About

Based on our deep science and focus on patients in need, we develop next generation immunotherapies for hard-to-treat cancers.

Our Story

AvenCell Therapeutics, Inc. was recently launched by Blackstone Life Sciences, Cellex Cell Professionals, and Intellia Therapeutics, Inc. and incorporated the clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company GEMoaB GmbH, now named AvenCell Europe GmbH.

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AvenCell’s mission is to overcome the limitations of current-generation CAR-T cell therapies with an improved therapeutic window and substantially expand the types of cancer treatable with adoptive cell therapy, including solid tumors.

With $250 million in committed capital from Blackstone as its sole founding investor, AvenCell brings together switchable universal T-cell technology developed by the former Cellex subsidiary GEMoaB GmbH, with a license to Intellia’s proprietary CRISPR/Cas9-based allogeneic platform to create a pipeline of autologous and allogeneic universal reprogrammable T cell products, focused initially on hard-to-treat cancers.

Our Values

Patient-Centric

We are putting patients with life-threatening diseases at the heart of all we do.

Science-Based

We are making decisions based on state-of-the-art scientific evidence and facts.

High-Performing

We are delivering outstanding results, realizing our vision, and creating sustainable value.

Quality-Driven

We are never compromising on highest quality and ethical standards.

Leadership Team

Andrew Schiermeier new

Andrew Schiermeier, Ph.D.

Chief Executive Officer

Babar Ghias new

Babar Ghias

Chief Financial Officer

tapan maniar 1

Tapan Maniar, M.D.

Chief Medical Officer

armin ehninger 1

Armin Ehninger, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer

marc cartellieri

Marc Cartellieri, Ph.D.

Chief Technology Officer

Jill Rogers

Jill Rogers

Chief Human Resource Officer

jana hase 1

Jana Hase

VP, Clinical Operations

Jan Koedam

Jan Koedam

VP, Clinical Development and Medical Affairs

reynald lescarbeau

Reynald Lescarbeau, Ph.D.

VP, US Research

helen kepets

Helen Kepets

VP, Portfolio Management & Business Strategy

Andrea Kistner

Andrea Kistner

VP, Finance and Corporate Controller

markus orchowski

Markus Orchowski

VP, Operations (US)

Marika Geissler

Marika Geissler

VP, Operations & Human Resources (EU)

Board of Directors

Olivier Brandicourt 2

Olivier Brandicourt, M.D.

Chairman

Ari Brettman

Ari Brettman, M.D.

Gerhard Ehninger

Gerhard Ehninger, M.D.

Glenn Goddard

Glenn Goddard

Paris Panaylotopoulos

Paris Panayiotopoulos

Andrew Schiermeier new

Andrew Schiermeier, Ph.D.

Our Partners

AvenCell is collaborating with a number of partners committed to the joint development of novel immunotherapies based on our next generation platform technologies. We are open to exploring new clinical or strategic collaborations. Please contact us for further details.
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Supported by:

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SAB Sächsische Aufbaubank-Förderbank European Union/ European Social Fund

sponsers 5 e1668677869518

Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Andrew Schiermeier, Ph.D.

Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Andrew Schiermeier has spent over two decades as an executive in the biotech and pharmaceutical sectors, with experience from managing operations for startups to directing the strategic expansion of global brands.

Prior to AvenCell, Andrew spent five years serving in a series of successive leadership roles within Intellia Therapeutics, Inc. (most recently as Chief Operating Officer).  Intellia Therapeutics is a world leader in the biotech industry working to harness the genome editing technology CRISPR/Cas9 for human therapeutic use and is the first company to ever demonstrate clinical efficacy in a systemically administered CRISPR-based therapeutic.

Prior to Intellia, Andrew served as Senior Vice President and Global Head of Merck KGaA’s Oncology Business, which spans over 60 countries. While at Merck, he was responsible for rebuilding the company’s oncology pipeline, continuing the growth and expanded indications of Erbitux® (an antibody inhibiting EGFR) and overseeing the development and launch of the world’s first commercialized blood-based biopsy. After successfully partnering the company’s anti-PDL1 antibody Avelumab with Pfizer in a landmark deal in 2014, he also held the position of General Manager of the Merck-Pfizer Immune-Oncology Alliance. 

Prior to Merck, Andrew served as the chief operating officer of Aura Biosciences, Inc, a public Cambridge-based biotech harnessing virus like particles (VLPs) for therapeutic applications.  Prior to Aura, he was the chairman and CEO of Medicine in Need Corporation (MEND), an international not-for-profit supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aimed at liberating burdened populations from disease of poverty through advanced drug and vaccine delivery. Andrew also served as the CEO of Lantibio, Inc., a private development-stage biotech company with three late-stage compounds in respiratory and ophthalmology therapeutic areas. 

Andrew holds a PhD in Applied Mathematics from Harvard University, an MS in Biomechanical Engineering from Stanford University, a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, and an International MBA from College des Ingenieurs in Paris, France.

Babar Ghias

Chief Financial Officer

Babar brings over 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry, including managing financial and business operations, private investing and investment banking.

Prior to joining Avencell in May 2022, Babar served as Chief Financial & Operating Officer at Castle Creek Biosciences, a rare disease focused gene therapy company, where he oversaw corporate functions and led the expansion efforts transforming the company from single disease to multi-platform company via licensing and acquisitions.

Babar has also held other key leadership roles prior to Castle Creek Biosciences. As Executive Vice President of Investments & Portfolio Management at Paragon Biosciences, a global biotech development firm, he was instrumental in founding four biotechnology companies focused on rare diseases and helping to launch their operational teams. Babar also served as CFO and Head of Corporate Development at Marathon Pharmaceuticals, a specialty rare disease company, where he created the company’s finance infrastructure to address its continuous growth from a clinical- to commercial-stage company and, ultimately, led the successful sale of the firm.

Early in his career, he was an investment banker who served as a senior member of the mergers and acquisitions team at Credit Suisse, providing strategic advice to clients and boards of directors in the healthcare and life sciences industries and successfully closing over $80 billion in transactions.

Babar earned his M.B.A. with honors from Washington University in St. Louis and a B.S. in economics from Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan.

Tapan Maniar, M.D.

Chief Medical Officer

For more than a decade, Dr. Maniar has spent the majority of his career in the biotechnology space. Joining Amgen in 2012, Tap worked on multiple late phase programs and commercial launches.  At Amgen he served as the Global Development Lead for BLINCYTO® (blinatumomab)(CD19-CD3 bi-specific antibody), which received breakthrough designation from the FDA and led to a historically rapid accelerated approval for relapsed/refractory acute lymphocytic leukemia and subsequent approvals in the EU and globally.  Blinatumomab eventually also became the first drug to receive approval for a minimal residual disease setting.

Most recently, Tap was Senior Vice President of Clinical Development at Dragonfly Therapeutics where he was the clinical lead for a phase 1 IL-12 program which successfully partnered for $475 million up-front and achieved milestones of an additional $175M before formal handoff to BMS.

Tap received his MD from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was awarded the Lilie M Irk Prize for patient care and where he also completed his medical residency and fellowship in hematology-oncology.

Armin Ehninger, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer

Armin has more than 15 years of research & drug discovery experience in oncology and hematology, stem cell biology as well as cancer immunotherapy.

Prior to joining the biopharmaceutical industry, Armin worked in internationally renowned research groups in Dresden/Germany, Auckland/New Zealand, Lausanne/Switzerland and at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg/Germany and published numerous seminal scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals. Armin’s expertise and leadership were decisive in establishing AvenCell’s Research & Development and pre-clinical capabilities. At AvenCell, Armin is responsible for pre-clinical Research and Development, the translational programs for our clinical studies as well as for Quality Systems and Quality Management.

Armin holds a Master of Science degree in Technical Biology from University of Stuttgart and obtained his Ph.D. from Ruprecht-Karls-University in Heidelberg.

Marc Cartellieri, Ph.D.

Chief Technology Officer

Marc has more than 20 years of research & development experience in CAR-T and viral vector development and manufacturing, as well as cancer immunotherapy. Prior to joining our team, Marc worked in cellular immunotherapy research in Dresden/Germany and published numerous scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals.

At AvenCell Marc is responsible for planning, development, and implementation of manufacturing strategies for our cellular immunotherapy platforms, clinical manufacturing and our long-term manufacturing plans in collaboration with our contract manufacturers as well as the continued optimization of cellular components of our clinical stage cellular immunotherapy products.

Marc holds a Master of Science degree in Biology from University of Greifswald and obtained his Ph.D. from Technical University in Dresden.

Jana Hase

VP, Clinical Operations

Jana joined the team in early 2016 and leads AvenCell’s clinical operations. She has worked in clinical research for more than 14 years, with a 12-year focus on clinical operations & Good Clinical Practice and has since her entry established, built, and led the clinical operations department for the successful implementation of our ambitious clinical development plans.

Before joining the team, Jana was Head of the Study Centre of the Medical Clinic at the Technical University in Dresden and coordinated national clinical trials with focus on acute leukemia.

Jana holds a Master of Science in Clinical Research from Dresden International University (DIU) which included courses on Principles and Practice of Clinical Research provided by Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. Jana also holds a master’s degree of Business Administration obtained from Technical University in Dresden.

Jan Koedam

VP, Clinical Development and Medical Affairs

Jan joined our team in April 2020 and leads AvenCell’s clinical development and medical affairs. Within his more than 25 years of (bio)pharma experience Jan has gained extensive experience in the planning and execution of clinical trials, ranging from first-in-men oncology trials to large scale Phase III trials as well as non-interventional phase IV trials in various roles of increasing responsibility.

Prior to joining us, Jan has worked amongst others at Novartis as European Medical Affairs Lead in the Breast Cancer field as well as at Celgene, where he has been the Medical Director for the Dutch affiliate and the CAR-T Lead for the Central Northern European region.

Jan holds a Master of Science degree in Medical Biology from the Medical Faculty Utrecht University.

Reynald is the Vice President and Head of Research US for AvenCell where he is responsible for building and leading AvenCell’s US research presence. Reynald joined Intellia in 2015 as one of the company’s first hires, where he built and lead the Informatics team and Intellia’s genomics efforts. He additionally oversaw the development of the allogeneic T cell technology employed by AvenCell and Intellia. Prior to Intellia, he joined a Flagship Pioneering startup, Selventa, where he worked on the use of computational and genomic methods to stratify patient response to therapy in clinical trials. Reynald received his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Tufts University.

Andrea Kistner

VP, Finance and Corporate Controller

Andrea is the Vice President of Finance and Corporate Controller for AvenCell where she brings over 20 years of experience to AvenCell’s US finance and accounting operations. Prior to joining AvenCell in July 2022, Andrea served as Vice President of Finance at Castle Creek Biosciences, a rare disease focused gene therapy company where she oversaw the company’s finance and accounting functions. Prior to Castle Creek Biosciences, Andrea held similar positions at Recordati Rare Diseases and EKR Therapeutics, Inc.

Andrea is a certified public accountant and received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Post University.

Markus Orchowski

VP, Operations (US)

Markus brings over 20 years of experience in business operations and IS/IT management. Markus focuses on advancing operational excellence through process optimization, automation, and adoption of technology across all functions and facilities. Prior to joining AvenCell, Markus served as a VP on the investment team at Blackstone Life Sciences (formerly Clarus). He empowered BXLS to gather and review data that informed financial analysis during due diligence processes with greater detail and accuracy. Markus received his BS in Computer Engineering from Northeastern University.

Marika Geißler

VP, Operations & Human Resources (EU)

Marika joined the team in 2015 and since then has built and coordinated the Dresden site and organization from an administrative, planning, reporting and project management perspective.

Before joining, Marika successfully orchestrated large academic research & clinical development projects for more than 8 years, including the Collaborative Research Center at the University Hospital of Dresden in the area of stem cell research.

At AvenCell, Marika is acting as Head of Operations and Human Resources at our Dresden site and is responsible for Project Management, IT and HR.

Marika holds a master’s degree in business administration from Technical University in Dresden.

Olivier Brandicourt joined the Board of Avencell after 20 years of general management and 10 years of medical and marketing experience in the pharmaceutical industry, having worked for 4 global companies in the US, the UK, Canada, Germany and France. He is currently a senior advisor at Blackstone Life Sciences, a director of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Dewpoint Therapeutics. Olivier retired from Sanofi S.A. in September 2019 after being its Chief Executive Officer since April 2015. Prior to joining Sanofi, Olivier was the CEO of Bayer HealthCare AG. From 2000 to 2013, he held a series of leadership positions at Pfizer of which President and General Manager of Global Specialty Care, Global Primary Care and most recently of the Emerging Markets and Established Products business units. Olivier was part of the Pfizer Executive team from 2010 to 2013.

Olivier studied medicine in Paris where he specialized in Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine and holds a Master’s Degree in Biology and an Advanced Degree in Cellular and Immunological Pathophysiology. During his responsibilities at Sanofi, Olivier was elected Chairman of the Board of Management of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (2019) and Vice-President of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (2017-2019). He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in London.

Ari Brettman is a Managing Director in the Blackstone Life Sciences group, having joined Blackstone as part of its acquisition of Clarus in December of 2018. Dr. Brettman joined Clarus in September 2014. Dr. Brettman is focused on investments across the firm’s portfolio, including AvenCell, Alnylam, Anthos Therapeutics, Talaris Therapeutics, Essa Pharma, Praxis Precision Medicines, Entasis Therapeutics, and AvroBio. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of AvenCell and Anthos Therapeutics. Prior to Clarus, Dr. Brettman completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Brettman was also an NIH-sponsored post-doctoral fellow at the MGH Center for Systems Biology, where he studied the autophagy of lipid droplets and used electronic medical record-based big data analytics at Partners Healthcare to conduct clinical research and improve disease management. Dr. Brettman received his M.D. from Duke University and his A.B. in History and Science from Harvard College. While a medical student, he was a Sarnoff Cardiovascular Research Foundation Fellow at Stanford University, where he studied angiogenesis.

Gerhard was the former Head of Hematology & Oncology at University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus of the Technical University Dresden, Germany as well the former President of the German Society of Hematology and Oncology (DGHO). As one of the globally leading researchers in the areas of acute leukemias and solid tumors Gerhard has published more than 700 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals and was principal investigator for multiple pivotal studies in hematology and oncology.

Gerhard is also the founding shareholder of Cellex, a world leader in manufacturing hematopoietic blood stem cell products and a leading European CMO for CAR-T cells based in Cologne/Germany, co-founder of the German Bone Marrow Donor Registry (DKMS) and member of the Board of Directors at Rhön Klinikum AG.

Glenn Goddard has served as the executive vice president, chief financial officer of Intellia since October 2018.  Glenn has over two decades of experience leading business and financial operations for public and private companies in the biotechnology industry. Prior to joining Intellia, Glenn served as the Chief Financial Officer at Generation Bio Company, where he led all financial functions, investor relations, information technologies and certain operational functions. Before joining Generation Bio, Glenn served as Senior Vice President of Finance and Principal Financial Officer of Agios Pharmaceuticals, where he led the company’s strategic financings efforts raising more than $700 million in equity financings. In addition, Glenn was responsible for all financial functions of the company, including strategic planning and analysis, investor relations, treasury, tax, finance and accounting. He also was responsible for information technologies, certain operational functions and supporting strategic partnering efforts.  Previously, Glenn held various senior-level financial management positions at both Archemix, a privately held oligonucleotide platform-based biopharmaceutical company, and Immunogen, a publicly traded oncology-focused biopharmaceutical company.

Paris Panayiotopoulos is a Senior Managing Director in the Blackstone Life Sciences group and a member of its Investment Committee. Before, he served as Operating Partner at Clarus (sold to Blackstone), as CEO and President of Ariad Pharmaceuticals (sold to Takeda), as member of the Board of Directors of The Medicines Company (sold to Novartis), as President of the US and Japan biopharmaceutical businesses of Merck KGaA, and as President of the Serono Research and Development Institute. Prior to joining Merck KGaA, Mr. Panayiotopoulos was at Eli Lilly & Co. Mr. Panayiotopoulos has been a founding board member and chair of a number of biotech companies and is on the Board of Advisors of the non-profit Life Science Cares.

Andrew Schiermeier, Ph.D.

Chief Executive Officer

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