Key Team Members
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Lawrence Forman has 37 years’ experience in academic and industrial biological and biotechnology research and in cell culture process development and related areas. Mr. Forman has held positions at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Genentech (1980-1996), CuraGen, and Applikon Biotechnology. Mr. Forman has worked as a consultant for numerous biopharma clients and has experience in cell culture process and medium development; online process monitoring and control; cell banking; GMP manufacturing; on- and off-line analytical development; virus inactivation; process engineering. Mr. Forman received a B.A. in Biology from the State University of New York—New Paltz.
Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Advisor
Dr. Lawrence Chasin is a Professor of Biological Sciences at Columbia University. Professor Chasin’s research is aimed at discovering the sequence signals in DNA that control the expression of Human genes. His earliest major contribution was to help found the field of mammalian cell genetics where he demonstrated that genetic manipulation could succeed in mammalian cells just as it had in microorganisms. Professor Chasin’s seminal works led to new fields of study: “gene amplification” and “nonsense-mediated decay.” Prof. Chasin has consistently pushed the development and use of new technologies. This includes the creation of Chinese Hamster Ovary host cell lines produced by Prof. Chasin’s laboratory that are now the gold standard for the commercial production of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies and are used by nearly all biopharmaceutical companies worldwide for research on, and/or the production of, a majority of licensed human protein therapeutic products.
Chief Operating Officer
James Panek has more than 40 years of experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. He joined VaxGen in 2002 as Senior Vice President of Technical Operations, and was appointed its Chief Executive Officer in 2007. During his tenure at VaxGen, Panek served as Co-CEO and Chairman of its highly successful international joint venture, Celltrion, Inc., the first large scale, commercial contract manufacturing and development company in Asia. Prior to joining VaxGen, Panek was Senior Vice President of Product Operations at Genentech, Inc. and a member of its Executive Committee. In this position, Panek was responsible for all process development, manufacturing, and quality functions. He also led the development of one of world's largest manufacturing facilities enabling FDA approval and launch of multiple recombinant products including Rituxan® and Herceptin®. Prior to joining Genentech, Panek spent six years with Eli Lilly in a variety of engineering and development positions. Panek holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan, and has served on several Boards of Directors and Advisory Boards including VaxGen, Inc., DiaDexus, Inc., Celltrion, Inc., and Geneworks.
Director, Cell Biology
Paul Escarpe has over 20 years of experience in the biotechnology industry. Prior to joining CHO Plus, he served as Senior Director of Cell Biology & Head of Therapeutics at Earli. Mr. Escarpe also served as Director of Vector & Cell Engineering at Stemcentrx, and has held scientific and leadership positions at Cell Genesys, VaxGen, and Gilead Sciences. His industrial expertise is focused on the engineering of mammalian cells and viral vectors for optimal protein expression. Mr. Escarpe received his B.S. and M.S. in Cell & Molecular Biology from San Francisco State University, and has co-authored over 15 peer-reviewed scientific publications, and several patents.
Senior Scientist, Cell Engineering
Prior to joining the pharmaceutical industry, Kathy Ngo spent over 10 years in academia focused on understanding how cells communicate with one another during development. At the University of California, Los Angeles, Dr. Ngo uncovered a novel mechanism by which phospholipids can activate non-canonical Hedgehog signaling, and identified Notch signaling as a major determinant for a transient population of symmetrically dividing retinal stem cells that had not been previously identified. While at Aridis Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Ngo played a key role in the development of a CRISPR-based technology to enhance antibody production, and the development of a microfluidics-based HTS platform for rapid, single-cell clonal selection of CHO cells for monoclonal antibody production. Dr. Ngo holds Bachelor’s and Doctorate degrees from UCLA. She has co-authored over 15 research papers, reviews, and patents.