Juan F. Vera, MD

Chief Product Development Officer

Dr. Vera was trained as a medical surgeon, and for the past 12 years has worked extensively on developing novel T cell therapies and optimizing manufacturing processes for clinical applications at the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy (CAGT) at Baylor College of Medicine. In collaboration with Wilson Wolf Manufacturing, he has been instrumental in the design and testing of the G-Rex® cell culture platform and pioneered its use for the large-scale production of T cells. Dr. Vera has extensive expertise in developing and streamlining therapeutic candidates from the research bench to the cGMP facility while ensuring robust production and scalability. Dr. Vera has previously collaborated with Celgene and Bluebird Bio in developing novel CAR T cell therapies. He has also been the recipient of different prestigious awards including the Idea Development Award from the Department of Defense and Mentored Research Scholar Award from the American Cancer Society. Dr. Vera attained his MD from the University El Bosque in Bogota, Colombia.

Ann M. Leen, PhD

Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Leen is a distinguished immunologist who has dedicated over 15 years to the characterization of immunogenic viral antigens and identification of novel T cell epitopes, ultimately translating these findings into innovative T cell-based therapies. She has established herself as a leader in the field of virus-specific T cell therapy by extending the pioneering efforts of Drs. Helen E. Heslop, Malcolm K. Brenner and Cliona M. Rooney towards utilizing the natural capacity of T cells to target a range of clinically problematic viruses.Her research efforts, in collaboration with Drs. Heslop and Rooney, were also the first to demonstrate the feasibility of using virus-specific T cells as a third party, off-the- shelf product to treat drug refractory cytomegalovirus and adenovirus infections. Dr. Leen was awarded the Outstanding New Investigator Award from the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy in 2013 and Best Abstract for Outstanding Clinical Research at the 2011 American Society of Bone Marrow Transplantation Annual Meeting. Dr. Leen holds a Ph.D. in Immunology from the CRC Institute for Cancer Studies in Birmingham, UK and a BSc in biochemistry from the University of College Cork in Ireland.

Bambi J. Grilley,RPh, RAC, CIP, CCRC, CCRP

Director, Regulatory Affairs

Ms. Grilley has 30 years of experience in the field of clinical research with wide-ranging expertise in investigational drugs, IRB review, regulatory affairs and the conduct of clinical trials. Ms. Grilley is currently the Director of Clinical Research and Early Product Development for the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy (CAGT), where she is directly responsible for coordinating the development, implementation, and conduct of all CAGT clinical research protocols at Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine, and The Houston Methodist Hospital. Over the past 20 years she has overseen regulatory submissions for over 1,500 clinical research studies, almost half of which are therapeutic. She has assisted in the submission of over 70 investigator-initiated Investigational New Drug Applications with over 130 clinical studies conducted under them. Previously, she has supervised the Investigational Drug Pharmacy at MD Anderson Cancer Center and served as the Administrator and later both a member, vice-Chair of the Institutional Review Board at Baylor College of Medicine. For the past 4 years, Ms. Grilley has served on the National Council responsible for certifying over 1,300 IRB professionals with a goal of improving Human Subject Protection Programs. Ms. Grilley obtained a BS in Pharmacy from the University of Texas at Austin. She is also a Certified Clinical Research Coordinator, a Certified Clinical Research Professional, a Certified IRB Professional, and has a Regulatory Affairs Certification.

John R. Wilson

Managing Director

Mr. Wilson is Managing Director of ViraCyte, LLC, and the CEO of Wilson Wolf Manufacturing. Mr. Wilson has over 30 years of experience in the design, development and manufacture of products for the field of biotechnology, including cell culture devices and bioreactors. Mr. Wilson has obtained over 50 related patents with numerous patents currently pending. He is the co-inventor of the G-Rex® platform, which has revolutionized T cell manufacturing practices with its simple, reliable and scalable cell production. Mr. Wilson is also the co-inventor of the CELLineTM product line. Prior to co-founding Wilson Wolf Manufacturing and ViraCyte, Mr. Wilson was a principal mechanical engineer at Cellex Biosciences (now The Cell Culture Company) where he contributed to the world’s first commercially available fully-automated hollow fiber bioreactor cell culture system. Mr. Wilson has a BA in Business Administration and a BA in Economics from Hamline University in Minnesota and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota.

Scientific Advisory Board

Helen E. Heslop, MD, DSc (Hon)

Dr. Heslop is Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics and Director of the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston Methodist Hospital, and Texas Children’s Hospital. She is the Dan L. Duncan Chair and the Associate Director of Clinical Research at the Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center. Trained as a physician-scientist, Dr. Heslop is a prominent figure engaged in translational research focusing on adoptive T cell immunotherapy to improve hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and cancer therapy. In collaboration with Drs. Brenner and Rooney, her initial studies were the first to demonstrate the feasibility of using EBV-specific T cells to prevent and treat EBV-associated malignancy in stem cell transplant patients, thereby validating the safety and efficacy of adoptive T cell transfer as a therapeutic modality. Dr. Heslop was a Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Research Scientist and serves as the current President elect of the American Society for Cell and Gene Therapy and a past President of the Foundation for Accreditation of Cell Therapy (FACT) and the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation. She received her M.B.ChB, MD and DSc (Hon) in Hematology from the University of Otago in New Zealand. Dr. Heslop is a co-founder of ViraCyte, LLC.

Malcolm K. Brenner, MD, PhD

Dr. Brenner is the founding director of the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy and the Fayez Sarofim Distinguished Service Professor at Baylor College of Medicine in the Departments of Medicine, Pediatrics, and Human and Molecular Genetics. He is also a member of the Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Center, the Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center, and the Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor. Over the past 30 years, Dr. Brenner has devoted his career as a physician-scientist to the field of stem cell transplantation through the therapeutic use of T cell immunologic approaches and genetic engineering strategies. He served as Editor-in-Chief of Molecular Therapy and as former President of the American Society for Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT) and International Society for Cell Therapy. Dr. Brenner has earned widespread recognition for his scientific achievements and leadership in the field, including the ASGCT Outstanding Achievement Award, Human Gene Therapy’s Pioneer Award, and the American Society of Hematology Mentor Award. Most recently Dr. Brenner has been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Medicine for his contributions. He obtained his BA and medical degrees as well as his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in the UK where he became a fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists and the Royal College of Physicians. Dr. Brenner is a co-founder of ViraCyte, LLC

Cliona M. Rooney, PhD

Dr. Rooney is a Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics, Molecular Virology and Microbiology, and Immunology and Director of Translational Research Laboratories at the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Rooney is renowned virologist and immunologist who, in collaboration with Drs. Heslop and Brenner, was the first to demonstrate that antigen-specific T cells generated in the laboratory could prevent and cure viral-associated malignancies in humans following hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. She has been key in extending this successful strategy to develop and clinically test a range of post-transplant viral infections and diseases. Dr. Rooney serves on the Editorial Boards for several scientific journals, including Molecular Therapy, Cytotherapy, Molecular and Cellular Therapies. Dr. Rooney holds a PhD in Immunology from the University of Cambridge and a B.Sc. in Genetics from the University of East Anglia in England. Dr. Rooney is a co-founder of ViraCyte, LLC