Gaining critical characterization insights for development of CAR-T therapies for solid tumors

Published: 29 July 2019
Expert Roundtable
Sadik Kassim,
Sadik Kassim
CTO at Vor Biopharma
Dr. Sadik Kassim is Executive Director at Kite Pharma, where he oversees the CMC activities for all next generation immune cell therapies for cancer. Previously, Sadik was Chief Scientific Officer of Mustang Bio. Prior to Mustang, Sadik was Head of Analytical Development for Novartis’ Cell and Gene Therapies Unit in Cambridge, MA where he contributed the BLA and MAA filings for Kymriah™. Earlier in his career, Dr. Kassim was a research biologist in the Surgery Branch at the National Cancer Institute, where he was involved in early research and CMC work that led to the development of Kite’s Yescarta™ (CD19 CAR T) for lymphoma. Sadik was a research fellow in the University of Pennsylvania’s (Penn) Gene Therapy Program where he led the initial discovery efforts and pre-clinical studies for an AAV8 gene therapy for familial hypercholesteromia. This program is now in the clinic as part of RegenexBio’s RGX-501 program.
Janani Krishnamurthy,
Janani Krishnamurthy
CAR-T Pre-clinical lead at Atara Biotherapeutics Inc
Dr. Krishnamurthy, a pharmacist by training, graduated with a Ph.D. in the field of translational immunology from UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, Texas. As part of her PhD project, she successfully developed a novel CAR T therapy targeting an ancient retrovirus to treat melanoma and breast cancer, which was patented and acquired by Ziopharm. Her biotech industry experiences include leading the assessment of potential CAR T to treat solid tumors, establishing R&D platforms at Bluebird Bio; Product development, process development, strategizing company’s portfolio and IND filing for phase1 clinical trial at TCR2 Therapeutics. Currently she is leading the development of allogenic off-the-shelf CAR T cell therapy to treat solid tumors at AtaraBio Therapeutics.
Tamara Laskowski,
Tamara Laskowski
Senior Research Scientist, Immunotherapy, Allison Group, Department of Immunology at MD Anderson Cancer Center
Tamara J Laskowski received her doctorate degree in Human Molecular Genetics and Immunology from University of Texas Health Science Center where her work focused on genome editing of patient-derived stem cells to correct genetic mutations causative of Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome, a immunodeficiency disorder that results in severe impairments to the immune system. Through her work, she demonstrated the ability to repair the underlying defects and restore normal immune function. Subsequently, Tamara joined Dr. Laurence J.N. Cooper’s laboratory at MD Anderson Cancer Center as a fellow. Her work focuses on engineering stem cells with the goal of generating off-the-shelf NK and T-cell immunotherapies for targeting solid tumor malignancies.Dr. Laskowski also shares an interest in technology innovation, and has developed novel multi-plex assays for testing therapies against solid tumors. In 2017, this work led to an invitation to participate in the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps, an exclusive program through which she was trained on strategies for expanding the economic and societal benefits of innovative ideas which have commercialization potential. She was the sole recipient of an award for outstanding performance upon completion of the program. In addition to her research work, Dr. Laskowski also serves as a scientific communications coach and peer editor at MD Anderson, helping to promote effective communication between scientists and the public.
John O’Rourke
John O’Rourke
Head of Product Development, Cell Analytics, Intellicyt at Sartorius
John O’Rourke completed his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from The Ohio State University where he studied cancer biology and gene regulation. During his postdoctoral training at Nationwide’s Children’s Research Institute and the University of New Mexico, he continued his studies in cancer biology along with the development of viral and nanoparticle-based therapeutics. Mr O’Rourke completed his MBA at the Andersen School of Management at the University of New Mexico and joined IntelliCyt in 2017.

Sadik Kassim

Executive Director, Kite Pharma, A Gilead Company

With a CV boasting the likes of Johnson & Johnson, the NIH, Novartis and Mustang Bio, Dr Sadik Kassim brings a wealth of experience and expertise spanning rare diseases, AAV-based gene therapy, immunotherapy, oncology, CAR-T cell therapies and CMC to his new role at Kite Pharma.

Janani Krishnamurthy

Senior Scientist, Atara Biotherapeutics

An expert in the fields of immunology, adoptive immunotherapy and neuroimmunology, Dr Janani Krishnamurthy enjoyed stints at MD Anderson, bluebird bio and TCR2 Therapeutics before taking on her current role leading EBV+ve CAR T cell pre-clinical initiatives for targeting solid tumours at Atara Biotherapeutics.

Tamara J Laskowski

Senior Research Scientist – Immunotherapy, Allison Group Department of Immunology, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Having originally joined Dr Laurence J.N. Cooper’s laboratory as a fellow, where her work focused on engineering stem cells with the goal of generating off-the-shelf NK and T-cell immunotherapies for targeting solid tumor malignancies, Dr Tamara Laskowski recently transitioned to Dr. James Allison’s Immunotherapy Platform at MD Anderson Cancer Center. In her new role Dr. Laskowski’s work primarily involves immune-monitoring of patients undergoing clinical trials in Immunotherapy and development of novel immunoassays.

John O’Rourke

Head of Product Development, Cell Analytics, Intellicyt, A Sartorius Company

John O’Rourke completed his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from The Ohio State University where he studied cancer biology and gene regulation. During his postdoctoral training at Nationwide’s Children’s Research Institute and the University of New Mexico, he continued his studies in cancer biology along with the development of viral and nanoparticle-based therapeutics. John O’Rourke completed his MBA at the Andersen School of Management at the University of New Mexico and joined IntelliCyt in 2017.

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