Leadership

Meet the

Team header image

Leadership

Igor Khandros, Ph.D.

Igor Khandros, Ph.D.

Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer

Igor Khandros co-founded Nutcracker Therapeutics, Inc. and serves as its Chief Executive Officer. In founding Nutcracker Therapeutics, Igor is driven by his belief that high technology engineering, coupled with winning biochemistry, will make RNA immuno-therapies a critical component in emerging standard of care for a wide variety of human diseases. Prior to Nutcracker, Igor was the founding CEO of Berkeley Lights, Inc. and presently serves on its Board of Directors. Prior to Berkeley Lights, Igor founded two publicly traded companies: FormFactor, Inc, where he was the founding CEO and later Executive Chairman and Tessera Technologies, Inc, where he served in the role of Vice President of Development. Earlier in his career, Igor served as Manager at the IBM TJ Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY. Igor holds over 200 US patents.

Benjamin Eldridge

Benjamin Eldridge

Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer

Ben Eldridge co-founded Nutcracker Therapeutics, Inc. and serves as its Chief Technology Officer. As Nutcracker’s systems architect, Ben leads the development of a device-based platform for large scale synthesis of nucleic acids. Prior to Nutcracker, Ben served in executive management roles at FormFactor, Inc., most recently as Chief Information Officer, previously as Chief Technology Officer. Prior to joining FormFactor, Ben held engineering positions at the IBM TJ Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY. Ben was awarded a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Union College and an M.S. in Physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Ben holds over 200 US patents covering inventions in Electrical, Mechanical and Micro Systems Engineering.

James Zhu

James Zhu

Chief Financial Officer

As Chief Financial Officer, James Zhu oversees Nutcracker Therapeutics’ finance, information technology, and business operations. Prior to Nutcracker, James served as Chief Financial Officer at VoloAgri Group, Inc., Chief Accounting Officer and Interim CFO at First Solar, Inc., and Vice President, Corporate Controller at Salesforce.com. Earlier in his career, James held finance and accounting roles with Chiron Corporation and KPMG, LLP. James was awarded a BA degree in Political Economics and MBA degree in Accounting from Golden Gate University.

John Stubenrauch, PhD

John Stubenrauch, PhD

Chief Operations Officer

As Chief Operations Officer, John oversees Nutcracker’s operational functions including manufacturing, supply, quality, and product technical operations.  Prior to Nutcracker, John was Vice President Biologics Commercial Operations at Gilead Sciences following the acquisition of Immunomedics where he was Sr. Vice President of Manufacturing, where his organization led the development and commercialization of immuno-oncology, Antibody Drug Conjugate (ADC) product.  John has 25 years of experience in the BioPharma industry in leadership positions to support business strategy execution across various product modalities including ADC, Biologics, Vaccines, and synthetic peptides/molecules.  Prior to Immunomedics, he was a site General Manager at AstraZeneca and held various positions at Merck Manufacturing Division in support of new product launches and supply early in his career.  John was awarded a PhD in Chemical Engineering from The University of Pennsylvania and a MBA from The Wharton School of Business.

Robert Schott, MD, MPH

Robert Schott, MD, MPH

Chief Medical Officer

As Chief Medical Officer, Rob Schott will work with the team to develop and deliver Nutcracker’s therapeutic pipeline to the clinic.  Rob comes to Nutcracker from Sangamo Therapeutics, where he served as the Chief Development Officer, focusing on gene and cell therapies using the Zinc Finger platform.  Prior to Sangamo, Rob was the Chief Medical Officer at Chorus, an autonomous early phase development unit inside Eli Lilly that focused on developing early phase assets for the Lilly pipeline, across the entire spectrum of therapeutic indications.

Rob is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where he was awarded his B.S. in Biomedicine and M.D. degrees, and where he also earned a Masters in Public Health, in epidemiology and biostatistics.  He trained in Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Hospitals after which he entered cardiovascular research at the University of Michigan and then at the Max Planck Institute in Bad Nauheim, Germany.  Rob subsequently moved to Boston to continue research in cardiac molecular biology at the Harvard Medical School, while completing his training in cardiology at the Massachusetts General Hospital.  He practiced medicine in Northern California before joining industry, specializing in invasive cardiology, lipidology and nuclear cardiology.

Geoff Nosrati, Ph.D.

Geoff Nosrati, Ph.D.

Chief Business Officer

As Chief Business Officer, Geoff oversees Nutcracker’s business development and corporate strategy functions. Prior to Nutcracker, Geoff served as Chief Business Officer at ImmunoScape and as SVP of Strategy and Corporate Development at Aduro Biotech. Earlier in his career, Geoff was a consultant with McKinsey & Co., where he primarily served clients across the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

Geoff was awarded a B.S. in Chemistry from Duke University and received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Samuel Deutsch, Ph.D.

Samuel Deutsch, Ph.D.

Executive Vice President, Research and Early Development

Sam Deutsch leads biological research and development at Nutcracker Therapeutics, as Executive Vice President, Research & Early Development. Sam orchestrates the development of Nutcracker’s therapeutics through close interactions between internal R&D, advisors and clinical collaborators. Prior to Nutcracker, Sam led the DNA synthesis platform at the Joint Genome Institute part of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Sam’s experience also includes research in molecular hematology at the Geneva University Hospital, and cancer genomics at the World Health Organization.

Sam was awarded a B.Sc. in Genetics from University of Nottingham and received his Ph.D. from the University of Geneva. Sam is the author of over 65 peer reviewed papers.

Ian Wiener, J.D.

Ian Wiener, J.D.

Executive Vice President, General Counsel

As Executive Vice President, General Counsel, Ian Wiener leads Nutcracker’s legal function and advises the board and management on legal, business and policy matters. Prior to joining Nutcracker, Ian was a partner at the law firm of Irell & Manella LLP, representing corporate, private equity and other clients in a wide variety of business law matters and complex business transactions. Ian was awarded a B.A. in Economics from Dartmouth College and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Christine Wu

Christine Wu

Vice President, Regulatory Affairs

Christine Wu is responsible for regulatory strategy and interactions with regulatory agencies at Nutcracker Therapeutics. Prior to Nutcracker, Ms. Wu was Executive Director of Global Regulatory Affairs at Nektar Therapeutics, where she led the regulatory strategy development and execution of immuno-oncology biologics at the stages of discovery and early phase development as well as licensure application of a late phase drug for chronic pain treatment. Prior to joining Nektar in 2017, Ms. Wu has held multiple Global Regulatory Lead roles with increasing responsibilities for all phases of drug and biologics development at Allergan and Baxter Bioscience for over 10 years. During Ms. Wu’s career, she has successfully conducted various global regulatory meetings, has been responsible for multiple IND, CTA, BLA/NDA, and MAA submissions, and has been a key member of strategy teams. Ms. Wu received her BS degree in Biochemistry from Eastern China University of Science and Technology and her MS degree in Organic Chemistry from Florida Atlantic University.

Guna Kannan,  Ph.D.

Guna Kannan, Ph.D.

Vice President, Protein Engineering

Guna Kannan is responsible for leading the Protein teams at Nutcracker Therapeutics. In this role, Guna supports the protein engineering/discovery, protein sciences, and analytical teams. He has more than 20 years of protein engineering, antibody engineering/discovery, and developability assessment experiences and has helped develop several novel biotherapeutic platforms and molecules. Prior to joining Nutcracker, Guna was Vice President, Head of Biotherapeutics, at Denali Therapeutics where he helped coordinate activities ranging from target validation to IND-enabling studies with a team of ~40 scientists. He was also Principal Scientist and Protein Engineering and Optimization group head at Amgen Inc where he spent nearly 10 years. Guna has co-authored 60+ peer-reviewed research articles and is a listed patent co-inventor of both clinical molecules and novel platform technologies. He earned his master’s degree at the Indian Institute of Technology, a Ph.D. at the Indian Institute of Science, and completed Post-Doctoral studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA.

Samir Varma

Samir Varma

Vice President, Manufacturing

Samir Varma joins Nutcracker from Allakos Inc., where he was the Head of Drug substance manufacturing overseeing all aspects of the manufacturing at the various CMO sites for Allakos. Prior to Allakos, he was General Manager and Head of Manufacturing at Enzene Biosciences where he oversaw the drug substance and drug product manufacturing, facilities, engineering, and supply chain operations. In this role, he built one of the first fully continuous biomanufacturing plant for the manufacturing of Mabs. Earlier in his career, he was with Lupin Ltd, Bristol Myers Squibb, Celgene and Medarex Inc where he held various roles in Process Development, MSAT, Manufacturing and Supply chain. He has worked on various commercial molecules such as Yervoy®, Orencia®, Nulojix® and Reblozyl®.

Samir was awarded a BE in Chemical Engineering from National Institute of Technology, Karnataka, India, a MS in Biochemical Engineering from Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA and a MBA in Finance and Marketing from Stern School of Business at New York University, New York, NY.

Chuck Sholtz, J.D., Ph.D.

Chuck Sholtz, J.D., Ph.D.

VICE PRESIDENT, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

Chuck joins Nutcracker Therapeutics with nearly 30 years of IP experience representing clients in both law firm and corporate settings. Prior to Nutcracker, Chuck was a Director at Genentech, leading a team of IP agents/attorneys supporting Genentech’s manufacturing organization.  Before Genentech, Chuck served as Vice President, Intellectual Property at Coherus Biosciences, a biosimilars company.  Chuck also spent 8 years as an IP attorney at Amgen in a number of roles, including Neuroscience Therapeutic Area IP Team Lead. Chuck earned B.S. and B.S.E. degrees from the University of Michigan, an M.A. degree from Yale University, a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Stanford University, and a J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law.

Medical Advisory Board

Peter Carroll, M.D., MPH

Peter Carroll, M.D., MPH

Chair, Medical Advisory Board

Dr. Peter Carroll is Professor and former Chair of Urology at UCSF, consistently ranked as one of the top urology Departments in the country by U.S. News and World Report and the NIH. He is a member of the UCSF – Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Carroll received his undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley and MD degree from Georgetown University, followed by his general surgery training and urology residency at UCSF. He completed a fellowship in urologic oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center before joining the faculty of the UCSF Department of Urology. Dr. Carroll holds The Ken and Donna Derr-Chevron and Taube Family Distinguished Professorships and added an MPH from UC Berkeley to his academic credentials in 2008.

Lawrence Fong, M.D.

Lawrence Fong, M.D.

Medical Advisor

Medical Advisor, Dr. Lawrence Fong is Professor of Medicine and Leader of the Cancer Immunotherapy Program at the UCSF Medical Center where he pursues interests in tumor immunology and developing immune-based treatments of cancer. Dr. Fong was awarded his undergraduate degree from Columbia University and his medical degree from Stanford University. After completing an oncology fellowship at Stanford, he joined their medical staff in 1999. He later joined the UCSF Medical Center in 2001. Currently, he is Co-Leader, Cancer Immunity Program in the UCSF Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and holds The Efim Guzik Distinguished Professorship in Cancer Biology.

W. Martin Kast, Ph.D.

W. Martin Kast, Ph.D.

Medical Advisor

W. Martin Kast, PhD, is a Professor of Molecular Microbiology & Immunology, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Urology and Otolaryngology at the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center (NCCC) of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA. He holds the Walter A. Richter Cancer Research Chair and is the co-director of the NCCC Tumor Micro-environment program, the Director of the USC Medical Biology and Infectious Diseases, Immunology & Pathogenesis PhD Graduate Programs, the Director of the Beckman Center for Immune Monitoring, the Director of the K-12 Cancer Education Program for underrepresented minorities and the Associate Dean of Academic Integrity.

A native of the Netherlands, he earned his BS, MS, and PhD summa cum laude, from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. He has and is serving on multiple Study Sections including the National Institute of Health and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. His research involves the design of therapeutic cancer vaccines directed against human papilloma virus (HPV) and prostate cancer. Several of his therapeutic HPV vaccines have or are currently been tried out in clinical trials. He studies how HPV enters cells and also studies the interaction of HPV with the human immune system to find out how HPV escapes immune detection and how to reverse that. He has published over 280 articles that have been quoted almost 25,000 times and lead to a publication h-index of 83. He is also the inventor on 18 patents. His research is supported by NIH grants. He is an associate editor for the Journal of Translational Medicine, Cancers, and Papillomavirus research. He also served as the secretary/treasurer of the International Papillomavirus Society from 2012-2019 and serves on the advisory board of 6 biotechnology companies. In his free time he is a Scoutmaster and an actor.

Scientific Advisory Board

Adam Arkin, Ph.D.

Adam Arkin, Ph.D.

Chair, Scientific Advisory Board

Dr. Adam Arkin is Dean A. Richard Newton Memorial Professor, Bioengineering, UC Berkeley, Senior Faculty Scientist, Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Director, Berkeley Synthetic Biology Institute. CEO/CSO DOE Systems Biology Knowledgebase. PI and Co-Director, ENIGMA SFA. Dr. Arkin was awarded his undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Carleton College and his Ph.D in Physical Chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ming Wu, Ph.D.

Ming Wu, Ph.D.

Scientific Advisor

Scientific Advisor, Dr. Ming Wu is Nortel Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at UC Berkeley and Co-Director of the Berkeley Sensors and Actuators Center. Dr. Wu’s research interests include optical MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems), optoelectronics and bio photonics. Dr. Wu was awarded his undergraduate degree from National Taiwan University and his Masters and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering and computer sciences from UC Berkeley. Prior to joining UC Berkeley, Dr. Wu was a Member of Technical Staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories and was a Professor in Electrical Engineering at UCLA.

Pei Yu Eric Chiou, Ph.D.

Pei Yu Eric Chiou, Ph.D.

Scientific Advisor

Dr. Pei Yu Eric Chiou is Associate Professor, Department of Bioengineering, UCLA where he pursues research in a variety of areas, including design and manufacture of high speed microfluidic devices for life science applications. Dr. Chiou was awarded his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from National Taiwan University and his Masters in Electrical Engineering from UCLA. He received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from UC Berkeley.

Phil Baran, Ph.D.

Phil Baran, Ph.D.

Scientific Advisor

Dr. Phil Baran is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute and Member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology. He received his BS in chemistry in 1997 (NYU), his PhD at The Scripps Research Institute in 2001, and from 2001-2003 he was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard.

Dr. Baran has published over 220 scientific articles, several patents, and has been the recipient of several ACS awards such as the Corey (2015), Pure Chemistry (2010), Fresenius (2006), and Nobel Laureate Signature (2003), and several international distinctions such as the Hirata Gold Medal and Mukaiyama Prize (Japan), the RSC award in Synthesis (UK), the Sackler Prize (Israel), and the Janssen Prize (Belgium). In 2013 he was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, in 2015 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in 2016 he was awarded the Blavatnik National Award, and in 2017, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, USA.

CMC Advisory Board

Marc Better, Ph.D.

Marc Better, Ph.D.

CMC Advisor

Dr. Better is a biotechnology professional with more than 25 years’ experience in cell therapy and biologics CMC. He is currently a principal consultant at Pharmefex Biopharma Consulting. Prior to Pharmefex, Dr. Better was Senior Vice President, Product Sciences at Kite, a Gilead Company, where he led process and analytical development, process characterization and process validation activities leading to the successful US licensure of Yescarta®, a first in class anti-CD19 CAR T cell therapy. Prior to Kite, Dr. Better held leadership roles in biologics process development and manufacturing at Boehringer Ingelheim, Amgen/Abgenix, and Xoma.

Board of Directors

Igor Khandros, Ph.D.

Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer

Igor Khandros co-founded Nutcracker Therapeutics, Inc. and serves as its Chief Executive Officer. In founding Nutcracker Therapeutics, Igor is driven by his belief that high technology engineering, coupled with winning biochemistry, will make RNA immuno-therapies a critical component in emerging standard of care for a wide variety of human diseases. Prior to Nutcracker, Igor was the founding CEO of Berkeley Lights, Inc. and presently serves on its Board of Directors. Prior to Berkeley Lights, Igor founded two publicly traded companies: FormFactor, Inc, where he was the founding CEO and later Executive Chairman and Tessera Technologies, Inc, where he served in the role of Vice President of Development. Earlier in his career, Igor served as Manager at the IBM TJ Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY. Igor holds over 200 US patents.

Robert Nelsen

Director

Robert Nelsen is a Director of ARCH Venture Partners. He joined ARCH at its founding and played a significant role in the early sourcing, financing and development of more than 100 companies, including nineteen which have reached valuations exceeding $1 billion. His seed and early-stage investments include Illumina (ILMN); Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (ALNY); Juno Therapeutics (JUNO); Unity Biotechnology (UBX); Vir Biotechnology, Agios Pharmaceuticals (AGIO); Sage Therapeutics (SAGE); GRAIL, Ikaria; Kythera Biopharmaceuticals (KYTH); Receptos (RCPT); Aviron (AVIR); Denali Therapeutics (DNLI); Rubius Therapeutics; KSQ Therapeutics; Beam Therapeutics; NetBot; Bluebird Bio (BLUE); R2 Technology; XenoPort (XNPT); Caliper Life Sciences (CALP); Trubion Pharmaceuticals (TRBN); Adolor (ADLR); deCODE Genetics; Array BioPharma (ARRY); Editas (EDIT), IDUN Pharmaceuticals; Classmates.com; Hua Medicine; Fate Therapeutics (FATE); WuxiNextCODE; and Everyday Learning Corporation.

Mr. Nelsen is a director of Vir Bio, GRAIL, Beam Therapeutics, Unity Biotechnology, Denali Therapeutics, Arivale and serves as Chairman of Hua Medicine, among others. He previously served as a Trustee of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute, the Institute for Systems Biology, and was a director of the National Venture Capital Association. Mr. Nelsen holds an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago and a B.S. from the University of Puget Sound with majors in Economics and Biology.

Michael F. Bigham

Director

Michael F. Bigham joined Nutcracker Therapeutics board of directors in December 2021.

Mr. Bigham has more than 25 years of senior leadership experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. From January 2003 to November 2015, he was a general partner at Abingworth LLP, a leading international investment group dedicated to life sciences and healthcare. From November 2015 to December 2018, he served as part-time Executive Partner at Abingworth LLP. He currently serves as a member of the board of directors of Frazier Life Sciences Acquisition Corporation as well as Executive Chairman of the board of directors at Paratek Pharmaceuticals.

Mr. Bigham has previously served on the boards of Adamas Pharmaceuticals, Inc., AvilaTherapeutics (where he was also the founding Chairman and Chief Executive Officer), Inmediata, Magellan Biosciences, Portola Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Supernus Pharmaceuticals, Avedro and Valeritas.

He was formerly Vice Chairman of Corixa Corporation, a publicly traded biotechnology company, and was President and Chief Executive of Coulter Pharmaceuticals, a publicly traded oncology company, until it merged into Corixa Corporation. Previously, he was an early employee at Gilead Sciences where he served in various capacities, including Executive Vice President of Operations and Chief Financial Officer. Before joining Gilead Sciences, Mr. Bigham was a Partner at Hambrecht & Quist where he became Co-Head of Healthcare Investment Banking.

Mr. Bigham received his B.S. from the University of Virginia and qualified as a C.P.A. before completing his M.B.A. at Stanford University.