given the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Iowa in 2015.  Williams served on the College of Pharmacy Board at the University of Iowa and was presented an Honorary Alumni Award from the College in 2019.  Before entering industry, she was a critical-care nurse at Duke University, Medical College of Virginia and at the University of Iowa.

Gautam Goel

Chief Data Science Officer

Gautam is a leader in translational computational biology and a seasoned professional with an impactful 20-year track record in biotech, academia and tech industry.

Most recently, Gautam built and headed an inter-disciplinary R&D/Consulting practice of five Ph.D. computational biologists to implement pipelines for analysis of multi-omics datasets including single-cell RNA-seq, CyTOF, proteomics and metabolomics from cross-sectional/longitudinal observation/intervention studies. Gautam advised biotech and pharmaceutical companies on challenges in early-stage target discovery, biomarker analysis and patient stratification for clinical development, and identification of mechanisms of action and resistance to treatments. Prior to that, he spearheaded biomarker research and platform development as Director of Precision Medicine at ImmusanT to accelerate clinical development of Antigen-specific Immunotherapies. He led the biomarker discovery program in Celiac Disease which resulted in the 1st blood-based diagnostic and an immune response monitoring toolkit to support Phase 2 clinical trials.

Gautam trained as a Research Fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and The Broad Institute with Dr. Ramnik J. Xavier, where he investigated mechanisms of IBD pathogenesis to discover druggable targets and drug candidates. Gautam’s technical expertise includes Antigen-specific Immunotherapy, Systems Immunology, Dynamical Systems Theory, Machine Learning, and Systems Biology. Gautam’s work has led to over 45 publications in disease areas including Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Celiac Disease, Chronic Inflammation and Infectious diseases. Gautam holds a PhD and MS in Bioengineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, a MS in Computer Science from National Center for Software Technology, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from University of Pune. 

Christine Foster, D.Phil.

Chief Business Officer

Christine Foster is a seasoned business leader with more than 30 years of experience in large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.  Prior to joining hC Bioscience, she developed and executed strategic partnerships in the transformative field of genome editing with Intellia Therapeutics and Metagenomi where she guided acquisitions; played a critical role in the execution of deals with Affini-T Therapeutics, Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Novartis; and established novel co-development and co-commercialization relationships with Onk Therapeutics, SparingVision, Kyverna Therapeutics and Avencell. Christine has led business development, alliance management and corporate development activities through key phases of growth at Acceleron Pharma, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Teva Pharmaceuticals, Wyeth (now Pfizer) and GlaxoSmithKline, among others.  Christine originally trained as a scientist and graduated from the University of Oxford with a D.Phil in pharmacology.  She completed postdoctoral fellowships at Brandeis University in Neuroscience and at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in cardiovascular disease.

 

Jose Lora, Ph.D

Chief Scientific Officer

Jose M. Lora is a seasoned biopharmaceutical leader who brings 20+ years’ experience in Research and Development across multiple modalities and therapeutic areas. Most recently, Jose served as Chief Scientific Officer at Intergalactic Therapeutics, a non-viral gene therapy company focusing on multiple areas with a major emphasis in Ophthalmology. At Intergalactic, Jose was responsible for all aspects of Research, Preclinical Development and Manufacturing, and his team was able to demonstrate unprecedented safe and durable expression in the retina of a very large gene, ABCA4. Prior to Intergalactic, Jose was Chief Scientific Officer at enGene, a clinical-stage non-viral gene therapy company focused on gene delivery to mucosal surfaces. At enGene, he and his team contributed to the conception, development and advancement of EG-70, a plasmid-based nanoparticle therapeutic for the treatment of bladder cancer, to Ph1/Ph2 clinical trials. Prior to enGene, Jose was Vice President of Research at Synlogic, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the application of synthetic biology to the discovery and development of therapies for metabolic and immune-mediated diseases, and cancer. At Synlogic, Jose built and led the Immunomodulation therapy area, and he led a multidisciplinary team to conceive, develop and advance SYNB1891, an engineered bacterial cell therapy designed to engage the STING pathway in solid tumors, to Ph1 clinical trials. Prior to Synlogic, he served in several biotech and pharmaceutical companies in positions of increasing impact and responsibility (Constellation -acquired by MorphoSys-, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche and Millennium -acquired by Takeda). Jose received his PhD from the University of Seville, Spain, and was a postdoctoral researcher at Brown University and The University of Utah. He has authored numerous patent applications, as well as publications including papers in Journal of Experimental Medicine, PNAS, Nature, Nature Immunology, Nature Communications and Nature Reviews.

Jose Iglesias, MD

Chief Medical Officer

José was born and raised in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he graduated from Medical School in 1986. Prior to his graduation, he spent time in 1981-2 as Visiting Scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science (Rehovot, Israel), where he worked on the immunology of lectins (plant agglutinins) with Prof. Nathan Sharon. In 1983-4 he spent a year as a fellow at Duke University Medical Center (Durham, NC), with Prof. Hillel Koren, using lectins to isolate and characterize Natural Killer (NK) cells, a prime natural defense against tumors. After graduation from Medical School in 1986, he spent 2 years attending Oncology clinics, and in private Oncology and Hematology practice. In 1988 José came to Canada, after being awarded a post-Doctoral fellowship from the University of Toronto, where he worked with Prof. Alexander Marks of the Charles H. Best Institute and at Prof. Armand Keating’s labs at Toronto Hospital, testing the ability of NK cells from patients with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) to eliminate malignant cells from their own bone marrow. In 1991, José joined the Pharmaceutical Industry. He was Clinical Research Scientist at Glaxo Canada, later moving to become Associate Director of Oncology Clinical Research at Adria Laboratories of Canada. In November 1994, José joined Eli Lilly Canada as Associate Director of Clinical Research. In June 2002, he was transferred to Sydney, in the role of Oncology Medical Advisor for Eli Lilly’s Australian and Asian Operations, covering the Asia-Pacific region. In November 2004, José returned to Canada to join AMGEN Canada as Oncology Medical Director, a position he occupied until September 2006. In such role, he was responsible for the AMGEN Oncology Clinical Trials Program in Canada. In September 2006, José accepted the position of Vice President, Global Clinical Development, with Abraxis BioScience and in May 2008, he became its Chief Medical Officer. In this global role, based in Toronto, José was responsible for the worldwide clinical development of Abraxane as well as all other Abraxis Bioscience pipeline molecules. In 2010, Dr. Iglesias was also in charge of the Medical Affairs division as Senior Vice President, Global Clinical Development and Medical Affairs. From October 2010 to Sep 2012, Dr Iglesias served as Vice President, Clinical Development, at Celgene Corporation, where he was responsible for the Phase III development of Abraxane in pancreatic cancer, lung cancer and metastatic breast cancer. As result of his collaborative work, Abraxane became the new worldwide standard of care for the treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer. From Nov 2012 to Sep 2015, Dr. Iglesias was the Chief Medical Officer for Bionomics, an early drug development company based in Australia. In this position, he was responsible for the clinical development of its oncology pipeline, including antivascular agents, monoclonal antibodies and small molecule kinase inhibitors. From Oct 2015 to Oct 2016, Dr. Iglesias was Chief Medical Officer at Biothera, a US-based immuno-oncology biopharmaceutical company, where he was responsible for the clinical development program of ImprimePGG, and innate immune system modulator acting in synergy with checkpoint inhibitors in melanoma and triple-negative breast cancer. From October 2016 to February 2018 Dr Iglesias was Vice President, Medical and Clinical Affairs at Apobiologix, a division of Apotex Inc. in Toronto, Canada, where he oversaw the global clinical development of its oncology biosimilars program and other company pipeline compounds. From April 2018 to January 2019, José was Oncology consultant for Research Point Global, a WuXi Apptec company in Austin, TX, providing strategic advice and leadership in building the immune-oncology portfolio in the US and China. From January to July, 2019, Dr. Iglesias was VP and Head, Translational Medicine at Boston Biomedical Inc, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sumitomo Dainippon Oncology Global Pharma, based in Cambridge, MA. In this role, Dr. Iglesias was responsible for the clinical development of seven early pipeline compounds in immuno-oncology, solid tumor oncology, and hematologic malignancies. Since September 2019, José has established himself as an independent oncology consultant (Director, APEX Oncology Consulting, Inc.) for the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industry, in the areas of solid tumor oncology, immuno-oncology and translational medicine, in early phase to mid-phase clinical development. José is author or co-author of more than 60 publications in the area of Oncology, with over 9,000 citations. For a period of 5 years, José has also served as peer-reviewer for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (Medical Research Council of Canada) within the University-Industry Programme. He is an active member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO).

Heather Hirsch

Heather Hirsch, Ph.D.

SVP of Translational Science and Cancer Biology

Heather brings more than 10 years of expertise in translational sciences in academia having worked at Merck, Jounce Therapeutics, CRISPR Therapeutics and most recently IMV Inc. She has a strong background in immune-oncology, tumor microenvironment, and integrative translational analyses designed to inform indication selection, mechanism of action, and responder identification. Heather also brings strong expertise in computational biology and ‘omics level analyses. Throughout her career, Heather has been involved in many preclinical and clinical stage small molecule, biologics (including Keytruda), cancer vaccines and cell therapy based programs. She has led translational efforts across drug development stages from Target Identification through to phase III trials including driving companion diagnostic development. 

 Heather holds a PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology from Michigan State University and completed post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School with much of her research focus on gene expression regulation in cancer.

Cindy Driscoll

Senior Vice President, Finance

Cindy has more than 20 years of strategic financial and operational experience in the life science industry, spanning early-stage through IPO and reverse merger transactions. Cindy joins the Company from Magenta Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: MGTA) where she was Senior Vice President – Finance, responsible for all aspects of finance and accounting. Prior to joining Magenta, Cindy served as Vice President-Finance for Tokai Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: TKAI) and held Controller roles at both Gloucester Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (acquired by Celgene Corporation) and Transmolecular (acquired by Morphotek). 

Cindy received an MBA from Suffolk University and an undergraduate degree in Economics from State University of New York College at Oswego.

Christopher Katanski, Ph.D.

Director of Discovery Platform

Chris is an RNA biochemist and expert in protein translation.
Prior to joining hC Bioscience, Chris was cofounder and CEO of 4SR Biosciences where he focused on tRNA therapeutics to treat missense mutations. Chris was previously a postdoctoral scholar with Prof. Tao Pan at the University of Chicago where he developed new technologies to study tRNA and developed tRNA-tools to correct missense substitutions.

Chris obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in biochemistry and molecular biophysics. He studied regulation of translation during stress, showing adaptive benefits of protein aggregation.

Conlin O’Neil

Senior Director, Drug Product Development

Prior to joining hc Bioscience, Dr. O’Neil was Director of Formulations at Codiak BioSciences, and worked as part of the CMC team developing programs in oncology/immuno-oncology, including exoIL-12™ and exoSTING™, and as CMC team leader for exoASO™-STAT6.  At Codiak he also supported the manufacturing and quality teams in building a fit-for-purpose dedicated GMP exosome manufacturing facility.  Prior to joining Codiak, he was head of formulations at Selecta Biosciences developing PLA/PLGA nanoparticle therapeutics.  This included leading development of a novel transmission blocking malaria vaccine targeting the Pfs25 antigen with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and discovery of immunomodulatory formulations to induce tolerance to adeno-associated virus for repeat dosing without neutralizing anti-drug antibodies.  

Dr. O’Neil completed his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland with a thesis focused on drug delivery applications of block copolymer self-assembling nanoparticles. 

Suchul Jang

Director, In Vivo Pharmacology

Prior to joining hC Bioscience, Dr. Jang was Director of Preclinical & Biomarkers and head of In Vivo Pharmacology at Codiak BioSciences. He has organized and oversighted operations of the preclinical group and collaborations within the company as well as external partners. In addition, he led and participated in multiple programs including exoSTING, exoIL-12, exoASO-STAT6, and exoVACC, testing efficacy, pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic properties as well as mechanism of actions of therapeutic candidates.

His research career was focused on how to utilize exosomes for therapeutics and diagnostics. He first invented exosome-mimetic nanovesicles to deliver anti-cancer therapeutics during his Ph. D. and co-invented the first clinical candidate of Codiak Biosciences, exoSTING. During his research career, he has invented about 20 patents and published 36 peer-reviewed articles.

Dr. Jang finished B.S. and Ph.D. degree at Pohang University of Science Technology in Republic of Korea and then did post-doctoral training at Dr. Jan Lötvall’s group at University of Gothenburg, Sweden.