Mike Solomon, Ph.D.
Mike has more than twenty years of experience in the biotechnology industry, with the last fourteen focused on creating and operating early stage therapeutic-focused companies.
Most recently, Mike was Chief Operating Officer at Decibel Therapeutics, a biotechnology company focused on broadly treating hearing disorders. Mike’s involvement at Decibel was part of his work as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Third Rock Ventures; he led a team that created Decibel’s business plan resulting in a $52 M Series A round.
Prior to Decibel, Mike was Chief Operating Officer at Ember Therapeutics, a Third Rock Ventures company focused on obesity and diabetes, and Chief Business Officer at Link Medicine, a neurodegeneration focused biotechnology company that was sold to Astra Zeneca. Mike was also a founder and VP of Discovery at Epizyme Therapeutics, a company focused on epigenetic modulators that is now a publicly traded company, and VP of Discovery at Hypnion, Inc a sleep disorder company that was sold to Lilly in 2007 for $325 million. Mike also spent two years as a biotechnology analyst at Bank of America Securities. He started his career at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, where he was project leader for multiple programs.
Mike received his BS in Chemistry from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He earned his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin, and completed postdoctoral work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry at Scripps.
Katie Warner, Ph.D.
Katie was an early pioneer in SHAPE technologies, showing in 2009 with Dave Mathews and Kevin Weeks that SHAPE data can be used to model RNA secondary structure at high accuracy. She continued her work with Adrian Ferré-D'Amaré and Chris Abell to show the first structure-based proof-of-princple that RNA is targetable by fragments. Katie has solved multiple RNA-small molecule crystal structures, including the fluorogenic RNAs "Spinach" and "Corn."
Katie received a BA in Chemistry, with Highest Honors and Distinction, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and an MPhil in Pathology and Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cambridge. Katie was a Beckman Scholar, a Churchill Scholar, an RNA Society/Scaringe awardee and an NIH-Oxford-Cambridge Scholar.
Kevin Weeks, Ph.D.
Kevin is a founder of Ribometrix and a Kenan Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The vision of his laboratory is to use chemical principles to explore the central role of RNA in biology with a focus on real-world problems and understanding human disease. RNA SHAPE technologies, invented in his laboratory, are used worldwide. The Weeks laboratory is applying SHAPE and other chemical technologies to challenging problems in biology, including the RNA-mediated reactions central to functions of mRNAs, lncRNAs, and viral RNAs.
Dr. Weeks obtained his BA with Honors and Department Honors in Chemistry from the College of Wooster and completed his Ph.D. at Yale, securing the Richard Wolfgang Prize for most Distinguished Dissertation in Chemistry. Dr. Weeks is a Fulbright and a Searle Scholar, an NIH EUREKA awardee, a Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Life Member in Clare Hall at the University of Cambridge, and has taught many hundreds of undergraduates their first year chemistry.
Bill has thirty years of experience in innovative drug discovery and has been a leader in the field of lead generation in academia, start-up companies and large pharmaceutical ventures. He has held executive and operational positions including Executive Director of Lead Generation at Epizyme, Director of Assay Development and Compound Profiling at the University of North Carolina, President and Chief Operating Officer of Amphora Discovery, and Director of Lead Generation Technologies at Eli Lilly and Company.
Bill was one of the founders of the Society for Biomolecular Screening, SBS, and served as president from 1998 – 2000. He served on the board of directors of the SBS and Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening. He assembled the definitive work on high throughput screening, High Throughput Screening Methods and Protocols and has subsequently edited second and third editions of the book. Bill has worked on over 500 drug discover projects in his career including numerous projects that have entered clinical trials.
Chris Thomajan, MBA
Chris Thomajan has been a CFO for over twenty-five years, working with start-up and emerging growth companies across a variety of industries. Over the past ten years, Chris has been the Managing Partner of TechCXO in Boston, a national, management consulting firm. He also runs his own practice, acting as CFO for early stage biotechnology companies such as Decibel Therapeutics, Catabasis Pharmaceuticals, Adheron Therapeutics and Relay Therapeutics. Chris holds a BA from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Columbia University.
Denise Kilpatrick, MS
Denise leads the company’s Human Resources department, including organizational development, talent acquisition, and total rewards management. She has over thirty years experience driving organizational performance improvement and building highly engaged and productive teams. Since 1996 she has managed a successful consulting practice working with a diverse client base including many of the areas prominent biotech, pharma, med devices, and technology start ups.
Denise has managed and provided strategic oversight for all aspects of Human Resources for both start up and larger organizations. Denise holds B.S. degrees in Industrial Relations and Communication from UNC-CH and an M.S. in Adult Education/Organizational Development from NCSU where she graduated with honors.
Christina Davis, MBA
Christina, who joined the team in 2018, is the Office Manager at Ribometrix. She has a diverse range of experience including almost a decade of work in the NC state government environmental regulatory field, various entrepreneurial ventures, and a professional background in industrial biotechnology. Her passions include biotechnology business development and innovation, marketing, entrepreneurship, and any endeavors that have a positive impact on the environment and human health.
Christina holds a BS in Environmental Science with a focus in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and an MBA in BioSciences Management from North Carolina State University.
Karolyn Johnson, BA
Karolyn joined the team in 2019, and comes with over 30 years of experience supporting C-Level Executives in various industries. She brings a combination of client relations, management operations, event planning, leadership development and training, along with creative problem-solving techniques, to serve the needs of people in the marketplace. Karolyn takes preide in developing, implementing, and communicating policies and objectives, handling unforeseen issues, and serving as a liaison to clients, internal staff, and external contacts.
Karolyn graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Law. She loves reading, traveling, horseback riding, and helping others.
Carolina Lin, M.S.
Carolina is a molecular biologist with over ten years of experience in RNA and cancer research, who joined Ribometrix in 2016. Carolina’s current role in the company is to validate targets for small molecule screening by studying the complexity and functionality of their RNA structure. Her work experience spans fields in microRNA, alternative splicing, and small molecule inhibitors on oncology targets.
Carolina received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biophysical Chemistry from Dartmouth College in 2005. She earned her Master’s Degree in Genetics and Genomics from Duke University in 2011
Natalie McDonald, Ph.D.
Natalie joined Ribometrix as a Screening Scientist in 2017. She has over twenty years of experience in molecular biology and genomics. Her work has included projects in early stage start-ups ranging from host responses to RNA and DNA virus infection, contract-based whole genome and transcriptome sequencing of widely-varied species, and data analysis. She brings working expertise in RNA biology, high-throughput sequencing and assay optimization and scale-up.
Natalie was awarded a B.S. in Biology with Honors from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, in 1994 and a Ph.D. in Genetics and Molecular Biology from Emory University, Atlanta, GA, in 1999
Melissa Porter, M.S.
Melissa is part of the Screening team at Ribometrix. She comes to the company with over 10 years of experience in drug discovery and has led numerous high-throughput screening campaigns. Her expertise is in assay development and validation as well as hit follow-up and characterization. Melissa earned a Master’s degree in Medical Sciences from the University of Kentucky. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, scuba diving, food and wine, Kentucky basketball, and greyhounds!
Sarah Jacobs, Ph.D.
Sarah is part of the Molecular Biology team at Ribometrix. Sarah’s current role is to validate targets for small molecule screening and development of downstream small molecule validity assays. She brings with her extensive experience in immunology, cancer biology, and virology along with experience in diagnostic assay development and global health. Sarah earned her B.S. in Molecular Biology with Highest Honors from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 and a Ph.D. in Molecular Cancer Biology from Duke University in 2009.
Matt Smola, Ph.D.
Matt is an experienced RNA biologist and brings a diverse set of skills to Ribometrix. He began his career as a graduate student under the supervision of Dr. Kevin Weeks, where he developed new analytical tools and creative adaptations of SHAPE technology in studying long non-coding RNA in living cells. Upon completion of his Ph.D., Matt moved to Boston for postdoctoral training at Novartis where he worked to develop new cell-based screening assays, implemented strategies for structural characterization of small molecule-ribonucleoprotein complexes, and provided his RNA expertise to several project teams.
Matt holds a BS in Biochemistry with Department Honors from Miami University and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Graduate Research Fellow of the National Science Foundation.
Bill Pasutti, M.S.
Bill has eleven years' experience in molecular and microbiology research. While working in the Bay Area he was involved in HIV-1 viral genetic research at NCIRE, siRNA drug discovery at Merck, and small molecule antibiotic drug discovery at Novartis. He brings to the company his expertise in assay development for PCR and mass spectrometry high-throughput screening.
Bill received a BS in Microbiology and a M.S. in Molecular Biology & Genetics from Michigan State University.
Krista Marran, B.S.
Krista, a member of the Molecular Biology team at Ribometrix, brings cell-based and biochemical assay development expertise for screening small molecules. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Hamilton College in 2004 and then quickly began her career in Dr. Gregory Hannon’s lab at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. There her efforts focused on improving shRNA library design and executing loss-of-function RNAi screens for genes involved in drug resistance in breast and prostate cancers. More recently, she participated in the dedicated RNA biology group at Novartis - evaluating miRNAs as therapeutic targets.
Brad Henke, Ph.D.
Brad is a chemistry consultant for Ribometrix. He has over twenty-five years of experience in small molecule and peptide-based drug discovery. Prior to starting his own consulting business, Opti-Mol Consulting, LLC, in 2015 Brad was Director of Chemistry in the Metabolic Diseases Division at GlaxoSmithKline’s RTP, NC, site.
Brad earned his B.S. in Chemistry from Miami University. He recevied his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Illinois, and was an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. He has authored over thirty scientific publications and is an inventor on seven patents.
Caleb Sutherland, Ph.D.
Caleb joined the Molecular Biology team at Ribometrix in 2018. He brings his passion for drug discovery and over 10 years of experience in cell-based and biophysical functional assays. While attaining his PhD in Cancer Biology, from the University of Arizona, he validated and targeted unique DNA structures found in the MYC promoter with small molecules to treat cancer.
Caleb received a BS in Molecular and Cell Biology from Boise State University, where he was a McNair Scholar and INBRE Research Fellow.
Chris was originally trained as a cell and molecular biologist before entering the biotechnology industry in 1999, where he has since built up a broad range of top management experience focused on outsourced preclinical drug discovery and the development of novel gene modulation technologies.
Much of this came from fifteen years as the lead founder, CEO and CSO of Cenix BioScience GmbH, a discovery-stage preclinical CRO with operations in Germany, Belgium and the US. Along the way, he built up a highly successful 40-staff team focused on high-throughput screening using high content assays, which combined RNAi gene silencing and compound treatments to complete nearly 100 major target discovery, target validation and drug mode of action projects.
Advancing programs in most of the top pharmaceutical companies across a very broad scope of disease indications and biological pathways, this work was also complemented by highly innovative technology development programs, including the design and development of the first commercially-available human genome-wide libraries of siRNAs, sold at the time under the Silencer™ brand by Ambion, now a part of Thermo.
More recently, Chris has been consulting for investor groups and top management teams toward advancing the build-up of young biotech startups focused on innovative therapeutic discovery and development programs.
Chris received his BSc and MSc in Biology from the University of Ottawa. He then earned his Ph.D. in Cell Biology from the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester, before carrying out postdoctoral work in Cell Biology at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, EMBL, in Heidelberg, Germany.
LaShanda Cheston, BS
LaShanda started her Scientific career at the University of Chapel Hill Gene Therapy Center. That initial exposure led to her interest and exploration in Genomics, Cancer Biology, and Immunology. Upon her exploration of these areas of Science, she acquired multiple skills in microbiology, and molecular biology. LaShanda joins the Ribometrix Team with experience in experimental design, High-throughput screening, and proficiency in Laboratory Logistics.
LaShanda attained her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biological Sciences with Honors from North Carolina Central University, of Durham, NC, where she was also a member of the Howard Hughes’ Medical Institute Science Education Alliance.
Kaycee brings multiple backgrounds to the Screening Team at Ribometrix, including genetics, biochemistry, and engineering. She did her postdoc in Phillip Zamore’s lab at UMass Medical School, studying the evolution of small RNA pathways across arthropods. Before that, Kaycee received her Ph.D. in Chemistry at Pennsylvania State University under the advisement of Scott Showalter and her B.S. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.
Kaycee's past research focused on the environmental RNA interference response to double-stranded RNA in agricultural pest insects using high-throughput sequencing and genetics. Before working with insects, Kaycee’s graduate work aimed at studying the thermodynamics of RNA:protein interactions using a variety of biochemical and analytical methods
Marilyn Thompson is an experienced business development executive with over 22 years of experience in the biotech, pharma, medical device/software and 3D scanning sectors.
She has served as a Controller, Director of Finance and Chief Financial Officer with oversight of Accounting, Finance and administrative areas of business. She has extensive experience in new business and has served as a consultant to over 35 start-up companies.
She has managed millions of dollars in NIH and NSF funded grants and continues to consult with companies concerning grant funding. Ms. Thompson attended East Carolina University where she majored in Business with a degree in Accounting.
Martin D. Williams, MBA, MS
Martin is an entrepreneurial executive and leader with thirty years of global biopharmaceutical experience. He has achieved senior leadership positions in several multinational pharmaceutical companies, and public and private biotechnology companies. He has successfully closed over $3 billion in corporate development transactions and involvement in $265MM in financings. Martin is experienced in founding new ventures, building companies, private and public fundraising, and exits, including M&A and IPOs. He has broad experience in strategy, operations, financing, corporate development, providing leadership and business insight to discovery, preclinical and clinical programs, and commercial, including new product launches.
Martin is currently the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Yuma Therapeutics, an early-stage biopharmaceutical company developing small molecule drugs for neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease. He has served on the board of directors of Paloma Pharmaceuticals, Tokai Pharmaceuticals, Diotima Pharmaceuticals and USMarketer.com, Inc.
Martin was the President and CEO of Tokai Pharmaceuticals, an oncology company with a small molecule in Phase 2 for prostate cancer. He was the Founder, President and CEO of USMarketer.com, Inc. a business-to-business marketing services and software development venture. Martin served as chief business officer at Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, an RNA interference platform technology company, where he closed a $1.4 billion partnership with Kyowa Hakko Kirin. He was chief business officer at Synta Pharmaceuticals, a small molecule oncology and inflammatory company, where he completed the company’s IPO and closed a $1 billion collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline for its lead oncology product. Earlier in his career, Martin directed the development and commercialization of several blockbuster brands, including GSK's Zantac and Zofran; Roche's Xenical; and Wyeth's, now Pfizer, Zosyn/Tazocin.
Martin has an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, an M.S. from the University of Manchester, England and a B.A. in biology from the University of Humberside in Hull, England.
Laura Tadvalkar, Ph.D.
Laura was previously a Manager at Clarion Healthcare, a boutique healthcare consulting firm in Boston. At Clarion, she worked with biopharmaceutical companies on due diligence, portfolio optimization, and commercial strategy – primarily in oncology and rare disease. Laura is also currently a Senior Associate at MP Healthcare Venture Management, and a Kauffman Fellow, Class 23.
Laura has a B.S. in Chemistry with Department Distinction from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in Chemical Biology from Harvard University. At Harvard, she received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and her thesis research focused on mitochondrial disease and cancer metabolism.
Nick Taylor, BS
Nick joined the screening team with several years of experience in troubleshooting and operating liquid handling robots. Previously, he spent several years working with Myriad Genetics Laboratories in the Companion Diagnostics lab. During his time with CDx they screened cancer patient samples for AstraZeneca’s Lynparza drug trial by searching for large rearrangements in patients’ BRCA1 & 2.
Nick received a BS in Biochemistry from Brigham Young University, where he worked as an undergraduate research assistant specializing in Cre/Lox mouse colony handling for the Barry Willardson Lab.
Don Hertzog, Ph.D.
Don Hertzog, Ph.D., comes to Ribometrix from HemoShear Therapeutics where he was Head of Chemistry, leading all aspects of chemistry for HemoShear’s drug discovery programs in rare diseases. He previously served as Vice President of Early Lead Identification at Abide Therapeutics where he led a team of chemists devoted to identifying hit molecules and transforming them into leads worthy of further optimization to drug candidates.
Before joining Abide, Don was the site head for the Molecular Discovery Research Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Director of Medicinal Chemistry for Metabolic Diseases at GlaxoSmithKline, GSK, overseeing a team that progressed several molecules into preclinical development and clinical trials. This work was highlighted by Don’s leadership of the chemistry team that discovered GW856464, GSK’s clinical entry in the highly competitive field of MCH R1 antagonists for the treatment of obesity.
Don began his industrial career at Bayer Pharmaceuticals, where he was part of a team that advanced a glucagon antagonist into human trials for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Dr. Hertzog earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Emory University and a B.A. degree in chemistry from Hendrix College. He completed an NIH-sponsored postdoctoral fellowship at The Scripps Research Institute and has more than 40 total publications, patents, and invited presentations. Don was co-chair of the 2014 ACS National Medicinal Chemistry Symposium and has served as a member of the Long Range Planning Committee of the Medicinal Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society, ACS.
Jonathan Kearns, CPA
Jonathan Kearns serves as Director Finance & Controller for Ribometrix. Prior to joining the company in January 2019, he worked as Managing Director for Ironshore Capital Partners, LLC - a value oriented investment firm. In the past he has served as the chief financial officer and controller for several companies including the environmental and pharmaceutical testing industry.
Jonathan is a certified public accountant and holds a Bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University.
Gunjan Arya, Ph.D.
Gunjan is a part of the RNA team at Ribometrix. She brings in a gamut of work experience including clinical medicine, molecular and cell biology, genomics and data analyses. She got her B.S. degree in Homeopathic medicine and surgery from Pune, India. She worked at a Gynecology & Obstetric hospital in Mumbai prior to moving to the U.S. She acquired her master’s in biology with a specialization in Genetics under the advisement of Dr. Tomkiel at University of North Carolina, Greensboro where she worked on the characterization and localization of teflon gene product in male Drosophila melanogaster.
Gunjan gained experience in the field of microbiology and immunology while she worked with Dr. Hiltbold at Wake Forest University School of Medicine where she studied the etiopathology of systemic lupus erythematosus. She joined the laboratory of Drs. Anholt and Mackay at North Carolina State University in 2006. She worked on studying the gene expression networks in the Drosophila Genetic Reference Panel (DGRP). Most recently in 2018 she joined the laboratory of Dr. Smart at North Carolina State University to study the role of long noncoding RNA and C/EBPs in apoptosis, skin cancer development and regression.
Devon Blake, Ph.D.
Devon joined the Ribometrix team in 2019, bringing his passion for cancer research with experience in a variety of fields including cancer biology, cell biology, drug discovery, and assay development. He received a BS in Biochemistry from Brigham Young University, where his scientific career began as an undergraduate researcher characterizing conditional knockout mice in the lab of Dr. Barry Willardson.Devon earned his Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the lab of Dr. Channing Der, where he received a F31 Predoctoral Fellowship funded by the National Cancer Institute. In graduate school he studied the regulation of the MYC oncoprotein in KRAS-mutant pancreatic cancer and also helped elucidate the function of novel RHOA mutations in diffuse gastric cancer
Andy Lavender, Ph.D.
Andy joined Ribometrix in 2019, bringing experience in RNA biology, genomics, and data science. He received his Ph.D. under the direction of Dr. Kevin Weeks and pioneered novel applications in the characterization and prediction of RNA structures. Andy continued as postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Supervised by Dr. David Fargo, he studied the epigenomic environment of human promoters and created web applications targeting life scientists. Andy received his BS in Chemistry from New York University.
Kendra Hightower, Ph.D.
Kendra has over 25 years of experience in the chemical and biological sciences encompassing pharmaceutical, academic, and government R&D and pharmaceutical manufacturing. She spent 14 years at GlaxoSmithKline where she provided biochemical support and leadership for drug discovery programs across a wide range of drug targets and therapeutic areas including infectious diseases, oncology, and metabolic diseases. Ultimately, she co-led the Biological Sciences department at RTP which carried out reagent preparation, biochemical and cell-based assay development, compound screening, hit characterization, medicinal chemistry support, and mechanism of action studies for drug discovery and development programs. While at GlaxoSmithKline Kendra worked on two efforts that led to marketed drugs, the HIV integrase inhibitor Tivicay and the BRaf inhibitor Tafinlar. For Tivicay, biochemical studies conducted during the drug development process helped to differentiate the drug from competitor molecules and to better understand clinical response and integrase inhibitor resistance.
Outside of R&D, Kendra led a group which supported in-process bioassays, data analytics, compliance documentation, and process development for bulk live virus generation and vaccine fill/finish efforts at Merck Manufacturing Division. Prior to joining Ribometrix, Kendra was a Senior Study Director at Metabolon. In this role she was engaged in enabling and interpreting metabolomics studies to provide biological insights for projects across the pharmaceutical and life sciences including target identification, mechanism of action evaluation, biomarker discovery, and clinical trial support.
Kendra obtained a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Maryland, College Park graduating Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She then obtained her Ph.D. in Biology, with a concentration in biochemistry, from The Johns Hopkins University. She was a Damon Runyan Cancer Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at Duke University Medical Center.
Samir joined the Ribometrix team in 2019 with a strong background in molecular biology and genetics. He is a part of the RNA biology group where he works in technology development to develop and optimize assays. Samir obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Wake Forest University where he studied epigenetic gene regulation through heterochromatin remodeling in fission yeast. Before coming to Ribometrix, he worked in Dr. Vann Bennett’s lab at Duke University studying the role of the axon initial segment in neuronal plasticity and how it relates to neurodevelopmental disease.
John reardon, Ph.D.
John has more than thirty years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry, with the last twelve spent in operational roles within small, virtual or partially virtual therapeutic-focused companies.
Most recently, John was Head of Research and Development at HemoShear Therapeutics and Chief Scientific Officer at Revivo Therapeutics; biotechnology companies focused on children’s rare diseases and neurodegeneration, respectively.
Prior to HemoShear and Revivo, John was Chief Scientific Officer at Cardioxyl Pharmaceuticals where he led the discovery and non-clinical development of two drugs for treatment of acute decompensated heart failure. Cardioxyl was sold to Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2015 for $2.2 billion. John was a founder and Executive Vice President of Research and Development at Integrated Oncology Solutions, a spin-out from Duke University prior to joining Cardioxyl.
Prior to John’s career in small biotech, he spent nineteen years with Burroughs Wellcome, Glaxo Wellcome and Glaxo Smith Kline, rising to the position of Senior Vice President of Discovery Research Biology where he oversaw all of the early lead discovery activities across all of the therapeutic areas at GSK.
John received his BS in Chemistry from Willamette University. He earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry at The Ohio State University and completed postdoctoral fellowship in Enzymology at Brandeis University.