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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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Fengling Liu, PhD

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Dr. Fengling Liu joined Juvena as a Director of Protein Science in July 2022. Dr. 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.

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Mo (Mohammad) Tabrizi PhD

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Mo (Mohammad) Tabrizi PhD joined Juvena Therapeutics in 2022, bringing over 25 years’ experience in basic research, integrative pharmacology, translational sciences, and development of protein-based biologics. Prior to Joining  Juvena Therapeutics, Dr. Tabrizi served in positions with increasing responsibilities at Large companies such as Merck Research Laboratories, AstraZeneca/Medimmune, and biotech companies such as Soteria Biotherapeutics, Acendis pharma and Abgenix. 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.

 

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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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Clarence Dunn, PHD

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Clay Dunn joined Juvena Therapeutics in October 2022 as a Principal Scientist on the in vitro drug discovery team.

Clay received a MPH degree in epidemiology from George Washington University where he worked with Andrew Friedman at the Genetic Epidemiology Branch, NCI, on a study characterizing the clinical features of von Hippel Lindau disease. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington, where he was trained in epithelial cell biology in the lab of William Carter, Ph.D.. He focused on studying the elements of outside→in signaling mechanisms in both activated and quiescent keratinocyte cell populations.

Clay completed his post-doctoral training in the lab of Paul Lampe, Ph.D. at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) in Seattle, WA.. In the Lampe Lab, Clay investigated the biology connecting connexin proteins and Gap Junctional Intercellular Communication (GJIC) to several key cellular functions. His focus was on the kinases and pathways that regulate gap junction function during epidermal wounding and cardiac ischemia.

Clay has spent nearly 10 years in the Bay Area biotech industry developing assays and complex cellular models to support pre-clinical drug development. In five years at Amgen, Clay leveraged high throughput imaging and analysis to conduct IND-enabling studies supporting the development of several assets in Amgen’s pipeline. At Encoded Therapeutics, Clay worked to develop novel bioanalytical assays for the company’s gene therapies, which aim to treat pediatric epileptic seizure syndromes.

 

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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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Jyoti Ahlawat, PHD

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Dr. Ahlawat joined Juvena Therapeutics in September 2022 as an Associate Scientist: Drug Discovery. She holds a Master’s degree in Biotechnology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee (IITR), and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). She is a recipient of Academic and Research Excellence award from the College of Science (UTEP). Her dissertation research involved developing materials and testing them in-vitro to develop therapeutics against the gravest of human diseases such as Alzheimer’s (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD).

Dr. Ahlawat has published more than 18 articles and book chapters in international, peer-reviewed, reputed journals. She is a recipient of the title “Rising Star in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology” at the 10th IEE International Conference on nanomaterials and applications (IEEE-NAP 2020). She has won Best presentation awards at the Equniox (2022), 26th Annual BioEnvironmental Polymer Society (BEPS-2019), Graduate Expo (2018), and 8th International conference on smart materials, structure, and systems (ISSS-2017). In addition, she has won various travel awards (2018-2020), four research awards (2019-2021), and graduate scholarships (2019-2020). She is an Editorial board member of the Journal Future Trends in Nanotechnology and is serving as a Guest Editor for Science Progress (SAGE Journal).

She has served as Vice president of Graduate Student Assembly (2018), and as President of BioChem graduate student chapter (2021). She recently received honorarium from Society for Science for serving as a Science Talent Search Evaluator in 2021. She received Certificate of Appreciation from the Graduate School for her contribution to Undergraduate Learning in 2021. She has served as science judge for the Sun Country Science & Engineering fair (2021), Regeneron International Science & Engineering fair (2021) and at 2nd annual El Paso STEM expo competition (2019). She worked as an intern for eight months with a medical device company where she participated and led international projects which included renewal and registration of ophthalmic lenses in Mexico, Creating Instructions for Use (IFUs) and technical files, and Translation of IFUs into European languages.

Dr. Ahlawat serves as a peer-reviewer for journals such as Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics, Nanotechnology for Environmental Engineering, Environmental Science, Journal for Drug Delivery, and technology, and Phytotherapy. She delivered four invited scientific talks at International Conferences in 2021-2022.

 

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