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Research Committee of the Board of Directors

Member since 2024

Gary Koretzky, M.D., Ph.D. is Vice Provost for Academic Integration at Cornell University and a Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.  Previously, he was the Francis C. Wood Professor of Medicine, Vice Chair and Chief Scientific Office of the Department of Medicine, Investigator and Director of the Signal Transduction Program of the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Dr. Koretzky received his A.B. from Cornell University (’78) and obtained his M.D. and Ph.D. (Immunology) degrees at the University of Pennsylvania (’84).  Dr. Koretzky then pursued clinical training in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology at the University of California at San Francisco. He re-entered the laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow, examining the molecular events associated with T cell activation. Dr. Koretzky moved to the University of Iowa in 1991 where he continued his research examining the biochemistry and molecular biology of signal transduction in hematopoietic cells until he moved to the University of Pennsylvania in 1999. 

Koretzky’s research aims to better understand the signal transduction events that occur following engagement of the T cell antigen receptor.  He has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since establishing his independent research group, as the laboratory has expanded its interests to study more globally the molecular events important for immune cell development, differentiation and function.  Initial studies focused on the CD45 tyrosine phosphatase as a positive regulator of immunoreceptor signaling.  This work led naturally to an examination of the key biochemical events that occur following receptor engagement.  The Koretzky lab approach was to identify novel regulators of signal transduction following T cell receptor ligation with studies leading to the isolation, characterization, and molecular cloning of several adapter molecules, which are critical for integration of signaling pathways.  The laboratory has identified 3 such molecules including SH2 domain-containing leukocyte protein of 76 kDa (SLP-76), adhesion and degranulation-promoting adapter protein (ADAP) and promyelocytic leukemia RARa-regulated adapter molecule-1 (PRAM-1).  There are ongoing projects studying the role of each of these molecules not only in T cells but also in other hematopoietic cells.  In addition to studies of these positive regulators of immune signaling, the Koretzky laboratory has also had a long standing interest in signals that interfere with activation events in T cells.  This interest led to studies of FAS and FAS ligand and to the role of diacylglycerol kinases as terminators of lymphocyte activation. 

Dr. Koretzky has published more than 200 research articles.  He is a past President of the American Society of Clinical Investigation (2000) and Councilor of the Association of American Physicians (2008-2012), is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2004), a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (2008), a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2012) and serves as the Editor-in-Chief of Immunological Reviews (2002-present). 

Ira Akselrad joined The Johnson Company, Inc. (the private investment company of the Johnson family), in 2006 as Executive Vice President and General Counsel. In 2008 he became President of the company.


Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Akselrad was an attorney for 22 years at the New York law firm, Proskauer Rose LLP. He became Partner in 1990, and in 1999, was elected to serve on the firm’s Management Committee. As Partner, his practice was principally devoted to federal income tax law, and he was involved with the firm’s sports and real estate practices. In this role, Mr. Akselrad advised many major real estate companies and sports leagues on structuring acquisitions and dispositions. His sports clients included the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, as well as a number of other National Football League and Major League Baseball clubs.


In 1999 Robert Wood Johnson IV retained Ira to represent him in acquiring the New York Jets. Following this successful acquisition, Mr. Akselrad was instrumental in securing a new stadium as well as advising on the family’s other investment holdings.


Mr. Akselrad and his wife Susan reside in New Jersey, and have two grown children; his daughter Cara lives in New York, and his son Mitchell resides in California.

Member since 2019

Dr. Mark M. Davis is the Director of the Stanford Institute for Immunology, Transplantation and Infection (ITI), a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. He received a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology. He later was a postdoctoral fellow and staff fellow at the Laboratory of Immunology at NIH and later became a faculty member in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine, where he remains today. Dr. Davis is well known for identifying many of the T-cell receptor genes, which are responsible for the ability of these cells to recognize a diverse repertoire of antigens. His current research interests involve understanding the molecular interactions that underlie T cell recognition and the challenges of human immunology, specifically a “systems level” understanding of an immune response to vaccination or infection.


He has received many honors and awards, including memberships in the National Academy of Science and the Institute of Medicine, The Paul Ehrlich Prize, The Gairdner Foundation Prize, The King Faisal Prize, the General Motors Alfred P. Sloan Prize, and being elected as Foreign Member to the Royal Society of London.

Member since 2024

Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., is founder and managing partner at Cantlous Advisory Partners, LLC (CAP), a pioneering consulting firm working at the intersection of venture philanthropy, biomedical innovation, and non-profit fundraising. CAP’s mission is to drive collaborative efforts that result in transformative advancements in healthcare. Prior to his current role, Dr. DeGennaro was president and chief executive officer of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), a global leader in the fight against cancer with an annual budget of $500 million.

As the key architect of LLS’s cures and access agenda, Dr. DeGennaro conceived and pioneered LLS’s Therapy Acceleration Program® – a venture philanthropy approach to accelerating new treatments to patients through drug discovery and development partnerships with the biotechnology industry. LLS’s foray into venture philanthropy helped redefine the activist role of non-profits to meet urgent unmet medical needs. Under Dr. DeGennaro’s leadership LLS also launched its groundbreaking precision medicine Beat AML® Master Clinical Trial and Dare to Dream, a research, advocacy, and patient support effort that features a global, master clinical trial in pediatric leukemia.

In his operating role at LLS, Dr. DeGennaro led the growth of annual revenue from $225 million in 2015 to $500 million in 2023 through innovative fundraising programs that cut across peer-to-peer, corporate partnership, major gift, and service revenue channels.

After receiving his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of California at San Francisco, Dr. DeGennaro conducted post-doctoral research at the Yale University School of Medicine. His academic appointments included research group leader, Max Planck Institute, Munich, Germany and associate professor of neurology and cell biology, University of Massachusetts Medical School. His private sector appointments included Senior Director, Molecular Genetics, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Executive Vice President, Synex Pharmaceuticals. Dr. DeGennaro is the author of over 100 scientific publications.

Member since 2023

Dr. Isenberg is currently Emeritus Professor of Rheumatology at University College London having been the Academic Director of Rheumatology from 1996 to 2022. During his career, he has worked as a clinical scientist interested in the autoimmune rheumatic diseases. His particular interests have been in the structure, function and origin of autoantibodies notably anti-DNA and antiphospholipid antibodies focusing on links between structure and function. During his career, he has made and studied very intensely a set of hybridoma-derived human monoclonal anti-double stranded DNA antibodies, determining the sequence of these antibodies developing, with colleagues, computer models and showing how individual changes in individual amino acids can have profound effects on binding capacity. He also explored the use of severe combined immunodeficient [SCID] mice to study the potential pathogenic effects of these monoclonals. 


He was the President of the British Society of Rheumatology [2004-2006], Chair of its large biologic register from 2006 to 2011 and on the Executive Boards of Arthritis Research UK/Versus Arthritis and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in the UK. He was one of the two founder members of the Lupus Academy, which now runs annual academic meetings as well as providing a wealth of other additional opportunities through the use of podcasts and educational materials. For the past three years, he has co-chaired the Lupus Community Hub at the virtual sessions organized by the American College of Rheumatology that were held during the pandemic, 2020-2022. He also chairs the Research Committee for the UK’s largest lupus charity, Lupus UK.  

Member since 2019

Ira Mellman, Ph.D. came to Genentech in the Spring of 2007 as Vice President of Research Oncology, after more than 20 years as a faculty member at the Yale University School of Medicine, where he was chair of his department (Cell Biology), a member of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, scientific director of the Yale Cancer Center, and Sterling Professor of Cell Biology and Immunobiology. Dr. Mellman has a B.A. from Oberlin College & Conservatory and a Ph.D. in Genetics from Yale. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Rockefeller University with Ralph Steinman. His laboratory is known not only for advances in fundamental cell biology particularly in the area of membrane traffic (including the discovery of endosomes) but also for applying these insights to understanding the cellular basis of the immune response. Ira ran all of oncology research at Genentech until the end of 2013 when he decided to concentrate his efforts on the rapidly developing area of cancer immunotherapy and became Vice President of Cancer Immunology. He remains a frustrated composer and songwriter, and has recorded two CDs of the little-known genre of “bio-rock”.


Ira is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the European Molecular Biology Organization, and the former Editor in Chief of the Journal of Cell Biology. He has also served on the editorial boards of Cell, the Journal of Experimental Medicine, EMBO Journal, OncoImmunology among others, and is the recipient of many named lectureships, honorary professorships, and awards, most recently Yale University’s Wilbur Lucius Cross medal. He also serves on the boards of the Society for the Immunotherapy of Cancer, the American Society for Cell Biology, the Melanoma Research Foundation, and the Cancer Research Institute.

Member since 2023

Dr. Virginia Pascual is a pediatric rheumatologist interested in basic and translational immunology. After obtaining her Medical degree and completing a residency in Pediatrics in her native Spain, she joined the laboratory of J. Donald Capra at UT Southwestern in Dallas, where she trained in Molecular Biology and Immunology. Her initial research uncovered the human immunoglobulin variable region gene repertoire involved in the generation of human autoantibodies. This work inspired her to pursue training in Pediatric Rheumatology at UT Southwestern. Dr. Pascual became Director of the Pediatric Rheumatology division at the same institution in 1998. Since then, her research has focused on understanding pediatric inflammatory and autoimmune diseases with the goals of identifying therapeutic targets and useful biomarkers.   Studies from her laboratory contributed to the discovery that type I interferon (IFN) and interleukin 1 (IL-1) are pathogenic players in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and systemic onset Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (sJIA), respectively. Using genomic approaches, her group identified novel pathways to target therapeutically as well as unique signatures to follow patients in the clinic and assess responses to therapy.


Dr. Pascual is currently the Program Director of an NIAID-funded U19 Autoimmunity Center of Excellence and NIAMS-funded P50 Center of Research Translation, focused on Pediatric Autoimmunity. After spending most of her career as a clinician-scientist in Dallas, in 2017 she joined Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, where she serves as the Ronay Menschel Professor of Pediatrics and the Director of the Drukier Institute for Children’s Health, which is committed to accelerate research to better understand and treat diseases that start in childhood.

Member since 2019

John J. O’Shea, MD graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.S. from St. Lawrence University, and M.D. from University of Cincinnati. He completed his internship and residency at SUNY Upstate Medical University, subspecialty training at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and postdoctoral work at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. He started his own group in the National Cancer Institute and moved to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) as Chief of the Lymphocyte Cell Biology Section of the Arthritis and Rheumatism Branch. He became Scientific Director and Director of the NIAMS Intramural Research Program and served as Acting Director of the NIH Center for Regenerative Medicine. Dr. O’Shea is also an adjunct Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Pennsylvania.


He co-founded the NIH/Oxford/Cambridge program in Biomedical Science, and served as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scholars Advisor.


With colleagues Dr. O’Shea cloned the tyrosine kinase, Jak3, and demonstrated its role in severe combined immunodeficiency. He received US patents related to Janus Family Kinases and identification of immune modulators. Dr. O’Shea and NIH colleagues identified Stat3’s role in regulating T cell cytokine production in Job’s syndrome. More recently, his laboratory employed deep sequencing to understand the epigenetic regulation of T cell differentiation and the role of STATs.


Member since 2019

Dr. Seder is the Chief of the Cellular Immunology Section in the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Health (NIH). Formerly, Dr. Seder was Chief of the Clinical Immunology Section in the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation at the NIH. Dr. Seder’s work focuses on the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which vaccines mediate protective antibody or T cell immunity against HIV, Malaria, Tuberculosis and personalized therapeutic cancer vaccines. Dr. Seder has advanced his scientific discoveries into clinical trials for several of these diseases. Dr. Seder received his B.A. from Johns Hopkins University, his M.D. from Tufts University, and his residency in internal medicine at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center.  He received postdoctoral training in the Laboratory of Immunology at the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) under Dr. William Paul . Dr. Seder has served on numerous scientific advisory boards as well as the Board of Trustees for Johns Hopkins University and the Hirshhorn Museum.


Dr. Seder is serving in a personal capacity; the government neither sanctions nor endorses his service.

Rupert Vessey graduated from Oxford University with degrees in Physiological Sciences (M.A., First Class Honors) and Clinical Medicine (B.M., B.Ch., proxime accessit). He subsequently undertook clinical training at several notable institutions in the UK including the Hammersmith Hospital at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, London, the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London and the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. During this time, he became a Member of the Royal College of Physicians of London UK.

Rupert undertook basic research training in the laboratory of Professor Sir Stephen Bloom at the Hammersmith Hospital and under the direction of Professor Sir John Bell at the Institute for Molecular Medicine, Oxford where he completed a D.Phil in Molecular Immunology. During his research period he was a Junior Research Fellow of Merton College, Oxford and a training fellow of the UK Medical Research Council. In 2012 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, London and in 2019 he was appointed visiting Professor of Rheumatology at the University of Oxford.

Rupert joined the pharmaceutical industry in 1997 and has worked in the UK and USA. At GlaxoSmithKline he worked primarily in drug discovery, experimental medicine and early clinical development gaining experience in a wide range of respiratory and immunology projects including monoclonal antibodies, DNA vaccines, anti-inflammatory drugs and inhaled medicines for asthma and COPD including components of TRELEGY. During 10 years at Merck Research Laboratories (MRL) Rupert benefitted from diverse experiences including a period working on the clinical development of varicella vaccines where he contributed to both the refrigerator stable formulation of VARIVAX and the shingles vaccine, ZOSTAVAX.

Since 2006 Rupert held multiple roles in senior management including Vice President Molecular Profiling and Research Informatics and Site Head for Rosetta Inpharmatics, Seattle, Vice President Drug Discovery and Site Head for MRL Boston and Vice President Drug Discovery and Site Head for MRL Kenilworth. In these latter roles Rupert was responsible for a wide range of activities including Pharmacogenomics, Molecular Profiling, Informatics and drug discovery in the Respiratory, Inflammation, Oncology, Infectious Disease and Neuroscience therapeutic areas. In 2011 Rupert was promoted to the position of Senior Vice President and Head of the MRL Respiratory and Immunology Franchise. In this role he was responsible for the end-to-end discovery and development portfolio for Respiratory and Immunologic diseases and partnership with Merck’s Global Human Health Franchise. Under his leadership numerous projects were advanced through the discovery and development pipeline and approvals were achieved for RAGWITEK and GRASTEK as well as multiple supplementary indications for REMICADE and SIMPONI.

From 2013 Rupert was Senior Vice President and Head of Early Development and Discovery Sciences. In this role he was responsible for managing an organization of 1500 scientists and for devising a new operating model that integrated early clinical development with discovery and genetics to facilitate the translation of new discoveries to the clinic. Commencing in February 2015 Rupert joined Celgene as Senior Vice President of Translational Development and Head of the Immunology and Inflammation Thematic Center of Excellence and in January 2016 assumed the role of Executive Vice President and President of Global Research and Early Development. In this position Rupert was responsible for oversight of all of Celgene’s internal and external discovery research, preclinical development and early clinical development. The organization also provided translational science support to the Hematology, Oncology and Immunology Franchises. Under his leadership more than 50 compounds were advanced in the Celgene pipeline across a range of modalities including small molecules, protein degraders, biologics and cellular therapeutics. At the time of acquisition of Celgene by Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) Rupert assumed the role of Executive Vice President and President of Global Research and Early Development at BMS overseeing the work of 2500 scientists in discovery, non-clinical development, translational medicine and early clinical development. Since joining BMS further progress has been made on a range of novel programs including approvals of cell therapies BREYANZI and ABECMA as well as REBLOZYL, ZEPOSIA, OPDUALAG, SOTYKTU and CAMZYOS. In addition, numerous programs were advanced into development including an industry leading portfolio of 10 novel protein degraders and first in class cell therapies. During his time at BMS Rupert also drove a very active business development portfolio including the acquisition and integration of Myokardia and Turning Point and many early-stage deals including a series of transactions that have enabled the build of a novel pipeline of neuroscience assets.

In July of 2023 Rupert retired from his role at BMS and joined Flagship Pioneering as an Executive Partner and Chief Scientist. He also serves on the boards of BioTechne, Evotec, and The International Biomedical Research Alliance.

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