Exciting science starts with our team

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Marcos Milla, Ph.D., is chief scientific officer at Synthorx. Dr. Milla’s experience in drug discovery spans across the areas of autoimmunity and inflammation, neurosciences and pain, and immuno-oncology. He has held industry and academic appointments at GlaxoSmithKline, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Roche Palo Alto, Janssen Research & Development, and, most recently, Adaptive Biotechnologies. He has previously directed efforts focusing on multiple intracellular and extracellular target classes, including cell surface and nuclear receptors, ion channels, kinases and proteinases. His work led to the discovery of a breakthrough series of small molecule modulators of cytokine-receptor interactions. He also explored novel ways of holistically reading pharmacological responses employing high content imaging and gene expression readouts. Dr. Milla graduated with a B.S. from Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru and a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from Saint Louis University. He did his postdoctoral training at MIT as a Jane Coffin Childs Fellow and at Duke University.
  • Would like to travel the Silk Road.
  • Loves to eat Uni (Sea Urchin roe).
  • Is a published author of fiction in his home country of Peru.
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Joseph Leveque, M.D., is chief medical officer of Synthorx. Dr. Leveque joined Synthorx from his previous role as chief medical officer of ARMO BioSciences, a late-stage immuno-oncology company that was acquired by Eli Lilly in May 2018. Prior to this, he was chief medical officer of EMD Serono, the North American subsidiary of Merck KGaA and the vice president and head of U.S. medical oncology at Bristol-Myers Squibb, where he was involved in the development and commercialization of the first generation of immuno-oncology therapeutics. Before his role at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dr. Leveque was the vice president of medical and scientific affairs at Onyx Pharmaceuticals. Earlier in his career, he served as vice president of medical and scientific affairs at Cephalon Oncology and as medical director at Amgen, where he worked on several therapeutic programs for solid tumor and hematological malignancies.
  • Omnilingualism is his superpower.
  • Is an Eagle Scout.
  • Wants to travel to the Moon.
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Justin Thacker, is the vice president, finance and controller at Synthorx. Mr. Thacker has over 20 years of experience in accounting and finance, including more than 10 years in various senior leadership roles in the life science industry. Mr. Thacker has been responsible for various functions including technical accounting, SEC reporting, financial planning and analysis, internal controls and treasury, and has been involved in numerous follow-on offerings and merger and acquisition transactions. Prior to joining Synthorx, Mr. Thacker was the Executive Director, Controller at ACADIA Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused central nervous system disorders. Prior to ACADIA, Mr. Thacker was the Senior Director, Finance at Auspex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. until its acquisition by Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries and at Cadence Pharmaceuticals, Inc. until its acquisition by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals. Mr. Thacker began his career with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and is a certified public accountant. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and General Management and a Masters of Accountancy from Kansas State University.
  • Is an alumni of Kansas State University (not the Jayhawks of Kansas University—the Wildcats).
  • Wants to visit Thailand or India.
  • Is both a morning person and night-owl.
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Christian V. Kuhlen, J.D., M.D., is general counsel at Synthorx.  Dr. Kuhlen has a depth and breadth of expertise as general counsel for biotechnology companies, where he has been responsible for legal, SEC, human resources, intellectual property, and corporate governance functions. He has successfully managed a wide variety of financial transactions, including private financings, an initial public offering, and numerous follow-on offerings. Most recently, Dr. Kuhlen served as general counsel and secretary for Ignyta, Inc., where he coordinated two public financings and advised on the company’s acquisition by Roche. Before Ignyta, Dr. Kuhlen served as general counsel, vice president, and corporate secretary of Genoptix, Inc., where he led the legal and corporate governance functions from its initial public offering to its successful acquisition by Novartis. Prior to Genoptix, he was an attorney in private practice with Cooley LLP. Dr. Kuhlen holds a B.S. in biochemistry and cell biology and a B.A. in economics from the University of California, San Diego, and a M.D. and J.D. from the University of Southern California.
  • Wants you to know that mosquitoes will always eat him first. Always.
  • Wants you to know that mosquitoes will always eat him first. Always.
  • Losing one golf ball per hole, on average, is his superpower.
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Floyd E. Romesberg, Ph.D., is the scientific founder. Prior to Synthorx, he served as the scientific co-founder and a member of the board of directors of RQx Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Genentech) and Achaogen, two biopharmaceutical companies focused on developing new antibiotics. Dr. Romesberg is also an associate professor of chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute. His academic research laboratory uses a broad range of interdisciplinary techniques, including non-linear optical spectroscopy, organic chemistry, microbiology, and genetics, to study different aspects of evolution. This work has been described in more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and Office of Naval Research. Dr. Romesberg is best known for developing unnatural base pairs for the expansion of the genetic alphabet and is also working to develop novel antibiotics, as well as to understand how evolution tailors protein dynamics and how cellular stress and DNA damage induce cell-cycle checkpoint responses and mutations. Dr. Romesberg performed his postdoctoral training with Dr. Peter Schultz at the University of California, Berkeley. He received a Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry from Cornell University and a B.S. in chemistry from The Ohio State University.
  • Is a Michigan fan who went to OSU.
  • Wants everyone to know p=ℏk.
  • Lost his superpower for tolerating the cold after moving to San Diego.
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The company was founded based on important discoveries by Floyd Romesberg and The Scripps Research Institute. We are integrating the technology to create improved protein therapeutics, which we call Synthorins™.

David Chen
Senior Research Associate
  • Likes San Diego for its dog-friendly breweries.
  • Wants to travel to New Zealand.
  • Likes K-pop music.
Wendie Konold
Senior Manager, Human Resources
  • Would eat homemade flour tortillas every day if she could.
  • Wants to travel to Asgard.
  • Has been told that her next career should be as a Disney animated voice actor—when she answers her home phone, callers still ask to speak to her mom.
Hans Aerni, Ph.D.
Principal Scientist
  • Thinks San Diego is an amazing place for innovation with a bonus of being located in paradise.
  • Wants to travel to the bottom of the ocean in pursuit of new discoveries.
  • Used to be a firefighter.
Neyssa Marina M.D.
Executive Medical Director
  • Is an alumni of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus.
  • Played for the Puerto Rican national basketball team in the Pan American games in 1979.
  • Would eat French fries every day if she could.
Katie Schutz
Research Associate II
  • The beaches and hiking are her favorite things about San Diego.
  • Used to play horse polo and was voted MVP in her women’s league.
  • Wants you to know that camels don’t actually store water in their humps—their extra water is stored in their bloodstream.
David Welkie, Ph.D.
Scientist I
  • His favorite thing about San Diego is the ocean.
  • Is an alumni of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Would eat a banana split every day if he could.
Sharon Gao, Ph.D.
Senior Director of CMC Analytical & Formulation Development
  • Is an alumni of University of California, San Diego.
  • No weather-related travel delays are her favorite thing about San Diego.
  • Perseverance is her superpower.
Brianna Robak
Operations Assistant
  • Would eat cheese all day, every day if she could.
  • Has performed the National Anthem for the Padres twice.
  • Wants you to know that contrary to popular belief, dogs aren’t color blind; they can see shades of blue, yellow, green and gray.
Molly Roudabush, MBA
Associate Director of Late-Stage Analytical and Bioassay development
  • Would eat cheese and siracha sauce every day if she could.
  • Wants you to know that humans share 50% of DNA with bananas.
  • Her favorite part about San Diego is that everything is close by – ocean, mountains, desert, another country and the best street tacos.
Gavin Hong
Research Associate III
  • Is an alumni of University of Oregon. Go Ducks!
  • The Japanese ramen shops are his favorite thing about San Diego.
  • The ability to do arithmetic in his head is his superpower.
Lauren Baker Ph.D.
VP, Scientific Affairs and Communications
  • Is an alumni of Purdue University—Boiler Up!
  • The ability to always find the silver lining is her superpower.
  • Paducah, Kentucky is home to Nobel Laureates, World Series Winners, and her.
Justin Thacker
Vice President of Finance
  • Is an alumni of Kansas State University (not the Jayhawks of Kansas University—the Wildcats).
  • Wants to visit Thailand or India.
  • Is both a morning person and night-owl.
Lorraine Lockwood
Senior Director, Human Resources
  • Planning the perfect party is her superpower.
  • The abundance of things to do is her favorite thing about San Diego.
  • Used to be a mortician.
Chris Breitbarth
Director of Laboratory Operations
  • Could eat Mexican food every day.
  • Getting stuff done is his superpower.
  • Was born and raised in San Diego.
Charisse Partridge
Administrative Assistant
  • Could eat French fries every day.
  • Juggling visitors, conference rooms and invoices is her superpower.
  • Is a diehard Bills fan.
Lisa Schechet
Director, Clinical Operations
  • The sporty lifestyle is her favorite thing about San Diego.
  • Would eat a slice of New York pizza every day if she could.
  • If she looks familiar, you may have seen her opening for Good Morning America in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup.
Eric Miller, CPA
Senior Director, Finance
  • Reality warping is his superpower.
  • Wants you to know that several human trial studies have shown moderate red wine consumption is better for you than not drinking at all.
  • Has lived on two continents.
Miglena Manandhar, Ph.D.
Scientist I
  • Would eat chocolate croissants everyday if she could.
  • The sun and not having to check the weather before going anywhere is her favorite thing about San Diego.
  • Does not drink coffee.
Lesley Johnson
Sr. Research Associate
  • Is an alumni of University of California, San Diego.
  • Would eat waffles every day if she could.
  • Wants you to know that mass spectrometers aren’t just used in labs on earth, they’ve been sent to space to identify molecules and look for life on other planets.
Jill Mooney Ph.D.
Senior Director of Research
  • Grew up on a dairy farm.
  • Is an alumni of Oregon State University and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
  • Wants to travel to New Zealand and Australia.
Michelle Mazzoni, Ph.D., RAC
Vice President, Regulatory Sciences and Quality Assurance
  • Would eat double-dipped milk chocolate covered peanuts every day if she could.
  • Finding typos in documents is her superpower.
  • Wants to take a return trip to China to walk The Great Wall and to see the Terracotta Army.
Deisy Corredor, Ph.D.
Director, Late Stage Process Development
  • The food and the weather are her favorite things about San Diego.
  • Wants you to know that Colombian coffee is the best in the world. Fact.
  • Once won an all-paid trip to Jamaica by winning a national dance competition.
Marcos Milla, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Officer
  • Would like to travel the Silk Road.
  • Loves to eat Uni (Sea Urchin roe).
  • Is a published author of fiction in his home country of Peru.
Nicole Acuff, Ph.D.
Scientist
  • Quotes Disney movies in everyday conversation.
  • Would eat Publix fried chicken every day if she could.
  • Wants you to know that there is currently a debate among virologists as to whether viruses are alive or not.
Christian V. Kuhlen, J.D., M.D.
General Counsel
  • Wants you to know that mosquitoes will always eat him first. Always.
  • Losing one golf ball per hole, on average, is his superpower.
  • Is a fifth generation Californian.
Josh Toschi
Associate Scientist
  • Would eat surf-and-turf burritos every day if he could.
  • Beaches full of friendly people are his favorite thing about San Diego.
  • Wants you to know that the Earth is shaped like an oblate spheroid, flattened at the poles and bulging at the Equator, therefore resembling an egg.
Joseph Leveque, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer
  • Omnilingualism is his superpower.
  • Is an Eagle Scout.
  • Wants to travel to the Moon.
Jasmine Nguyen
Associate Scientist
  • Would like to travel throughout the entire Asian continent.
  • Could eat Korean BBQ beef short ribs every day.
  • Has a proven track record of successfully expressing, purifying, and crystalizing both membrane and soluble proteins.
Floyd Romesberg, Ph.D.
Founder and Distinguished Fellow
  • Is a Michigan fan who went to OSU.
  • Wants everyone to know p=ℏk.
  • Lost his superpower for tolerating the cold after moving to San Diego.
Curt Robak
Associate Director, Information Technology
  • Is an alumni of Charter Oak State.
  • Wants to travel to distant galaxies on the Starship Enterprise…or New Zealand.
  • Loves to ski.
Kelsea Loescher
Research Associate II
  • Loves to rock climb.
  • Spending time outdoors year-round is her favorite thing about San Diego.
  • Wants to travel to Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.
Michael Garcia
Senior Accounting Manager
  • Wants to travel to Croatia.
  • Loves that there’s always something fun to do in San Diego: beer festivals, music festivals, Del Mar Fair and Race Track, beach, parks, museums and fun restaurants.
  • Functioning on 4 hours of sleep is his superpower.
Shukuan Li
Senior Research Associate
  • Likes San Diego for its mild weather.
  • Would like to travel to Europe.
  • Could eat fish every day.
David Luo, MPH
Vice President, Clinical Operations
  • Is an alumni of UCSD and UCLA.
  • The abundance of street tacos is his favorite thing about San Diego.
  • Wants to travel to Madagascar.
Jeffrey Tidwell J.D., Ph.D.
Chief IP Counsel
  • Is an alumni of Occidental College, MIT and UNC Chapel Hill.
  • Was an extra on Beverly Hills 90210 in college.
  • Would eat a bean and cheese burrito every day if he could.
Jade Bratcher
Senior Lab Operations Associate
  • Her superpower is perfect hindsight.
  • Loves to cosplay her favorite Marvel characters at comic conventions.
  • Wants you to know that the Eiffel Tower can be up to 15 centimeters taller during the summer because of thermal expansion.
Christen Buetz
Research Associate II
  • The variety of outdoor activities, craft beer and wonderful people she’s met are her favorite things about San Diego.
  • Wants to travel to the Giraffe Manor in Kenya.
  • Has a pet rabbit named Attila the Bun.
Kelly Moody
Project Coordinator
  • Del Mar is her favorite thing about San Diego.
  • Is an alumni of Auburn University.
  • Loves college football. GO WAR EAGLES!
Ingrid Joseph, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Vice President, Pharmacology
  • Wants you to know the human brain consumes about 20% of the body's oxygen and calories.
  • Persistence is her superpower.
  • Loves life and is a happy person.
Charles Winter
Vice President of Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls
  • Had the unique opportunity to live and work abroad in Asia.
  • Is an alumni of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Go Badgers!
  • Would like you to know that the Law of Conservation of Energy tells us that energy in the universe cannot be destroyed; it can only be transferred or transformed.
Fran Senchak
Vice President, Human Resources and Administration
  • Is an alumni of Louisiana Tech University.
  • Every community feeling like a small town is her favorite part of San Diego.
  • Has night-time snorkeled with Giant Manta Rays.
Helene Pham
Research Associate I
  • Would eat sushi every day if she could.
  • Wants to travel to the Maldives on her next vacation.
  • Is allergic to dogs, but she’ll sacrifice her own breathing to love them.
Becky Franklin
Accounting Specialist
  • Multi-tasking while staying organized and singing along to the radio is her superpower.
  • Her eyes change color from green to blue (depending on what she’s wearing).
  • Wants you to know that there is enough DNA in the average person’s body to stretch from the sun to Pluto and back — 17 times.
Carolina Caffaro, Ph.D.
Senior Director of Early Stage CMC and Protein Sciences
  • Combining creativity and focus at work is her superpower.
  • Wants you to know it can take three to five generations for Monarch butterflies to migrate 3,000 miles from Mexico to the northern U.S. but only one generation to complete the return trip.
  • Has backpacked through Uganda to visit mountain gorillas.
Rob Herman
Senior Research Associate
  • If he could, he would eat donuts every day.
  • Patagonia is his number one travel destination.
  • Would make a great addition to your bar trivia team, as a large portion of his brain is full of interesting, but mostly useless, knowledge.
Lilia Koriazova, Ph.D.
Director, Preclinical Development
  • Open-mindedness is her superpower.
  • Wants you to know that over a century ago, Ilya Metchnikoff theorized that manipulating the intestinal microbiome with host-friendly bacteria found in yogurt could lead to health enhancement and longevity.
  • Was born in a country that no longer exists.
Lina Ma, Ph.D.
Scientist II
  • Wants to see the salt flats in Bolivia.
  • Curiosity is her superpower.
  • Likes to explore new things.
Jasmine Nguyen
Senior Research Associate
  • Would like to travel throughout the entire Asian continent.
  • Could eat Korean BBQ beef short ribs every day.
  • Has a proven track record of successfully expressing, purifying, and crystalizing both membrane and soluble proteins.
Mike Pena
Senior Research Associate
  • Is an alumnus of U.C. Santa Barbara.
  • Loves to travel.
  • Has swum with humpback whales in Tonga.
Jerod Ptacin, Ph.D.
Senior Director of Platform and Target Development
  • Is an alumnus of University of Wisconsin, UC Berkeley, and Stanford University.
  • Would eat cheese pizza everyday if he could.
  • Caffeine tolerance is his superpower.