About Us

Our team is composed of scientists, entrepreneurs, and drug hunters who share a collective vision and passion for profoundly impacting
how we age.

Team

Naze Gul Avci | Scientist
 

Scott Armstrong | VP of Research
 

Anil Bhushan | Scientific Founder

Dr. Naze Avci has extensive experience in developing and testing therapies in specialized in vivo models. At Deciduous she has focused her in vivo skills on establishing a clear, reproducible model system to establish in vivo POC in metabolic disorders.

Naze earned her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from University of Houston where she developed 3D Glioblastoma (GBM) models to investigate the interaction of tumor cells with the tumor microenvironment. As a post-doctoral fellow, she worked in Neurosurgery Departments at MD Anderson Cancer Center and Houston Methodist Hospital and focused on novel signaling pathways in GBM for the development of combinational cancer-therapeutics. Her research interests then took her to University of Houston, as a Research Assistant Professor, where she conducted studies using 3D tumor models and microfluidics systems to characterize NF-Kb signaling pathway contributing to tumor drug resistance. In her free time, Naze enjoys the outdoors, the California way of life via hiking and camping and is learning how to play hang drum.

Scott Armstrong is an experienced in vivo pharmacologist with a passion for drug discovery and development. He brings over 25 years of research experience across a broad range of therapeutic areas. Most recently, he was the Head of In Vivo Pharmacology at Unity Biotechnology. There, he led the respiratory disease project team while managing a function that was focused on musculoskeletal, ocular and hepatic drug discovery. Prior to Unity, Scott was the founding lab biologist at Theravance Biopharma and spent 19 years in roles of increasing leadership contributing to 10 IND filings and 2 approved drugs (Vibativ®, Yupelri®). In his free time, he enjoys travel, soccer, and Sunday mornings reading the New York Times.

Dr. Anil Bhushan is the scientific founder of Deciduous where his lab was one of the first to show the role of clearing senescent cells in models of Type 1 diabetes. The long-term goal of his research is to understand the role of tissue secretory senescent cells in aging, autoimmunity and metabolic diseases. Recently they showed that pancreatic beta cells acquire a secretome in T1D in both mice and humans and exhibit many non-cell autonomous properties. Subsequently they have identified key immune cells that can selectively eliminate senescent beta cells to halt progression of beta cell destruction to prevent T1D in mouse models. They now utilize immune modulatory targets to identify new drugs that specifically eliminate secretory senescent cells in humans.

Frank Carr | Antibody Discovery
 

Janice Lansita | Toxicology Lead
 

Abhijit Kale | Scientist

Dr. Frank Carr is a co-inventor of several antibody and protein engineering technologies including germ-line humanization and DeImmunization technologies. He was also a co-founder of Abtelum Biopharmaceuticals, Inc., now NControl, and previously co-founded several UK biotechnology companies. As founder/CEO at Biovation UK and co-founder at Antitope UK, Frank collaborated with numerous biopharmaceutical companies worldwide for development of novel biologics to treat a wide range of chronic and acute diseases. Frank is an inventor on over 50 granted patents and was also a co-founder of Scancell plc, Cytocell UK and Auvation UK. Previous to this, Frank was VP Research at Scotgen Biopharmaceuticals and held Research Manager posts at ICI Pharmaceuticals (later AstraZeneca plc.) and GE Amersham plc.

Dr. Janice Lansita is a board-certified toxicologist with over 16 years of experience, both in the biopharmaceutical industry and with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a regulatory toxicologist, she has developed small molecule as well as biologic therapies, including monoclonal antibodies, bispecifics, fusion proteins, cytokines, cell and gene therapies, peptides, enzyme replacement therapies, and DNA/RNA based therapies for a broad range of indications (e.g., rare disease, oncology, neurology, pain, ophthalmology, and immunology). Dr. Lansita has extensive experience in the design, monitoring, and interpretation of nonclinical toxicology studies (GLP and non-GLP) and has authored the nonclinical sections of various regulatory documents, including pre-INDs, INDs/CTAs (>30), Investigator Brochures, annual reports, BLAs/NDAs, and package inserts/product labels for biopharmaceuticals. She has specialized expertise in the nonclinical development of biologic therapeutics, including pharmacologically relevant species selection, immunogenicity, immune-mediated toxicity (e.g., complement activation, anti-drug antibodies, autoimmunity, cytokine-release), surrogate animal models, immunotoxicology endpoints, study design and setting the FIH starting dose (MABEL, HNSTD, NOAEL).

At Deciduous, Dr. Abhijit Kale is an in vitro lead scientist focusing on the interaction of immune cells with senescent cells. Abhijit has over 10 years of multi-disciplinary research experience. His area of research includes genetics, genomics, cellular senescence, and aging. He started his research career in India at Tata Institute for fundamental research, Mumbai, followed by a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NY. For his postdoc, Abhijit worked with world-renowned Prof. Judith Campisi at the Buck Institute for Aging Research, where he studied the role of cellular senescence in aging and metabolic diseases. In his free time, he likes to travel and hike in the mountains of California.

Rachel Hatano | Operations

 

Robin Mansukhani | CEO and Co-Founder

Jack Galloway | Research Associate

Dr. Rachel Hatano was one of the first scientists at Deciduous Therapeutics, and established a range of target validation, in vitro screening, and functional characterization bioassay experiments critical to vetting novel immunotherapies. Her current role focuses on enabling the company's operations initiatives. Rachel received her PhD in Bioengineering at University of California, Merced, where she focused on cardiovascular tissue engineering & integrated cellular systems. In addition, Rachel is an advocate/active mentor for minorities in STEM programs in the Bay Area and California central valley.

Robin Mansukhani is CEO and Co-Founder of Deciduous Therapeutics. Previously, he co-founded and served as President & CEO of Alzeca Biosciences, an Alzheimer’s/CNS diagnostic imaging company which was supported by venture investors and the NIH. He has been an invited speaker both domestically and abroad, including TEDx. Previously Robin has worked in early stage venture capital at The Maple Fund and investment banking at Axiom Capital. In the community, he co-founded BlueStamp Engineering, an intensive, project based engineering program for high school students in NYC, San Francisco, and Palo Alto. He has also served a term in AmeriCorps. Mr. Mansukhani holds a B.S. in Biochemistry from Case Western Reserve University. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, two daughters, and indefatigable dog. He enjoys cooking and exercise, sometimes in that order.

Jack Galloway supports all of Deciduous’ in vivo experiments with his broad range of murine model expertise. As a former research associate at Unity Biotechnology, Jack brings experience in a variety of surgery, tissue collection, and down-stream processing techniques. Prior to his work as a researcher, Jack received a Bachelor of Science in pharmacology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he competed on the varsity track and field team.

Ajit Shah | Scientist
 

Jasmine Denny | Research Associate
 

Matt Duncton | Medicinal Chemistry

Dr. Ajit Shah is a Cell Biologist with more than ten years of research experience in cell and molecular biology. His work at Deciduous started with in vitro bio-assay development, and extensive immune cell profiling studies. Ajit now works on developing Deciduous’ multiple in vivo disease model programs for lead optimization. Prior to Deciduous, he completed a post-doc with Deciduous Therapeutics Scientific Founder, Dr. Anil Bhushan at UCSF, where he investigated the role of cellular senescence in the pathogenesis of T1D and helped lay the groundwork for Deciduous initial POC. Ajit obtained his Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from the University of Texas at Dallas for his research on understanding the mechanism employed by the eukaryotic system to survive under hypoxic conditions. His research helped show the real-time changes in transcriptional responses of cells under a hypoxic environment.

Jasmine joined Deciduous from the University of California Santa Barbara where she studied Pharmacology. She works with the research team to support a variety of in vivo studies. She is also engaged with the Fallen Waterman's foundation to fundraise for higher education.

Dr. Matt Duncton has over 20 years of experience in medicinal chemistry with a career working in oncology, immunology, anti-infectives and neuroscience therapeutic areas at companies such as Merck, Vernalis, OSI Pharmaceuticals, ImClone Systems, Renovis, and Rigel Pharmaceuticals. Since 2016, Matt has served as an independent consultant in medicinal chemistry working with small biopharmaceutical organizations, Venture Capital groups and academia. Matt is an author/inventor on more than 90 papers and patents and his work has led to projects advancing in to human clinical trials, such as ARX-1796 (recently licensed to Pfizer), NFX-179 (currently, Phase II), RN-5327 (TRPV1 antagonist; Phase I), and a host of other IND candidates.

Advisors

Laura Deming | Investor & Advisor

Robert Forrester | Board Member

Dylan Morris | Investor & Board Member

When she was 8, Laura Deming realized that we were all going to die of a disease called aging. Ever since, her driving passion has been to slow aging and eliminate age-related disease. She started working in a biogerontology lab when she was 12, and matriculated at MIT when she was 14. At 17, she was one of the youngest 20under20 fellows awarded $100,000 by Peter Thiel to pursue her venture full time. Laura is currently a full-time partner at The Longevity Fund, an early stage venture capital fund backing companies which target the aging process to treat disease, with investments in gene editing, small molecule therapeutics, and novel methods to treat disease.’

Robert Forrester is the co-founder and CXO of EQRx. Robert has over 20 years of experience as the CEO, COO or CFO of both private and public life science companies with Verastem Oncology (NASDAQ: VSTM), Forma Therapeutics (NASDAQ: FMTX), CombinatoRx (NASDAQ: CRXX, now ZLCS) and Coley (NASDAQ: COLY, acquired by Pfizer). Robert was a managing director of the Proprietary Investment Group at MeesPierson, part of the Fortis Group, investing in life science companies. Prior to MeesPierson, Robert worked for the investment banks, Barclays Capital and UBS, in the corporate finance groups undertaking M&A, and public and private finance transactions. Robert started his career as lawyer with Clifford Chance in London and Singapore. Robert has completed approximately $20 billion of transactions and has been involved with five approved products. He holds a LL.B. from Bristol University.

Dylan Morris is a General Partner in CRV’s Bioengineering practice. He has led the firm’s investments in System1 Biosciences, Recursion Pharmaceuticals, 3T Biosciences, and Plexium. He previously invested at Innovation Endeavors, an early-stage venture firm backed by Eric Schmidt, of Google/Alphabet. At IE, Dylan drove investments in several companies operating at the intersection of computing and biology, including Freenome, a CRV portfolio company applying deep learning to liquid biopsy for early cancer detection. Previously, he cofounded Integrated Plasmonics, a venture-backed point-of-care diagnostics startup. Dylan conducted graduate research in Biophysics at Caltech and received an A.B. in Computer Science from Harvard.

Dylan is passionate about accelerating the future of biology. He is excited about opportunities that leverage data to make biological engineering more tractable. He cares deeply about human health and is eager to explore creative ways to stimulate research and hasten the pace of biomedical innovation.

Karen Boezi | Investor & Advisor

Martin Babler | Advisor

Regis Kelly | Advisor

Karen Boezi is a member of Broadway Angels and the founding managing director of QB3's Executive Mentorship Program. She's also a co-founder of the new San Francisco Girls' School and Center of Excellence for Girls' STEM Education initiatives. Previously, Karen was the CEO of Redwood Bioscience which she joined as the first non-founder employee, leading the company through its successful acquisition by Catalent (CTLT). Redwood, now Catalent Biologics, continues to be a pioneer in developing therapeutic conjugate technology and antibody-drug conjugates for improving cancer treatment. Prior to joining Redwood, Karen was a co-founder and partner of Thomas, McNerney & Partners (TMP), a health care technology-focused venture firm with $600 million under management. TMP was recently recognized for managing one of the top three performing 2006 vintage venture funds globally. Previously, she was a General Partner of Coral Ventures and a member of Warburg Pincus LLC’s healthcare technology venture group. During her venture career, Karen was involved with 15 companies from initial investment that went public and/or were acquired; three of which she launched in collaboration with scientific founders. Karen began her career as a member of Alex. Brown & Sons’s health care and insurance corporate finance teams. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude with a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Babler previously served as Principia’s Chief Executive Officer starting in 2011, then as President and Chief Executive Officer between early 2019 and 2020. Principia, founded in 2008, built a portfolio of drugs to treat immune-mediated conditions including multiple sclerosis, pemphigus and immune thrombocytopenia purpura, all currently in Phase 3 trials. Martin Babler joined the company when it started operations in 2011 and led it through several rounds of financing, the IPO, and the acquisition by Sanofi for $3.7 billion.

From 2007 to 2011, Mr. Babler served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Talima Therapeutics. From 1998 to 2007, Mr. Babler held several positions at Genentech, most notably Vice President, Immunology Sales and Marketing. While at Genentech, he also helped build and led the Commercial Development organization and led the Cardiovascular Marketing organization. From 1991 to 1998, Mr. Babler was employed at Eli Lilly and Company in sales management, global marketing, and business development.

Dr. Regis B. Kelly is the Director of one of four California Institutes for Science and Innovation, created by the California Legislature to strengthen the academic foundation of its technology-based industries. QB3 is the only one of the four devoted exclusively to biology and to the life science industries. It is an innovation center made up of over 200 quantitative biologists at three northern California campuses (UCB, UCSC & UCSF) working at the interface of the physical and biological sciences and a team of professionals converting its discoveries into practical benefits for society.

From 2000 to 2004, Dr. Kelly served as Executive Vice Chancellor at the University of California in San Francisco, where his major responsibility was the new Mission Bay campus.

Max Krummel | SAB

Eric Verdin | SAB

Markus Grompe | SAB

For the past 25 years, Max Krummel has used cutting-edge technologies to study the mechanisms that regulate the immune system, making discoveries that have led to numerous critical advances. For instance, while earning his doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley Max Krummel co-invented the first approved immunotherapy for cancer, which has now helped more than a hundred thousand people with cancer. As a graduate student in James Allison's lab, Krummel's work on key checkpoint inhibitors for cancer immunotherapy was instrumental in the 2018 Nobel prize awarded to Allison and Honjo. In 2015 Krummel founded Pionyr Immunotherapeutics, a now clinical-stage company with a diversified pipeline of myeloid targeting therapeutic antibodies. Through a 2020 alliance with Gilead, Pionyr is eligible to receive up to $1.74 billion through the purchase of exclusive options and future milestone payments.

Today, Krummel is an immunologist at the University of California, San Francisco, where he is laying the groundwork for the next generation of research as the co-founder of ImmunoX, an innovative research program that promotes collaboration, communication, and the sharing of data technology and findings across fields, disciplines, and geographies.

Dr. Verdin is the president and chief executive officer of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. A native of Belgium, Dr. Verdin received his Doctorate of Medicine (MD) from the University of Liege and completed additional clinical and research training at Harvard Medical School. He has held faculty positions at the University of Brussels, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Picower Institute for Medical Research. Dr. Verdin is also a professor of medicine at University of California, San Francisco.

Dr. Verdin studies how metabolism, diet, and small molecules regulate the activity of HDACs and sirtuins, and thereby the aging process and its associated diseases, including Alzheimer’s. He has published more than 210 scientific papers and holds more than 15 patents. He is a highly cited scientist (top 1 percent) and has been recognized for his research with a Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging and a senior scholarship from the Ellison Medical Foundation. He is an elected member of several scientific organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and the Association of American Physicians. He also serves on the advisory council of National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Verdin has extensive experience working with biotech companies. He is a founder of Acylin (purchased by Abbvie). He served on the scientific advisory boards of Elixir, Sirtris (purchased by GSK), Calico (Google), and Nokia, and he also served as advisor to Sofinnova Ventures. Dr. Verdin has also worked for several years as a consultant to Novartis, GSK, J&J, Altana, Roche, Pfizer, and other biotech companies.

Dr. Markus Grompe is a professor of Pediatrics and practicing physician at Oregon Health & Science University since 1991. Grompe is a specialist in hepatology and stem cell biology, and is known for the development of the "Fah mouse model", a transgenic mouse model of Type I tyrosinemia. The mice have been used to model diseases such as malaria and to optimize human gene therapy strategies.

In 2007 Grompe founded Yecuris Corporation, which distributes mice with "humanized" livers to pharmaceutical and biotech companies for pre-clinical research in infectious liver diseases, liver gene therapy, and drug metabolism.

In 2016, he cofounded Ambys Medicines, which develops treatments for advanced liver disease through enhancement or regeneration of hepatocyte activity.