Senior Management Team
Jeffrey L. Cleland, PhD
Executive Chair, Co-founder
Dr. Cleland has 25 years of industry experience in research and development, including more than a decade at Genentech, Inc. His experience in startups includes major roles in obtaining more than $450 million in capital at stages from Series A through D and exit via IPO including over $300 million in capital raised as CEO. As the founding CEO of Versartis (VSAR), he led one of top biotech IPOs of all time. He held executive management positions at BaroFold, Novacea and Targesome, and has managed directly all aspects of pharmaceutical development and late-stage research. While at Genentech, Dr. Cleland served in product development and manufacturing roles. He held important leadership roles in the successful approval of two drugs, Herceptin® and Nutropin Depot®, as well as in early work on Lucentis®, Avastin®, and Omnitarg®. He holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Davis and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Cleland has authored more than 100 articles and four books, and holds several issued patents.
Kannan Rangaramanujam, PhD
Chief Technology Officer, Co-founder
Dr. Rangaramanujam is a professor of ophthalmology and co-director of center for nanomedicine at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He obtained his PhD in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology, and a post-doc from the University of Minnesota. He is a key inventor of the dendrimer platform for targeting neuroinflammation, leading translational efforts through collaboration with more than 20 PI-level researchers at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Rangaramanujam is an author of many patents (issued and pending), more than 85 peer-reviewed publications. He has won several recognitions, including the NSF CAREER and Unilever awards. His research is primarily funded by NIH. He serves at the Chief Technology Officer of Ashvattha Therapeutics and Orpheris Inc., two spinoffs from his team's patented dendrimer technologies.
Sujatha Kannan, MD
Dr. Kannan is an associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She completed her pediatric residency and pediatric critical care fellowship at the Children's Hospital of Michigan/Wayne State University. She is the co-director of the Pediatric Neurocritical Care Program at the Charlotte Bloomberg Children's Center. In addition to her role at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Kannan is affiliated with the Hugo Moser Research Institute at Kennedy Krieger Institute. Her research focuses on imaging and targeted therapy for pediatric brain disorders using nanotechnology, with a special emphasis on pediatric neurodevelopmental disorders such as cerebral palsy. She has received awards for her research and has authored several patents related to the dendrimer technology. Her research is primarily funded by the NIH. She is also the CMO of Ashvattha Therapeutics, LLC and Orpheris Inc. that is focused on taking the dendrimer nanomedicine platform to the clinic for neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory disorders and orphan indications.
Stephen L. Huhn, MD
Acting Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Huhn has over ten years of biotech experience as CMO and VP of Clinical Development for StemCells, Inc. where he was responsible for the early and mid-stage clinical translation of stem cell transplantation for rare pediatric diseases as well as other adult CNS disorders. Before coming to industry Dr. Huhn was Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University and an Associate Professor in Neurological Surgery at Stanford University. He obtained his MD from the University of Arizona and completed neurosurgery training at the University of Maryland. Dr. Huhn also completed specialized fellowships in Neuro-Oncology at UCSF and Pediatric Neurosurgery at Northwestern University. His clinical research has focused on developing innovative technologies for CNS disorders affecting children as well as the unmet need in serious adult neurological diseases. He remains a board-certified neurosurgeon and Fellow in the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. He has extensive industry experience conducting complex first-in-human studies in severe neurological disorders and is currently serving as an advisor for the clinical development program at Orpheris.
Matt Brewer, MBA
Acting Chief Business Officer
Mr. Brewer has over 15 years of life science business development, operations, and finance experience. Matt most recently founded a digital start-up focused on developing technologies to collect, extract and transform unstructured health data from disparate sources into a coherent picture of longitudinal information. Previously, he served as Vice President of Business Development at Intrexon Corporation (NASDAQ: XON) where he focused on licensing programs leveraging Intrexon's suite of gene regulation technologies to attenuate the in-vivo expression of aberrant proteins. Prior to Intrexon, Matt was the Founder and CEO of BaroFold whereby he led the turnaround and management buyout of the predecessor company, successfully raising venture capital, closing numerous non-dilutive licensing arrangements with industry partners, and out-licensing BaroFold's protein therapeutic clinical asset for treating multiple sclerosis. As Founder and Managing Partner of Crest Asset Management, Matt managed a private equity healthcare portfolio consistently outperforming industry benchmarks and generating a 2.5x return on paid in capital over four years.
Matt received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Oregon where he was a two-year starter on the Oregon football team and received a Master's in Business Administration from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.
Terry Dagnon, MS
Mr. Dagnon is currently Senior Vice President Operations, Dohmen Life Science Services. His 20 years of regulatory experience has involved responsibility from research to post-market with a large number of domestic and global investigational and marketing approvals in the pharmaceutical biologics and medical device industries. Mr. Dagnon is also experienced in quality and compliance and working with R&D, Marketing, Sales, Legal, and Manufacturing, Quality and Supply Chain organizations. Terry began his career in the pharmaceutical industry as the Regulatory Affairs Manager for Physician Reliance Network Inc. (now known as U.S. Oncology). He continued his regulatory affairs career at Johnson & Johnson Medical Inc. with global regulatory responsibility for the Wound Care, Skin Care and Tissue Engineering franchises. He then served most recently as the North America Head of Regulatory Affairs at Alcon a Novartis company prior to joining DLSS in March 2014.
Asif Paker, MD
Dr. Paker has extensive clinical development experience. Currently at Alkermes, he serves as a medical director for clinical research programs in Phase I through III in Schizophrenia and Multiple Sclerosis. Previously, he was at bluebird bio, where he served as a medical lead for the phase III trial of genetically modified cellular therapy in a rare neurological disease in children, cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy. He also worked at Kennedy Krieger Institute on pivotal trial of Lorenzo's oil in adults with adrenoleukodystrophy. Dr. Paker received his M.D. from Hacettepe Medical School, and MPH in Clinical Research and Development from Johns Hopkins University. He completed an internship in medicine, a residency and chief residency in neurology at the University of Texas, Medical Branch/MD Anderson, and a clinical fellowship in Neuromuscular Disease at Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women's Hospitals.