Steadfast in Our Mission
Cellares is working to make cell therapy widely available and affordable by providing preclinical and clinical scientists as well as commercial cell therapy manufacturers with a flexible and scalable manufacturing solution and fully-integrated software.
Co-Founder & President
Omar Kurdi is Co-Founder and President of Cellares. He has more than 18 years of biotechnology experience and has demonstrated his entrepreneurial ability by building and scaling successful organizations – from growing exceptional teams, to creating effective stakeholder relationships, and delivering on bottom-line growth. He leverages his engineering background and technical aptitude to drive operational excellence and has led operational teams that manufactured reagents, medical devices and capital equipment for the life sciences industry. Omar has held executive and leadership roles at a wide array of biotech companies. At Finesse Solutions, he led teams that manufactured bioprocessing equipment and helped grow the company from 10 to nearly 100 employees in a short span. At Synthego, which manufactures CRISPR/Cas9 kits and edits many types of cell lines, he oversaw the build-out of several facilities and helped grow the company from 10 to approximately 150 people. At Thermo Fisher Scientific, he led a large team that manufactured different types of LCMS systems, both research use only (RUO) and class 1 medical devices. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from San Jose State University.
Co-Founder & CEO
Fabian Gerlinghaus is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Cellares. He is driven by a strong sense of purpose and is passionate about building the future of cell therapy manufacturing. With 10+ years of experience as an innovator and a leader, Fabian has established a track record of assembling top-performing teams to successfully drive novel bioprocessing technologies from ideation to commercial readiness. Prior to co-founding Cellares, Fabian served as Chief Innovation Officer at Synthego, where he co-invented the company’s proprietary RNA synthesizer technology and helped grow the company from five to more than 230 employees. He successfully led the interdisciplinary team that took synthesizer technology from whiteboard sketch to production-ready instruments within two years, enabling the company to be the first to market with its CRISPR/Cas9 product portfolio. He earned a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Technical University of Munich, and an honours degree in technology management from the Center for Digital Technology and Management, Munich.
Co-Founder & CTO
Alex Pesch is Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Cellares. He combines his deep engineering background and technical aptitude to deliver innovative technologies that create substantial market value. Prior to co-founding Cellares, he co-founded Synthego and helped drive the architecture and development of core biopolymer synthesis technology and various downstream processing instruments. He also contributed to architecting and building Zoox’s autonomy stack for its autonomous vehicle platform and served as a Lead Engineer at Fathom Computing to develop and deliver core technologies. Alex has a talent for bringing together groups and identifying solutions that add value, in addition to hiring and developing teams into high performing organizations. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University.
VP of Business Development
Mark Flower is Vice President of Business Development at Cellares. He has more than 16 years of experience in immuno-oncology, cell-based gene and immunotherapy, cell therapy manufacturing, cell collection and bioprocessing. Prior to joining Cellares, he served as Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Relationships with Be The Match BioTherapies, a subsidiary of the National Marrow Donor Program. Previous roles include Executive Director of Sales and Marketing at Hitachi Chemical Advanced Therapeutics Solutions, a leading cell therapy contract and development manufacturing organization (CDMO). Earlier in his career, he was Senior Manager, Global Strategic Marketing, in the Therapeutic Systems business unit at Terumo BCT. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biological science from the University of California, San Diego.
VP of Quality
Einav Kraft has over sixteen years of leadership experience in Quality and Compliance in the Pharmaceutical, Biotech, and Medical Devices industries which includes establishing, implementing, and ramping phase-appropriate quality systems from the ground up in pre-clinical, clinical, and GMP commercial environments. She also has a proven track record in developing and implementing a quality vision and culture across multiple organizations. Additionally, she has successfully hosted multiple health authority inspections and Pre-Approval Inspections, with the FDA and EMA, among others. Most recently, Einav served as Site Head of Quality for the CDMO, Miltenyi Biotec Inc., in San Jose, California. Previously, Einav was the Head of Quality Assurance at Taro Pharmaceuticals in Israel and led Compliance for Novartis’ San Carlos, California site. Einav earned a Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology and a Masters in Quality Engineering, both from the Technion, The Israel Institute of Technology.
Don Yuen, PhD
Director of Analytical Development
Don Yuen is Director of Analytical Development at Cellares. He has more than 10 years of experience in assay development, working on molecular control of lymphangiogenesis and CAR-T therapies. At Pfizer/Allogene, he was the group leader, overseeing the development of CAR-T product phenotyping assays. He earned a bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. in biochemistry with honors from The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Following his doctoral degree work there, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Cleveland Clinic.
Director of Mechanical Engineering
Mike DeRenzi is Director of Mechanical Engineering at Cellares. He has more than 15 years of experience working in product development and servicing diverse market segments including the medical and life science fields. Prior to joining Cellares, he served as Director of Engineering at Purigen Biosystems. Previous roles include Project Director at Acorn Product Development and stints in life science and green technology start-ups. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California, San Diego.
Director of People Operations
Becca Hennessy is the Director of People Operations at Cellares. She brings expertise in Human Resources, Talent Acquisition, and HR Operations. Becca’s background includes selecting and implementing HR software and workflows to build efficient people ops strategies and processes from the ground up. Prior to joining Cellares, she was a consultant focused on identifying operational gaps, providing solutions, and acquiring top talent for scaling startups. She also served as the Director of Recruiting at Ladder Insurance and worked in Campus Recruiting at KPMG LLP. She graduated from Idaho State University and holds a SHRM-SCP certification.
Daniele Malleo, PhD
Director of Systems Engineering
Daniele Malleo is Director of Systems Engineering at Cellares. He has more than 12 years of experience inventing, developing and commercializing complex analytical and biomedical instruments for clinical and research markets. Prior to joining Cellares, he held the positions of Senior Manager of Systems Engineering at BD Biosciences, R&D Manager and Principal Systems Engineer at Abbott Laboratories, and Technology Lead at Berkeley Lights. He earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Southampton.
Director of Software Engineering
Tony Biz is Director of Software Engineering at Cellares. He is an experienced technology leader with a track record of building highly successful technology platforms and distributed teams. Prior to joining Cellares, he served as Chief Software Architect at BD Biosciences, leading the development of next-generation software platforms for flow cytometry. Previous roles include Principal Consultant with Magenic and Managing Consultant with Terrace Consulting, where he led the design and development of numerous custom software applications across a broad range of domains and industries. He earned a master’s degree in software engineering from Santa Clara University, a master’s degree in manufacturing systems engineering, as well as a M.B.A from Stanford University.
Carl June, MD
Board of Advisors
Renowned oncology and immunotherapy pioneer, Carl June, M.D., is recognized in the oncology field for his groundbreaking work in the development and commercialization of gene therapy and T-cell therapies, including collaboration with Novartis AG on the first FDA approved CAR-T therapy Kymriah.
Dr. June has published more than 500 manuscripts on immunotherapy. He currently serves as the Richard W. Vague Professor in immunotherapy in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and as the Director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies at the Perelman School of Medicine, as well as the Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at the University of Pennsylvania.
He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including his election into the National Academies of Medicine and Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2018, Dr. June was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People for his work in the oncology field.
Dr. June graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and earned his medical degree from the Baylor College of Medicine. He also completed training in immunology and malaria at the World Health Organization and completed his postdoctoral training in transplantation biology with the late Nobel Prize winner Dr. E. Donnall Thomas at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Board of Advisors
Tim Moore has more than three decades of leadership experience in biopharmaceutical manufacturing and operations. Mr. Moore is currently the President and Chief Operating Officer at PACT Pharma. Prior to joining PACT, he served as Executive Vice President, Technical Operations at Kite, a Gilead Company, since March of 2016. During this time Mr. Moore was responsible for overseeing the process development, manufacturing, quality and supply chain for the launch of Yescarta®, one of the first CAR-T therapies to be developed, manufactured and commercialized, as well as advancement of the Kite pipeline. In addition, Mr. Moore globally expanded the biopharmaceutical operations to serve and support the US, EU, as well as key partners in Asia.
Prior to Kite, Mr. Moore served as the Senior Vice President, Head of Global Technical Operations – Biologics of Genentech, Inc. and as a member of the Genentech Executive Committee since 2010. In this role, Mr. Moore oversaw global leadership for more than 7,500 professionals across 10 internal sites and over 37 contract manufacturing organizations, as well as global manufacturing and end-to-end quality supply performance of more than 20 biological product families. Prior to that, Mr. Moore was Genentech’s Senior Vice President, Global Supply Chain and Global Engineering from 2007 to 2010. Previously, Mr. Moore served as Vice President, Operations at ZLB Behring (formerly Aventis Behring).
He is currently a member of ISPE, PDA and has been a part of the Executive Committee of BioPhorum and serves as a Board member for Cerus. Mr. Moore received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Tulsa University and a master’s degree in Engineering Management from Northwestern University.
Megan (Suhoski) Davis, PhD
Board of Advisors
Megan (Suhoski) Davis, PhD is the Director of the Product Development Laboratory within the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA, USA. Dr. Davis received her Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Pennsylvania, developing an artificial antigen presenting cell system used to generate cell-based therapies, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University assessing immunotherapeutic vaccination strategies.
Dr. Davis returned to the University of Pennsylvania to lead the scientific research operations at the Clinical Cell and Vaccine Production Facility and helped facilitate the successful transfer of the CAR T cell manufacturing process to Novartis, which led to the FDA approval of Kymriah®. With over 15 years of experience in cell and gene therapy, Dr. Davis currently leads a team of expert scientists who develop large scale processes and novel cell therapy products for IND-enabling packages, as well as evaluate new and emerging technologies for utility in advancing manufacturing and testing platforms to revolutionize the field of cellular therapy.
Board of Advisors
Bruce C. Cozadd co-founded Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in 2003 and has served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer since April 2009. From 1991 until 2001, he held various positions with ALZA Corporation, a pharmaceutical company acquired by Johnson & Johnson, most recently as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, with responsibility for research and development, manufacturing and sales and marketing. Previously at ALZA Corporation he held the roles of Chief Financial Officer and Vice President, Corporate Planning and Analysis. Mr. Cozadd serves on the boards of two non-profit organizations, The Nueva School and SFJAZZ. He received a B.S. from Yale University and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Rod Rietze, PhD
Board of Advisors
Dr. Rod Rietze is co-founder and CEO of iVexSol (intelligent Vector Solutions), Inc., a burgeoning viral vector manufacturer founded on a transformative technology that enables the production of stable lentiviral vectors at any scale. Prior to iVexSol, Rod was the Director of Strategic Development and Innovation at Novartis Cell and Gene Therapy (Cambridge, MA), where he supported the clinical development of a number of next-generation cell and gene therapies, including Kymriah™, the first FDA-approved CAR-T cell-based gene therapy.
Before joining Novartis, Rod led research and development teams of both small molecule and cell-based therapeutics at Pfizer Regenerative Medicine (Cambridge, UK) and TxCell SA (Sophia Antipolis, France). During his tenure in academia, Rod co-founded the 400-member Queensland Brain Institute (Brisbane, Australia), where his lab focused on harnessing the regenerative capacity of resident neural stem cells as a means to treat age-related cognitive decline. His work was featured on the front covers of Nature and Science, and received numerous awards including Science Magazine’s “Breakthrough of the Year”.
With over two decades of technical, operational, and strategic leadership experience in the development of novel therapeutics, Rod remains passionate about discovering and delivering innovative technologies and medicines to transform the treatment of disease. He holds a BSc and MSc from the University of Calgary, Canada, and a Ph.D. from The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (University of Melbourne, Australia).
Board of Advisors
Cellares is building the next generation cell therapy manufacturing platform to enable closed, automated, and truly scalable manufacturing of cell therapies. We are proud to have the following partners!
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