Our Team

Cellaria unites scientific thought leaders and innovators from diverse backgrounds who share a passion for empowering the cancer research community—and accelerating the search for a cure. Through strategic collaborations, we work towards changing the landscape of cancer treatment with more personalized therapeutics. As cancer research is ever-changing and ever-evolving, we know we must remain nimble, relentless, and aligned with both the challenges of researchers and the needs of patients.

Meet Our Team

 

David Deems, CEO

David Deems, CEO
David Deems, CEO

Mr. Deems is a senior executive with a proven ability to commercialize and successfully launch novel technology products for the life sciences and diagnostic markets. During his career, he has developed and launched over 100 new products, in regulated and research markets, and for large public and small venture backed companies. Most recently, Mr. Deems was the President and CEO of Xceed Molecular (now part of Axela), a Canadian company with a novel gene expression platform used by clinical laboratories for testing novel biomarkers.

He joined Xceed from Predicant Biosciences, an early-stage proteomics company working to identify protein patterns in blood for the early detection of cancer, where he was responsible for managing Predicant’s product and commercial development efforts. Prior to Predicant, David held senior management positions with several companies focused on bringing novel products successfully into the marketplace. He served as Vice President of Product Development at EXACT Sciences; CEO of Union Biometrica prior to that company’s acquisition by Harvard Biosciences; and Vice President at BD Biosciences, a division of Becton, Dickinson and Company. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Boston University.

Dr.  Elin Agoston, Director of Scientific Development

Dr. Elin Agoston
Dr. Elin Agoston

Dr. Agoston holds a BA in Chemistry from Vassar College and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She completed her post-doctoral training at Harvard University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the Department of Pathology in clinical research and pre-clinical model system development.

Dr. Agoston has dedicated a significant amount of her post-doctoral work to researching and developing methods for the primary culture of tumor tissues, including ovarian, breast, and other cancers. Her work has led to the development of a novel cell culture media that sustains a higher percentage of the original tumor’s genotypic, proteomic and phenotypic characteristics. She continued developing the media into a product while a scientist at Stemgent and her continued research efforts have created the foundation for Cellaria’s product portfolio.

 

Jake Loewenheim, Director of Business Development

Jake Loewenheim
Jake Loewenheim
Jake brings a combination of scientific knowledge and clear consultative sales processes,  to ensure that customers are able to achieve sustainable success and the best results possible throughout the drug development process. Jake spent the early portion of his career in R&D, helping to create drug development tools and conducting cancer research at the bench. Eventually, he transitioned to the commercial side where he has been involved in early stage and established Biotech companies.  His focus is on developing lasting relationships and helping clients solve difficult questions in their drug development process with new and existing technologies.

 

Naghmeh Salimi, Scientist, Process Development

Nahgmeh Salimi
Naghmeh Salimi

Naghmeh has more than 12 years professional experience in research & development, project management, and leadership. She has extensive experience in modern techniques and operation of cell culture, cell line development, and cell scale up process.

She has been a part of Cellaria from its inception in June 2015 as a Research Scientist focusing on Cancer Cell model development, Cellaria’s Media product QC and running daily lab operations. She is responsible for Cellaria’s manufacturing and processes improvement for cell scale up production of new disease models, cell banking and product QC. Prior to Cellaria she served at Stemgent as an Associate Scientist where she was involved in research and development of cancer cell models.  Naghmeh has a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering with focus on biotechnology from Northeastern University and a BS in Applied Chemistry from K.N. Toosi University of Technology.

 

Dmitry Shvartsman, Director of Stem Cell Program

Dmitry Shvartsman
Dmitry Shvartsman
Dr. Dmitry (Dima) Shvartsman was born in Kharkov (Ukraine) and graduated (PhD in Neurobiology, 2008) from Tel Aviv University Life Sciences Faculty (Israel), focusing his studies on the biophysical properties of the cell plasma membrane and dynamics of interactions between membrane proteins and membrane domains. He received the Long-Term Postdoctoral Fellowship form the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) to conduct his postdoctoral studies in Cell and Tissue Engineering laboratory at Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). He continued his work at Brigham Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston at the field of nanoparticle formulation and targeting. After that, Dmitry joined Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) as Senior Research manager, overseeing production of insulin-secreting beta cells from pluripotent stem cells and managing technical group within. Dmitry is married , has two children and resides in Sudbury, MA.

 

Abigail E. Witt Ph.D, Director of Research & Development

Abigail E. Witt, Ph.D
Abigail E. Witt, Ph.D

Abigail is a Ph.D. scientist with 20+ years of research experience involving cell culture techniques, cancer biology, oncogenes, epigenetic mechanisms, cancer stem cells, epithelial cell adhesion, and cell signaling pathways.  She received her doctorate from Johns Hopkins University for research examining the role of Methyl-CpG-Binding proteins and methylation in breast cancer invasion and progression.  Her post-doctoral work focused on the role of specific Histone Deacetylases in the functional phenotype of cancer stem cells (CSCs) in breast and ovarian cancer.  She has extensive experience in general biochemical analysis techniques, novel cell line derivation, culture media creation and optimization, 3D cell culture techniques (morphogenesis, sphere/soft agar assays), functional assays (invasion/migration, proliferation, cell adhesion/anchorage dependence, apoptosis), gene modulation, and drug screen development.

 

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