About Vita Therapeutics

Vita Therapeutics is a cell engineering company, founded out of Johns Hopkins University in 2019 that seeks to develop life-transformative treatments. The company utilizes induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology to develop regenerative therapies designed to support muscle regeneration and treat patients with muscle disorders.

We are a team of dedicated scientists striving to advance treatments in multiple indications within our cell therapy platform.

Vita Therapeutics was originally founded out of the labs of Dr. Gabsang Lee and Dr. Kathryn Wagner at Johns Hopkins University and the Kennedy Krieger Institute in 2019 by Douglas Falk, M.S. and Peter Andersen, PhD.

Leadership Team

Douglas Falk, MS
Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder

Douglas Falk, M.S., co - founded and joined Vita Therapeutics as Chief Executive Officer in 2019. Prior to this he spent 6 years in the investment world with a particular focus in Biotechnology at Brown Advisory, where he was a principal, Merrill Lynch, and Lazard. Mr. Falk was also involved in the formation of OptoStem and currently sits on the Board of Directors. In addition, Mr. Falk currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Johns Hopkins Biotechnology Investment Group. Mr. Falk received his M.S. fr om Johns Hopkins University in Biotechnology and his B.A. from Goucher College in Economics and Business Management

Peter Andersen, MS, PhD
Co-Founder

Peter Andersen, PhD, co - founded Vita Therapeutics, Inc. in 2019. He currently serves as the head of the Andersen Research Group at Johns Hopkins University. Mr. Andersen has studied stem cell biology for more than a decade during which time he has publish ed several novel discoveries contributing to the field of stem cell and development biology. Mr. Andersen has an MS in molecular biology from Copenhagen University, where he also received a PhD in developmental biology

Michael Kuo, MT (ASCP)
Senior Vice President of Manufacturing

Mr. Kuo, MT (ASCP) has more than 24 years of experience in developing novel cell, gene and regenerative medicine therapies to support early - to - late - stage clinical trials. H e previously served as MANA Therapeutics’ Senior Vice President of Technical Operations and Vice President of Quality and Operations at MaxCyte Mr. Kuo also served as Senior Director of Quality Assurance at Mesoblast and held various CMC leadership positions throughout his career. He has established and directed numerous GMP manufacturing, quali ty assurance, and analytical testing operations and provided oversight of clinical manufacturing, process development, translational scale up, technology transfer and analytical testing at major global contract manufacturing and development organizations a nd contract testing laboratories. Mr. Kuo received his BS degrees in Medical Technology and Microbiology as well as his Biomedical Regulatory Affairs Certification from the University of Washington.

Alexandra Capela, PhD
SVP of Regulatory and IND Strategy

Dr. Capela is a neurobiologi st with more than 20 years of post - doctoral and industry experience in the development of cell - based therapies for neurodegenerative disorders, most recently as a preclinical and regulatory consultant. Previously, she served as a member of the management t eam of StemCells, Inc. for 15 years. Dr. Capela received her Doctorate in Biomedical Sciences from Albany Medical College/University of Oporto.

Amy Wesa, PhD
SVP of Translational Research

Dr. Wesa has 20 years of post - PhD experience in immuno - oncology and cell and gene therapy and has led research and development strategy for clinical translation from discovery to produc t development to Phase I clinical trials. Dr. Wesa is the former Vice President of Research and Development at Champions Oncology and has held leadership roles at Intrexon and Celsense She is a former faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh School o f Medicine and holds a PhD in Cancer Biology from Wayne State University’s School of Medicine.

Steven S. Brooks, MD, MBA
Senior VP of Medical Sciences & Regulatory Affairs

Steven S. Brooks, MD MBA FACC joined Vita Therapeutics as Senior VP of Medical Sciences and Regulatory Affairs in 2019. He is an Interventional Cardiologist and previously served as a Medical Officer at FDA in the Office of Device Evaluation. Since leaving FDA he has served as a consultant to and officer in multiple medical technology companies with a concentration in clinical and regulatory commercialization of drugs, biologics, medical devices and combination products. Dr. Brooks received his BA from Duke University, MD from University of Pittsburgh and MBA from Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business in the Business of Medicine program.

Board of Directors

Douglas Falk, MS
Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder

Douglas Falk, M.S., co - founded and joined Vita Therapeutics as Chief Executive Officer in 2019. Prior to this he spent 6 years in the investment world with a particular focus in Biotechnology at Brown Advisory, where he was a principal, Merrill Lynch, and Lazard. Mr. Falk was also involved in the formation of OptoStem and currently sits on the Board of Directors. In addition, Mr. Falk currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Johns Hopkins Biotechnology Investment Group. Mr. Falk received his M.S. fr om Johns Hopkins University in Biotechnology and his B.A. from Goucher College in Economics and Business Management

Vlad Coric, MD
Board Member

Dr. Vlad Coric is an invaluable member of Vita Therapuetics Board of Directors as he brings considerable experience and expertise in the biotech sphere. He currently serves as the CEO of Biohaven Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: BHVN), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company. Dr. Coric is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine and has over 50 peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Coric previously served as Chief of the Yale Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit, and Director of the Yale Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Research Clinic. He has served as President of the Connecticut Psychiatric Society (an 800-member district branch of the American Psychiatric Association). Dr. Coric completed residency training at the Yale Psychiatry Residency Training Program, where he also served as the Program-Wide Chief Resident for the Yale Department of Psychiatry, and Chief Resident on the PTSD firm at the West-Haven Connecticut Veterans Administration Hospital. Dr. Coric earned his medical degree at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina.

David Churchill
Board Member

Mr. Churchill is Partner, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer at Brown Advisory. With a focus on building world-class teams and a strong organizational culture, Mr. Churchill’s leadership extends into the community, where he serves on several nonprofit boards. Serving in various financial and operations leadership roles throughout his career, he thrives in growing entrepreneurial enterprises. His experience in finance, management and operations comes together at Brown Advisory where he oversees all non-investment areas. He joined Brown Advisory in 1997 and co-led the management buyout transaction of Brown Advisory from Bankers Trust.

James Peyer, PhD
Board Member

James Peyer is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Cambrian Biopharma. James was previously Founder and Managing Partner at Apollo Ventures, the first global longevity-focused venture capital firm, investing across the US and Europe. He led investments in Cleara Biotech, Aeovian Pharmaceuticals, and Samsara Therapeutics, and served on the Board and/or in executive roles for all three companies. James has led companies that have raised over $100M. He serves on the board of Sensei Biotherapeutics, Vineyard Therapeutics, and several more stealth-mode companies. Prior to Apollo, James was a consultant at the New York office of McKinsey & Company, serving major pharmaceutical clients. He earned his PhD in stem cell biology at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center as a National Science Foundation Fellow and received his B.A. with special honors from the University of Chicago.

Mark Nuttall, PhD
Board Member

Mark Nuttall is the Executive Vice President of Business Development at Cambrian Biopharma. He was previously Chief Business Officer for Kintai Therapeutics/Senda Biosciences, a Flagship Pioneering company, and Kymera Therapeutics (KYMR). Before moving to biotech, Mark held increasingly senior roles in business development functions at several large pharmaceutical companies. He was Vice President and Head of Business Development & Licensing for core therapeutic franchises at Sanofi Genzyme: immunology, inflammation and multiple sclerosis; at Johnson & Johnson, he led neuroscience business development and was responsible for leading a team that transformed J&J’s CNS portfolio. Mark began his career in the healthcare industry in R&D at GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca. He has a B.Sc. in biochemistry from the University College of Wales in Cardiff and a Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

Scientific Co-Founders

Gabsang Lee, PhD

Gabsang Lee, Ph.D., is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology and Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he continues his research on peripheral nerve disease (Charcot-Marie-Tooth, Congenital insensitivity to Pain and Anhidrosis, Familial Dysautonomia) and muscular dystrophies (Duchenne muscular dystrophies, Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophies). Mr. Lee received his Ph.D. from Seoul National University

Alan Friedman, PhD
Board Member

Alan Friedman is Professor of Pediatric Oncology at Johns Hopkins University. He attended Harvard Medical School and did his pediatric residency at Boston Children’s Hospital, before coming to Baltimore in 1986 for Fellowship training. His laboratory focuses on regulation of myeloid cell development and leukemic transformation by transcription factors and has pioneered the use of immature myeloid cells lacking NF-κB p50 (p50-IMC) as immunotherapy for cancer.

Kathryn Wagner, MD, PhD
Board Member

Dr. Kathryn Wagner is the director of the Center for Genetic Muscle Disorders at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and a Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Wagner focuses her laboratory and clinical research on developing methods to promote muscle regeneration. Dr. Wagner received a Ph.D. and M.D. from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Scientific Advisory Board

Lorenz Studer, MD

Dr. Lorenz Studer is the founder and director of the Center for Stem Cell Biology at Memorial-Sloan Kettering in New York. He is also a scientific co-founder of BlueRock Therapeutics. Dr. Studer was named a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship for his work on stem-cell derived treatments for Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Studer received his M.D. from the University of Bern, Switzerland.

Sally Temple, PhD
Board Member

Sally Temple, Ph.D., is the Co-Founder and Scientific Director of the Neural Stem Cell Institute and a professor of Neuroscience and Neuropharmacology at Albany Medical College. Ms. Temple is the principal investigator in her lab focused on studying neural stem cells, using this knowledge to develop therapies for central nervous system (CNS) disorders. Ms. Temple received her Ph.D. from the University College London and competed her postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University.

Mehandra Rao, MD, PhD
Board Member

Dr. Mahendra Rao is a scientific co-founder of Q Therapeutics. Dr. Rao is internationally known for his research involving human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and other somatic stem cells and has worked in the stem cell field for more than twenty years with stints in academia, government and regulatory affairs and industry. Dr. Rao received his MD (MBBS) from Bombay University in India and his PhD in Developmental Neurobiology from the California Institute of Technology.

Stephen Chang, PhD
Board Member

Stephen Chang, Ph.D., has served as an executive or director for several biotechnology companies, to include Histogen, Stemgent, Mutlicell Technologies. Mr. Chang was formerly a Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Research for the New York Stem Cell Foundation. Mr. Chang received his Ph.D. in biological chemistry, molecular biology, and biochemistry from the University of California, Irvine.

Clifford Bechtold, MS

Clifford Bechtold is currently the COO of Biohaven Pharmaceuticals. Mr. Bechtold has over 27 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, including leading neuromuscular and neurodegenerative programs at Bristol-Meyers Squib. Mr. Bechtold received a MS degree in Medical Microbiology from Creighton University School of Medicine and a BS from South Dakota State University.

Paul Tesar, PhD
Board Member

Paul Tesar, Ph.D., is currently a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in the Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences and head of the Tesar lab. Mr Tesar was a co-founder of Convelo Therapeutics. Mr. Tesar received his Ph.D. from the University of Oxford.

Deok-ho Kim, PhD
Board Member

Deok-Ho Kim, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University Department of Biomedical Engineering. His current work focuses on development of human iPSC-based microphysiological systems for disease modeling, drug screening, and precision medicine. Mr. Kim received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.

Kapil Bharti, PhD
Board Member

Kapil Bharti, Ph.D., is a senior investigator in the NEI Ocular and Stem Cell Translational Research Section. His current work includes leading the first clinical trial in the US utilizing iPSCs in a treatment for age-related macular degeneration. Dr. Bharti graduated with highest honors from the Panjab University in Chandigarh, India. He also holds a master degree in biotechnology at the Maharaja Sayaji Rao University in Baroda, India and a diploma in molecular cell biology at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University at Frankfurt in Germany. Dr. Bharti obtained his Ph.D. from Johann Wofgang Goethe University, graduating summa cum laude.

David Sassoon, PhD

David Sassoon, Ph.D., is a research team director at Paris Sorbonne. His long-standing interest has been in developmental and stem cell biology in a number of tissues including skeletal muscle, skin, CNS and heart. A major focus of his research is on adult progenitor/stem cell biology and how these cells respond to stress. He received his PhD from Columbia University in the biological sciences and performed his postdoctoral studies at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France before directing his research group at Boston University Medical School.

Join our team

Join us as we re-engineer cellular medicine.