Breakthroughs start with our team

Tighe Reardon
Acting Chief Financial Officer
  • Is able to leap tall spreadsheets in a single bound.
  • Is an alumnus of San Diego State University
  • Once scored 23 straight points to begin a basketball game.
Hannah Gazdziak
Intern
  • Memorizing song lyrics is her superpower.
  • Would eat sushi every day if she could.
  • Can eat a whole jar of peanut butter in one sitting.
David Chen
Research Associate
  • Likes San Diego for its dog-friendly breweries.
  • Wants to travel to New Zealand.
  • Likes K-pop music.
Ken Bragstad
Senior Research Associate
  • Has an MBA from UC San Diego Rady School of Management.
  • Wants to travel to Mars.
  • Likes to read books and eat food.
Ingrid Joseph, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Senior Director, 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.
Shukuan Li
Senior Research Associate
  • Likes San Diego for its mild weather.
  • Would like to travel to Europe.
  • Could eat fish every day.
Laura Shawver, Ph.D.
President, CEO, & Director
  • Wants you to know Synthorx made Science Alert’s list of 20 scientific facts we didn't know at the start of 2017.
  • Would like to visit the Galápagos Islands.
  • Is really good at fixing lawn mowers.
Pat Pio
Executive Assistant to the CEO
  • Wants everyone to know getting older is not for sissies.
  • Organization and follow-through are her superpowers.
  • Was a professional bowler.
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.
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.
Enoch Kariuki, Pharm.D.
Senior Vice President, Corporate Development
  • If he could travel anywhere it would be Australia.
  • Loves to eat mangoes.
  • Grew up in a small town on the border of Kenya and Tanzania called Rombo
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.
Hans Aerni, Ph.D.
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.
Namit Singh, Ph.D.
Scientist
  • Would like to travel to Greenland to experience the Aurora Borealis.
  • Humility and willingness to learn are his superpowers.
  • Memorized "The Waste Land" by T.S. Eliot during his commute to work.
Carolina Caffaro, Ph.D.
Principal Scientist
  • 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 of 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
  • 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.
Principal Scientist
  • 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.
Kristine San Jose
Research Associate
  • Appreciates San Diego’s dog-friendly atmosphere and fantastic breweries.
  • Could eat breadsticks every day.
  • Has two dogs and two cats.
Jennifer Weber
Executive Assistant
  • Would like you to know that studies show being outside can make you happier; the ideal spot is outdoors near the water when the weather is warm, according to one study.
  • Intuition is her superpower.
  • Has a passion for music. She currently sings in a band and plays the flute.

Our ground-breaking synthetic biology from the Romesberg laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute has been extensively optimized by the Synthorx team. We are seamlessly integrating the technology to create improved protein therapeutics, which we call Synthorins™.

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Laura Shawver, Ph.D., is president, chief executive officer, and director of Synthorx. Prior to joining Synthorx, Dr. Shawver held the following positions: CEO and director of Cleave Biosciences, entrepreneur-in-residence for 5AM Ventures, CEO and director of Phenomix Corporation, and president of SUGEN Inc. (acquired by Pharmacia). Dr. Shawver has been involved with a number of clinical development programs including two FDA-approved therapies. Dr. Shawver is currently a director of Relay Therapeutics as well as an advisor to the industry. She is an active member of the American Association for Cancer Research serving on the Scientific Advisory Committee for Stand Up to Cancer. Dr. Shawver knows firsthand what it is like to be a cancer patient. Having survived ovarian cancer, she turned that experience into the founding of The Clearity Foundation, a nonprofit organization providing access to molecular profiling for ovarian cancer patients to improve their treatment options. Dr. Shawver received her Ph.D. in pharmacology and a B.S. degree in microbiology both from the University of Iowa.
  • Would like to visit the Galápagos Islands.
  • Wants you to know Synthorx made Science Alert’s list of 20 scientific facts we didn't know at the start of 2017.
  • Is really good at fixing lawn mowers.
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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.
  • Loves to eat Uni (Sea Urchin roe).
  • Is a published author of fiction in his home country of Peru.
  • Retaining random knowledge is his superpower.
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Tighe Reardon is the acting chief financial officer of Synthorx and COI Pharmaceuticals. Mr. Reardon has over 15 years of senior finance and technical tax experience ranging from start-ups to large public companies. Prior to joining Synthorx and COI Mr. Reardon was the Senior Vice President of Tax and Treasury at DJO Global, Inc., a $1.2 billion multinational medical device company owned by Blackstone, Inc. (NYSE:BX). Additionally, Mr. Reardon acted as the Director of Taxation for Relational Investors, LLC, a $7 billion activist fund. Mr. Reardon began his career at Arthur Andersen LLP. He has an M.S. in taxation and a B.S. in accounting from San Diego State University. He is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of California.
  • Is able to leap tall spreadsheets in a single bound.
  • Is an alumnus of San Diego State University.
  • Once scored 23 straight points to begin a basketball game.
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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.
  • Losing one golf ball per hole, on average, is his superpower.
  • Is a fifth generation Californian.
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Enoch Kariuki, Pharm.D., is senior vice president, corporate development at Synthorx.  Dr. Kariuki has significant experience in healthcare strategy, business development, and financing. He was most recently vice president at H.I.G. Capital, where he focused on investments in life sciences companies. His previous roles include senior associate at Leerink Partners and associate director at UBS Investment Bank. At Leerink and UBS, Dr. Kariuki advised healthcare companies on equity capital financings, mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, and recapitalizations. Dr. Kariuki did a post-doctoral fellowship in R&D strategy at Bristol-Myers Squibb and was a pharmacist at CVS Caremark. He holds an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and a Pharm.D. from Texas Southern University.
  • If he could travel anywhere it would be Australia.
  • Loves to eat mangoes.
  • Grew up in a small town on the border of Kenya and Tanzania called Rombo.
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Floyd E. Romesberg, Ph.D., is the scientific founder and a member of the board of directors of Synthorx. 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.
  • Wants everyone to know p=ℏk.
  • Lost his superpower for tolerating the cold after moving to San Diego.
  • Is a Michigan fan who went to OSU.
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Jay Lichter, Ph.D., is an entrepreneur and seasoned investor in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical arena with more than 25 years of expertise in management, scientific research, and business development. Dr. Lichter is the inventor on more than 260 patent and patent applications for six Avalon portfolio companies, including 78 issued patents. Dr. Lichter continues to be a powerful force in the pharmaceutical industry and has been involved in licensing or merger and acquisition deals valued in excess of $1 billion. Dr. Lichter led Avalon investments in and serves on the board of directors of Afraxis, Aratana Therapeutics, Carolus, Otonomy, and Sova Pharmaceuticals. He previously served on the board of RQx Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Genentech) and Zacharon Pharmaceuticals (acquired by BioMarin). He also serves as a board observer for Syndax. Prior to Avalon, Dr. Lichter held postdoctoral positions in pharmacogenetics at DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Co. and human genetics at Yale University. Dr. Lichter received a B.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois.
  • His superpower is detecting BS.
  • Has seen the Grateful Dead over 50 times.
  • If he could travel anywhere it would be on a bicycle.
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Vickie Capps has more than 20 years of experience as a chief financial officer and audit professional in the healthcare industry, including an 11-year tenure as executive vice president, CFO, and treasurer for DJO Global Inc., a global provider of medical devices. Earlier in her career, she spent 10 years with Ernst & Young as a senior audit and accounting professional. Mrs. Capps currently serves on the senior advisory board of Consonance Capital Partners, a healthcare-focused private equity firm, and the board of directors of its portfolio company, Enclara Pharmacia, a provider of pharmacy services to the hospice industry. She also serves on the boards of directors of two publicly traded life sciences companies, NuVasive and Otonomy, as well as private medical device company, OmniGuide. In addition, Mrs. Capps previously served on the boards of publicly-traded healthcare IT company Connecture until it was taken private by Francisco Partners, publicly-traded medical device company SenoRx until its acquisition by C. R. Bard, Inc., and private medical device company, RF Surgical Systems until its acquisition by Medtronic. She also serves as a member of the board of directors of the San Diego State University Research Foundation.
  • Mind reading is her superpower.
  • Has been to Africa three times and hopes to return again.
  • Is an alumna of San Diego State University.
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Peter Kolchinsky, Ph.D, is a founder, portfolio manager, and managing director at RA Capital Management. Peter is active in both public and private investments in companies developing drugs, medical devices, diagnostics, and research tools, and serves as a board member for various public and privately held companies, including Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Wave Life Sciences Ltd. Peter also leads the firm’s outreach and publishing efforts, which aim to make a positive social impact and spark collaboration among healthcare stakeholders, including patients, physicians, researchers, policy makers, and industry.  He authored “The Entrepreneur’s Guide to a Biotech Startup”, written on the biotech social contract, and served on the Board of Global Science and Technology for the National Academy of Sciences. Peter holds a B.S. from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Virology from Harvard University.
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    Floyd E. Romesberg, Ph.D., is the scientific founder and a member of the board of directors of Synthorx. 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 a 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.
    • Wants everyone to know p=ℏk.
    • Lost his superpower for tolerating the cold after moving to San Diego.
    • Is a Michigan fan who went to OSU.
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    Laura Shawver, Ph.D., is president, chief executive officer, and director of Synthorx. Prior to joining Synthorx, Dr. Shawver held the following positions: CEO and director of Cleave Biosciences, entrepreneur-in-residence for 5AM Ventures, CEO and director of Phenomix Corporation, and president of SUGEN Inc. (acquired by Pharmacia). Dr. Shawver has been involved with a number of clinical development programs including two FDA-approved therapies. Dr. Shawver is currently a director of Relay Therapeutics as well as an advisor to the industry. She is an active member of the American Association for Cancer Research serving on the Scientific Advisory Committee for Stand Up to Cancer. Dr. Shawver knows firsthand what it is like to be a cancer patient. Having survived ovarian cancer, she turned that experience into the founding of The Clearity Foundation, a nonprofit organization providing access to molecular profiling for ovarian cancer patients to improve their treatment options. Dr. Shawver received her Ph.D. in pharmacology and a B.S. degree in microbiology both from the University of Iowa.
    • Would like to visit the Galápagos Islands.
    • Wants you to know Synthorx made Science Alert’s list of 20 scientific facts we didn't know at the start of 2017.
    • Is really good at fixing lawn mowers.
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    Peter Thompson, M.D., is currently a private equity partner with OrbiMed who brings over 25 years of industry experience. He held executive positions at Becton-Dickinson and Chiron, cofounded and was CEO of Trubion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: TRBN), cofounded Corvus Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: CRVS), Cleave Biosciences, Silverback Therapeutics, and serves as a director on several company boards. Dr. Thompson is an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awardee, an affiliate professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Washington, an inventor on numerous patents, and a board-certified internist and oncologist. He was on staff at the National Cancer Institute following his internal medicine training at Yale University.
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