David is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of SHEPHERD and the Executive Director of the SHEPHERD Foundation. He is a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree and Spotlight Health Scholar at the Aspen Institute. David previously founded an NGO that worked with refugee children, worked as an undercover investigator against the sexual enslavement of children in Southeast Asia, and was in the training pipeline for Special Operations in the U.S. Military until he was diagnosed with Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma in 2015. David combined the innovation, fearlessness, passion, determination and desire to save the lives of others, which had marked all of his previous endeavors, to found SHEPHERD with one goal in mind – to save the life of every rare cancer patient. David holds a B.A. in Economics, Philosophy and French Literature from Transylvania University, a M.A.L.A. in Intellectual History from St. John’s College, a M.Div from Harvard University in Religion, Ethics & Politics, and is currently completing his Executive MBA through the Owner/President Management Program at Harvard Business School.
A different type of company and person
Gene Williams is the Executive Chairman of ProMIS Neurosciences, a publicly traded biotech focused on therapy development for Alzheimer’s disease. As former Senior Vice President of Program and Portfolio Management at Genzyme, Gene comes to SHEPHERD with expert knowledge on commercialization integration, drug development, and deal making. Prior to his time at Genzyme, Williams worked as a consultant at Bain & Company and Corporate Decisions Inc., where he served as co-Head of Healthcare focused on commercialization strategies and on speeding and improving the drug development process. Gene most recently co-founded and acted as CEO of Dart Therapeutics, an orphan disease drug development company determined to improve clinical trial efficiency and maximize investor resources. Eugene holds a B.A. from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Gene is an avid guitar player, biker, and gourmet cook although usually not at the same time.
Dr. Kaplan comes to SHEPHERD from Genzyme, where she served as Vice President of Research. Over the course of her 24-year career in biotechnology, Johanne directed pioneering research and partnerships leading to the implementation of multiple clinical trials in the fields of gene therapy, autoimmunity, and oncology. She led the scientific research support of several approved drugs in the oncology space including alemtuzumab, clofarabine, and plerixafor. Prior to joining Genzyme, Johanne was an Associate Immunopathologist at SmithKline Beecham where she established an immunotoxicology program. Her work has resulted in over 60 scientific publications and multiple patents. Johanne holds a B.Sc. and a Ph.D. in Microbiology & Immunology from McGill University in Montreal, Canada and conducted post-doctoral studies at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.
Johanne is a life-long scientist, who values critical thinking and efficiency. Her most efficient day to date: she had a job interview in the morning and went into labor in the afternoon. A brand new baby boy and a new job the next day!
Dr. Siders received his B.Sc. Degree in 1990 from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and his Ph.D.degree in 1995 from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Wake Forest University. He trained as a post-doctoral fellow at both the National Cancer Institute and at MethylGene in the area of gene therapy and cancer. He joined Genzyme in 1998 and was involved in evaluating several immunotherapy candidates in pre-clinical cancer models using both viral and non-viral platforms. Work during his tenure involved identifying and developing therapeutics for both cancer and autoimmune disease. Most recently, Dr. Siders became responsible for leading the Neuroimmunology Research Group focusing on the identification and validation of therapeutic targets for multiple sclerosis. He has been involved with several development programs including alemtuzumab where he participated in the FDA Advisory Committee meeting and regulatory filings. In July of 2017, Dr. Siders joined SHEPHERD Therapeutics as Chief Development Officer to lead the validation and development of novel therapies for the treatment of rare cancers.
Elizabeth joins SHEPHERD having spent most of her career as a consultant at Bain & Company, where she advised companies across sectors to grow profitability, optimize costs and launch commercial products. At Bain, Elizabeth developed a passion for analytical problem solving, processes, team building—and most importantly— a renewed commitment to healthcare. Prior to Bain, Elizabeth’s experiences included healthcare investment banking for Goldman Sachs and scientific research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. During her Master’s Studies in Business, Elizabeth worked at Third Rock Ventures, a life sciences venture capital firm. It was also during this time that Elizabeth met David and enthusiastically joined the SHEPHERD team. Elizabeth holds a B.A. in Human Biology from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Elizabeth is an adrenaline seeker, pizza aficionado and obsessive organizer. She has a love for Monday crosswords and hand-written thank you notes.
Dr. Barber is a graduate of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program with a degree in cellular biology. Her thesis studies in the Cell Biology Department were conducted in Dr. John Blenis’s laboratory, which has contributed to delineating aberrant signaling pathways in oncogenesis. Jamie studied the mTOR signaling pathway and alternative splicing regulation, as well as characterizing additional phosphorylation events downstream of the AGC kinases. Before her graduate studies, Jamie spent two years as a post-baccalaureate fellow at the National Cancer Institute, where she studied in Dr. Jonathan Wiest’s laboratory focusing on the proto-oncogene MAP3K8. Following the completion of her Ph.D. studies, Jamie spent time as the head teaching fellow for both molecular and cellular biology courses at Harvard University, as well as instructor of “The Biology of Cancer” course at Harvard Extension School. Her expertise covers cancer-related molecular and cellular mechanisms, with particular interest in intracellular signaling pathways aberrantly activated during oncogenesis. Jamie holds a B.S. from Austin Peay State University and a Ph.D in cell biology from Harvard University.
Our Jamie brings smiles to people’s faces with her trained therapy dog, Scraps, and grows tomatoes in her backyard garden while raising her infant son.
With an intensive background in Marketing and Communication, Lacie has helped create multiple American Advertising Award-winning campaigns for both nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Her recent work includes such companies as Major League Baseball and the National Football League, Publix, and Hermès. In her tenure at MIASF, Lacie was responsible for the rebranding of the world’s largest Superyacht experience, the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, which annually brings in more revenue than the Super Bowl to the South Florida area. Working at SHEPHERD allows for her two favorite disciplines, innovative design and creative resourcing, to come together for a greater good. Lacie holds a B.A. in International Affairs and Communication from The Florida State University.
Lacie has worked as a special correspondent for SkySports Europe for multiple seasons, a former NFL cheerleader, a Broadway trained musical theater singer and is a connoisseur of all things Waylon Jennings.
Kate comes to SHEPHERD with an unusual story. Her first career was in small press publishing, where she ran two literary magazines and a small press that published work from and interviews with from Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners — before the age of 22. That work made her realize the power of design and technology to drive innovation and develop new realities about what business can be. For the next ten years, she ran an independent design and development firm that contracted with clients that varied from small businesses and startups to major corporations including Fidelity, RE/MAX, and Jackson Hewitt.
In 2010, looking for a new perspective, Kate began her studies at Harvard University Extension school. While working full time, she served for over two years as a Harvard research assistant, ultimately earning an ALB degree with a concentration in economics and minors in quantitative analysis and government. While at Harvard, Kate discovered her love for a new type of “design” — statistics and data analysis.
In 2015, she and her co-founder launched a startup, eventually backed by the Harvard Innovation Lab, that used wearable devices and data analytics to predict and prevent burnout in nurses — a $2 billion problem. But in late 2016, Kate‘s fiancé was diagnosed with oligodendroglioma, a rare brain cancer whose standard of care includes the use of chemotherapies more than 40 years old. She quickly refocused on SHEPHERD’s mission.
In her current role, Kate uses her experience as a developer, technologist, and budding analyst to search for, organize, and assess research. The common themes in her work are a passion for entrepreneurship, a drive to adopt new technologies for uncommon purposes, and a love for taking dozens of seemingly disconnected threads and weaving them into new solutions — whether it’s a new application, a new company, or a new opportunity for SHEPHERD.
She is a native of Norfolk, Virginia and was not keen on writing her bio.
Dr. Mahta Samizadeh is a pharmaceutical scientist and pharmacist, with nearly ten years of experience in designing polymeric drug delivery systems and performing physicochemical, biological and efficacy characterization, and expertise in mucosal immunity and inflammation. Before joining Shepherd Therapeutics, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Tufts University. Her expertise lies in designing polymeric nanocarriers for targeted delivery of small molecule drugs as well as mapping pathways associated with mucosal immunity and inflammation.
Dr. Samizadeh’s former areas of experience include the intense study of anti-inflammatory gene and protein expression in acute and chronic mouse models of Chaga’s disease. She also assisted with drug/target development for mouse models of Sjögren’s disease, in collaboration with Biogen as well as with the Forsyth Institute on phase 1 clinical trial sample processes and analysis to study the pattern of changes in saliva in patients with Sjögren’s syndrome.
Dr. Samizadeh received her PhD. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Rutgers University.
Dr. Rupaimoole is a graduate of the Biomedical Sciences Ph.D program, majoring in Cancer biology and Cell biology from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Texas - MD Anderson Cancer Center at Houston. His research during Ph.D. focused on elucidating the role of hypoxia-mediated miRNA biogenesis deregulation in cancer growth and metastasis. He identified key regulatory pathways effecting miRNA biogenesis under hypoxia exposure in tumors. He has developed therapeutic methods to target these aberrations using DOPC encapsulated siRNAs or miRNAs. Upon completion of Ph.D, he moved to Dr. Frank Slack lab, based in Harvard Medical School/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center , to carry out his postdoctoral studies. During his tenure at Dr. Slack lab, he identified small molecules to combine synergistically with miRNA mimics as therapeutics against lung cancer.
Rajesha is a native of the southern Indian coastal city of Mangalore and likes to explore different cuisines, cultures, with a passion for travel.
Debashree Chakrabarti graduated with a Masters in Biotechnology from D.Y Patil University (Mumbai) & Masters in Biological Sciences from University of Massachusetts, Lowell (UML).
As a research assistant in UML, she studied the involvement of the Sonic Hedgehog pathway in jaw size regulation and its implications in congenital craniofacial anomalies. Her thesis in India focused on identifying chromosomal aberrations in children diagnosed with autistic disorder by means of karyotyping peripheral blood lymphocytes.
Prior to her engagement with Shepherd Therapeutics, Debashree supported the Genome Technologies group in Abbvie profiling gene expressions for various autoimmune biomarkers and thereafter worked with the Data Informatics team in automating MSD analysis.
SHEPHERD welcomes Louie, a scholar of applied mathematics and computation. His work entails researching and developing modern methods behind drug combination and synergy, as well as engineering novel machine learning methods for SHEPHERD's proprietary discovery engine. His specific areas of interest include Volterra and Fredholm integral equations for the study of predator-prey population dynamic models, as well as oncological game theory and methods within mathematical biology.
Louie graduated magna cum laude from Spring Hill College, a small Jesuit college in Mobile, Alabama, where he was captain of the varsity track and field team, as well as an academic and athletic scholar.
Louie recently hiked 442 miles across the north of Spain on El Camino de Santiago. By virtue of his Louisiana roots, he likes to cook, but
enjoys eating more. Louie looks forward to attaining his PhD in biomedical engineering.
Rod Bravo is a Gates Millennium Scholar who graduated from Harvard College in 2017 with a concentration in cognitive neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, with significant additional coursework in neurobiology and health policy. During his time at Harvard, he worked in the labs of Dr. Dan Gilbert (Stumbling on Happiness) and Dr. Richard McNally, and served as a a political advocate for Partners in Health Engage under Paul Farmer. Rod has worked in marketing and strategy at multiple startups in both Atlanta and Silicon Valley, one of which went on to acquisition by Oracle.
As an aspiring physician-entrepreneur and healthcare strategist, Rod's passion for SHEPHERD's mission is driven by his experience enduring and overcoming a rare disease typically characterized by less-than-ideal outcomes. As a breathing testament to successes in treating rare disorders, Rod embodies our rage to live and strives to instill that in others.
Mr. Elkins currently serves as the Director of Government Affairs for SHEPHERD. Mr. Elkins has successfully worked withmultiple startups to fundraise, develop prototypes, bring concepts to market, and assist in strategic operational planning. Mr. Elkins also serves as the Legislative Director for the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS).
His primary duties included developing allorganizational legislative priorities, directing the organization’s Congressional outreach, overseeing day-to-day operations, and managing nationwide grassroots advocacy. Mr. Elkins’ responsibilities with EANGUS also include business development, coordinating with the media, and maintaining key relationships within the Administration and Congress.
In 2012, Mr. Elkins was recognized by the White House as an innovator and advocate for Veterans. Since then Mr. Elkins has remained on the Presidential Advisory Committee to the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Mr. Elkins is also a proud member of the West Virginia National Guard and currently serves as a Green Beret in C. Co 2/19th Special Forces Group.
He returned from a combat deployment to Afghanistan in July of 2017. Mr. Elkins’ unique set of leadership opportunities within Special Forces has proven invaluable, adding greatly to his overall experience solving complex problems across multiple cultural and lingual barriers, working well in high-pressure situations, and developing teams. Prior to working as an advocate for Veterans and serving in the military, Mr. Elkins spent six years overseas working with organizations in South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. Mr. Elkins is originally from Western Maryland and currently lives in Washington, DC with his wife Lauren Elkins.
Elle Ross serves as Government Relations Counsel at SHEPHERD. She also concurrently serves as legislative counsel and Manager of Army Programs at the National Guard Association advocating for operational reserve forces. Prior to coming to Capitol Hill, Ross worked on veterans issues at a local law firm. On the hill, Ross has worked for Rep. Peter King, NY-02, and the office of Rep. Pete Sessions, TX-32. She served Sessions, the chairman of the Rules Committee, as legislative counsel and handled the legislative portfolios on military, defense and healthcare. Ross earned a Master of Laws Degree (LL.M) in national security and U.S. foreign relations law from George Washington University Law before starting her career in Washington, D.C. She has also previously worked at Harris Corporation in the government relations division in addition to her time at the McChrystal Group LLC consulting firm. She earned her Juris Doctorate Degree (J.D.) from New England School of Law, Boston in 2012.
Ross is a licensed attorney in the District of Columbia and judge advocate in the Army Reserves.