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Hanadie Yousef, PhD

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Dr. Hanadie Yousef is a scientist, aging biology expert and the co-founder and CEO of Juvena Therapeutics, a biopharma startup developing protein-based therapeutics to promote tissue regeneration and increase healthspan to prevent, reverse, and cure degenerative diseases.

For over 18 years, Dr. Yousef performed biomedical research in both academia and industry. She studied mechanisms that underly brain and muscle aging, including adult stem cell decline, inflammation, and fibrosis associated with aging and multiple degenerative diseases. She elucidated age-associated protein signaling changes systemically and locally in tissues that lead to loss of tissue homeostasis and the onset of degenerative diseases. Dr. Yousef’s discoveries led to several novel drug targets and methods for tissue rejuvenation. Her research was supported by multiple fellowships and grants that include the NIH, NSF, and SPARK and has led to numerous issued and pending patents. Her research has been highlighted in high-profile publications including Nature Medicine, Cell Reports, and others on mechanisms of aging and methods for tissue rejuvenation, particularly in the brain and muscle. Dr. Yousef’s key discoveries laid the foundation of Juvena Therapeutics’ venture-backed, drug discovery and preclinical development platform.

Since Juvena’s launch in mid-2018, Dr. Yousef and her team have translated those key discoveries into a proprietary pro-regenerative protein library and validated their potency on multiple tissue types, with several issued and pending patents. They built a machine learning-enhanced drug discovery and preclinical development platform to enable a pipeline of drug candidates for multiple age-related and rare diseases. The platform has enabled the identification, extensive preclinical validation, and lead optimization of 3 novel drug candidates that enhance muscle regeneration, function, and reduce frailty, with several additional discovery candidates for degenerative diseases.

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

PhD Training (2008-2013)

During her graduate studies at UC Berkeley, Dr. Yousef studied protein signaling mechanisms underlying adult stem cell decline with aging and developed methods for tissue rejuvenation in brain and muscle in the world-renowned Schaffer and Conboy labs. Her discoveries that a specific subfraction of human embryonic stem cell-secreted proteins enhance aged muscle regeneration and human myogenesis and enhance the activity and survival of neural stem cells and cortical neurons laid the foundations of Juvena’s proprietary rejuvenating protein library and discovery platform.

Achievements: First author of 4 publications outlining mechanisms underlying stem cell decline with age; developed methods for brain and muscle tissue rejuvenation leading to 3 issued patents, and secured an NSF graduate research fellowship (2009-2013).

Postdoctoral Fellowship (2014-2018)

During her tenure at the Stanford School of Medicine in the world-renowned Wyss-Coray lab, Dr. Yousef elucidated molecular and cellular mechanisms that contribute to both a decline in brain function with aging and the onset of neurodegenerative diseases, with a focus on understanding the interactions between aged blood and the blood-brain barrier. Her first author discoveries on a mechanism underlying inhibition of brain function by aged blood through the blood-brain barrier were published in Nature Medicine (May 2019) and Cell Reports (March 2020). Dr. Yousef won two consecutive SPARK grants to translate her discovery into the clinic for neurodegeneration and vascular dementia and has an issued patent from Stanford. In addition to her research, Dr.Yousef spearheaded collaborations across departments that led to numerous other discoveries, grants, and co-authorship on multiple high-profile publications.

Achievements: Nature Medicine (May 2019), first author; Cell Reports (March 2020), co-first author; multiple co-authorships in top journals including Nature; issued patent No. 10,947,311; NIH F32 postdoctoral fellowship (2015-2018), SPARK scholar and grant recipient (twice).

While at Stanford, 2017, Dr. Yousef co-founded Juvena Therapeutics, Inc., to pursue her dream to build an innovative biopharmaceutical company that develops novel protein-based medicines that promote tissue regeneration and increase healthspan for age-related and rare degenerative diseases.

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Jeremy O’Connell, PhD

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As CSO at Juvena Therapeutics, Dr. O’Connell guides R&D strategy and strategic level experimental design and structure for all milestones. He personally leads the proteomics division of Juvena Therapeutics R&D.

Jeremy O’Connell is a proteomics and systems biology expert with numerous publications, a PhD from UT Austin, a postdoc at Harvard, and experience leading research teams.

During his postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical school in the lab of Steven Gygi he leveraged immense proteomics datasets to build several machine learning classifiers focusing on predicting protein-protein interactions 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, computational approaches as demonstrated in his 13 publications to date, several fellowships, and awards.

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Jim McGuire, PhD

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Jim McGuire is a veteran of the biotech and pharma industry where he has led multiple drug discovery groups and projects. He earned his PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and followed with a postdoc at the University of Copenhagen. He went on to work with small molecule ADME at H. Lundbeck A/S and protein biomarkers at Ciphergen, Inc. followed by 15 years at Novo Nordisk A/S, where he focused on biologics in the cardiometabolic space with an increasing level of people and project responsibility. He helped lead 13 projects from discovery to development including a number of GLP-1 therapies. In addition he was part of bringing semaglutide to the market as the once-weekly injectable Ozempic. He was most recently an Executive Director of Translational Research at Catalyst Biosciences where he led their discovery efforts and helped bring two complement programs into development. He has co-authored 23 peer-reviewed articles and four patents.

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Eddie Moler, PHD

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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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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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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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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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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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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John Hanley, MS

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John joined Juvena Therapeutics early in 2022 as Senior Data Scientist, to find machine learning solutions that make the PQnet discovery pipeline more powerful and understandable.

He originally trained as an Electrical Engineer and subsequently earned a Masters in Software Engineering from CMU.

After abandoning Wall Street for sunnier climes, John worked on large database systems at Oracle, helping them transition into new headquarters facilities. Early in Yahoo’s exponential growth curve he designed and operated custom DNS infrastructure to quickly send browser requests to nearby servers. Later he spent eight years in Xerox PARC’s machine learning group, finding ways to apply ML / AI techniques to business problems like fraud detection for DARPA and other partners, with award of eight patents along the way.

In his free time John enjoys cycling, skiing, and peering at the future through the lens of science fiction.

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