Management Team

 

Purnanand Sarma, PhD
President and Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Purnanand Sarma serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Immunome. Sarma brings more than 25 years of experience in all aspects of pharmaceutical industry business across multiple R&D platforms, ranging from venture-backed biotechnology start-ups to large cap pharmaceutical companies. He was most recently the President & CEO of Taris Biomedical, which he built over the last nine years into a leader in therapeutic urology, focused on diseases such as bladder cancer and overactive bladder. In addition to raising more than $100M in equity capital, he also sold one of Taris’ products to Allergan (NYSE:AGN) in a deal worth up to $587M. Prior to Taris, Sarma was the VP and General Manager of World-wide Drug Delivery Technologies for Cephalon Corporation (NYSE:CEPH). Before joining Cephalon, he spent over 10 years in various capacities at Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NKTR), including VP of Drug Development & Program Management and built the entire green field operation of Nektar Therapeutics (India), serving as its first Managing Director. He started his career at SmithKline Beecham in King of Prussia, PA, after earning his PhD in Pharmaceutics from the University of Minnesota and B. Pharm from Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, India. Sarma also serves as an independent Board member at Ohm Oncology and Vaxess Technologies Inc.

 

Michael J. Morin, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer

Mike Morin, PhD, has had a productive career in cancer research, with a long-standing commitment to improving patient care. As Vice President in Pfizer Global R&D, he led Antibacterials, Immunology and Cancer drug discovery in Groton, CT. During his extensive Pfizer career, Mike had oversight for the discovery of approximately 40 clinical candidates, many of which are progressing in active development. Most notable among those activities was his direct leadership in the discovery through Phase 2 proof-of-concept for erlotinib (TarcevaTM), a small molecule inhibitor of the epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase (a blockbuster drug marketed by Roche and Astellas). Additional candidates from his teams, both monoclonal antibodies and small molecules, have also achieved full development status and are moving through late-stage clinical trials and NDA filings. Since 2008, Mike worked as an advisor and as a C-level interim leader of venture-backed biotechnology companies, including Supportive Therapeutics (CEO) and Onkaido (CSO). Mike remains a committed supporter of academic cancer programs at the local and national levels, and he continues to contribute to the peer-review process within the cancer research community. This includes many years of service as co-chair of the NCI Experimental Therapeutics (NExT) review panel, chair of the Drug Discovery Initiative of the Children’s Tumor Foundation, and the Scientific Advisory Boards of the Ontario Institute of Cancer Research and of the Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation. Mike also serves as an executive advisor for the sciences and new ventures at UMass Lowell, where he is also an adjunct professor in the Kennedy College of Sciences. Mike received his baccalaureate in Biological Sciences from UMass Lowell and his PhD in Cancer Pharmacology from SUNY Buffalo (Roswell Park Graduate Division). He was an NIH postdoctoral fellow with Professor Alan Sartorelli at the Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center.

 

Matthew K. Robinson, PhD
Vice President, R&D

Matthew Robinson, PhD, has over 15 years of experience in the antibody engineering field. Previously, he was on the faculty at Fox Chase Cancer Center where he led a research laboratory developing antibody-based molecules for the detection and treatment of cancer. Matt was a co-founder of RAbD Biotech, a company focused on the computational design of antibodies. He has also served on the Scientific Advisory Boards of a number of antibody-focused biotechnology companies, including Viventia Bio (now Sesen Bio), Avipep Pty. Ltd. and Oncobiologics. He served on the steering committee for the American Association for Pharmaceutical Sciences Pharmaco-Imaging Focus Group and has served on multiple NIH, DoD and American Cancer Society study sections. He earned a BS degree in biology from Allegheny College and PhD in genetics from the University of Rochester School of Medicine. He then performed post-doctoral work at Yale University School of Medicine before joining Fox Chase Cancer Center.

 

Karen Lundgren, PhD
Senior Director, Lead Development

Karen Lundgren, PhD, has 20 years of experience in cancer drug discovery.  Previously she was a consultant in non-clinical pharmacology for several biotech companies.  Karen was a founder and CSO at Tokalas (now Oncternal), a company that has a small molecule for Ewing’s sarcoma in development. Prior to that Karen worked at Biogen Idec, (Conforma), Corvas, and Pfizer (Agouron) working on the discovery and development of small molecules and biologicals for cancer and inflammatory diseases.  Karen received her BA degree from Barnard College, Columbia University and her PhD in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the University of California, Irvine. She did post-doctoral work at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Glaxo-Wellcome.

 

Jillian DiMuzio
Director, High Throughput Screening & Automation

Jillian DiMuzio brings nearly 25 years of assay development and small molecule / biologics screening expertise to her role in leading Immunome’s efforts to screen patient antibody repertoires against a vast antigen landscape. Prior to joining Immunome in 2017, Ms. DiMuzio was recruited by Idera Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, MA, to develop mid-scale in vitro / in vivo screens for antisense oligonucleotides and TLR agonists as therapeutics for oncology and other rare disease indications. Previously, Ms. DiMuzio began her career at Merck and Co. in West Point, PA where some of her most notable scientific achievements culminated with her co-authoring several publications, including one in Nature, on the association of Presenilin I with gamma-secretase. Additionally, Ms. DiMuzio developed an elaborate five-panel enzyme screen which led directly to the discovery and acceptance of multiple pre-clinical candidates with two realizing commercial launch for the treatment of Hepatitis C virus. Ms. DiMuzio holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Chestnut Hill College.

 

Benjamin Harman, PhD
Director, Hybridoma Generation

Ben Harman, PhD, is a cellular immunologist with a deep understanding of immune biology in the context of solid tumors and has 10 years of industry experience focused on the development of antibody-based agents for the treatment of cancer. Prior to joining Immunome, he was a Senior Scientist at Janssen R&D, where he led a team focused on the development of T cell redirectors for cancer therapy and developed immune-based assays to predict their efficacy in vivo. Ben received a B. Sc. (Hons) in Anatomy and Human Biology from University of Liverpool, UK and then went on to earn a PhD in Immunology from University of Birmingham.  After completion of his PhD, Ben performed postdoctoral work at both University of Birmingham and University of Pennsylvania before joining Janssen R&D.

 

Pavel Nikitin, PhD
Director, Antibody Engineering

Pavel A. Nikitin, PhD, has 7 years of industry experience in the antibody engineering and B-cell biology fields. Previously he was a Sr. Scientist at True North Therapeutics, a small startup in South San Francisco, CA that developed a monoclonal antibody Sutimlimab. After True North Therapeutics was acquired by Bioverativ and subsequently by Sanofi, Pavel led a group and a project team developing the second-generation C1s-inhibitor antibody with the improved PK profile. Prior to that Pavel was a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research in Emeryville, CA where he demonstrated the antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) of the anti-CMV antibody cocktail CSJ148 and contributed to the IND submission. He earned a Diploma with Honors (M.S.) in Molecular Biology from Novosibirsk State University and PhD in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology from Duke University School of Medicine.

 

Lauren Pitt, PhD
Director, Research &Development

Lauren Pitt, PhD, is responsible for leading Immunome’s target identification platform. Most recently, Lauren served as post-doctoral researcher at the Skirball Institute at the New York University School of Medicine, where she investigated the role of homing receptors in the survival and maintenance of T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Her work highlighted the importance of the receptor CXCR4 in this disease and was published in Cancer Cell in 2015. Lauren earned her BS/BA degrees at Monash University in Australia and was awarded BS Honors the following year at The University of Melbourne. She remained at The University of Melbourne to complete her PhD in Immunology, supported by a Pre-Doctoral Emphasis Pathway in Tumor Immunology Scholarship awarded by the Cancer Research Institute.

 

Scott Dessain, MD, PhD
Co-Founder and Chair of Scientific Advisory Board

Scott Dessain, MD, PhD, is the Joseph and Ray Gordon Chair of Clinical Oncology and Research at Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR) and serves as the Director, Center for Human Antibody Technology (CHAT) at LIMR. He received MD and PhD degrees from Yale University in 1994. He pursued post-graduate medical training in Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, followed by a fellowship in Medical Oncology at Dana Farber/Partners Cancer Care in Boston, MA. He studied with Dr. Robert Weinberg at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, MA, at which time he devised novel techniques to efficiently clone native human antibodies. Following his fellowship, Scott practiced at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, specializing in bone marrow transplantation and then joined the Cardeza Foundation for Hematologic Research at the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. He has contributed to dozens of published scientific articles and multiple patents and is co-author (with Scott Fishman) of the book: Preserving the Promise: Improving the Culture of Biotech Investment (2016; Academic Press, Cambridge, MA).  He is Board-Certified in Medical Oncology and attends at the Lankenau Hospital.