Bringing the future of genetic medicine to patients.

Our mission is to develop genetic medicines that treat the root cause of human disease.

SonoThera is expanding the possibilities of disease treatment with ultrasound-guided nonviral gene therapy for diseases with suboptimal or non-existent treatments. We aim to improve the lives and health of millions of people.

Investors

Our story

SonoThera’s story started two decades ago when our co-founder Dr. Steve Feinstein invented the first two FDA-approved ultrasound enhancement agents (UEA) to improve diagnostic image quality of the heart. He later took UEAs a major step further and applied them to gene therapy.   

How SonoThera got its start


Neurologist Karl Dussik is credited with being the first to use sonography for medical diagnoses.
1942


SonoThera co-founder Steve Feinstein invents acoustic microspheres “microbubbles” as ultrasound enhancement agents (UEAs) for diagnostic applications; first US patent issued 1986.

1982

First human clinical use of gene therapy for treatment of SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency).
1990

First use of UEAs to enhance drug delivery in animals.

1993
First FDA approval of UEA for diagnostic imaging in the US (Albunex®).
1994

Second FDA approval of an UEA for diagnostic imaging in the US (Optison™).

1997

First human clinical trial demonstrating UEAs can safely and effectively enhance chemotherapy delivery in pancreatic cancer patients.
2016


First FDA approval of a gene therapy product in the US, Luxturna™ for the treatment of inherited retinal degeneration.

2017

>35 million UEAs safely used annually in the US for diagnostic cardiac imaging.
2022


SonoThera launched to commercialize ultrasound-guided, nonviral gene therapy.

2022

Naaz Ali

Experience Manager and Executive Assistant

Naaz Ali is an experience extraordinaire focusing on startups that aim to make a difference in the world. Technology startups have a need for establishing their culture in the early stages and this is where her background excels. In her early corporate experience at Salesforce, working within the Talent Development team she worked among employees in the western territory to bring programs focused on personal and professional development. While working at Salesforce, she also volunteered with a San Francisco based non-profit called Year Up. Here she was a Development Manager and supported events focused on the alumni. Naaz then moved into a Silicon Valley startup focused on autonomous driving where her responsibilities varied from operations, recruitment and as a culture ambassador for the growing company. Naaz’s goal at SonoThera is to bring that combined experience within organizational culture development. SonoThera’s technology won her over as a company focused on healing people in a noninvasive and affordable way.

Adel Alonso

Research Associate

Adelaida is a highly motivated and hardworking experienced in-vivo Research Associate Technician with a passion for research and medicine. She has a demonstrated history of working in the research industry with over 10yrs of relevant experience. Her journey began as an animal care technician at UCSF and has since overcome many exciting challenges allowing her the opportunity to grow within the industry working with various amazing biotech’s throughout the Bay area. She is now proud to be SonoThera’s Research Associate doing what she enjoys the most and presently continuing to learn and grow, working within a lab setting utilizing her skills assisting in research discovery. In her free time, she enjoys creating memories with her family, being adventurous, exploring and traveling, as well as caring for and enjoying time with her pets.

Glenda Arauz

Research Associate II
Glenda is an accomplished General Surgeon with training from UC Berkeley. She is experienced in rodent catheterization. She is now a Research Associate at SonoThera with dedication and passion for the research industry. She has a history of working in the biotech industry with over 29 years of experience. Her career began as an animal care technician at Harlan Inc. in Fremont, CA. She is proud to continue to learn and grow in the field while using her skills in assisting with research and discovery. In her spare time, she shares new and meaningful experiences with friends and loved ones.

Katelyn Benthall, PhD

Senior Scientist, Gene Therapy 

Katie Benthall is a cell biologist who aspires to develop novel gene therapies for treatment of debilitating diseases. She received her PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley where she trained in the lab of Dr. Helen Bateup. Her research focused on characterizing mouse models of Tuberous Sclerosis Complex and understanding how disruption of the mTOR signaling pathway contributes to autism spectrum disorder. Katie gained experience in the gene therapy field during her previous role as a Senior Scientist at CODA Biotherapeutics, where she contributed to the development of a chemogenetic platform for treatment of neurological disorders. In her free time Katie enjoys doing puzzles, taking dance classes, doing yoga, and spending time with her dog.

Dhruv Bole

Senior Research Associate, Gene Therapy

Dhruv is a motivated scientist who wants to research and treat debilitating diseases. While studying molecular biology at Purdue University, Dhruv had the opportunity to conduct research in Dr. Stauffcher’s structural biology lab and intern at Roche, where he realized he enjoyed working in a lab. Upon receiving his bachelor’s degree, his first job was in the lab. His research positions since then, which include 10X Genomics, UCSF, Senti Bio, Adicet, and Encoded Therapeutics, allowed him to collaborate and was mentored by PhD-level scientists. Over his 7 years in biotech, Dhruv has amassed a vast skill set in molecular biology techniques. Dhruv brings these skills to SonoThera, where he hopes, one day, the research will lead to an efficacious and safe therapeutic for a patient in need.

Oliver Chen

Research Associate, Gene Therapy

Oliver is a researcher with an interest in molecular biology and biochemical engineering. Prior to Sonothera, he got his start at Twist Bioscience in gene manufacturing in a high throughput setting and transitioned to process development, where he worked on developing and scaling up new processes for manufacturing. He completed his MS in Biochemical Engineering Technology at KU Leuven in Belgium and his BS in Biochemical Engineering at UC Davis. In his free time, Oliver likes to watch sports, particularly basketball, play video games, and visit new places with friends and family around the Bay Area.

Michael H. Davidson, MD

Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors

Michael H. Davidson, MD FACC, is Professor of Medicine and Director of the Lipid Clinic at the University of Chicago. He also serves as Chief Executive Officer of NewAmsterdam Pharma. Dr. Davidson is a leading expert in the field of Lipidology. He has conducted over 1000 clinical trials, published more than 350 medical journal articles and written three books on Lipidology. His research background encompasses both pharmaceutical and nutritional clinical trials including extensive research on statins, novel lipid-lowering drugs, and omega-3 fatty acids. Dr Davidson is a serial biotech entrepreneur, founding three companies, Chicago Center for Clinical Research, which became the largest investigator site in the United States and was acquired by Pharmaceutical Product Development in 1996, Omthera Pharmaceuticals in 2008 that was acquired by Astra Zeneca Pharmaceutical in 2013 for $440M and most recently, he was CEO/CSO of Corvidia Therapeutics which was acquired by Novo Nordisk for up to $2.1B in 2020. He is also an Independent Director of NASDAQ listed Caladrius BioScience Tenax Therapeutics and Silence Therapeutics. He also serves on the board of two private biotech companies, Sonothera and NanoPhoria Bioscience.

Dr. Davidson is board-certified in internal medicine, cardiology, and clinical lipidology. He was President (2010-2011) of the National Lipid Association, named as one The Best Doctors in America for the past 20 years and “Father of the Year” by the American Diabetes Association, 2010.

Elizabeth Del Greco

Associate Scientist, Gene Therapy

Elizabeth Del Greco is a researcher passionate about developing therapeutics to treat patients. She received her MS from Dominican University of California where she established a recombinant protein expression platform, enhancing the production capabilities for challenging proteins. Prior to her role at SonoThera, she gained valuable experience at BioMarin Pharmaceutical, focusing on the characterization of AAV vectors to support gene therapy studies. Elizabeth also worked at Codexis, where she contributed her expertise to the development of an AAV platform to evolve capsids for neuron-specific transduction. Beyond her professional endeavors, Elizabeth enjoys outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking, as well as watching sports and cooking.

Steve Feinstein, MD

Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Feinstein is the inventor of the first two FDA-approved ultrasound microbubble agents (Albunex® and Optison®), which were acquired by GE Healthcare. With nearly thirty years of experience in the development and clinical utilization of ultrasound-enhancing microbubbles, Dr. Feinstein is considered the world’s foremost expert in the field. He founded and is Co-President of the International Contrast Ultrasound Society, a medical professional society with members in 60 countries and an exclusive focus on the utilization of ultrasound microbubbles for imaging and therapy. He also is the founder and Director of the oldest and largest international academic “Bubble Conference,” held annually in Chicago. Dr. Feinstein lectures frequently throughout the world on ultrasound microbubbles and has more than 300 publications in high-impact, peer-reviewed journals. A prolific researcher with NIH funding, Dr. Feinstein has been instrumental in expanding utilization of ultrasound microbubbles throughout the world. Dr. Feinstein also has been called upon to meet with FDA staff on numerous occasions and provide information on microbubble safety and benefits. Dr. Feinstein was the lead author of a white paper requested by FDA staff that led to favorable label changes (Optison®, Definity®, Lumason®). In addition, he co-authored a second white paper requested by FDA staff that led to the first approval of an ultrasound microbubble (Lumason®) for pediatric imaging; the approval was granted without prospective pediatric clinical trials. Dr. Feinstein has been a consultant to numerous pharmaceutical clinical trials and is a co-investigator of a clinical trial involving the use of microbubbles and sonoporation to deliver oncology drugs. Dr. Feinstein earned his medical degree from the University of Minnesota and completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, where he was intern of the year. He also completed his fellowship in cardiology at the University of California-Los Angeles/Wadsworth Veterans Administration. Dr. Feinstein has received numerous awards and recognitions for his research and clinical achievements.

Flemming Forsberg, PhD

Scientific Advisor

Flemming Forsberg (Senior Member, IEEE) was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in October 1961. He received the M.Sc. degree in electronic engineering and the Ph.D. degree in biomedical engineering from the Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark, in 1987 and 1990, respectively.,From 1987 to 1990, he has worked on Doppler ultrasound signal processing at the Electronics Institute, Technical University of Denmark, before becoming a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the King’s College, London, U.K., from 1990 to 1991. After a year in private industry, developing an intravascular imaging system, he went to the Department of Radiology, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA, USA, in 1992, as an Ultrasound Physicist. He is currently a Professor of radiology and his research focuses on ultrasound contrast agents, subharmonic imaging, quantitative contrast measurements, and novel clinical imaging modes.,Dr. Forsberg is a fellow of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) as well as the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). In 2015, he received the Joseph H. Homes Pioneer Award in basic science from the AIUM. In 2018, he presented the New Horizons lecture at the Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. He is a member of the Editorial Board of “Ultrasonic Imaging” as well as the Deputy Editor of Basic Science of the Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine.

Victor Foster

Research Associate, Platform Technology


Victor Foster is a researcher passionate about working to pioneer novel therapeutics for the treatment of untreated disease. He received his Bachelor’s Degree at Northeastern University in Behavioral Neuroscience with minors in Ethics and History. Before SonoThera, Victor worked at Harvard Medical School characterizing differences in learning across age groups in mice, using dopamine readouts as a measure. Victor has also spent time working for MapLight Therapeutics, investigating brain circuitry through optogenetics, and AbbVie, where he researched pharmacology solutions for oncology in-vivo. Victor enjoys hiking, playing basketball, and exploring new restaurants with friends around the Bay Area in his free time.

Bert Frederich

Senior Scientist, Platform Technology
Bert Frederich is a physiologist with experience in therapeutic discovery and pharmacology. He received his PhD from UC Davis in physiology and a designated emphasis in biomedical translational research from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His experience also includes a post doc at UCSF studying mouse genetics and the pathophysiology of hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia. He has also worked in small molecule and biologic therapy discovery for cardiac, fibrosis, and oncology applications at Cytokinetics, UNITY Biotechnology, and BridgeBio Pharma. In his free time, Bert works in his garden in sunny South San Francisco.

Steven Gillis, PhD

ARCH Venture Partners

Dr. Gillis joined ARCH as a Venture Partner in 2005 and became a Managing Director in 2006. He is focused on the evaluation of new life science technologies and on the development and growth of ARCH’s biotechnology portfolio companies.

He is a director of Homology Medicines (FIXX) and Carrick Therapeutics. He serves as director and Chairman of Codiak Biosciences (CDAK), Faraday Pharmaceuticals, eGenesis, HiberCell, Skylark Bio, Walden Biosciences, OncoResponse, Mozart Therapeutics, Bitterroot Bio and VBI Vaccines (VBIV). Dr. Gillis also serves as a director of Takeda Pharmaceuticals (TAK).

Dr. Gillis was a founder and director of Corixa Corp. and served as CEO from its inception and as its Chairman from 1999 until its acquisition in 2005 by GlaxoSmithKline. Prior to Corixa, Dr. Gillis was a founder and director of Immunex Corp., the most successful venture-funded biotech company in the state of Washington. From 1981 until his departure in 1994, he served as Immunex’s Director of Research and Development, Chief Scientific Officer, and as CEO of Immunex’s R&D subsidiary. Dr. Gillis was interim CEO of Immunex Corp. following its majority purchase by American Cyanamid Co. and remained a member of the board until 1997. Amgen, Inc. acquired Immunex in 2002.

Zoya Gluzman-Poltorak

Chief Development Officer

Dr. Gluzman-Poltorak has over 20 years of executive-level leadership experience in early development biotechnology companies, advancing several cell-, gene- and protein-based products from idea through pre-clinical and clinical development in multiple therapeutic areas (Hematology, Immunology, Oncology, Neurology, Dermatology, Cardiovascular and Rare Diseases). In 2017 Dr. Gluzman-Poltorak pioneered ASC Therapeutics, Milpitas, CA to lead the cutting-edge AAV genome editing, gene therapy and cell therapy products, building the team and managing preclinical, regulatory, clinical, manufacturing and analytical methods development. Under her leadership ASCTx completed an IND-enabling pre-clinical and analytical program for an AAV based Gene Therapy Hemophilia A program in less than 1 year. Prior to joining ASCTx, Dr. Gluzman-Poltorak worked at Neumedicines Inc., Pasadena, CA as a Senior Director of Development. She helmed pre-clinical and clinical development of NM-IL-12 (HemaMax) for Hematopoietic Syndrome of Acute Radiation Syndrome and other hematology and immuno-oncology indications, including proof-of-concept, toxicology, IND filing, BLA-enabling efficacy program in NHPs under Animal Rule, dose translation, FIH, Phase II and Phase III clinical studies. Prior to that she was a Chief Technology Officer at Gene Grafts Ltd. (2005-2009), and Angiogenesis Program Manager at MGVS Ltd.(2000-2004), both in Haifa, Israel, developing innovative genetically modified cell therapy products. She was involved in 7 IND submissions and served as direct point of contact for 5 INDs and established a solid relationship with the FDA. Dr. Gluzman-Poltorak initiated and fostered multiple collaborative R&D projects with academic institutions, CROs, PIs, KOLs and consultants worldwide. She is a co-author of 9 patents and over 30 peer-reviewed publications.

Dr. Gluzman-Poltorak received her PhD in Cell Biology and Genetic Engineering and MBA from the Technion, Haifa, Israel.

Kenneth Greenberg, PhD

Co-Founder, President, & Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Greenberg brings more than 20 years of experience in biotechnology company creation, strategy, team leadership, applied research, and drug discovery of genetic medicines spanning diverse disease mechanisms and technology platforms including viral and non-viral gene therapy, antisense oligonucleotide, recombinant protein, immunotherapy, and small molecule-based modalities. Prior to co-founding and joining SonoThera, Dr. Greenberg led Janssen’s Western North America, Australia, and New Zealand External Innovation in all biologic modalities (Cell & Gene Therapy, Antibody & Protein Therapy, Gene Editing, and CMC) across all therapeutic areas at Johnson & Johnson. Prior to J&J, Dr. Greenberg established and led the neuroscience discovery program at UNITY Biotechnology, where he successfully advanced senolytic and protein therapeutics for the treatment of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders. Prior to UNITY, Dr. Greenberg co-founded CODA Biotherapeutics, where he led the financing and strategic build, established and led preclinical discovery, co-invented and developed the AAV-based chemogenetic neuromodulation platform for the treatment of neuropathic pain, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders. Prior to CODA, Dr. Greenberg co-founded Oncorus (NASDAQ: ONCR), where he co-led the financing, directed scientific strategy, and co-invented the miR- attenuated HSV-based oncolytic immunotherapy platform currently in Phase I clinical trials for solid tumors. Dr. Greenberg completed his PhD in Visual Neuroscience and a Kirschstein-NRSA postdoctoral fellowship in MCB Neurobiology, both at The University of California, Berkeley. During his academic and early industry work, Dr. Greenberg engineered and characterized novel viral and non-viral gene delivery systems to re-establish visual function using optogenetic based retinal prosthetics for individuals with profound vision loss resulting from inherited retinal degeneration. Dr. Greenberg is an inventor on over a dozen patents and patents-pending and has co-authored over fifty journal articles and conference presentations.

Lori Hu, MBA

Vertex Ventures HC

Lori Hu is a Managing Director at Vertex Ventures HC (VVHC), leading global healthcare investments based in San Francisco. She joined VVHC in 2015 as part of the founding team to establish a US presence and has led or co-led over a dozen investments across the biotech and medtech sectors. Lori serves on the board of directors for Indapta Therapeutics, Elevation Oncology (NASDAQ: ELEV), Neuspera Medical and Palleon Pharmaceuticals. She is a board observer for Moximed and previously served on the boards of Ivantis (acquired by Alcon for $475M) and Blackthorn (now Neumora). She supported Vertex’s investment in Twelve (acquired by Medtronic for $458 M).

Before VVHC, Lori was an Associate Director for Business Development at Bristol-Myers Squibb, identifying and executing licensing and partnership transactions based in Shanghai. Previously, she was a strategy consultant at Accenture, advising biopharmaceutical clines on strategic projects across the US and Asia.

Lori graduated with an MBA from The Wharton School, and MA in International Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. She also holds a BSE in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University.

Nana Ingram

Senior Research Associate, Gene Therapy


Nana is an enthusiastic scientist dedicated to leveraging innovative technologies for the research and development of therapeutics aimed at enhancing patient well-being. I completed my MS in Biotechnology at Northwestern University and started work in spatial biology at Advanced Cell Diagnostics where I worked on several service projects for clients in the biopharma and academic industry. Beyond the lab, I channel my passion into supporting my favorite football team, Manchester United, and F1 driver Lewis Hamilton.

David Kim

Associate Scientist, Gene Therapy
David Kim is a researcher passionate about contributing to the discovery of novel therapeutics for the treatment of disease. He received his Bachelors at Northwestern University in Molecular Biology & Genetics and his MS in Physiology at Georgetown University. Before SonoThera, he was at Alkahest for 6 years characterizing the plasma proteome in aging and disease models and identifying therapeutic plasma proteins for various conditions. Outside of science, David is an avid sports fan, playing basketball, commissioning several fantasy football leagues, and investing in sports cards.

Margot Krivega, PhD


Senior Scientist, Gene Therapy

Margot Krivega is a molecular geneticist with more than 10 years of experience in discovering molecular mechanisms involved in gene expression regulation. She received her Master’s degree from the Lomonosov Moscow State University (Russia) and Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics from the Institute of Gene Biology (Russian Academy of Science). Her postdoctoral training at the NIH intramural research program was focused on investigating epigenetic mechanisms involved in regulation of beta-globin genes and developing gene-based therapeutics of sickle cell disease. She has also worked on investigating genetic mechanisms responsible for persistent developmental stuttering utilizing MRI brain imaging.

Ivan Krivega, PhD

Director of Gene Therapy

Dr. Krivega brings more than 15 years of experience in team leadership, applied research, and gene therapy-based drug discovery in various therapeutic areas. Prior to joining Sonothera, Ivan was the Senior Scientist for non-viral gene therapy at BioMarin Pharmaceutical, a gene therapy company, where he established and oversaw non-viral gene therapy development programs for various therapeutic areas along with supporting various viral gene therapy research programs. Prior to BioMarin, he held multiple roles of increased responsibility at Sangamo Therapeutics, a gene editing and viral gene therapy company, leading cross-functional teams developing in vivo gene editing therapeutics for neural, lysosome, and metabolic disorders. 

Dr. Krivega obtained a Master’s degree in Genetics from the Lomonosov Moscow State University (Russia). He received a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics from the Institute of Gene Biology (Russian Academy of Science). His postdoctoral training at the NIH intramural research program was focused on developing small molecule, cell and gene-based therapeutics for sickle cell disease. Dr Krivega is an inventor on over dozen patents and patent applications and has co-authored over thirty journal articles and conference presentations.

John McKeon

VP of Finance & Controller

John McKeon is VP of Finance and Controller and brings to the company more than 25 years of financial experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. Prior to joining SonoThera, he was Vice President and Controller at Ambys Medicines Inc., a pre-clinical biotech company. John has also held multiple finance and accounting roles of increased responsibility at BioMarin Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Jaguar Health Inc., Allakos Inc., and Genentech Inc. Mr. McKeon earned a B.S. in Accounting and Business Administration from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. John is also a CPA (Inactive).

Maria Konovalenko, PhD

Manager of Operations and Strategy

Maria Konovalenko is a scientist passionate about bringing the next-generation gene therapies to the clinic. In her prior role as a Scientist in Residence at Formic Ventures she was part of the team making early-stage investments in biotechnology startups focused on human longevity as well as technology startups and companies that make human lives more meaningful. Maria’s obtained her PhD in biology of aging in a joint program between University of Southern California and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. Her research was focused on aging of stem cells in respiratory epithelium as well as the overlap between mTOR signaling and cellular senescence. Maria has been involved in fighting aging since 2008. She is one of the organizers of the Genetics of Aging and Longevity Conference series. Maria was part of team at the science for Life Extension Foundation, a Moscow-based non-profit, since 2008 to 2016 and has been raising funding for longevity and regenerative medicine research from both government and private sources.  Maria’s background is in molecular biophysics, she got both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. Maria’s goal is to make people live as long and as healthy as possible using the advances of science and technology. 

Rosa Meza-Acevedo

Lab Manager
Rosa is an experienced Biologist who enjoys being part of a research team that utilizes new tools to provide patients with new ways for targeted treatment. Prior to joining SonoThera, Rosa was the Research Scientist and Lab Manager at Gladstone Institutes where she contributed to the study of mechanisms of neurovascular regulation in various animal models of neurodegenerative diseases. Prior to Gladstone, she was the Lab Manager at UCSF where she mainly focused on testing the therapeutic efficacy of small molecules drugs in vitro and in vivo to treat diabetes in human patients. In her free time Rosa enjoys spending time with her family, traveling around the world, and going hiking.

Celia Ortiz

Research Assistant, Platform Technology

Having 8 plus years of experience in the Veterinary field. My career working with RMS began 3 years ago, when I started as Surgical support at Envigo. There I realized that I enjoyed working with lab animals. As part of SonoThera, I will continue to learn and grow in the Biotech industry. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with family, friends and my pets.

Julia Poniatowski

Senior Research Associate, Gene Therapy

Julia is a driven researcher who is passionate about molecular biology, biochemistry, and physics. She was an integral part of mRNA production at Recode Therapeutics and played an important role in the high-throughput screening of CRISPR-based gene therapy candidates at Epic Bio. Before starting her career in research, she tutored math and science to K-8 and high school students, and carried her values of communication, education, and compassion into her career. She has a B.S. in Biochemistry from California State University, Chico.

Surabhi Rao

Associate Scientist

Surabhi Rao is a researcher aiming to develop novel therapeutics for the treatment of disease. She received her MSc in Biomedical Sciences at King’s College London where she researched mitochondrial dysfunction in neonatal hypoxic ischemic brain injury. Prior to SonoThera, she worked at Unity Biotechnology where she contributed to the development of disease models and generating preclinical data for IND enabling projects in the in vivo ophthalmology group. In her free time, Surabhi likes to take muay Thai classes, play tennis and cook.

Chantal Sanchez

Laboratory Technician, Lab Operations

Chantal is a Lab Technician at Sonothera who enjoys contributing to the efficiency and success of an innovative company. With a passion for lab operations and medicine, she brings over 2 years of experience to the team. Her educational journey in surgical technology and environmental science laid the groundwork for a profound understanding of lab technicians and the importance of smooth day-to-day operations.

Prior to joining Sonothera, Chantal was a Lab Operations Associate at 64xBio in San Francisco. There, she played a key role in building lab operations and processes from the ground up, successfully overseeing a team of 25-30 scientists. Thriving on a commitment to lifelong learning, she seeks continuous growth in her knowledge of Operations. Eager to contribute her insights and skills, Chantal is determined to further elevate Sonothera’s impact in non-viral gene therapy. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, traveling, and spending time with her dogs.

David “Dave” Satyadi

Research Associate, Gene Therapy

David is a researcher with an interest in cell and molecular biology. He received his BS in Bioengineering from University of California Merced and began his research experience in a biomolecular engineering lab studying pyroptosis associated proteins. His molecular cloning experience was built at Twist Bioscience as part of the Process Development & Specialty Production team, working on developing high throughput manufacturing methods for difficult to clone genes. David enjoys hiking, rock climbing, music, and cooking.

David Schaffer, PhD

Scientific Advisor

David Schaffer is the Hubbard Howe Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Bioengineering, and Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and he also serves as the Executive Director of QB3 and the Director of the Bakar Bioenginuity Hub and Bakar Labs. He received a B.S. from Stanford University in 1993 and a Ph.D. from MIT in 1998, both in chemical engineering. He then conducted a postdoctoral fellowship at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies before joining Berkeley in 1999. There, he applies engineering principles to optimize gene and stem cell therapies, work that includes developing the concept of applying directed evolution to engineer targeted and efficient viral gene therapy vectors as well as new technologies to investigate and control stem cell fate decisions. He has published >240 papers, has advised >90 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, is an inventor on >50 patents, and developed technologies that are being used in 8 human clinical trials. In addition, he has co-founded eight companies, including 4D Molecular Therapeutics (NASDAQ FDMT), Ignite Immunotherapies (acquired by Pfizer) and Rewrite (acquired by Intellia). Finally, has received recognitions including the National Academy of Inventors, Andreas Acrivos Professional Progress Award, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Pharmaceutical and Bioengineering Award, the American Chemical Society Marvin Johnson Award, and the Biomedical Engineering Society Rita Shaffer Young Investigator Award.

Tom Willis, PhD

Illumina Ventures

Tom Willis is a Partner at Illumina Ventures. He has been an entrepreneur in the genomics industry for the past 15 years during which time he founded and successfully exited two startups in the genomic tools and diagnostic space.  After having received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in physics from Yale and Stanford respectively, he directed technology development efforts at the Stanford Genome Technology Center during the human genome project. He left Stanford in 2001 to found his first venture, ParAllele BioScience where he served as the founding CEO. After two rounds of venture financing and the successful development and commercialization of high throughput genotyping tools, ParAllele was acquired by Affymetrix in 2005. 

Tom founded his second venture, Sequenta in 2008. As Sequenta’s CEO, Tom and his team developed and commercialized a sequencing based platform for assessment of the human immune repertoire. Its lead diagnostic indication, clonoSEQ, allows the assessment of residual disease in leukemia and lymphoma, has been adopted by major cancer centers and has been established as standard of care in NCCN guidelines. In 2015 Sequenta merged with Adaptive Biotechnologies to build an immune platform company valued at over $1bn. Tom remains on the board of Adaptive. In addition to his own ventures, Tom has served on the boards of several other biotech startups.

Asish Xavier, PhD, MBA

JJDC

Asish serves as the Vice President, Venture Investments at Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc. (JJDC). He is based at the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center in South San Francisco, CA. Asish focuses on investments in biotechnology, diagnostics and machine learning. Asish joined JJDC in 2004 and has led or co-led investments in over 25 biotech, diagnostics, machine learning and medtech companies.

Asish received a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Houston and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated with honors. He received a Bachelor of Technology in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India. Asish was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the Johns Hopkins University. Outside work, Asish enjoys reading, traveling, and being outdoors with his family. He is passionate about science and helping others, and mentors students and entrepreneurs. And, is a die-hard sports nut, especially a cricket fanatic.

Benjamin C. Yaden, PhD

VP-External Innovation Diabetes and Related Disorders

Dr. Yaden leads the Search and Evaluate efforts in Diabetes, Complications and Metabolic Research at Eli Lilly and Company, where he is responsible for leading the external strategy and implementation of Lilly’s Diabetes, Obesity and Complications portfolio.

He has 19 years of drug discovery experience in a multitude of disease areas (men’s health/urology, skeletal muscle wasting, diabetes, fibrosis, and metabolism). He has championed several programs to the clinic and was also the discovery lead for the Cialis programs. During his time at Lilly, he had either led or co-developed a myriad of targets including enzymes, nuclear hormone receptors, proteins/biotherapeutics, neutralizing antibodies and peptides.

Dr. Yaden is passionate about seeking partnerships with biotechnology companies to identify emergent scientific fields and portfolio opportunities that ultimate lead to indication expansion in the core therapeutic areas. Furthermore, he continues to build networks and relationships with venture funds for partnership and co-investment prospects in addition to managing the out-licensing efforts and external development strategy.

He serves as an adjunct professor in the Biology Department at Purdue University where he investigates and collaborates with world leaders in hepatology to delineate TGFβ superfamily mechanisms around chronic liver/skeletal muscle injury and fibrosis.

He received his M.S. and Ph.D. from Purdue University with a focus on molecular endocrinology and inter-organ communication under physiological and pathological states.

Carolyne Zimmermann, MBA

Chief Business Officer

Carolyne Zimmermann brings over 20 years of experience in bio-pharma corporate strategy, business development, venture investing, and leadership in the development and successful execution of partnering strategies that drive long-term value and growth.

Prior to SonoThera, Carolyne was the Chief Business Officer at 4D Molecular Therapeutics, an emerging clinical-stage AAV gene therapy company. Before this, Carolyne spent nearly 20 years at leading global pharmaceutical companies such as J&J and Novartis. Most recently, she was the VP of Transactions & Innovation Partnering at the J&J Innovation Center in San Francisco where she led early-stage partnering across all of J&J’s therapeutic areas for Western North America. During her tenure, she led significant deals between Janssen and Morphic Therapeutics, TeneoBio, and Zymeworks. Prior to J&J, Carolyne spent 14 years at Novartis Pharmaceuticals as a member of the Global Business Development Leadership Team. During her tenure at Novartis, she was the Head of Business Development for Novartis’ Global Cardiovascular and Metabolic Franchise where Carolyne developed and led the execution of the Franchise-wide partnering and growth strategies. In this role, she applied a broad range of transactional and funding structures to build pipeline optionality with strategic partners developing innovative approaches to treating cardiovascular and metabolic diseases with high unmet. Carolyne was also the General Partner and a founding member of dRx Capital, a digital health focused venture fund between Novartis and Qualcomm. In this role, she led the firm’s initial investments in Omada Health and Cala Health. During her long career at Novartis, Carolyne also held numerous leadership roles in business development functions such as Search & Evaluation, Negotiations, and Alliance Management across several of Novartis’ therapeutic areas.

Carolyne brings a wealth of strategy, funding, and deal-making experience to the CBO role at SonoThera as well as a passion for translating innovative science into business strategies and company growth opportunities. She holds a bachelor’s in engineering sciences from the University of California at San Diego and an MBA from Columbia Business School in New York.

Brian Halak, PhD

MEC

Brian Halak, Ph.D. has been creating, investing into, and guiding early-stage life science companies for over 20 years. He recently joined Medical Excellence Capital to help create a differentiated life-sciences venture capital fund that derives unique benefits from its proprietary network of leading physicians and academic medical centers.

As a part of Domain Associates since 2001, and a Partner since 2006, Brian has invested in over a dozen companies, several of which he helped create. He and partner Eckard Weber, licensed assets from a Japanese pharmaceutical company to create Tobira Therapeutics, which was eventually acquired by Allergan in 2016, for up to $1.7 billion. Brian also established and directed Domain’s prior initiatives in China including its collaboration with Beijing Elite to create new medical device companies in China based on technology licensed from US and European markets. One such company, Elite Neurovascular, was successfully sold to Terumo Corporation in 2017. Additionally, Brian joined with two scientific founders at Johns Hopkins University to create WindMIL Therapeutics, which is developing a novel cell therapy to treat a variety of cancers. Brian served as President and CEO of WindMIL from 2015 to early 2019, during which time he raised $43.5MM in two rounds of financing. Most recently, Brian formed Nobias Therapeutics alongside co-founders from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to develop drugs to treat rare pediatric disease. Other investments where Brian has served on the Board of Directors include: Esprit Pharma (acquired by Allergan), Dicerna Therapeutics (Nasdaq: DRNA), Alimera Sciences (Nasdaq: ALIM), and Vanda Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: VNDA). Brian remains involved as a Partner managing all existing Domain funds.

Prior to Domain, Brian was an associate with Advanced Technology Ventures where he participated in the firm’s investments in Plexxikon, Percardia and Emphasys. Previous to that, he was a consultant at the Wilkerson Group, where he developed strategy for pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Brian received his B.S.E. in bioengineering from University of Pennsylvania and his Ph.D. in immunology from Thomas Jefferson University.

Brian is currently a member of the Advisory Board for the Department of Bioengineering of the University of Pennsylvania and an advisor to Elm Street Ventures, an early-stage venture fund with close ties to Yale University. He also teaches a course on entrepreneurship at the University of Pennsylvania to undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Engineering.