Scientist, in vitro human disease modeling
- 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
Senior Research Associate
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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Pallavi Kompella, PhD
Scientist II, In vivo Pharmacology
Dr. Kompella joined Juvena Therapeutics in July 2022 to support the validation and lead optimization of protein-based therapies in vivo and new mouse model development.
As a trained pharmacologist, Dr. Kompella has extensive experience in contributing to early-stage drug discovery. She has designed and managed several hypothesis-driven mechanistic studies and established preclinical mouse models for lead optimization and toxicological risk assessment of potential small molecule drugs across several therapeutic areas.
After receiving her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Biotechnology from India, she worked for 8 years at various drug discovery organizations in India and the U.S. Dr. Kompella received her Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) where she investigated the underlying molecular mechanisms of how diet-induced obesity influences DNA damage and repair and contributes to cancer development. Dr. Kompella has been awarded multiple graduate fellowships from UT Austin and the American College of Toxicology. She is also the recipient of an American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education (AFPE) pre-doctoral research fellowship.
Before joining Juvena Therapeutics, Dr. Kompella was a Fulbright U.S. Postdoctoral Scholar at the Biomedical Research Institute of Malaga (IBIMA) in Malaga Spain. At IBIMA, she studied the role of obesity-mediated epigenetic modification of DNA damage repair protein OGG1 in visceral adipose tissue from patients with obesity.
Besides research, she loves doing science outreach and going on hikes with friends and family.
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Research Associate II
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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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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Fengling Liu, PhD
Director of Protein Science
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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Thach Mai, PhD
Lead Scientist, Drug Discovery & Platform Development
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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Eddie Moler, PhD
Head of Data Science
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.
Jeremy O’Connell, PhD
CSO and Co-Founder
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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Biotech Operations Manager
Jamie Romero has over 14 years of biotech industry experience, starting as a Research Associate and growing into a Biotech Operations Manager. She brings to Juvena years of experience within the biotech industry, from her earlier days of working at the bench to managing biotech operations in scaling companies. Jamie has significant experience across facilities operations, office management, HR, accounting, and more. Jamie Romero’s career has fed her need to learn through the field of biomedical research while experiencing the excitement of the biotech start-up world. Jamie earned her Bachelors of Science in molecular biology and minor in Chemistry from SJSU.
Jamie is detail oriented, an effective multi-tasker and used to fast-paced, changing and uncertain environments. Having the ability to prioritize in deadline driven environments, Jamie excels when challenged, wearing multiple hats. She learned by dedicating 12 years to Omniox, Inc., where she was the first employee and grew with the company, taking on multiple diverse tasks to support their growth and needs, followed by Catalyst Biosciences. Many exciting opportunities opened up for her as she had the great opportunity to grow and learn in many different roles, being the “go-to” person; point-of-contact for, if, and, when anything came up through most if not all departments of the company – from lab to office, from finance to HR, from coordinating team-building and company events to providing EA support for the CEO and Executive team.
So, when Jamie came across the opportunity to join Juvena, an early, scaling biopharma start-up tackling some of the greatest unmet needs of our time through an exciting biologics discovery and development platform, a mission Jamie whole-heartedly believes in, she excitedly jumped to the challenge and can’t wait to see what the future with the company entails.
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Research Associate II
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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Ben graduated from UC Davis with bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. While at UC Davis, he worked in Dr. Keith Baar’s lab, and was part of several research projects relating to skeletal muscle metabolism and the effects of nutrition and aging on skeletal muscle, and became responsible for performing transfections of both primary and immortal cell lines for various projects going on in the lab. Additionally, Ben worked as a biochemistry intern at Marrone Bio Innovations in Davis where he gained experience with performing and developing high throughput assays, as well as both small and large scale purification of native and recombinant proteins from several prokaryotic species.
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Hanadie Yousef, PhD
CEO and Co-Founder
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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Munir Yousef, MS
Munir Yousef joined Juvena Therapeutics in July 2022 as a bioinformatics analyst to contribute to Juvena’s growing platform by developing robust data analysis pipelines for their in silico protein drug discovery platform.
After realizing his passion for data-driven discovery of solutions to real world problems, Munir obtained his Masters degree in Applied Data Science from Syracuse University.
Before officially joining the team, Munir worked as a data science consultant and helped develop internal data analysis and visualization tools to support Juvena’s growing R&D platforms.
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