Appia Bio appoints Margo Roberts, Ph.D. to its Board of Directors and names Jason Damiano, Ph.D. as Chief Scientific OfficerPRESS RELEASE • 09 Aug, 2022
Dr. Roberts is a leading pioneer and accomplished research executive in cellular therapeutics Dr. Damiano brings more than 20 years’ research experience in cancer biology, new target identification, and drug discovery
LOS ANGELES, Calif., August 9, 2022 – Appia Bio, Inc., a preclinical-stage biotechnology company developing engineered allogeneic cell therapies from hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) for cancer patients, today announced the appointment of Margo Roberts, Ph.D. to its board of directors and Jason Damiano, Ph.D. as chief scientific officer (CSO). Dr. Roberts brings three decades of biotech and academic immunology experience, having led early development and application of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technology to T cells and stem cells, advancing the first CAR T cells into clinical trials. Dr. Damiano brings research experience in cancer biology, inflammation, new target identification, and drug discovery. He has led numerous therapeutic projects from concept through preclinical development and investigational new drug (IND) application filings.
Appia Bio is focused on discovering and developing off-the-shelf allogeneic cell therapies across a broad array of cancer indications, utilizing a scalable technology platform with the goal to increase access for patients. With its ACUA (Appia Cells Utilized for Allogeneic) technology platform, Appia Bio leverages the biology of lymphocyte development with CAR and T cell receptor (TCR) gene engineering to generate CAR-engineered invariant natural killer T (CAR-NKT) cells from HSCs. The ACUA platform was developed from groundbreaking research in the laboratory of Lili Yang, Ph.D., at UCLA and benefits from collaboration with Appia Bio’s other scientific founders David Baltimore, Ph.D. and Pin Wang, Ph.D.
“With Margo joining our board and Jason leading our research efforts, we are affirming our commitment to high-quality research and investing in the future of our company. Margo is one of the world’s foremost experts in immuno-oncology and cell therapy research, and she has seen cell therapy from concept to commercialization. Jason brings wonderfully diverse, innovative, and rigorous research experience in both small and large companies. They will be instrumental in helping us fulfill our mission to create novel, curative, and accessible cell therapies for cancer patients,” said JJ Kang, Ph.D., co-founder and chief executive officer of Appia Bio.
“Appia Bio’s ACUA platform technology holds significant potential to transform cancer treatment and I am thrilled to continue sharing my experience of developing novel therapeutic approaches and ongoing passion for innovative science,” said Dr. Roberts. “I have been impressed by Jason in our time working together at UNITY and I anticipate his contributions and leadership will have a great impact at Appia Bio.”
“I am excited to join Appia Bio and partner with our talented team and collaborators to advance our ACUA cell therapy platform toward life-changing cancer treatments. I look forward to applying my research experience to help develop therapies that can make a real difference in the lives of people living with cancer,” said Dr. Damiano.
Dr. Roberts is an accomplished industry leader with deep experience both building research organizations and guiding groundbreaking research through from concept to commercialization. Dr. Roberts is former CSO of Kite Pharma, Inc. (acquired by Gilead Sciences, Inc. in 2017) and Lyell Immunopharma. At Kite, she built a talented research organization that played an instrumental role in the successful development of Yescarta® (axicabtagene ciloleucel) and the advancement of additional CAR/TCR-engineered T-cell therapies. Previously, Dr. Roberts was principal scientist and director of immune and cell therapy at Cell Genesys, where she led the development and application of CAR technology to T cells and stem cells, culminating in the very first CAR T-cell clinical trial in 1994. Dr. Roberts continues to serve on Appia Bio’s Scientific Advisory Board.
Dr. Damiano joins Appia Bio from UNITY Biotechnology where he was vice president of biology, advancing a diverse portfolio of programs across multiple disease areas. Previously, he was the director of therapeutic antibody discovery and translational medicine at Achaogen and director of biology at Igenica Biotherapeutics, where he was responsible for establishing and advancing pipelines of novel biological therapeutics. Prior to that, Dr. Damiano was a senior research investigator in Oncology Biotherapeutics at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, and a scientist at Chiron. He received his Ph.D. in molecular and cellular pharmacology with a focus in cancer biology from the University of Arizona and completed his postdoctoral work in apoptosis and inflammation research under John Reed, M.D., Ph.D., at the Sanford Burnham Medical Discovery Institute.
About Appia Bio
Appia Bio is a preclinical-stage biotechnology company based in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 2020, Appia Bio is focused on discovering and developing engineered allogeneic cell therapies across a broad array of indications with a scalable technology platform that can increase access for patients. With its ACUA (Appia Cells Utilized for Allogeneic) technology platform, Appia Bio leverages the biology of lymphocyte development with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) and T-cell receptor (TCR) gene engineering to generate CAR-engineered invariant natural killer T (CAR-NKT) cells from hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). For more information, please visit www.appiabio.com.
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