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
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. 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
Naghmeh Salimi, Senior Process Development Engineer
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
Rory Waldinger, Customer Experience Manager
As Customer Experience Manager at Cellaria, Rory is responsible for developing the Cellaria brand and ensuring the execution of our brand strategy across all phases of our integrated marketing efforts. She has extensive experience in creating successful digital marketing programs that improve customer acquisition and retention.
Before joining Cellaria, Rory was a user experience consultant managing complex interactive projects across multiple channels allowing her to build experiences in many industries, including pharmaceutical, retail, financial services, and healthcare. Prior to her consulting career, she worked as Vice President of Experience Design at JPMorgan Invest, a service offering full brokerage capabilities to the rollover market and to Retirement Plan Services’ 401K plan participants with self-directed accounts. She led the team responsible for defining and executing JPMI’s online strategy. Rory was charged with championing key business initiatives, implementing user-centered design practices, and designing a competitive online experience for the retirement market.
Abigail E. Witt Ph.D., Director of Research & Development
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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