Dr. Mogford has a proven track record in fostering and managing complex life science development. He most recently served as the Vice Chancellor for Research for The Texas A&M University System, where he provided research and development leadership to the System’s eleven universities and seven state agencies encompassing 30,000 faculty and staff, 135,000 students, a budget of more than $4 billion and research expenditures of more than $945 million annually. As the leader of the A&M System Office of Research, Dr. Mogford developed strategic partnerships with external agencies, foundations, academic institutions, and commercial corporations to enhance the system’s mission of research, teaching, service, and economic development for the state of Texas. Prior to joining the Texas A&M University System in 2011, Dr. Mogford served as a program manager and then Deputy Director of the Defense Sciences Office (DSO) of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the U.S. Department of Defense. As DSO Deputy Director, he provided strategic planning and implementation of $400M/year in R&D in the physical, biomedical and material sciences. He provided leadership to 20 Program Managers in the development and management of office investments ranging from the fundamental sciences to commercial transition efforts for both defense and non-defense applications. Dr. Mogford led expansion of formal working relationship between DARPA and the FDA to improve the ability of each organization to meet mission goals, which was highlighted as a DARPA-FDA-NIH partnership by the White House. Dr. Mogford is a recipient of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service.
Dr. Mogford obtained his bachelor’s degree in Zoology from Texas A&M University and doctorate in Medical Physiology from the Texas A&M University Health Science Center, College Station, Texas. His research in vascular physiology continued at the University of Chicago as a Postdoctoral fellow from 1997-98. Dr. Mogford transitioned his research focus to the field of wound healing at Northwestern University, both as a Research Associate and also as a Research Assistant Professor from 1998-2003.
Ms. Best is a Human Resources and Operations leader with 20 years of progressive experience within the Biotech, Construction, Finance and Professional Services Sectors with key experience in startups and SMEs. Her work with life science companies include Cambria Pharmaceuticals and Antigenics LLC (now Agenus) where she helped both companies transition out of university settings. Ms. Best is well-versed in identifying, defining, and driving strategic HR initiatives, developing and aligning HR policy and procedures, and orchestrating effective talent management solutions. She specializes in company culture and has collaborated with Education First (EF) on a speaker series about building company culture. She has also previously served as a judge in the HULT prize/Clinton Global Initiative. Ms. Best obtained a BS in Business Management from the University of Phoenix.
Mr. Brauns brings tested and diverse operational experience in the life sciences field over the last 25 years gained in the academic hospital environment and in biotech and medical device companies and medical philanthropies. Prior to joining SmartPharm, Mr. Brauns was the Associate Director of the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center (VIC) at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), where over a five-year period he helped to double the funding of the Center, including landing key STTR grants and other contracts for support of preclinical life science technologies and guiding four preclinical technologies toward development partnerships. Before his work with VIC, he held positions as Vice President of Strategic Planning for Boston BioCom, a biotechnology company, Vice President of Marketing and Communication for BL Healthcare, a home health monitoring technology company, Assistant Director of the International Program in the Center for the Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT) at MGH, and Director of Program Development at the Adelson Medical Research Foundation. Mr. Brauns bring special skills in the development and management of “distributed development” of new life science technologies through cross-disciplinary, inter-institutional, industry-academic teams and in sponsored program developing, assisting organizations he was part of in securing over $60 million in grants and contracts from a broad range of Federal and private funding organizations.
Prior to joining SmartPharm, Dr. Hebert served as Associate Director of Innovation for Partners HealthCare where he utilized his business development, legal, and scientific experience to launch biotechnology start-up companies based upon research conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Hebert first developed his skills as a patent attorney with Pennie & Edmonds LLP in New York City and, since then, worked for a number of biotechnology companies to create, license, and commercialize new technologies.
Dr. Hebert obtained his B.S. in biology from the University of Notre Dame, Ph.D. in cellular biology from the University of Alabama Birmingham, J.D. from Seton Hall University, and M.B.A. from the University of Connecticut.
Mr. Thomas has more than 40 years of experience in a variety of financial and accounting positions, with the last 33 years spent in the medical, pharmaceutical and device fields. From 2001 until 2018, Mr. Thomas served as Chief Financial Officer and Secretary of CorMatrix Cardiovascular, a privately held medical device company and a director from 2001 until 2016. Since 1991, Mr. Thomas has served as Chief Financial Officer, Secretary and Director of Motion Reality, Inc., a privately held motion capture and simulation company. Since 2012, Mr. Thomas has served as a Director of Novelion Therapeutics, Inc., formerly QLT, Inc., a public biotechnology company and Medovex, Inc., a public medical device company. Since 2014, Mr. Thomas has served as a Director of NantKwest, Inc., a public biotechnology company. During the past 10 years, Mr. Thomas served as acting Chief Financial Officer for DemeRx, Inc., MRI Interventions, Inc., MiMedx Group, Inc. and DARA BioSciences, and as a director of MRI Interventions, Inc. From 1999 and 2012, Mr. Thomas also served as a Trustee and subsequently the Chairman of the Finance Committee of The Walker School, a private Pre-K through 12 grade school. Mr. Thomas is a Certified Public Accountant and graduated from the University of Virginia, McIntire School of Commerce.
Dr. Kristy Szretter has broad expertise in preclinical research and development of vaccines, biologics and gene therapy in academic, government and industry settings. Dr. Szretter’s experience includes discovery/lead candidate identification, safety assessment, and translation into the clinic with a successful track record of regulatory submissions in the US and globally. Prior to joining SmartPharm, Dr. Szretter was the Associate Director of Nonclinical Safety Assessment at Axovant Sciences, leading the toxicology program and nonclinical development of gene therapy products for neurological and rare diseases. Before that, Dr. Szretter was at Visterra where she held various positions of increasing responsibility developing biologics to treat infectious disease and autoimmune disorders. Dr. Szretter received her BS in Animal Science from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst and her PhD in Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis from Emory University. She completed postdoctoral work in the Infectious Disease department at Washington University in St. Louis – School of Medicine.
Scientific and Clinical Advisors
Dr. Ellie Hershberger, Pharm D is a clinical advisor with over seventeen years of experience in leading development of small and large molecules across multiple therapeutic areas including cardiovascular and infectious diseases. Dr. Hershberger’s experience includes leading drug candidates through early and late-stages of development with over 20 successful regulatory submissions in the US and globally. Dr. Hershberger has held a number of leadership positions in various levels of increasing responsibility at Pfizer, Cubist, Merck, and Visterra. She played a leading role in the development of Zerbaxa® and Cubicin® while serving as Global Program Development Lead at Merck and Senior Medical Director at Cubist. At Visterra, she led the clinical and operation teams responsible for global development of novel biologic therapies. Dr. Hershberger has a BS in Chemistry, a Doctorate in Pharmacy and completed a fellowship in Infectious Diseases PK/PD.
Dr. Michael Mansour is a physician-scientist involved in the investigation of invasive fungal diseases and host immune responses. He is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and an attending physician on the Transplant and Immunocompromised Host Service in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Mansour obtained his MD and PhD degrees from Boston University School of Medicine. His PhD focused on host response to the human pathogen, Cryptococcus neoformans. He completed his Internal Medicine Residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital, where he also served as served as Chief Medical Resident after which he completed the Harvard combined Infectious Diseases fellowship. Dr. Mansour’s clinical work focuses mainly on the care of solid and bone marrow transplant patients with infectious complications. In addition, he maintains a basic and translational research laboratory investigating the critical molecular mechanisms responsible for host immunity to life-threatening fungal pathogens.
Dr. Shazly is an Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. The research in Dr. Shazly’s lab is focused on defining and characterizing relevant tissue properties for clinical applications and rationally designing polymeric biomaterials that leverage local biology to enhance therapeutic gain. His specific interests include physiological mechanical testing of soft matter, mechanical modeling, multiphysics-based computational modeling, tissue-material adhesion and tissue scaffold engineering. Dr. Shazly obtained his Masters in Bioengineering at Georgia Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. was obtained at MIT, Cambridge in Bio and Polymeric Materials Science and Engineering.
Mohammed is the Vice President, Head of Clinical Research and Development, at bluebird bio, where he leads a team of 8 physicians, pharmacologists and clinical scientists working on lentiviral-based gene therapy for sickle cell disease, thalassemia, adrenoleukodystrophy and on an immuno-oncology pipeline for liquid and solid tumors. Before joining bluebird bio, Mohammed was the Medical Director of Clinical Development at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. He is a medical scientist with broad range of therapeutic and research experience spanning small molecules and cell & gene therapy, and disease area expertise including hemoglobinopathies, neurometabolic disorders, solid and liquid tumor oncology, and infectious diseases (hepatitis C, HIV, influenza). Mohammed is an American Board of Internal Medicine-certified practitioner of Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he is involved in the treatment of complex general medical and infectious conditions, and in the teaching of medical students and residents and fellows in training. He received his MD from the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and subsequently completed his internship and residency at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA.
Dr. Behfar is a consultant in the Department of Cardiovascular Diseases where he is the co-Director for Innovation in Biological Agents/Drugs. He holds a joint appointment in the Department of Physiology and Biomedical Engineering and Molecular Pharmacology. He joined Mayo Clinic staff in 2014 and holds the academic rank of Associate Professor of Medicine. Dr. Behfar is the Braswell Family Deputy Director of Translation, where he provides oversight of technological platforms, infrastructure, and clinical trials to advance new knowledge to clinical applications. Dr. Behfar also directs the Van Cleve Cardiac Regenerative Medicine Program where his team conducts cardiovascular regeneration research and develops technologies to repair heart tissues. He also serves as the medical director for the Advanced Product Incubator, a CGMP manufacturing facility designed to accelerate the development and use of regenerative products. Dr. Behfar has received the Howard Hughes Scholarship Award, the American College of Cardiology Herman K. Gold Young Investigator Award, and the American Society for Clinical and Pharmacology and Therapeutics Presidential Award. He has over 100 publications and has contributed to several United States and international patents in the biotherapeutics and device space.