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.
VP of 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 Product Management
Marc Beban is Director of Product Management at Cellares. He has over 20 years experience helping life science technology companies define, develop, launch, and market differentiated products and services. He has managed products and led teams in a diverse range of life science technologies including multiplexed imaging for immuno-oncology applications, sample preparation for genomic and proteomic analysis, liquid handling and lab automation for high throughput screening, and cheminformatics. Prior to joining Cellares Marc worked at IONpath, Agilent Technologies, Velocity11, and MDL Information Systems. As an independent consultant he devised a portfolio strategy for the lab automation business unit of Perkin Elmer. Outside of the life sciences, he founded and managed a 501(c)(3) non profit corporation dedicated to inspiring young adults to pursue their passion for creative writing. He received his undergraduate degree in Genetics from the University of California, Berkeley, and his doctorate in Biochemistry from the Johns Hopkins University.
Director of Mechanical Engineering
Wilson is the Director of Mechanical Engineering at Cellares. He has over 25 years of engineering experience in creating innovative, cutting-edge analytical systems for bioresearch and medical device industries. His portfolio includes leading roles in systems design and mechanical engineering at several Bay Area companies such as Molecular Devices, Fluxion Biosciences, and Cutera. He excels in merging the fields of fluidics, optics, electronics, and precision injection-molding to create innovative systems for clinical diagnostics, drug discovery, and medical devices. His talents extend beyond just development of robust platforms as Wilson has successfully launched and commercialized 5 products over the past 10 years. Wilson’s passion is creating elegant solutions that meet challenging design criteria from customer’s needs, R&D, Sales and Marketing, and Manufacturing. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.
VP of Operations
John Tomtishen is Vice President of Operations at Cellares. He has more than 10 years of experience in cell and gene therapies, biologics, and vaccines, with diverse roles in Business Operations, CMC/Technical Operations, Supply Chain, Engineering/Facilities, and Operational Excellence. Prior to joining Cellares, John served as the Site Managing Director of Legend Biotech’s corporate headquarters, where he was responsible for Legend’s U.S. Manufacturing and Technical Operations teams and the development of robust global CMC strategies for Legend’s cell and gene therapy product portfolio. He also supported the clinical development and BLA filing of Ciltacabtagene autoleucel (Cilta-cel) in collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceuticals.
Prior to joining Legend, John worked for Novartis Pharmaceuticals within Cell and Gene Technical Development & Manufacturing where he drove and oversaw CMC activities for cell and gene therapy products from late-stage clinical development through commercial lifecycle management. John also had an integral role in the filing and approval of the first CAR-T BLA (Kymriah™-tisagenlecleucel). Previous experience included roles at Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories, and Fox Chase Cancer Center. John earned a Bachelor of Science degree with Honors in Cell Biology/Biochemistry from Bucknell University.
Sr Director of Global Marketing
Joy Duemke is Senior Director of Global Marketing at Cellares. She has more than 15 years of experience in marketing technologies, services, software, and products. Prior to joining Cellares, she led clinical upstream marketing in immunotherapies for the therapeutics division, and downstream marketing for all divisions, including cell therapy technologies and apheresis collections. Earlier experience includes leading Medical Affairs, Clinical Marketing, and Marketing Communications. Joy was also recognized in “Women to Watch” by Medical Marketing & Media for her leadership in marketing strategy for autoimmune diseases. She earned a Bachelor of Business degree from the University of Colorado and a Master of Business degree from Colorado State University.
Director of Facilities
Tim Lai is Director of Facilities at Cellares. He has more than 12 years of experience in GMP facilities asset life cycle management in the biopharmaceutical industry. Prior to joining Cellares, he held various roles in engineering, maintenance, utilities, and facilities operations at Genentech and Boehringer Ingelheim. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of California, San Diego, and a doctor’s degree in business administration from Northcentral 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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