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Hanadie Yousef, PhD

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Dr. Hanadie Yousef is a leading expert on the biology of aging and mechanisms underlying tissue degeneration. A scientific pioneer with two decades experience in biomedical research, she is the co-founder and CEO of Juvena Therapeutics, a venture-backed biotechnology company mapping the therapeutic potential of secreted proteins to develop biologics that prevent, reverse and cure chronic and age-related diseases.

Dr. Yousef’s high-impact published research has been supported by fellowships and grants from the National Institute of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), SPARK at Stanford, and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and led to multiple issued and pending patents. Under Dr. Yousef’s leadership, Juvena has secured nearly $50M since launching in 2018 and developed a proprietary pro-regenerative protein library supported by an artificial intelligence-enabled drug discovery and development platform.

The platform has enabled the identification, extensive preclinical validation, and lead optimization of three novel drug candidates, as well as discovery candidates for several chronic and age-related degenerative diseases.

Dr. Yousef earned her B.S. in Chemistry with a Spanish minor, summa cum laude from Carnegie Mellon University and a PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley as an NSF graduate research fellow. She pursued a 5-year postdoctoral fellowship in Neurology at Stanford School of Medicine as an NIH fellow and SPARK scholar. Her early research began at Regeneron and Genentech.

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Jeremy O’Connell, PhD

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As Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder of Juvena Therapeutics, Dr. O’Connell oversees research strategy, pre-clinical science and manufacturing, and intellectual property efforts. Dr. O’Connell’s expertise in proteomics and systems biology expert accrued during a PhD from UT Austin, a postdoc at Harvard, and his time in industry.

Prior to Juvena Therapeutics, in his postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical school in the lab of Steven Gygi, he leveraged large proteomics datasets to build machine learning classifiers to improve protein-protein interaction predictions within the ubiquitin system.

He has spearheaded research projects in multiple tier-one research institutions, including Harvard and Stanford, employing a combination of mass spectrometry, high throughput imaging, and computational approaches. His work has resulted in numerous peer-reviewed publications, approved and pending patents, millions in award grant funding as the primary PI, fellowships, and awards.

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Zhihua Li, PhD

Dr. Li is a biologist with a multidisciplinary background in Biochemistry, Immunology, Cell and Molecular Biology, with 7 years of research experience in academia and 4 years in industry. He joined Juvena Therapeutics in June 2019 as a Protein Engineering Scientist to build protein expression and purification pipelines and to improve Juvena Therapeutics’ pipeline library of rejuvenating proteins for therapeutic purposes.

Following a BS in Biochemistry and Master’s Degree (MS) in genetics from scientific and technical universities in China, and a second MS in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Southern California all during which he conducted research, Dr. Li completed his PhD (2007) and postdoctoral training (2014) in Cell and Molecular Biology from UT Austin, where he studied protein-protein interactions in different ways: first by combining computational predictions with experimental validations to discover 15 new protein factors functioning in the biogenesis of ribosomes; then by combining powerful mass spectrometry with protein fractionation techniques to create protein complex maps for both yeast and human cells. Continuing his exploration of novel protein interactions in his postdoctoral research, Dr. Li elucidated the self-cleavage mechanism of a novel membrane-bound transcription factor that drives oligodendrocyte differentiation. He’s published multiple co-authorships and first authorship studies along the way. 

Before joining Juvena, Dr. Li worked in industry and biotech startups as Lead Scientist, Life Science Consultant, Scientific Advisor and R&D director. As Lead Scientist at BMLogic, Dr. Li developed and optimized the protein secretory production system in Pichia, leading to improved protein secretion efficiency and greatly reduced protein degradation.

Besides his passion for science, he enjoys spending time with his kid and exploring nature.

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Eddie Moler, PhD

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Eddie Moler joined Juvena Therapeutics in June 2022, bringing over 20 years of experience leading pharmaceutical and clinical diagnostics R&D, data-science/algorithm/software intensive platform development, gene-target and biomarker discovery and validation, establishing and scaling high-performing data-science & software teams, and collaboration management.

Previously, Eddie led Quest Diagnostics’ Bioinformatics organization, leading the development and launch of dozens of advanced clinical genomic diagnostic tests while more than quadrupling the size of the team across multiple sites. He has led clinical/biological research projects and the development of production-scale clinical and research platforms at Quest Diagnostics, GE Healthcare, Tethys Bioscience, Novartis, and the US Department of Energy.

He has published over 50 peer-reviewed papers including clinical and molecular medicine, population health, and health economics, and has 7 issued patents on clinical risk algorithms, biomarkers, automated histopathology image analysis, drug targets, and discovery technology. Eddie received a PhD in Chemistry from UC Berkeley and a BS in Chemistry from Texas A&M University.

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Thach Mai, PhD

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Dr. Thach Mai joined Juvena Therapeutics in September 2018 as a Stem Cell Biologist and Bioinformatician to lead the validation and discovery of the key rejuvenating protein factors in Juvena Therapeutics’ complex embryonic secretome cocktail and develop and improve Juvena’s HTS platform for protein therapeutic discovery.

Dr. Mai is a trained stem cell biologist and immunologist with a focus on the mechanisms of muscle degeneration and aging. Dr. Mai received his PhD in Molecular Biology and Immunology from UC Irvine and a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University. During his fellowship, Dr. Mai used bioinformatics to accurately quantify high-throughput genomics data from multi-nucleated cells (heterokaryons) consisting of human and mouse gene transcripts to discover a novel transcription factor that drives the reprogramming of fibroblasts to pluripotency. Self-taught in ML with a strong passion for rapid biological discovery, he has generated deep learning models that identify muscle-specific aging genotypes as well as a machine learning classifier for the myogenic differentiation state of a single cell with a heterogeneous population.

Dr. Mai has been awarded multiple fellowships including from the National Institute of Health (F32), has three, 1st author publications including in Nature Journals, and is co-author of thirteen publications with one in review.

Joined Juvena Therapeutics: September 24, 2018

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Mohammad Hassanipour

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  • Experienced and motivated Scientist with a strong background in stem cell biology, human embryonic stem cell, cell culture, molecular biology, vector construction and analytical techniques, including qPCR, ELISA ,FACS, ICC, and Western blot
  • 25+ years proficiency in human embryonic stem cell culture and directed differentiation 
  • Generating Cardiomyocytes, retinal Hepatocytes and Endothelial Progenitor Cells, from human embryonic stem cells to high purity and success rate.
  • Developing models of end-stage liver disease and liver cirrhosis in primary human hepatocytes (PHH) and primary rodent hepatocytes, including 2D and 3D spheroids and co-cultures with myofibroblasts, stellate cells and Kupffer cells.
  • Design and execution of high-throughput in vitro plasmid-based miRNA screening for acquired liver disease targets.
  • Evaluated the transduction efficiency and long term transgene expression of AAV1 and Adeno virus in endothelial cells 
  • Generation of iPS cells with different methods (e.g. mRNA, lenti virus, sendai virus, siRNA   reprogramming)
  • Identified optimal cell condition for Exosome production, purification and characterization 
  • Developed ELISA assay kit for Exosome quantification 
  • Experience with molecular biology techniques and protein isolation  
  • Excellent technical, organizational, and communication skills
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving capabilities
  • Ability to work both independently and in a team environment

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Hee Ju Kim, MS

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Hee Ju joined Juvena Therapeutics in August 2019 as a Research Associate to work on the validation of our pipeline of pro-regenerative lead protein therapeutic candidates in in vivo preclinical models of aging and degenerative diseases caused by aging. 

She is originally from Korea and she received her master’s degree in biochemistry from Korea University. Her master’s degree was supported by Brain Korea 21 (BK21). During her masters, she was trained in basic molecular techniques and in vitro experiments. Her master’s thesis was about double stranded DNA repair in yeast ribosomal protein S3.  

Before joining Juvena Therapeutics, Hee Ju was trained as a research volunteer in the Peter W. Laird lab, Norris Cancer Center at the University of Southern California (USC). She was involved in the epigenomic projects and she designed the reaction oligo for Mouse MetyLight and some of the primers, which she designed, were published in the paper, Urology.

Hee Ju started improving her in vivo skills in the David J. Anderson’s lab as a research assistant for 5 years at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). She was involved in the projects of anxiety and aggression. After she moved to Austin, she worked with Michael R. Drew as a research associate for 4 years at the Center for Learning and Memory, UT Austin. Then she worked at the KPC lab in Korea for 2 years in preclinical models of neurodegeneration, in particular Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.  

In Hee Ju’s free time, she enjoys traveling with family, playing golf, and spending time with her lovely dog Kelly.

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Stephen Juelsgaard, DVM, JD

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Stephen Juelsgaard is the former executive vice president, secretary and chief compliance officer of Genentech, Inc. His career at Genentech spanned 24 years. In that role, Dr. Juelsgaard reported to Genentech’s CEO, Art Levinson, and was responsible for Genentech’s Corporate Law, Intellectual Property, Government Affairs (Federal and State), Human Resources, and Healthcare Compliance groups, as well as the Business Services group, which included Strategic Facilities Planning, Corporate Security, Business Continuity, and Environment, Health & Safety. He also chaired Genentech’s Capital Governance Committee, which oversaw major capital expenditures at the company, and was a member of Genentech’s executive committee, the most senior management committee at the company. He had oversight responsibility for more than 600 employees and an annual budget of approximately $250 million.

Juelsgaard joined Genentech in 1985 as corporate counsel and became senior corporate counsel in 1989. In 1992 he became vice president, Corporate Law and in 1994 was named general counsel, a role he served in through 2007. Juelsgaard was named secretary to the Board of Directors in 1997 and a senior vice president in 1998. In 2002, he was appointed executive vice president, in 2005 was named chief compliance officer, and in 2007 he became responsible for oversight of the Government Affairs group. Juelsgaard was the company’s representative on the board of directors of the California Healthcare Institute from 2005 until 2009.

Prior to joining Genentech, Juelsgaard was an associate for three years with the law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in Palo Alto, California. Prior to attending law school, Juelsgaard was engaged for three years in a private veterinary medical practice.

Juelsgaard currently teaches at the Stanford Law School. He currently serves on the board of directors of Altrubio, an antibody-drug conjugate company targeting a variety of autoimmune and immune-mediated inflammatory diseases. He is a past member of the board of directors of Ivivi Health Sciences LLC, a private medical device company, and of Rio Grande Neurosciences, Inc., a private company engaged in the development of pulsed electromagnetic field technology as well as transcranial electrical stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation technologies.

Juelsgaard received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees from Iowa State University in 1972 and a Masters Degree in Veterinary Clinical Sciences in 1975 from Iowa State University, and in 1982 he received a law degree from Stanford Law School.

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Ashil Koranne

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Ashil joined Juvena Therapeutics in January 2022 as a Research Associate to contribute to pre-clinical in-vivo research, including the functional and behavioral validation of lead protein therapeutics developed by the in-vitro team.

Ashil obtained his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California, Riverside. Working in the Nabity Lab, he focused on genetics with the aim to parse out an endosymbiont genome from that of its host, the woolly apple aphid, to elucidate the mechanisms the endosymbiont utilized to fortify the amino-acid poor diet of the aphid.

Realizing his aptitude for dissection and surgery, he began a two-year stint at the Oka Lab at Caltech post-graduating. After beginning by managing and genotyping mouse colonies of up to 55 lines and 400+ animals for the lab, he moved towards behavioral testing and survival intracranial surgery. He worked as a co-author on a project to create an opiate-biosensor, validating in-vitro and ex-vivo results in-vivo by both optimizing and executing intracranial viral injections, and optic fiber implantation in the VTA in the brain. This in conjunction with post-op fiber photometry and DeepLabCut analysis allowed visualization of how the brain processes mu opiates such as fentanyl.

In Ashil’s free time, he is a basketball fanatic, both in playing pickup and following the pros!

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Han Song

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Han joined Juvena Therapeutics in September 2021 as a Research Associate to contribute to Dr. Li’s research on protein expression, purification pipelines, and to improve Juvena Therapeutics’ pipeline library of rejuvenating proteins for therapeutic purposes. 

Han obtained his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of San Diego, with research areas focusing on exploring the enzymatic interactions of malate dehydrogenases and the utilization of defect-formations in the synthesis of metal-organic frameworks. 

Before joining Juvena, Han worked as a Scientist III at the startup NovoNutrients for 4 years. He was heavily involved with the upstream and downstream process of gas fermentation using proprietary bioreactors and consortias. In addition to the fermentation work, he developed a novel synthetic biology platform to express high-value biomolecules ranging from enzymes, pharmaceuticals, to carotenoids in various consortia species. Later on, he took on the role of a strain engineer to develop a quick and reliable method to generate genomically-integrated strains of bacteria for industrial processes. 

In Han’s free time, he enjoys playing the piano, hiking, and cycling around the Bay Area. 

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