Scientific Advisory Board

Scott Antonia, M.D., Ph.D. (Chair)

Dr. Scott Antonia is the Director of the Duke Cancer Institute's Center for Cancer Immunotherapy and serves as an instructor in the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina. Dr. Antonia was formerly the Chair of the Thoracic Oncology Department at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida. Dr. Antonia originally joined the Moffitt Cancer Center in 1994 and previously served as the Associate Chair of the Sarcoma Department. 


Dr. Antonia’s work focuses on translational research. Using his molecular biology and cellular background in the development of immunotherapeutic strategies for the treatment of cancer patients, he has developed strategies designed to thwart the immunosuppressive mechanisms used by tumors to evade T-cell mediated rejection. His clinical interests focus on immunotherapy and immunobiology, in particular, gene-modified tumor cell vaccine trials at both pre-clinical and clinical stages. He has designed and conducted numerous cutting-edge studies with novel immunotherapeutics and holds two patents for technology he has developed. In addition, as a researcher and practitioner, Dr. Antonia has served as a Principal Investigator for several major clinical trials and has authored dozens of publications in peer-reviewed journals. 


Dr. Antonia's work and expertise in the field of immunology dates back to the beginning of his career and education. Dr. Antonia received his M.D. and his Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, Connecticut. In addition, he completed an internal medicine residency at the Yale University School of Medicine and pursued additional training at Yale through a medical oncology fellowship and post-doctoral fellowship in immunobiology.

Stephen Nishimura, M.D.

Dr. Stephen Nishimura is an expert in pulmonary pathology and specializes in interstitial lung disease and lung cancer. He is the Chief of Pathology at San Francisco General Hospital and is an Endowed Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Nishimura earned his medical degree from the University of Vermont's Larner College of Medicine. He then completed a residency in anatomic pathology and laboratory medicine, as well as a fellowship in molecular and cell biology at UCSF. He also completed a fellowship in pulmonary pathology at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.



Dr. Nishimura has received numerous honors and awards from organizations including the American Lung Association, UCSF Academic Senate and American Cancer Society. He is a member of the American Society for Cell Biology and American Society for Investigative Pathology.

James Marks, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. James Marks is recognized as a pioneer and leader in the field of antibody engineering. He currently serves as a Professor and Vice-Chairman of the Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care at the University of California, San Francisco and Chief of the Medical Staff and Chief of Anesthesia at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. He also operates the Marks Lab at UCSF, conducting research that focuses on the generation of recombinant antibodies, mostly fully human, that can be used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers and other human diseases, or to capture or neutralize toxins.


Dr. Marks has extensive experience in the biotechnology industry, having co-founded Hermes Biosciences, an early-stage biotechnology company focused on the development of antibody targeted immunoliposomes for cancer therapy that was acquired by Merrimack Pharmaceuticals in 2009. Dr. Marks serves on several biopharmaceutical scientific advisory boards, has more than 180 publications in the field and is an inventor on more than 100 issued or pending patents. Dr. Marks received his medical degree from UCSF where he also completed residencies in Internal Medicine and Anesthesia and a fellowship in Critical Care Medicine.  He received his Ph.D. in molecular biology from the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England.

Darrell Irvine, Ph.D.


Dr. Darrell Irvine is a Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He also serves on the steering committee of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard.  His research focuses on the application of engineering tools to problems in cellular immunology and the development of new materials for vaccine and drug delivery. Current efforts are focused on problems related to vaccine development for HIV and immunotherapy for cancer.  


Dr. Irvine’s work has received numerous awards, including a Beckman Young Investigator award, an NSF CAREER award, selection for Technology Review’s ‘TR35’, election as a Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society, election as a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and appointment as an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.  He is the author of over 100 publications, reviews, and book chapters and he is also an inventor on numerous patents. Dr. Irvine is a Professor at MIT with Howard Hughes Medical Institute/Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.

Stefani Spranger, Ph.D.


Dr. Stefani Spranger is an Assistant Professor at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and the Department of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Spranger is widely regarded as an expert in cancer immunology and cancer biology. During her postdoctoral training at the University of Chicago, under the supervision of Dr. Thomas F. Gajewski, Dr. Spranger made the novel discovery that tumor cell-intrinsic activation of the oncogenic Wnt/ β-catenin pathway results the in exclusion of T cells from the tumor micro-environment. This groundbreaking work was published in Nature. In addition Dr. Spranger has co-authored significant scientific papers on key immunotherapeutic targets such as IDO, STING, Tregs and checkpoint inhibitors. She is the current chair of the ESC committee for SITC (Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer) and winner of the 2015 Wissler Fellowship Award at University of Chicago.

Paul Rennert, Ph.D.


Dr. Paul Rennert is an experienced biotechnology executive and seasoned researcher with extensive strategic and leadership experience. Dr. Rennert has demonstrated success in bench to IND development of small molecule and biologic drugs for oncology, autoimmunity, chronic inflammation and fibrosis, primarily as a Principal Scientist at Biogen. Dr. Rennert’s recent accomplishments include working intensively with CoStim Pharmaceuticals' executive team to prioritize and build the company's immunotherapy portfolio, which was acquired in 2014 by Novartis. He is also the editor of, Novel Immunotherapeutic Approaches to the Treatment of Cancer: Drug Development and Clinical Application.

Edith Janssen, Ph.D.

Dr. Edith Janssen currently serves as the Associate Scientific Director for Immunology at Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a division of Johnson & Johnson. Dr. Janssen is an expert in innate immunology. She collaborated with Dr. Bruce Beutler (Nobel Prize in Medicine, 2011) to understand the relationship between innate and adaptive immunity, which had historically been viewed as separate entities. The novel concept of innate-adaptive immune interaction has contributed significantly to the optimization of vaccines, cancer therapies, and therapies targeting autoimmunity, transplantation, and infection. Her pioneering work in defining the role of CD4+T cell in CD8+T cell priming and memory development, a long-standing paradox in cellular immunology was published in Nature and Nature Immunology.

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