Ivan Plavec, Ph.D. – Managing Partner
Ivan has over twenty years of experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry as a research scientist, executive in business development and a consultant. Ivan holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Zürich, Switzerland, and has held senior research positions at Novartis and Systemix, and executive business development positions at BioSeek and Asterand. Prior to founding Ascellna, Ivan was an independent consultant for biotechs and CROs. Ivan has negotiated and closed over one hundred deals including complex drug discovery collaborations, technology-based collaborations, and product and technology licensing deals. He has hands-on experience with the sales of life science tools and services, management of sales and marketing teams, revenue projections, pricing strategies, contract drafting, management of cross-functional and cross-continent R&D teams, government contracts and technical due diligence.
Ivan also has a strong track record of scientific accomplishments and broad scientific experience in systems biology, human primary cells, screening of small molecules and drug repositioning, development of gene expression vectors, gene therapy, hematopoietic stem cells, retroviruses, immunology, inflammation, dermatology and hematological disorders.
Angela Mellon, M.A. – Advisor, Clinical Operations
Angela has over 28 years of experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry. She is a seasoned clinical research professional providing clinical scientific support, global clinical and laboratory operations support, and quality systems management. Angela routinely collaborates with executive and senior management personnel to provide scientific guidance and direction for clinical research. She troubleshoots scientific, technical, and logistical barriers to address issues in study design and execution, ensuring compliance and adherence to study goals, endpoints, and timelines. Additionally, Angela works with global multifunctional teams (e.g., Quality Assurance, Regulatory, Clinical Operations, Data Management, Pharmacovigilance) providing technical and scientific consultation, ensuring comprehensive understanding of study analyses requirements, reporting, and timelines to ensure global consistency in study output. She realizes the importance of close multifunctional team integration to ensure all required scientific, technical, quality, and regulatory requirements of clinical studies are met. Angela has established and managed clinical and laboratory operations for multinational clinical studies, Phase I through Phase IV, including close management of CROs and laboratory vendors, ensuring supply chain logistics, analysis, reporting, and data transfer meet specified study timelines. She has developed operations and logistics in resource-challenged regions (e.g., West Africa) and has extensive global experience, with experience working in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Columbia, France, Japan, Liberia, Netherlands, Peru, Russia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and United States.
Eric J. Kunkel, Ph.D. – Advisor, Preclinical Research
Eric has over twelve years of experience in biotech, including roles as a bench scientist, executive in research and operations, consultant, and entrepreneur. Eric is currently Senior VP, Research and Development at BioCision, LLC a company focused on developing products to address temperature stability of biospecimens and biotherapeutics from the bench to bedside. Previously, Eric co-founded and helped obtain seed financing and grant support for Extend Biopharma, Inc., a start-up company developing a chemoenzymatic technology for creating next generation biologics, and was a Senior Advisor for Carmenta Bioscience, Inc., a company developing a serum diagnostic for preeclampsia. As VP, Assay Development and Screening at Catalyst Biosciences, Inc., Eric led the optimization of the Alterase technology platform, which successfully generated development candidate evolved proteases for inflammatory indications. Eric held various research and operations positions at BioSeek, Inc., including VP, Biology where he contributed to successful development and commercialization of the BioMAP human cell-based discovery platform. Eric’s achievements include successful development of multiple discovery technologies, numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals, and multiple patents and patent applications. Eric has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame, M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Virginia, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. His broad scientific expertise includes development of cell-based and biochemical assays, high-throughput screening, directed evolution, systems biology, discovery of small molecule, peptide and protein therapeutics, diagnostics and product development, biological databases and data mining, and deep knowledge of engineering principles, immunology, cell biology, and oncology.
Evangelos (Vangelis) Hytopoulos, Ph.D. – Advisor, Computational Sciences
Vangelis has over a decade of experience in providing guidance in statistical methods and machine learning, clinical study design, health economics analysis and product development. As the Chief, Computational Sciences at Aviir, Vangelis led the algorithm development, validation and health economics study for MIRISK VP, Aviir’s flagship commercial product for CVD risk prediction. He has over fifteen years of experience in statistical methods for proteomics/genomics applications, algorithm development, high performance computing and visualization. Prior to joining Aviir, Vangelis led the development of information systems, database and analytical approaches for the BioMAP technology at BioSeek. Previously, he held positions at X-Mine leading the development of cutting-edge microarray analysis algorithms, at CFD Research Inc., promoting the adoption of numerical simulation technologies in the Semiconductor and Bioengineering, microfluidics industry, at Silicon Graphics, where he was a high performance computing applications expert, and in the automotive industry, where he was involved with the development of the state-of-the-art numerical methodologies to accelerate the time to market for new automobile designs. Vangelis has Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Aerospace Engineering and an undergraduate degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. He has published numerous papers in peer-reviewed journals and has given invited presentations and seminars.