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.
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.
Dr. Fengling Liu brings over 10 years of industry experience developing multiple biologics. Since 2010 she served as the Protein Biochemistry lead or group lead of Protein Science in multiple biotechs in the bay area including Medimmune (AstraZeneca), Relypsa, Atreca and Arcus Biosciences.
Her protein science-focused research spanned target identification/confirmation, lead optimization, protein purification and engineering to support vaccine development, small molecule and antibody drug discovery in infectious disease and Immuno-Oncology. She was trained in Biochemistry and Structure Biology during her PhD at Georgia State University. She studied the molecular basis of HIV protease drug resistance through enzyme kinetics and X-ray crystal structures. She solved over a dozen super high resolution crystal structures of HIV/drug complexes and discovered a novel drug resistance mechanism.
During her postdoc in the lab of Professor Ted Jardetzky in the Structural Biology Department at Stanford Medical School, Dr. Liu studied human viral glycoprotein interactions to discover viral entry inhibitors.
Besides her passion for science and technology, Fengling also enjoys gardening and hiking with family and friends.
Neil Berkley brings over 20 years of experience in corporate development, business development, and strategic planning from large pharma, midsize biotech/pharma and small biotech companies. He has completed a wide variety of transactions including in- and out-licensing transactions, M&A transactions, co-development/co-investment/co-commercialization transactions, research collaborations, financing transactions, device and supply agreements, etc. Neil has built and lead multiple business development, corporate development and alliance management teams.
Prior to joining Juvena, Neil was Chief Business Officer at AbCellera, a public biotech company focused on discovering novel antibody therapeutics. Previous to AbCellera, Neil was Vice President, Head of Business Development at Halozyme Therapeutics, a public biotechnology company focused on enabling platforms for the pharmaceutical industry. Neil has also held various business development and corporate development roles at Axerovision, COI (Avalon Incubator), Acadia, and GSK. Earlier in his career, Neil was Head of Business development at Cadence Pharmaceuticals, where he helped sell the company for $1.3B in cash. Neil also co-founded and helped build two San Diego-based biotechnology companies, Mpex Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Aptalis) and Vaxiion (a clinical stage bladder cancer company).
Neil holds a BS in molecular biology from the UC San Diego, as well as a Master of Science in cellular and molecular biology and an MBA from San Diego State University.
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 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.
Gayathri Swaminath, PhD, MBA brings over 17 years of preclinical, translational research & drug development experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Swaminath has strong drug discovery expertise in multiple therapeutic areas including diabetes, cardiovascular, fibrosis, inflammation, ophthalmology, oncology, immunology, pulmonary hypertension & renal diseases. Prior to joining Juvena Therapeutics, she served as Vice President for Research & Business Development at GreenfireBio, overseeing nonclinical & clinical development efforts for an oncology program, including fund raising & in-licensing activities. As a co-founder of MGFB Bio, she led the immuno-oncology preclinical activities for a cancer vaccine platform.
She was a Director in Cardiometabolic at Merck Research Laboratories, with previous leadership roles at Amgen. At Merck, & Amgen, she contributed to the preclinical pipeline in several therapeutic areas and advanced small molecules to the clinic, including Verquvo for heart failure. She has co-authored 35 publications in peer-reviewed journals, a book chapter, and holds several patents. As an invited speaker, she has presented at many national & international conferences. Dr. Swaminath completed her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Hyderabad, India, postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University, and holds an MBA from Cornell University.
Dr. Thach Mai joined Juvena Therapeutics 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.
Mo (Mohammad) Tabrizi, PhD brings over 25 years of experience in basic research, integrative pharmacology, translational sciences, and development of biologics. Prior to Joining Juvena Therapeutics, Dr. Tabrizi served in positions with increasing responsibilities at large companies such as Merck Research Laboratories, Medimmune (acquired by AstraZeneca), Abgenix (acquired by Amgen), and biotech companies such as Soteria Biotherapeutics and Acendis pharma. His product development experience spans many therapeutic areas including oncology, immune-oncology, and inflammatory diseases.
He has been an author or co-inventor on more than 50 original papers, reviews articles, published books and patents. Dr. Tabrizi has been an invited speaker to numerous national and international conferences. Dr. Tabrizi received his bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy from University of Houston (Summa Cum Laude) and his PhD from University at Buffalo, State University of New York (SUNY) in Pharmaceutical Sciences. He completed a postdoctoral training in Pharmacology at University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY) with a focus on therapeutics.
Eddie Moler brings 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.
Dr. Moler 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.
Dr. Ali joined Juvena Therapeutics as a Pharmacology Scientist to lead the in vivo studies for the adipose and pulmonary research programs. He is an accomplished lung biologist with 10 years of a strong background in inflammatory, allergic, respiratory, pulmonary vascular, and infectious diseases. His overarching goal is to discover improved therapies for individuals with lung and metabolic diseases.
Dr. Ali’s academic training and research experience across 4 nations and 3 continents have provided him with an excellent background in multiple biological disciplines, including immunology, molecular biology, microbiology, and cell biology. He received a B. Sc in Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering from Khulna University, Bangladesh, an M.Sc. in Systems Biotechnology from Chung-Ang University, South Korea, and a Ph.D. in Immunology and Microbiology from the University of Newcastle, Australia. His Ph.D. focused on investigating how iron, infection, and immunity affect one another in the context of lung diseases, including asthma, COPD, and IPF. These studies showed that increased iron in the lung is associated with small airway fibrosis, inflammation, and reduced lung function in systemic iron-overloaded mouse models. Targeting with an iron chelator drug prevented airway fibrosis and lung function reduction in a mouse model of IPF, highlighting the potential for a novel therapeutic approach to this disease. Having shown iron overload in clinical asthma, he used two mouse models of systemic iron overload and showed that this was associated with inflammation, increased mucus secretion, and scarring in the airways. Subsequent studies demonstrated that the combined treatment with the iron chelator deferoxamine and antibiotic tobramycin reversed lung dysfunction in mice infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa. As a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford, he investigated ways to enhance bone morphogenic protein 2 (BMPR2), a gene that is haploinsufficient or reduced in expression and function in PAH, a disease of lung blood vessel dysfunction. RNAseq, siRNA-mediated high throughput screening, and in vitro and in vivo models led to the identification of two proteins, PTP1b and ELK3 as modifiers of BMPR2 signaling. In addition, his research discovered two long non-coding RNAs LINC02593 and RGMB-AS1, that modulate BMPR2 signaling and pulmonary vascular remodeling. A second project focused on hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT), a related disease associated with mutations in ALK1, ENG, and SMAD4. He identified a small molecule drug that activates BMPR2 signaling and inhibits VEGF signaling pathways, two critical pathways in HHT.
To date, he has published 36 peer-reviewed high-impact publications, 12 as first author and 9 as a second author (average IF >10, with 800+ citations), 23 conference abstracts, 13 conference presentations, 2 book chapters, 1 patent, and 2 funded research grants. His research was also selected for oral and poster presentations at international/national conferences. Recognizing his contributions, he received seven academic and research awards. He mentored 5 undergraduates, 1 junior Ph.D. student, demonstrated immunology and microbiology lab course for 3 years, and 1 high school summer student. He took on a leadership role as a co-Director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute Postdoc conference 2020. In addition, he has been regularly invited to conduct peer reviews for elite journals in the pulmonary medicine field.
Beyond academic, professional life, he enjoys traveling, playing, and watching cricket, watching movies.