Founders & Scientific Advisors

Patrick S. Stayton, Ph.D.

Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington

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Allan S. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus of Bioengineering at the University of Washington

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Oliver W. Press, M.D., Ph.D., In memoriam

Member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and a Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington

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Robert W. Overell, Ph.D.

President and CEO

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Paul H. Johnson, Ph.D.

Former Chief Scientific Officer, PhaseRx

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Patrick S. Stayton, Ph.D. currently serves as the Washington Research Foundation Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Washington. He received his B.S. in biology (summa cum laude, chemistry minor) from Illinois State University in 1984, his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Illinois in 1989, and was a postdoctoral research associate at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, also at the University of Illinois.

Dr. Stayton has been elected as a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and has been the recipient of the Clemson Award from the Society For Biomaterials and the CRS-Cygnus Recognition Award from the Controlled Release Society. He served as chair of the Gordon Conference on Drug Carriers in Medicine and Biology in 2010. He has also been awarded the College of Engineering's Faculty Innovator Award, the Distinguished Teacher and Mentor Award from the Department of Bioengineering, and an Honorary Award from the College of Engineering's Minority Science and Engineering Program.

Dr. Stayton is the director of the Center for Intracellular Delivery of Biologics, and his eclectic research group works at the interface of fundamental molecular science and applied molecular bioengineering.

Allan S. Hoffman, Ph.D., studied at M.I.T., where he received B.S., M.S., and Sc.D. degrees in chemical engineering between 1953 and 1957. He taught on the faculty of the Chemical Engineering Department at M.I.T. for a total of 10 years, and for the past 40 years he has been Professor of Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Some of his activities, awards and recognitions have included:

Oliver W. Press, M.D., Ph.D., In memoriam, is a Member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) and a Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington (UW). Dr. Press received both his M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Washington after completing his undergraduate studies at Stanford University. He performed an internship and residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and served as a clinical fellow at Harvard Medical School. He is currently the recipient of the Dr. Penny E. Petersen Memorial Chair for Lymphoma Research at FHCRC and served as associate director of the University of Washington Medical Scientist Training Program for over 15 years. He was also the director of clinical research for hematology and hematologic malignancies for the UW/FHCRC Cancer Center Consortium from 2006 to 2008. He is currently the co-director of the UW Center for Intracellular Delivery of Biologics. Dr. Press has recently been chosen by his peers to be the co-chair of Lymphoma Steering Committee of the National Cancer Institute and has served as the chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Lymphoma Research Foundation (2006 to 2008) and of the Follicular Lymphoma Consortium (2008 to present).

Dr. Press conducts both laboratory and clinical research using immunotherapeutic approaches to treat lymphomas and leukemias in a wide variety of cellular assays, mouse and primate models and human clinical trials and has served as the principal investigator on multiple NIH R01, R21, U01 and P01 grants as well as awards from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Lymphoma Research Foundation, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, the Life Sciences Discovery Fund and many other organizations.

Dr. Press has published more than 200 research articles on immunotherapy of hematologic malignancies in journals such asThe New England Journal of Medicine, The Journal of Experimental Medicine, Blood, Cancer Research, The Journal of Clinical Oncology, and Lancet.


Robert W. Overell, Ph.D. has served as our president and member of our board of directors since 2006 and our chief executive officer since 2009. Prior to our first institutional financing in 2008, Dr. Overell was president of Foundation BioVentures LLC, which provided company formation and consulting services to startup companies, including us. Prior to that, Dr. Overell was a consultant, venture partner, then general partner, with Frazier Healthcare Ventures from 1996 to 2005, where he participated in raising over $600 million of venture capital and invested over $60 million in early-stage biotechnology companies. Dr. Overell has served on numerous corporate boards, including Array Biopharma Inc. (NASDAQ: ARRY) from 1998 to 2002, XenoPort, Inc. (NASDAQ: XNPT), which he co-founded in 1999, from 1999 to 2005, and Chimerix, Inc. (NASDAQ: CMRX) from 2004 to 2005.

Dr. Overell helped found Immunex Corporation’s gene therapy spinout, Targeted Genetics Corp., where he led product development and gene delivery programs from 1992 to 1996. Dr. Overell joined Immunex Corporation in 1984, where led programs in cell and molecular biology. He also led development of the first human immunodeficiency virus gene therapy trial in the world, which was approved by the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee of the National Institutes of Health and the FDA in 1991. Dr. Overell obtained a B.Sc. in biological sciences from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Institute of Cancer Research, University of London, United Kingdom.

Paul H. Johnson, Ph.D., has served as a member of our board of directors since 2007. From 2007 to 2015, Dr. Johnson served as our chief scientific officer. From 2003 to 2007, Dr. Johnson was senior vice president, research and development, and chief scientific officer of Nastech Pharmaceutical Company, Inc. From 2000 to 2003, Dr. Johnson served as vice president, research and development, and chief scientific officer of EpiGenx Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Since 2014, Dr. Johnson has been executive vice president and chief scientific officer of Next Frontier Biosciences. Dr. Johnson received a B.S. in molecular biology from the State University of New York, Buffalo and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Roswell Park Cancer Institute (SUNY).