Chief Executive Officer
Jim Harris, MBA
Jim Harris is a former Merck executive with 30+ years experience in the life sciences. His expertise is in business creation, commercialization and brand marketing. Since retiring from Merck in 2012 he has become an active supporter and serial entrepreneur in the life science start-up community. He co-founded PolyCore Therapeutics LLC, a spinout from Drexel University focused on CNS diseases, J2 Bio-Pharma, LLC a company focused on acquisition and commercialization of specialty pharmaceutical products, and founded BioRegenics, a spinout from New Jersey Institute of Technology, developing a surgical implant to repair damaged articular cartilage.
Prior to leaving Merck, Jim served as Executive Director for Merck’s US Diversified Brands Franchise, which he built, launched and led for the company. The franchise included 25 brands in nine disease areas. While at Merck he developed a reputation as an entrepreneurial leader with proven results maximizing various challenging business stages such as rapid ramp-up of start-ups, accelerated strategy development and implementation for revenue optimization scenarios and quick turnaround of under-performing businesses.
Jim also serves as a QED business advisor and steering committee member at the University City Science Center, located in Philadelphia, where he provides hands-on mentoring to early stage researchers and life science companies as part of the QED sponsorship program. Mr. Harris received an MBA from California State University, Sacramento.
Chief Scientific Officer
Thais Sielecki, PhD
Before becoming CSO at LignaMed, Dr. Sielecki worked as Vice President, Preclinical Development of Cytokine PharmaSciences, Inc. a company focused on inflammatory disease and women’s health through small molecule development and controlled release. At CPSI Dr. Sielecki ran programs in oncology, inflammation, and women’s health from early lead discovery through to Phase I and assisted in Phase II and III study design as her primary focus. As part of the management team, she was also a member of teams to manage product portfolio, in-licensing, intellectual property management, and company strategy. CPSI was successfully sold to Ferring in 2012.
Prior to CPSI, Dr. SIelecki worked at DuPont-Merck and Bristol-Meyers Squibb as a Principle Research Scientist and continues to consult for pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the management and evaluation of early research, preclinical and early clinical studies. During over 30 years of research and development experience, Dr. SIelecki has been involved in over 40 preclinical and clinical research programs with multiple programs reaching marketing approval. Programs she has been closely involved in include CPSI-2364, CPSI-1306, Misopessc, c-VadTM, PilobucTM, DMP754, DMP802 among others. Her experience spans oncology, inflammation, women’s health, CNS diseases, and antibacterials with a strong background in drug delivery and controlled release delivery systems.
Dr. Sielecki has a PhD In medicinal chemistry from Colorado State University and completed a Post Doctoral research position at Stanford University. She has over 60 publications and patents over her career.
Founder, Chair of Scientific Advisory Board
Melpo Christofidou-Solomidou, PhD
Dr. Christofidou-Solomidou is a Research Associate Professor of Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania and an investigator of UPenn’s Abramson Cancer Center and Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET). She is an NIH- (NIAID, NCI, NCCIH, NIEHS) and NASA-funded investigator actively involved in preclinical (animal models) and clinical studies of lung disease, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Dr. Christofidou-Solomidou has been recognized for her scholarship through peer-reviewed publications, national and international speaking engagements and awards by the American Thoracic Society, American Institute for Cancer Research, American Heart Association, National American Lung Association and others. She serves as a journal reviewer for the American Journal of Physiology, Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Respiratory Research, Antioxidant and Redox Signaling, Thrombosis and Hemostasis, International Journal of Radiation Biology, Radiation Research, Journal of Nutrition, International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics, American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology and other. She is an editorial board member for Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine.
Dr. Christofidou-Solomidou received her bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook and her doctoral degree from the University of Bonn in Germany. She completed post-doctoral studies at the Albany Medical College in New York and at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Dora Mitchell, PhD
Dr. Mitchell is a startup company portfolio manager for the University of Pennsylvania. She is Director of the UPstart Company Incubator and Assistant Director of PCI Ventures with a passion for launching companies based on university technologies. As Director of UPstart, Dr. Mitchell leads the launch, incubation and growth of small businesses based on University of Pennsylvania inventions. She functions as an essential and effective value-generating intersection of scientists, clinicians, lawyers, public funding sources and private investors to ensure that ideas turn into viable businesses that would benefit patients, the University and economic growth. She has successfully recruited top management talent for portfolio companies and advises these managers to develop business strategies, fund raising plans, marketing materials, preclinical and clinical development strategies. Dr. Mitchell has developed creative partnering and marketing models across the portfolio, resulting in increasing the overall visibility of the portfolio, engagement with investors and successful deal closures.
Prior to joining PCI Ventures, Dr. Mitchell was a member of the Health and Life Sciences team at Battelle Ventures, LP, where, in addition to investment diligence and recommendations, she handled various aspects of portfolio company management including preclinical development and operations with a focus on early stage companies. Dr. Mitchell has a broad background in the biological sciences having earned a PhD in Molecular Biology from Princeton University. Dr. Mitchell holds a Certificate in Clinical Research from the University of Pennsylvania.
Philip Sass, PhD
Chairman, President and CEO at Liquid Biotech USA, Inc. Dr. Sass is a senior executive with broad experience that spans developing a business model and plan, obtaining $4M in seed funding from Angel investors followed by raising an additional $86M over three venture backed institutional financing rounds to successfully exit and sell an organization to a large pharmaceutical company for $325M. He previously served as COO and EVP of Morphotek Inc. and EVP and Head, Biopharmaceutical Development at Eisai. Dr. Sass was a Director at Magainin Pharmaceuticals and Senior Scientist at American Cyanamid. He also served as a Research Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago, Visiting Assistant Professor at New York Medical College and a Research Associate at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Sass graduated from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla., with a degree in Biochemistry and received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.