Sean Ainsworth is Immusoft’s Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board. He has 20 years’ experience in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. Previously, he founded and led RetroSense Therapeutics, a gene therapy company he advanced into human clinical trials and sold to Allergan in 2016 in a deal valued at up to $555 million.
Earlier, he was deeply involved in the launch of Compendia Bioscience, Inc., and GeneVivo, LLC. At both he assisted in developing business models, licensing technologies, building management teams, and securing capital and first customers. Life Technologies acquired Compendia BioScience in 2012.
Sean founded Ainsworth BioConsulting in 2004 to provide licensing, as well as strategic and business planning services to the life science and entrepreneurial community. His clients included large pharma, small biotechs, universities, CROs, and venture investment funds. He has worked with clients at all stages of development.
His other professional experience includes research at Medical Biology Institute (now Avanir Pharmaceuticals, developers of Abreva, the leading cold sore medication) in San Diego, Calif., intellectual property at Koyama and Associates in Tokyo, and international corporate development consulting at The Mattson Jack Group in St. Louis, Mo.
Sean earned an M.B.A. in strategy and finance from Washington University in St. Louis. He holds a B.S. in Microbiology from University of California, San Diego.
Jason Fontenot is Immusoft’s Chief Scientific Officer. He has more than 20 years of experience in life sciences research and drug development.
He is an internationally recognized immunologist with extensive expertise in immune cell biology, cell engineering and immune-mediated disease. Jason’s seminal work with Dr. Alexander Rudensky on regulatory T cells and the transcription factor, FOXP3, transformed the study of immune regulation and produced some of the most highly cited publications in the field of immunology in the last 20 years.
Before joining Immusoft, Jason was the Head of Exploratory Research at Juno Therapeutics, responsible for advancing the company’s early stage engineered T cell therapy pipeline. In his role at Juno, he oversaw the development of next generation cellular and genetic engineering strategies in collaboration with internal and external partners and managed major research partnerships with leading biotech and academic institutions including Editas Medicine, Fate Therapeutics and UCSF.
Prior to Juno Therapeutics, Jason worked at Biogen in Cambridge Mass., where his team focused on T cell biology and immune regulation. In addition to leading multiple exploratory stage research programs, Jason worked on several major drug development programs at Biogen including the TecfideraÔand TysabriÔ. He served as preclinical program team lead on the ZinbrytaÔprogram in Multiple Sclerosis from early clinical development to FDA approval.
Jason received his B.S. degree from Louisiana State University and his Ph.D. from the Immunology Department at the University of Washington in Seattle.
R. Scott McIvor, Ph.D., Chief Development Officer at Immusoft, is Professor of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development at the University of Minnesota. He is also a Founding Scientist and Chief Executive Officer at Discovery Genomics, Inc., Immusoft’s close collaborator.
Dr. McIvor graduated with degrees in Cell and Molecular Biology, and Pathobiology from the University of Washington and obtained his Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Minnesota in 1982. He was a postdoctoral fellow first at the University of California, San Francisco, and then at Genentech, Inc., in South San Francisco, California, where he conducted some of the earliest work on gene transfer into animal tissues in vivo.
He has been at the University of Minnesota since 1986, where he initially was a member of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology and the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Human Genetics, where he served as Director of the Gene Therapy Program.
He is a two-time former member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC) has served extensively on NIH study sections and the Scientific Advisory Board of the NIH National Gene Vector Laboratories. He is currently a member of the Gene Therapy Resource Program Steering Committee for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and serves on the Editorial Board for Molecular Therapy. His research has been primarily in the area of human gene therapy, where he has extensive experience developing both viral and non-viral vectors for the treatment of genetic diseases and cancer.
Cam Gallagher is Immusoft’s Chief Business Officer, joining the company in April of 2018. He has served in various senior management leadership and director roles with several biotech companies from formation through financing and successful acquisitions.
His previous and current roles include Retrosense Therapeutics (acquired by Allergan), Zavante Therapeutics, Oncternal Therapeutics, Velos BioPharma and Kalyra Pharmaceuticals. He was previously Managing Director of Nerveda, LLC, a life science seed fund he co-founded in June 2007.
Cam also served in various senior marketing positions of increasing responsibility at Verus Pharmaceuticals, a privately held specialty pharmaceutical company in San Diego, Calif. Prior to his role at Verus Pharmaceuticals he held positions of increasing management responsibilities at CV Therapeutics and Dura Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Elan).
He holds an M.B.A. from the University of San Diego and a B.S. in Business Administration from the Ohio University.
Matthew Scholz is Immusoft’s founder and a member of the board of directors. He served as the company’s Chief Executive Officer from 2009 through 2017.
With a background in computer security, Matthew’s initial concept for Immusoft’s core technology was based on using high speed cryptographic hardware to develop novel proteins to fight pathogens. In 2008, Matthew began conducting independent research in immunology and gene therapy and seeking input from some of the world’s top scientists. By 2009, he dramatically evolved the initial concept after conceiving how a research system developed by Nobel Laureate and former President of Caltech, David Baltimore, could be modified for a practical application: programming resting B cells to secrete therapeutic proteins. Matthew negotiated an exclusive license to the system, then developed and patented a way to improve its efficiency nearly seven-fold, thus making it clinically viable. This modified system is the core of Immusoft’s technology platform.
Along the way, Matthew recruited a world-class team of scientists and biotech business experts to build Immusoft’s core technology and shape and drive the company. Immusoft’s extensive list of advisors includes experts in immunology, cell therapy, gene therapy, preclinical and clinical development, and CEOs of successful biotech companies. Matthew has also led Immusoft’s highly successful fundraising efforts. In March 2012, Immusoft was among the first to be awarded the Thiel Foundation’s Breakout Labs grant. The start-up has also received a grant from the National Institutes of Health and funds from private investors. In addition, Matthew has secured several valuable collaborations, including nearly $100k of work at no charge from academic labs during the company’s proof of concept stage.
With Immusoft as his third venture, Matthew has 13 years of experience connecting real-world needs with cutting-edge technical solutions. Prior projects include mobile application development and GPS-based fleet logistics (a start-up that he sold in 2009). He holds a degree in computer science from the University of Washington and is a frequent speaker at the University of Washington School of Business. Matthew also serves as mentor for the Thiel Fellowship, a program that awards $100k grants to some of the brightest scientific minds in the world who are under age 20.
Monika Swietlicka is Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at Immusoft. She leads development and implementation of regulatory strategy and quality systems, including overseeing regulatory submissions and compliance. She is responsible for quality oversight and program management of Immusoft’s clinical pipeline.
Monika has broad knowledge of the product lifecycle from Investigational New Drug approval through the Biologics License Application process with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency. She brings to Immusoft extensive experience in various biotechnology settings, having specialized in discovery, pre-clinical, clinical, commercial and translational research. She is versed in all stages of cellular therapeutics and biologics drug development, and manufacturing.
Previously, Monika managed a continuous improvement program for a first in class immunotherapy product, Provenge (Sipuleucel-T), for which she also developed new processes to monitor method lifecycle. She has authored content for FDA and EMA submissions, led Contract Manufacturing Organization tech transfer activities and compliance audits.
Immusoft is Monika’s third experience with a biotech startup. Earlier, she worked on in-situ therapeutic antibody rescue technology, T-cell activation platform, and the first autologous antigen-presenting cells vaccine designed to stimulate an immune response to a variety of tumor types. She was part of early collaborative efforts with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative to develop HIV-neutralizing antibodies and has worked on broadly neutralizing antibodies for treating pandemic influenza and severe seasonal influenza.
Monika has degrees from Seattle Pacific University, having earned an M.B.A. in International Business and a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. While earning her master’s, she co-authored an operations management textbook now used by the graduate business program. As an undergraduate, her senior thesis focused on studies of NKG2D and MICA on Surface and in Solution in which MICA ligands were mutated at residues that do not contact NKG2D.
Monika is a strong advocate for disruptive biotechnologies and passionately supports all regulatory activities to advance Immusoft’s strategic initiatives.