Designing Precision Antimicrobials
Locus Biosciences designs and creates novel CRISPR RNAs and uses a powerful CRISPR-Cas system, referred to as Cascade/Cas3, that kills target bacteria by irreversibly destroying the bacterial DNA. The irreversible destruction of DNA is the primary differentiator between Cas3 and Cas9, as Cas9 makes double-stranded breaks that can be repaired by the cell.
The Locus Biosciences platform enables the design and development of powerful antimicrobials that avoid currently known antibiotic resistance mechanisms while leaving non-target bacteria unharmed. Built on prokaryotic technology for prokaryotic targets, Locus is advancing its platform to create therapeutics for critical disease areas ranging from resistant bacterial infections to the microbiome.
Locus Biosciences is working with both the Barrangou and Beisel Lab groups at North Carolina State University. The Barrangou Lab group focuses on the biology and genetics of CRISPR-Cas immune systems in bacteria. Using microbiology, molecular biology and genomics approaches, the Barrangou Lab investigate the use of CRISPR-Cas systems for three types of applications: 1. Exploitation of CRISPR spacer hypervariability for genotyping and phylogenetic studies of beneficial and pathogenic bacteria 2. Leveraging CRISPR-mediated interference for building up phage resistance in probiotic strains and starter cultures used in food manufacturing 3. Harnessing of Cas9-mediated, re-programmable dsDNA cleavage for genome editing in bacteria. The Beisel Lab group seeks to understand and exploit the multitude of bacteria that inhabit our digestive tracts. Their goal is to understand how these bacteria contribute to our health, with the long-term aim of engineering ‘personalized probiotics’ in which a gut microbe isolated from someone can be quickly and reliably re-programmed to provide specified health benefits. Another goal of the Beisel Lab is using CRISPR-Cas prokaryotic defense systems naturally cleave and degrade genetic material associated with plasmids or bacteriophages. However, their reliance on base-pairing RNAs has allowed these systems to be co-opted for a wide range of applications, including genome editing, gene regulation, and antimicrobials to name a few.
- Paul GarofoloCo-Founder, Chief Executive Officer, & Chairman of the BoardPaul GarofoloCo-Founder, Chief Executive Officer, & Chairman of the Board
Paul has been a member of multiple Executive Management teams of both publically traded multi-national corporations and successful startup opportunities. He currently serves as the CEO of Locus Biosciences, an emerging biotech focused on the discovery and development of a novel class of CRISPR/Cas Antimicrobials.
Paul also serves as Vice President of the Friends Board at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and as a Visiting Professor at North Carolina State University’s Poole College of Management. He serves as an executive-in-residence for the HiTEC Graduate Program, the University’s Entrepreneurship Collaborative.
- Rodolphe Barrangou, PhD, MBACo-Founder, Chief Scientific Officer, Chairman of Scientific AdvisorsRodolphe Barrangou, PhD, MBACo-Founder, Chief Scientific Officer, Chairman of Scientific Advisors
Dr. Barrangou earned a BS in Biological Sciences from Rene Descartes University in Paris, France, a MS in Biological Engineering from the University of Technology in Compiegne, France, a MS in Food Science from NC State, a PhD in Genomics from NC State and a MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He spent 9 years in R&D and M&A at Danisco and DuPont.
Currently, Rodolphe Barrangou is an Associate Professor in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences at North Carolina State, focusing on the evolution and functions of CRISPR-Cas systems, and their applications in bacteria used in food manufacturing. Rodolphe is also an associate member of the Microbiology graduate program, the Biotechnology graduate program, the Functional Genomics graduate program, and the Comparative Medicine Institute. Dr. Barrangou is the T. R. Klaenhammer Distinguished Scholar in Probiotics Research, is a NC State University Distinguished Scholar, and the recipient of the 2014 NC State Alumni Association Outstanding Research Award.
Recently, Rodolphe received the 2016 Warren Alpert Prize and the 2016 Canada Gairdner International Award. Dr. Barrangou is also on the Board of Directors of Caribou Biosciences, a co-founder and member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Intellia Therapeutics, and a co-founder of Locus Biosciences.
- Charles Gersbach, PhDCo-Founder & Scientific AdvisorCharles Gersbach, PhDCo-Founder & Scientific Advisor
Dr. Charles A. Gersbach is the Rooney Family Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University, as well as the Director of the Duke Center for Biomolecular and Tissue Engineering. He also has appointments in the Duke University Medical Center in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and the Center for Genomic and Computational Biology. His research interests are in the areas of genome and epigenome editing, gene therapy, biomolecular and cellular engineering, regenerative medicine, synthetic biology, and genomics. Dr. Gersbach received his Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University School of Medicine focusing on the genetic reprogramming of adult stem cells for musculoskeletal tissue regeneration. Dr. Gersbach completed his postdoctoral training at The Scripps Research Institute in molecular biology and biochemistry, focusing on developing new genome editing tools with applications in biotechnology and gene therapy. Dr. Gersbach’s laboratory at Duke University is focused on applying molecular and cellular engineering to applications in gene therapy, regenerative medicine, and basic science. In particular, his research aims to develop new methods to genetically modify genome sequences and cellular gene networks in a precise and targeted manner. These new methods are then applied to correction of genetic diseases, directing stem cell differentiation, regeneration of damaged tissues, or answering fundamental biological questions regarding gene regulation and genome structure and function. Examples of technologies used in his research include genome and epigenome editing, protein engineering, directed evolution, genetic reprogramming, gene delivery, and optogenetics. Dr. Gersbach’s recognitions include the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the Hartwell Foundation Individual Biomedical Research Award, the March of Dimes Basil O’Connor Scholar Award, and the Outstanding New Investigator Award from the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy.
- Dave Ousterout, PhDCo-Founder & Chief Technology OfficerDave Ousterout, PhDCo-Founder & Chief Technology Officer
Dr. Dave Ousterout is a co-founder and Chief Technology Officer for Locus Biosciences. Dave’s expertise is in protein engineering and early stage applications of new technologies to treat human diseases. Dr. Ousterout earned a BS in Biological & Environmental Engineering from Cornell University, an MS in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University. Dave completed his doctoral studies at Duke University in the lab of Dr. Charles Gersbach, where he developed novel gene editing approaches for correcting mutations that cause Duchenne muscular dystrophy. His other work has spanned across several fields, including designing and engineering viral and non-viral delivery vectors, DNA binding protein engineering and gene regulation. Prior to Locus, Dave was a consultant at McKinsey & Company.
- Chase Beisel, PhDCo-Founder & Scientific AdvisorChase Beisel, PhDCo-Founder & Scientific Advisor
Dr. Beisel is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University. Prior to starting his faculty position in 2011, Dr. Beisel earned his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health. His current research focuses on understanding CRISPR-Cas immune systems and how these systems can be harnessed as biomolecular tools and technologies. His efforts have gained multiple awards, including a Life Sciences Research Foundation postdoctoral fellowship through the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, an NSF CAREER award, a Bay Area Lyme Foundation Emerging Leader Award, and an NIH Maximizing Investigator's Research Award. Dr. Beisel is a co-founder of Locus Biosciences and a member of its Scientific Advisory Board.
- Janet Hammond, MD, PhDScientific AdvisorJanet Hammond, MD, PhDScientific Advisor
Janet Hammond MD PhD has worked for almost 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry where she has held positions of increasing responsibility. She was most recently head of Infectious Diseases at Hoffmann-la Roche for the past 5 years, where she has built and led their research and development efforts in the US, Switzerland and China, focusing on novel approaches for the treatment of Hepatitis B and Influenza. She also initiated the company’s re-entry into the area of antibiotic research and development.
Janet obtained her MD and PhD degrees from the University of Cape Town in South Africa, where she trained as an internist and specialized in pulmonary/ critical care medicine. She did her fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Duke and Johns Hopkins Universities before joining Glaxo SmithKline. She subsequently worked at Bristol Myers Squibb and Valeant and has been responsible for the development and approval of several new drugs both in the area of infectious disease and neuroscience.
- Paul Kim, PhDScientific AdvisorPaul Kim, PhDScientific Advisor
Dr. Paul Kim is an experienced leader in the pharma/biotech industry spending over 17 years in drug development and commercialization. He has expertise in project and portfolio management, and has worked extensively leading cross-functional asset development teams at all phases of drug development including several global regulatory submission efforts. Paul has also worked with both large and small sized companies as well as helped organizations manage periods of significant growth and change.
Paul received a bachelors degree in biology and genetics at the University of British Columbia and his graduate degree in Cellular and Molecular Pathology from Vanderbilt University specializing in neuropathology. He currently holds the position of Vice President of Program Management at Puma Biotechnology where he recently provided project management oversight to the recent NDA and MAA regulatory submissions and currently provides portfolio level oversight to development stage projects and is the executive sponsor in charge of leading the build-out of Puma’s commercialization business systems infrastructure to support their first successful product launch.
- Wayne PearlScientific AdvisorWayne PearlScientific Advisor
- Daniel Pomp, PhDScientific AdvisorDaniel Pomp, PhDScientific Advisor
Daniel Pomp has over 30 years of experience in the genetics and genomics space as applied to biomedical and agricultural sciences. He is currently a Professor in the Department of Genetics (School of Medicine) and Nutrition (School of Public Health) at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. In his academic career, Daniel published over 150 papers and many review articles and book chapters. Most recently, his group was the first to demonstrate that host DNA can control composition of the mammalian gut microbiome.
In 1998, Daniel co-founded GeneSeek, a privately held, global biotechnology company dedicated to providing high quality DNA testing to agribusiness and veterinary medicine. After helping to grow GeneSeek into one of the world’s leading animal genotyping companies, Daniel sold the business to the Neogen Corporation.
Pomp holds a B.S.Agr. Degree in Animal Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, an M.S. degree in Quantitative Genetics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, a Ph.D. in Animal Genetics and Biotechnology from North Carolina State University and conducted Postdoctoral research in Molecular Genetics at the University of California – Davis.
Pomp is active with the Center for Entrepreneurial Development in North Carolina, and serves on the Board of the Refugee Community Partnership in Chapel Hill.
- Casey Theriot, PhDScientific AdvisorCasey Theriot, PhDScientific Advisor
Casey Theriot, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in Infectious Disease at NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine in Raleigh, NC. She received a BES in Environmental Science from the University of Georgia, and her PhD in Microbiology from NC State University. She has also worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a Microbiologist. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship and independent research position with Dr. Vincent Young at the University of Michigan Medical School, where she focused on defining the gastrointestinal tract microbiome and metabolome during resistance and susceptibility to Clostridium difficile colonization and infection in a mouse model.
Dr. Theriot’s current research focuses on how gut microbial derived secondary bile acids inhibit the C. difficile life cycle using in vitro and in vivo models. She is also working on manipulating the gut microbiota to rationally alter the composition of the bile acid pool in the gut, which has the potential to improve preventative and therapeutic approaches against many human diseases. The goal of her work is to design targeted bacterial approaches to prevent and treat gastrointestinal diseases – improving clinical outcomes. Dr. Theriot is a member of the Comparative Medicine Institute at NCSU and the Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease at UNC. She has received multiple pilot and NIH research awards for her research on C. difficile including a Mentored Research Scientist Development Award in Metabolomics (K01) and most recently, the Maximizing Investigators' Research Award (MIRA) (R35) from the NIGMS.
- Jason Vaughn, PhDScientific AdvisorJason Vaughn, PhDScientific Advisor
Dr. Jason M. Vaughn has 12 years of pharmaceutical development experience. He spent several years at PharmaForm LLC in various positions including Associate Director of Analytical and Formulation Development, Director of Operations and eventually Vice President of Operations. In these positions, he focused on the development of novel abuse deterrent formulations for internal and external clients. He then joined DPT Laboratories as Director of Formulation Development where he led a team that developed formulations for liquids and semisolids. Following this, he joined Enavail LLC as Director of Research. In 2012, Jason joined Patheon as Director of Scientific Affairs in the Cincinnati facility leading the development of formulations focused on modified release oral dosage forms. Jason now serves as Vice President of Pharmaceutical Development for Banner Life Sciences where he focuses on novel formulations for the treatment of clinical unmet needs. He received a B.S. in Pharmacy and a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutics from the University of Texas at Austin.
- Bary BaileyDirectorBary BaileyDirector
Mr. Bailey is an Operating Partner with Cressey & Company, a private investment firm focused exclusively on investing in and building leading healthcare businesses. Prior to joining the C&C team, Bary served as the Chief Financial Officer of AMN Healthcare Services Inc. and prior to that as Chief Financial Officer of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, a global specialty pharmaceutical company. He has also served in executive roles with a variety of other healthcare companies, including PacifiCare Health Systems Inc. where he oversaw Pharmacy Benefit Management and Information Technology, Premier Inc., Tenet Healthcare and Arthur Andersen & Co. and has served on several boards as a director of both public and private companies.
- Chuck Bramlage, MBADirectorChuck Bramlage, MBADirector
Mr. Bramlage has just completed his tenure as president and chief executive officer of Pearl Therapeutics, and Head of Respiratory Global Medicines Development at AstraZeneca. He previously was president and chief operating officer of pharmaceutical products at Covidien plc. Chuck also served as president of European operations at Valeant Pharmaceuticals International and president and chief executive officer of BattellePharma, Inc. Earlier in his career, he progressed through various commercial roles at GSK and Merck. Chuck and his teams have launched over 40 brands in 14 therapeutic areas.
Mr. Bramlage holds an MBA from the University of Dayton and a BS Administrative Science in Marketing from The Ohio State University.
- Geoff GlassDirectorGeoff GlassDirector
President, Clear Sciences, LLC
Geoffrey M. Glass is currently the President of Clear Sciences, LLC a life sciences-focused management consulting company. Prior to this Geoff was part of the team at Patheon Pharmaceuticals from 2009-2015, serving as the President of Banner Life Sciences business unit and prior to that as the Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
Prior to joining Patheon in 2009, Geoff spent almost five years as a senior executive at Valeant Pharmaceuticals as Senior Vice President, Asia Region at Valeant from 2007 through 2008 and Senior Vice President and CIO, from 2004 to 2007. Geoff began his career with the Life Sciences practice of Ernst & Young, serving there from 1995-2004.
Geoff graduated from the University of Arizona in 1995 with a degree in Economics. He presently lives in the Raleigh, North Carolina. In addition to his professional pursuits, Geoff is an active marathoner and is deeply involved in charitable activities for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
- David Johnston, PhDDirectorDavid Johnston, PhDDirector
Dr. David Johnston serves as executive vice president of PPD and global head of PPD Laboratories. In his current role, Dr. Johnston directs PPD’s industry leading, comprehensive laboratory services, including bioanalytical, vaccine sciences, GMP laboratories and global central laboratory services.
A biopharmaceutical industry veteran with more than 18 years of leadership experience in the management of clinical trials, Johnston joined PPD in 2013 from LabCorp, where he served as senior vice president and global head of the clinical trials business. Dr. Johnston has a diverse background in clinical research, including experience leading R&D teams, clinical trials quality assurance, multinational laboratory operations and having served as the CSO for a global pharma services organization.
A pioneer in the field of personalized medicine, Dr. Johnston founded one of the industry’s first companion diagnostics initiatives, which has since supported dozens of co-development projects with pharma and led to the first laboratory-sponsored PMA filing using a novel commercialization model. Dr. Johnston has studied gene regulation and surface virulence determinants in the pathogeic Neisseriae, and drug resistance mutations in HIV. He has overseen the development of dozens of novel clinical genotyping assays in the areas of infectious disease, genetics and pharmacogenomics, including the first clinical genotyping assays for HIV drug resistance and HCV subtype determination.
Dr. Johnston volunteers on the Board of Directors for Prevention Partners, and was previously on the Board of Trustees for Be Active North Carolina. He has served on the scientific advisory boards for Kylin Therapeutics, Gene Express and a venture capital firm. He previously served as an adjunct professor of clinical research at Campbell University School of Pharmacy and has lectured on clinical research at several other area universities. Dr. Johnston was awarded the Triangle Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” leadership award in 2008.
Johnston earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a doctorate in microbiology and immunology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. His professional affiliations include the American Society for Microbiology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Drug Information Association and the American Association for Clinical Chemistry.
- Kurt Selle, PhDScientistKurt Selle, PhDScientist
Dr. Kurt Selle is a Scientist at Locus Biosciences. Dr. Selle earned his B.S. in Microbiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, then received his M.S. in Food Science and Ph.D. in Functional Genomics at North Carolina State University. Dr. Selle’s doctoral work was completed under the direction of Dr. Rodolphe Barrangou and Dr. Todd Klaenhammer with diverse research projects in lactic acid bacteria genomics and physiology. The primary outcome of his research was capturing large scale genomic island deletions through selection by bacterial genome targeting CRISPR-Cas systems.
- Sandi Wong, PhDScientistSandi Wong, PhDScientist
Dr. Sandi Wong is a Scientist at Locus Biosciences. Dr. Wong earned her undergraduate degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of California - Berkeley and her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. In the laboratory of Dr. John Rawls at both UNC and Duke University, Dr. Wong studied the impact of host diet and age on gut microbiome assembly. She has also studied mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis as wells as beneficial and pathogenic interactions between vertebrate hosts and the microbiome. Prior to joining Locus Biosciences, Dr. Wong was a postdoctoral associate at Duke University.
- Nick Taylor, MMB, MBAResearch & Development PMNick Taylor, MMB, MBAResearch & Development PM
Nick Taylor is the Research and Development Project/Program Manager for Locus Biosciences. Nick’s expertise is in the evaluation and development of early-stage technologies. He earned dual Bachelors’ of Science degrees in Plant Biology and Science Education as well as dual Masters’ degrees in Microbial Biotechnology and Business Administration at North Carolina State University. Previously, Nick served as an educator in Raleigh, NC, worked for an RTP-based biotech startup, and performed technology evaluation for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center's Business and Technology Development group.