Knut Niss, Ph.D

Knut Niss, Ph.D
Knut Niss, Ph.D
Chairman, HemaCare Scientific Advisory Board

Dr. Niss was elected chairman of the scientific advisory board in November 2015. He has over 20 years’ experience in stem cell research, regenerative medicine and cell therapy development.  He is the Asset Leader for Biogen Cell Therapies Division, where he is responsible for end-to-end CMC development, supply and life cycle management of Biogen’s cell therapy program assets.

Dr. Niss completed his doctoral work at the Max-Delbrueck Center in Berlin, Germany, working on developmental pathways involved in leukemic cell transformation. He holds a PhD in molecular biology and a Master’s degree in biology.  Following his doctoral work, Dr. Niss performed his postdoctoral studies at Children’s Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, where he analyzed genes involved in hematopoietic stem cell maintenance and differentiation. Upon completing his postdoctoral work, Dr. Niss joined Pfizer’s Immunology group, first in Connecticut and later in St. Louis, to serve as a team leader for hematopoiesis. In this role, he directed the implementation of various small molecule and biologics programs into Pfizer’s preclinical pipeline. Dr. Niss was then appointed as the research team leader for adult stem cells in Pfizer’s Regenerative Medicine unit in Cambridge, Massachusetts, responsible for managing research activities to support clinical programs with adult stem cells. Dr. Niss joined EMD Millipore in 2011 as a Senior R&D program manager for the Stem Cell Initiative, where he led the efforts on large scale stem cell expansion in bioreactors. In 2013, Dr. Niss transitioned to Novartis Pharmaceuticals in Morris Plains, New Jersey, where he directed the implementation of a CAR T process as well as the technology transfer activities to various sites.

Mahendra S. Rao, M.D., Ph.D.

Mahendra S. Rao, M.D., Ph.D.
Mahendra S. Rao, M.D., Ph.D.
Founder and CSO, Mahendra Rao LLC

Dr. Rao is the co-founder of a neural stem cell company, Q Therapeutics, based in Salt Lake City (Utah) and, more recently, NxCell based in California. Dr. Rao is internationally known for his research involving human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and other somatic stem cells.

Dr. Rao received his M.D. (MBBS) from Bombay University in India and his Ph.D. in Developmental Neurobiology from the California Institute of Technology. Dr. Rao has an extensive background teaching medical and graduate students, as well as postdoctoral fellows at institutions including The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, The National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India, and the University of Utah School of Medicine. Dr. Rao was the founding Director of the NIH Center of Regenerative Medicine and, until recently, was the Chief of the Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology at the NIH. Dr. Rao’s laboratory was focused on translational work related to Parkinson’s disease and glial cell pathology. Before joining the NIH, Dr. Rao led the Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine division at Life Technologies.

Dr. Rao serves on several scientific advisory boards to Pharma, journal editorial boards and oversight committees, and advisory panels on large scale projects related to stem cell biology. Dr. Rao has served on the Boards of companies such Thermogenesis, Aastrom, Stempeutics, and Q Therapeutics. Dr. Rao also served as the Chair of the CBER (FDA) advisory committee (CTGTAC) and on advisory panels to the governments of the U.S., Singapore, and India on hESC and iPSC policy. He continues to work with the FDA and other regulatory authorities on PSC related issues, most recently as the CIRM and ISSCR liaison to the ISCT.

Stephen Minger, Ph.D.

Stephen Minger, Ph.D.
Stephen Minger, Ph.D.
Director, SLM Blue Skies Innovations Ltd

Dr. Stephen Minger is a Director at SLM Blue Skies Innovation Ltd. Prior to this, he was Chief Scientist for Life Sciences and Global Director for Research and Development for Cell Technologies at GE.

Stephen received his Ph.D. in Pathology (Neurosciences) in 1992 from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. After post-doctoral work in central nervous system gene therapy, neural transplantation and neural stem cell biology at UCSD with Professor Fred “Rusty” Gage, he moved to the UK in 1996 and was appointed a Lecturer in Biomolecular Sciences at King’s College London in 1998. He was appointed a Senior Lecturer in Stem Cell Biology in 2005 and was the Director of the Stem Cell Biology Laboratory from 2002 until joining GE Healthcare in 2009.  Stephen was the Stem Cell Expert and a Member of the UK Gene Therapy Advisory Committee (GTAC) at the Department of Health from 2006-2012 and was until recently the Focal Point for Regenerative Medicine, Drug Discovery and Modernisation of Traditional Chinese Medicine in China for the UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. He has also been a an external consultant and reviewer to the European Commission Framework Programmes (FP6 and FP7) since 2003 to promote European-wide biomedical research, a member of the Grants Working Group of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine since 2004, and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Canadian Centre for the Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine.

Aby J. Mathew, Ph.D.

Aby J. Mathew, Ph.D.
Aby J. Mathew, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, BioLife Solutions, Inc.

Dr. Mathew was part of the founding team of BioLife Solutions, Inc. and is a co-developer of BioLife’s biopreservation media solutions. He is a co-inventor on multiple issued and pending patents related to methods, devices, and formulations for the preservation of cells, tissues, and organs. Dr. Mathew was BioLife’s first Director of Manufacturing, established BioLife’s initial Quality system, and is currently Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for BioLife Solutions.

He holds a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences within the Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology Program from Binghamton University and a B.S. in Microbiology from Cornell University. Dr. Mathew has been a member of the International Society for Cell Therapy (ISCT), AABB (formerly the American Association of Blood Banks), BEST (the Biomedical Excellence for Safer Transfusion collaborative), the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM), Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS), Society for Cryobiology, International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER), American Society for Cell Biology, and the Society for In Vitro Biology, as well as a member of the Advisory Panel of the Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation.