About Us

Novel therapeutics for serious diseases

Octant is scaling drug discovery to take on protein misfolding diseases

What we do

Octant is a therapeutics company building small molecule drugs that modulate cellular mechanisms.

We are pioneering a new type of small molecule drug discovery by using massive experimentation in human cells to unlock novel insights. The Navigator platform uses synthetic biology, high throughput chemistry, and AI/ML to understand and modulate how target proteins actually interact within cells (for example, signaling, transcription, trafficking), rather than just binding molecules to isolated proteins. We're hard at work on several promising programs in rare disease and oncology that are caused by protein misfolding.

Our Story

Setting a course for a new type of biotech

Despite the proliferation of genomic data, clinical data, and new biological technologies, many of the most pressing diseases in society are proving intractable with the current approaches. In many disease areas, scientific advancements have unlocked unimaginable levels of information, yet the challenge of successful and specific targeting remains. Some conditions present as one disease, when they’re actually a multitude of different diseases. In many diseases, we know a particular gene is involved in the disease, but have no idea which molecular mechanism will “fix” it.

Octant envisions a new approach to tackle these problems. We believe that recent advances in synthetic biology enable a new type of biotechnology. For example, we can today engineer cells to compute biological information at far greater accuracy and throughput than computational simulation. We set out on a journey to map the biochemical mechanisms that link genetics and chemical features to the disease. Because, ultimately, it’s the biochemical mechanisms that we drug.

Since then, we’ve been busy building a different type of company- of and by technologists- for patients.

We focus on complex but genetically validated diseases that society is falling behind on. By screening against the cellular mechanisms that drive these diseases at new scales, the Octant Navigator is charting new progress for patients.

Mission and Values

Next generation approaches to target complex diseases

We're a therapeutics company integrating and scaling new technologies.

We’re building an antedisciplinary movement to chart new approaches to drug discovery. Whether you’re a scientist, an engineer, or in operations, we’re working together to build a new type of company. It’s a challenging but fun journey.

WE WORK ON IMPORTANT PROBLEMS IN HUMAN DISEASE AND HAVE FUN DOING IT

Making new therapies depends on understanding the most complicated systems we know of — human cells. It’s hard work and a long road, but there’s also a lot of fun along the way (if there's a way to make something a competition, lookout!).

RAPID PROGRESS HAPPENS WHEN TEAMS INVENT NEW WAYS TO SEE THE WORLD

From genetic engineering, to chemical synthesis, to automation, to computation, we are equipped with technologies society couldn’t have even dreamed of a decade ago. It enables us to solve complex therapeutic problems in ways nobody else can!

INNOVATORS AT HEART, WE SUPPORT EACH OTHER TO TAKE RISKS AND GROW

We’re combining technologies to decode the complexity of disease and build better therapeutics. Direct with each other, we stretch Octonauts towards the next breakthrough. We’re serious about recruiting and developing the best people in drug discovery.

WE’RE ON A MISSION TO FIGHT DIFFICULT DISEASES; JOIN US

These are early days of a new era of drug discovery: targeting the complex cellular mechanisms that drive disease. There are patients out there waiting for us and you can make a difference for them.

Leadership

Alice Hsieh

VP Business Development

Alice is an experienced business development & licensing professional with a background in law & management consulting. She is passionate about promoting innovation through collaboration among investors, biotech start-ups and big pharma to bring medicines to patients.

Alice has a proven track record in leading complex, high impact transactions across multiple technology platforms and therapeutic areas for pharmaceutical and biotech companies. Before Octant, Alice was at Genentech/Roche as a Business Development Project Leader in Pharma Partnering and Asst. General Counsel in Legal supporting Pharma Partnering, Mergers & Acquisitions, and Pharma Technical External Collaborations. Prior to Genentech, Alice was transactional counsel at the law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in Palo Alto and supported key partnerships and mergers and acquisitions for large pharmaceutical and small biotech companies. Alice received her B.A. from Stanford University in Human Biology and J.D. from Columbia University School of Law.

Alice aspires to improve her tennis game, conquer her fear of downhill mountain biking, and (re)learn how to play Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor.

Alice Hsieh

VP Business Development

Chris Sinz

VP Chemistry

Chris leads our Chemistry team, overseeing High Throughput, Medicinal, Computational, and Analytical Chemistry. His teams work at the intersections of synthetic chemistry, biology, and computation to discover novel therapies. Prior to Octant, Chris was VP of Molecular Sciences at Maze Therapeutics, focusing on drug discovery for both rare and common diseases. He joined Maze from Merck Research Labs, where he had a range of roles at research labs on both the east and west coasts. Chris has had key contributions to the discovery of small molecule clinical candidates for a range of rare (Pompe) and common (diabetes, cardiorenal, hypertension, and neurological) diseases.

Formally trained as a synthetic chemist, Chris received his Ph.D. from U.C. Irvine with Scott Rychnovsky, where he developed novel synthetic methods and their applications to complex natural product synthesis. This was followed by a stint as an NIH postdoctoral fellow with David MacMillan at Caltech developing cascade reactions through organocatalysis. His work has resulted in more than 50 patents and publications. Outside of work, Chris enjoys spending time with family, playing music, and listening to music by the Dayton, Ohio legends Guided by Voices.  

Papers

Discovery of Orally Bioavailable and Liver-Targeted Hypoxia-Inducible Factor Prolyl Hydroxylase (HIF-PHD) Inhibitors for the Treatment of Anemia”, ACS Med. Chem. Lett. 2018, 9, 1193-1198.

A Gpr120-selective agonist improves insulin resistance and chronic inflammation in obese mice”, Nature Medicine, 20, 942-947 (2014).

Selective N7 Alkylation of 7-Azaindazoles”, J. Org. Chem., 2020, 85, 11, 7558-7564.

Total Synthesis of Diazonamide A”, Chem. Sci., 2011, 2, 308-311.

Chris Sinz

VP Chemistry

Dan Chen

VP Finance

Dan is a veteran in the biotech industry and has worked for companies ranging in size from tiny startup to big pharma.  Prior to joining Octant, he was CFO at Kriya Therapeutics where he started and built the finance and HR organizations.  Before that, Dan served as VP Finance at Portola Pharmaceuticals and was an instrumental member of the leadership team that transformed the company from a private, development stage, US company to a public, commercial stage company which launched two products in the US and expanded into Europe.  He has also worked at Johnson & Johnson and Gilead Sciences, holding positions of increasing responsibility.  Dan started his career as a Research Associate at SyStemix, Inc. where he realized that though he loved science, he was not a scientist, and so transitioned to a career in Finance.

Dan received a B.A. in Molecular Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley and an MBA from the University of Southern California.  

When not at Octant, Dan enjoys spending time with family, traveling the world, and exploring museums floor by floor and exhibit by exhibit.

Dan Chen

VP Finance

Joshua Paul

Head of Compute

Josh is an engineer passionate about working at the intersection of biology, statistics, and computation. He was previously the Head of Bioinformatics at Invitae, where he built and supported a team responsible for delivering methods and software for the genomic analysis of millions of patients per year. He has led technical efforts ranging from the design and validation of novel statistical techniques to architecting enterprise software systems.

Josh received his PhD in Computer Science at UC Berkeley in Yun Song's group, where he worked on computationally tractable approaches to incorporating recombination in population genetic models. He received a BS in Physics and Computer Science at the University of Illinois.

Outside of work, Josh enjoys riding vintage bicycles, minimalist running, rock climbing, and cooking for his wife and two sons.

Papers

Truty, R., Paul, J.S., Kennemer, M., Lincoln, S.E., Olivares, E., Nussbaum, R.L., Aradhya, S. Prevalence and properties of intragenic copy-number variation in Mendelian disease genes. Genetics in Medicine, 21 (2019) 114-123.

Lincoln, S.E., Truty, R., Lin, C, Zook, J.M., Paul, J.S., Ramey, V.H., Salit, M., Rehm, H.L., Nussbaum, R.L.,Lebo, M.S. A Rigorous Interlaboratory Examination of the Need to Confirm Next-Generation Sequencing-Detected Variants with an Orthogonal Method in Clinical Genetic Testing. The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, 21 (2019) 318-329.

Westbrook, M., Kvitek, D., Gafni, E., Paul, J.S., Kennemer, M., Winder, T., Shieh, P. Prevalence and properties of intragenic copy-number variation in Mendelian disease genes. Neurology, 90 (2018)

Steinrücken, M., Paul, J.S., and Song, Y.S. A sequentially Markov conditional sampling distribution for structured populations with migration and recombination. Theoretical Population Biology 87 (2013) 51-61.

Paul, J.S. and Song, Y.S. Blockwise HMM computation for large-scale population genomic inference. Bioinformatics, 28 (2012) 2008-2015.

Nielsen, R., Paul, J.S., Albrechtsen, A., and Song, Y.S. Genotype and SNP calling from next-generation sequencing data. Nature Reviews Genetics 12 (2011) 443-451.

Paul, J.S., Steinrücken, M., and Song, Y.S. An accurate sequentially Markov conditional sampling distribution for the coalescent with recombination. Genetics 187 (2011) 1115-1128

Paul, J.S. and Song, Y.S. A principled approach to deriving approximate conditional sampling distributions in population genetics models with recombination. Genetics 186 (2010) 321-338.

Joshua Paul

Head of Compute

Mark Murcko

Leadership Team

Mark Murcko was an early leader in structure-based drug design and has directly contributed to nine marketed drugs spanning HIV, HCV, cystic fibrosis, and glaucoma. He is a Founder, Board member, and was the interim CSO at Relay Therapeutics. More recently he was the founding CSO and remains a board member and advisor to Dewpoint Therapeutics.  In addition, Mark is a senior lecturer in the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT, and has served on numerous scientific advisory boards and corporate boards of directors for a diverse range of organizations.  Mark was chief technology officer and chair of the SAB of Vertex Pharmaceuticals and was responsible for the identification, validation and implementation of disruptive technologies across R&D. Mark is a co-inventor of the HCV protease inhibitor Incivek (telaprevir), as well as Agenerase (amprenavir) and Lexiva (fosamprenavir), Vertex’s two marketed drugs for the treatment of HIV. In addition, he guided the early efforts of Vertex’s cystic fibrosis program that has produced four marketed drugs.

Prior to Vertex, Mark worked at Merck Sharpe & Dohme, where he helped discover multiple clinical candidates, including Dorzolamide, a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor for the treatment of glaucoma which was commercialized in two approved drugs, Trusopt and Cosopt.  Trusopt was the first medicine in history to come from a structure-based drug design program.  He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the GRC and the Board of Advisors of the Boston Museum of Science.  He is a co-inventor on more than 50 issued patents and has co-authored more than 85 scientific articles. Mark holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Yale University.

Mark Murcko

Leadership Team

Matthew Albert

VP Discovery Biology & Early Clinical Development

Matthew brings over two decades of experience in discovery research, pharma and biotechnology to Octant. His expertise includes immuno-oncology, autoimmunity, metabolic diseases and neuro-degeneration. Prior to joining Octant, he was Chief Translational Officer at Human Immunology Biosciences, served as SVP at insitro where he directed the Department of Translational Genetics and Biology, and was founder and Head of the Reverse Translation Organization at Genentech in the Cancer Immunology Department. His academic positions included Director of the Immunology Department at Institut Pasteur, Paris and co-founder of the Milieu Interieur Consortium, a global real-world data effort that has identified actionable insights into the genetic, microbiome and environmental determinants of health and disease. 

Matthew's contributions have led to the discovery of new drug targets and he has helped to advance multiple drug candidates in first-in-human Ph1 studies and through post-marketing / indication expansion trials. His seminal work offered definitive evidence that naturally occurring tumor immunity in humans is established by the cross-priming of antigen-specific cytotoxic (CD8+) T cells, establishing the foundation for current approaches in immuno-oncology. He holds a Ph.D. in Immunology, an M.D. and residency training in Clinical Pathology, from Rockefeller University, Weill Cornell Medical School and New York Presbyterian Hospital, respectively. 

Matthew enjoys spending quality time with his wife and daughter, as well as cycling, backcountry skiing and cooking.

Matthew Albert

VP Discovery Biology & Early Clinical Development

Michelle Wong

(she/her)
VP Operations

Before joining Octant, Michelle advised the asset management industry as an attorney at a large global law firm and worked in sales, training and marketing at Johnson & Johnson.  She was shortlisted by Chambers in 2019 as a “Future Leader” for her commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.

In addition to her law degree from Northwestern, Michelle received her MBA from Drexel University and a B.S. in health studies from Georgetown University. She volunteers for the regional alumni chapters of Georgetown University and Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

Michelle enjoys food and sailing in the San Francisco Bay and further afield.

Michelle Wong

VP Operations

Naomi Handly

(she/her)
VP Platform

Naomi is a quantitative cell biologist by training. At Octant she's worn a few different hats including recruiting, establishing the OA program, building Octant HQ, demonstrating Octant's multiplexed platform technology, building cell engineering, and more.

Naomi received her PhD from the University of California, San Diego under Roy Wollman quantifying how cells communicate with one another to determine their position in relation to a wound. She's passionate about bringing science to the public through effective scientific communication and meaningful technological advances.

Outside of work you'll find Naomi spending time with her family and two dogs, hiking, running, and playing the piano.

Papers

Wound induced Ca2+ wave propagates through a simple Release and Diffusion mechanism. Mol. Biol. Cell. Handly LN, Wollman R. 2017. 28:1457-66.

Signal Transduction at the Single-Cell Level: Approaches to Study the Dynamic Nature of Signaling Networks. Handly LN, Yao J, Wollman R, J. Mol. Biol. 2016, 428: 3669-82.  

Paracrine communication maximizes cellular response fidelity in wound signaling. Handly LN; Pilko, A, Wollman R. eLife. 2015, 4:e09652.

Naomi Handly

VP Platform

Ramsey Homsany

(he/him)
Cofounder & President

Ramsey has spent his career building high-performance teams and technology companies. Before Octant, he was an executive at Dropbox, where he had roles leading Dropbox's communications, public policy & government affairs, human resources, legal, and trust & security teams. During that time Dropbox raised $1+ billion in capital, grew to more than 500 million users, and was the fastest SAAS company in history to reach $1 billion in revenue run rate. Prior to Dropbox, Ramsey was a Vice President at Google, where he managed Google's commercial legal groups and negotiated some of the internet industry's largest partnerships.    

Before that, Ramsey was a technology attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and a Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He has also done pro bono work representing indigent clients seeking political asylum. Ramsey received a B.S. in Chemical & Biochemical Engineering from Rutgers University and a J.D. from NYU.

Ramsey is a Board member at the Rutgers College of Engineering, and Represent.us, a grassroots political reform organization.

Ramsey grew up in Athens, Greece and Sparta, NJ. He enjoys hiking, camping, cooking over fire, punk music, and wandering through neighborhood art galleries.

Ramsey Homsany

Cofounder & President

Sri Kosuri

Cofounder & CEO

Sri is a biologist that has helped build technologies, labs, and companies in synthetic biology, functional genomics, and bioinformatics over the last 20 years. He is passionate about developing more rational ways to understand and engineer biology.

Sri is a co-founder at Octant and an Associate Professor at UCLA in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, where his lab has worked on building large-scale ways of empirically exploring questions in protein biochemistry, human genetic variation, gene regulation, chemical biology, synthetic biology, and functional genomics.

Sri previously worked at the Wyss Institute and Harvard, where he built numerous technologies in gene synthesis, DNA information storage, gene editing, and large-scale multiplexed assays. He helped build Gen9, a gene synthesis company, as a member of the SAB and was the first employee of Joule Unlimited, an engineered algal biofuel company. He is a Searle Scholar (2015), NIH New Innovator (2014), and received his ScD in Biological Engineering at MIT and BS in Bioengineering at UC Berkeley.

Sri is originally from New Jersey, by way of Philadelphia and Kansas, and was born in North Carolina. He enjoys eating, getting outdoors, and traveling with his wife and two children.

More papers…

Sri Kosuri

Cofounder & CEO

Board of directors

Sri Kosuri

Cofounder & CEO

Sri is a biologist that has helped build technologies, labs, and companies in synthetic biology, functional genomics, and bioinformatics over the last 20 years. He is passionate about developing more rational ways to understand and engineer biology.

Sri is a co-founder at Octant and an Associate Professor at UCLA in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, where his lab has worked on building large-scale ways of empirically exploring questions in protein biochemistry, human genetic variation, gene regulation, chemical biology, synthetic biology, and functional genomics.

Sri previously worked at the Wyss Institute and Harvard, where he built numerous technologies in gene synthesis, DNA information storage, gene editing, and large-scale multiplexed assays. He helped build Gen9, a gene synthesis company, as a member of the SAB and was the first employee of Joule Unlimited, an engineered algal biofuel company. He is a Searle Scholar (2015), NIH New Innovator (2014), and received his ScD in Biological Engineering at MIT and BS in Bioengineering at UC Berkeley.

Sri is originally from New Jersey, by way of Philadelphia and Kansas, and was born in North Carolina. He enjoys eating, getting outdoors, and traveling with his wife and two children.

More papers…

Sri Kosuri

Cofounder & CEO

Ramsey Homsany

(he/him)
Cofounder & President

Ramsey has spent his career building high-performance teams and technology companies. Before Octant, he was an executive at Dropbox, where he had roles leading Dropbox's communications, public policy & government affairs, human resources, legal, and trust & security teams. During that time Dropbox raised $1+ billion in capital, grew to more than 500 million users, and was the fastest SAAS company in history to reach $1 billion in revenue run rate. Prior to Dropbox, Ramsey was a Vice President at Google, where he managed Google's commercial legal groups and negotiated some of the internet industry's largest partnerships.    

Before that, Ramsey was a technology attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and a Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He has also done pro bono work representing indigent clients seeking political asylum. Ramsey received a B.S. in Chemical & Biochemical Engineering from Rutgers University and a J.D. from NYU.

Ramsey is a Board member at the Rutgers College of Engineering, and Represent.us, a grassroots political reform organization.

Ramsey grew up in Athens, Greece and Sparta, NJ. He enjoys hiking, camping, cooking over fire, punk music, and wandering through neighborhood art galleries.

Ramsey Homsany

Cofounder & President

Jason Kelly

CEO — Ginkgo Bioworks

Dr. Jason Kelly is the co-founder and CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks, the leading horizontal platform for cell programming. Headquartered in Boston, Ginkgo is a synthetic biology company that enables customers across industries to program cells as easily as we can program computers. Ginkgo supports the development of applications ranging from vaccine manufacturing and new pharmaceutical modalities to fragrances, sustainable dyes, and biosynthetic cannabinoids, as well as pandemic response and biosecurity tools including K12 pooled testing for COVID-19. Ginkgo is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker $DNA. Prior to Ginkgo, Jason received B.S. degrees in Chemical Engineering and Biology and a PhD in Biological Engineering all from MIT.

Jason Kelly

CEO — Ginkgo Bioworks

Jorge Conde

General Partner — a16z

Jorge Conde is a General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz where he leads investments at the cross section of biology, computer science and engineering.

Prior to joining a16z, Jorge served as Chief Strategy Officer for Syros (NASDAQ: SYRS), which is advancing a new wave of medicines that control expression of disease-driving genes to treat cancer and other diseases. He previously served as the company's Chief Financial Officer and Chief Product Officer, leading the platform strategy for Syros' novel gene regulation technology. Jorge also cofounded Knome, a human genome interpretation company acquired by Tute Genomics in 2015. Earlier in his career, Jorge worked in marketing and operations at MedImmune and as a biotechnology investment banker at Morgan Stanley.

Jorge holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, an MS from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, and a BA in Biology from Johns Hopkins University.

Jorge was named one of the top 35 young innovators in the world by the MIT Technology Review and is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. He previously served on the board of the Museum of Science, Boston.

Jorge serves on the board of the following Andreessen Horowitz portfolio companies: Asimov, Camp4, EQRx, Komodo Health, Octant Bio, Tmunity, and twoXAR.

Jorge Conde

General Partner — a16z

Mark Murcko

Founder and Board Member, Relay Therapeutics & Founding CSO and Board Member, Dewpoint Therapeutics

Mark Murcko was an early leader in structure-based drug design and has directly contributed to nine marketed drugs spanning HIV, HCV, cystic fibrosis, and glaucoma. He is a Founder, Board member, and was the interim CSO at Relay Therapeutics. More recently he was the founding CSO and remains a board member and advisor to Dewpoint Therapeutics.  In addition, Mark is a senior lecturer in the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT, and has served on numerous scientific advisory boards and corporate boards of directors for a diverse range of organizations.  Mark was chief technology officer and chair of the SAB of Vertex Pharmaceuticals and was responsible for the identification, validation and implementation of disruptive technologies across R&D. Mark is a co-inventor of the HCV protease inhibitor Incivek (telaprevir), as well as Agenerase (amprenavir) and Lexiva (fosamprenavir), Vertex’s two marketed drugs for the treatment of HIV. In addition, he guided the early efforts of Vertex’s cystic fibrosis program that has produced four marketed drugs.

Prior to Vertex, Mark worked at Merck Sharpe & Dohme, where he helped discover multiple clinical candidates, including Dorzolamide, a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor for the treatment of glaucoma which was commercialized in two approved drugs, Trusopt and Cosopt.  Trusopt was the first medicine in history to come from a structure-based drug design program.  He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the GRC and the Board of Advisors of the Boston Museum of Science.  He is a co-inventor on more than 50 issued patents and has co-authored more than 85 scientific articles. Mark holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Yale University.



Mark Murcko

Founder and Board Member, Relay Therapeutics & Founding CSO and Board Member, Dewpoint Therapeutics

George Petrocheilos

Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Catalio Capital Management, LP

George Petrocheilos is a Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Catalio Capital Management, LP. He is primarily responsible for managing the firm and for making investments in breakthrough biomedical technology companies founded by world renowned scientist-entrepreneurs. He also serves on the Nexus Investment Committee and the firmwide Management Committee.

In addition to Octant, George currently serves on the Boards of Haystack Oncology, Spiral Therapeutics, MindX, DNA Script, Sisu Global Health, Inc., WindMIL Therapeutics, and LifeSprout. He also serves as President of the HealthCor Catalio Special Purpose Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: HCAQ) and on the Board of Directors of the family-owned PETKA S.A., a construction & development company headquartered in Athens, Greece.

Prior to founding Catalio, he was a General Partner at Camden Partners Holdings, LLC, a private equity firm, where he focused on making biomedical technology investments.

George serves on the Board of Trustees of the Kennedy Krieger Institute, the Baltimore School for the Arts and the Johns Hopkins Center for Financial Economics. He also serves on the Investment Advisory Committee of the Halcyon Incubator in Washington D.C. and the MIT Enterprise Forum. George’s honors include Baltimore Business Journal’s 2019 ‘Tech 10’ leaders in Maryland, BBJ’s 2013 “40 Under 40 Business Leaders” and The Hill’s 2013 “Washington D.C. Rising Stars”, among others.

George earned his B.A. degree in Financial Economics from the Johns Hopkins University.

George Petrocheilos

Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Catalio Capital Management, LP

Rebecca Velez Frey

President, CEO and Board Member, Siduma Therapeutics & Board Member, Halda Therapeutics

Rebecca is a versatile CEO and board director with twenty-five years of experience in drug development, manufacturing and leadership. Her experience spans a wide range of therapeutic areas and platforms in large pharma and small biotech. She has served as President and CEO of Siduma Therapeutics since 2021. In addition to Octant, she also serves on the board of Halda Therapeutics. She has previously held key operational leadership roles in emerging biotech companies including EvolveImmune Therapeutics, Cardurion Pharmaceuticals and Prevail Therapeutics. Prior to these roles, she spent eleven years working in medical affairs, development, corporate affairs and manufacturing at Alexion Pharmaceuticals where she led successful development programs, integrations and global enterprise projects. Earlier in her career she worked in development and medical affairs at Novartis Pharmaceuticals. 

Rebecca is passionate about building a strong and inclusive bioscience ecosystem. She serves as venture partner with Elm Street Ventures and volunteers with BioLaunch, a biotech job training program based in New Haven, Connecticut. In 2020 she co-founded Executive Women in Bio of Connecticut. She is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board of the Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University and is an active member of Latinos in Bio.

Rebecca earned a Doctorate in Pharmacy from Northeastern University and completed a clinical fellowship at Tufts Medical Center. She additionally holds an Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Rebecca Velez Frey

President, CEO and Board Member, Siduma Therapeutics & Board Member, Halda Therapeutics

Our team of Octonauts

We're a group of scientists and builders driven to find new therapeutics for complex diseases.

Alice Hsieh

VP Business Development

Alice is an experienced business development & licensing professional with a background in law & management consulting. She is passionate about promoting innovation through collaboration among investors, biotech start-ups and big pharma to bring medicines to patients.

Alice has a proven track record in leading complex, high impact transactions across multiple technology platforms and therapeutic areas for pharmaceutical and biotech companies. Before Octant, Alice was at Genentech/Roche as a Business Development Project Leader in Pharma Partnering and Asst. General Counsel in Legal supporting Pharma Partnering, Mergers & Acquisitions, and Pharma Technical External Collaborations. Prior to Genentech, Alice was transactional counsel at the law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in Palo Alto and supported key partnerships and mergers and acquisitions for large pharmaceutical and small biotech companies. Alice received her B.A. from Stanford University in Human Biology and J.D. from Columbia University School of Law.

Alice aspires to improve her tennis game, conquer her fear of downhill mountain biking, and (re)learn how to play Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor.

Alice Hsieh

Angela Xiao

Angela is currently the Assistant Controller at Octant. Prior to joining Octant, Angela was Senior Manager, SEC Reporting at Global Blood Therapeutics (acquired by Pfizer). She worked on SEC reporting, technical accounting and SOX. Before that, Angela was Assurance Manager at Ernst and Young, serving mainly public biotech clients. Angela is an active CPA in the state of California.

Angela received her B.S. in Business Administration and Accounting, with a minor in Psychology from the University of Southern California.

Outside of Octant, Angela enjoys taking workout classes, traveling and attempting to learn French.

Angela Xiao

Bradford Woodger

Bradford is currently an Octant Apprentice on the HT Chem Team.

Before Octant, he worked at three different pharmaceutical companies: Translate Bio, H3 Biomedicine, and Bristol Myers Squibb. Bradford synthesized novel oligonucleotides and LNP’s at Translate Bio, created PROTAC’s at H3 Biomedicine and contributed to a research collaboration between BMS and the Knowles Group at Princeton. He also joined the DMAS group at Northeastern, working on synthesizing and characterizing highly recyclable polymers with a novel iminoboronic ester motif.

Outside of the lab, he loves to learn history, run, bike and hike with friends!

Bradford Woodger

Bryan Jiang

Bryan joined Octant as a Research Associate and will assist in running and optimizing Octant's technology. He recently received his B.S. in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics with a minor in Bioinformatics from UCLA. There, he took part in a virology lab where he focused on characterizing genetic and genomic relationships between bacteriophages infecting separate host genera.

In his free time Bryan enjoys trying new foods, learning about languages, hiking, and programming.

Bryan Jiang

Carmen Resnick

Carmen joined Octant in the 2023 class of Octant Apprentices. She is currently working with the Deep Mutational Scanning team to drive deeper understandings of how sequence-function relationships can give greater insights into disease and be further applied towards our drug discovery platform.

Prior to arriving at Octant, Carmen obtained her BS in Biochemistry at the University of Oregon (along with a minor in Theater Arts and Production!). During her undergraduate career, Carmen spent three years in the Plesa Lab at the Knight Campus for Advancing Scientific Impact developing a system to perform Broad Mutational Scans using a massive and diverse library of genes to observe antibiotic resistance in Dihydrofolate Reductase homologs and mutants. In addition to her work in the lab, she also led the inaugural iGEM team at the university to present in the Grand Jamboree in Paris on their work developing a genetic-circuit-fueled, field-side concussion diagnostic tool.

Outside of her research, Carmen plays Ultimate Frisbee with a mixed team in the bay, climbs, hikes, runs, plays piano, and enjoys spending any free time with her cat, Juniper.

Carmen Resnick

Carter Barger

Carter is a molecular biologist with a background in molecular diagnostics, assay development, and genetic engineering of mammalian cells. 

He received his M.S. in Clinical Laboratory Sciences from Rush University Medical Center and completed his clinical training at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He is an ASCP certified molecular biologist and worked as a clinical laboratory scientist in molecular diagnostics at the University of Illinois Medical Center and the Denver VA Medical Center. He received his Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from the University of Nebraska Medical Center then completed his postdoctoral training at UCSF. He worked as a scientist at Guardant Health before joining Octant in 2021.

Outside of the lab, Carter enjoys spending time outdoors with his family and dog.  

Papers

FOXM1: A Multifunctional Oncoprotein and Emerging Therapeutic Target in Ovarian Cancer.

Liu C, Barger CJ, Karpf AR. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Jun 19;13(12):3065. 

Co-regulation and function of FOXM1/RHNO1 bidirectional genes in cancer. Barger CJ, Chee L, Albahrani M, Munoz-Trujillo C, Boghean L, Branick C, Odunsi K, Drapkin R, Zou L, Karpf AR. Elife. 2021 Apr 23;10:e55070. 

Pan-Cancer Analyses Reveal Genomic Features of FOXM1 Overexpression in Cancer. Barger CJ, Branick C, Chee L, Karpf AR. Cancers (Basel). 2019 Feb 21;11(2):251.

Genetic determinants of FOXM1 overexpression in epithelial ovarian cancer and functional contribution to cell cycle progression. Barger CJ, Zhang W, Hillman J, Stablewski AB, Higgins MJ, Vanderhyden BC, Odunsi K, Karpf AR. Oncotarget. 2015 Sep 29;6(29):27613-27. 

Extended list of papers

https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=gHskM6sAAAAJ&hl=en

Carter Barger

Chris Sinz

VP Chemistry

Chris leads our Chemistry team, overseeing High Throughput, Medicinal, Computational, and Analytical Chemistry. His teams work at the intersections of synthetic chemistry, biology, and computation to discover novel therapies. Prior to Octant, Chris was VP of Molecular Sciences at Maze Therapeutics, focusing on drug discovery for both rare and common diseases. He joined Maze from Merck Research Labs, where he had a range of roles at research labs on both the east and west coasts. Chris has had key contributions to the discovery of small molecule clinical candidates for a range of rare (Pompe) and common (diabetes, cardiorenal, hypertension, and neurological) diseases.

Formally trained as a synthetic chemist, Chris received his Ph.D. from U.C. Irvine with Scott Rychnovsky, where he developed novel synthetic methods and their applications to complex natural product synthesis. This was followed by a stint as an NIH postdoctoral fellow with David MacMillan at Caltech developing cascade reactions through organocatalysis. His work has resulted in more than 50 patents and publications. Outside of work, Chris enjoys spending time with family, playing music, and listening to music by the Dayton, Ohio legends Guided by Voices.  

Papers

Discovery of Orally Bioavailable and Liver-Targeted Hypoxia-Inducible Factor Prolyl Hydroxylase (HIF-PHD) Inhibitors for the Treatment of Anemia”, ACS Med. Chem. Lett. 2018, 9, 1193-1198.

A Gpr120-selective agonist improves insulin resistance and chronic inflammation in obese mice”, Nature Medicine, 20, 942-947 (2014).

Selective N7 Alkylation of 7-Azaindazoles”, J. Org. Chem., 2020, 85, 11, 7558-7564.

Total Synthesis of Diazonamide A”, Chem. Sci., 2011, 2, 308-311.

Chris Sinz

Connor Ludwig

Connor is a synthetic and systems biologist with a background in mammalian gene regulation and functional genomics. He is currently developing new screening approaches to expand Octant's drug discovery capabilities.

Before joining Octant, Connor completed his PhD in Bioengineering at Stanford University in the lab of Dr. Lacramioara Bintu. The bulk of his thesis work focused on the large-scale discovery and characterization of viral proteins that can affect transcription in human cells.

Outside of Octant, Connor enjoys making music, drawing, painting, playing board games, and playing pickleball.

Papers

Dynamic spreading of chromatin-mediated gene silencing and reactivation between neighboring genes in single cells. Lensch S, Herschl MH, Ludwig CH, Hinks MM, Mukund A, Fujimori T, Bintu L (2022). eLife.

High-throughput functional characterization of combinations of transcriptional activators and repressors. Mukund AX, Tycko J, Allen SJ, Robinson SA, Andrews C, Ludwig CH, Spees K, Bassik MC, Bintu L (2022). bioRxiv.

High-Throughput Discovery and Characterization of Viral Transcriptional Effectors in Human Cells. Ludwig CH, Thurum AR, Yang KJ, Tycko J, Bassik MC, Glaunsinger BA, Bintu L (2022). bioRxiv.

Large-scale mapping and systematic mutagenesis of human transcriptional effector domains. DelRosso N, Tycko J, Suzuki P, Andrews C, Aradhana FNU, Mukund A, Liongson I, Ludwig CH, Spees K, Fordyce P, Bassik MC, Bintu L (2022). bioRxiv.

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Connor Ludwig

Conor Howard

Conor is a protein biochemist and molecular biologist by training. He is currently employing Octant's multiplex capabilities toward the optimizing and scaling of our Deep Mutational Scanning (DMS) approach, with the goal of harnessing this technology as a tool for rational genetics- and structure-driven drug design.

Conor received his PhD from the University of California, San Francisco in the lab of Adam Frost. There he worked on the biochemical and structural determinants of Ribosome-associated Quality Control (RQC). Prior to this he did his undergraduate work at UC Berkeley, where he worked under Liam Holt studying the evolutionary plasticity of kinase specificity and poly-glutamine repeat expansions in yeast. Before graduate school Conor also spent some time at the University of Copenhagen in Rune Linding's lab studying the proteomic effects of cancer therapies. Conor thrives working at the intersection of many disciplines and is fascinated with how biology emerged in the universe. He believes mechanistic dissection of molecules in the context of mutational plasticity can help tackle some of the most complex problems in biology and disease.

Outside of work you'll find Conor traveling, skiing, scouting new breweries, playing tennis, experimenting with hot sauce recipes, and exploring unusual agave spirits.

Papers

Ribosome-associated quality control and CAT tailing. Howard CJ, Frost A (2021). Critical Reviews in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Phosphoregulation of phase separation by the SARS-CoV-2 N Protein suggests a biophysical basis for its dual functions. Carlson CR*, Asfaha JB*, Ghent CM*, Howard CJ, Hartooni N, Safari M, Frankel AD, Morgan DO (2020). Molecular Cell.

Rapid deployment of SARS-CoV-2 testing: The CLIAHUB. Crawford ED, et al. (2020). PLoS Pathogens.

Vms1p is a release factor for the Ribosome-associated Quality control Complex. Rendon OZ*, Fredrickson EK*, Howard CJ*, Vranken JV, Fogarty S, Tolley ND, Kalia R, Osuna BA, Shen PS, Hill CP, Frost A, Rutter J (2018). Nature Communications.

Intrinsic cooperativity potentiates parallel cis-regulatory evolution. Sorrells TR, Johnson AN, Howard CJ, Britton CS, Fowler KR, Feigerle, JT, Weil PA, Johnson AD (2018). eLife.

CDKL family kinases have evolved distinct structural features and ciliary function. Canning P, Park K, Goncalves J, Li C, Howard CJ, Sharpe TD, Holt LJ, Pelletier L, Bullock AN, Leroux MR (2018). Cell Reports.

In vitro analysis of RQC activities provides insights into the mechanism and function of CAT tailing. Osuna BA, Howard CJ, Subheksha KC, Frost AS, Weinberg DE (2017). eLife.

Ancestral resurrection reveals evolutionary mechanisms of kinase plasticity. Howard CJ*, Hanson-Smith V*, Kennedy KJ, Miller CJ, Lou HJ, Johnson AD, Turk BE, Holt LJ (2014). eLife.

Conor Howard

Dan Chen

VP Finance

Dan is a veteran in the biotech industry and has worked for companies ranging in size from tiny startup to big pharma.  Prior to joining Octant, he was CFO at Kriya Therapeutics where he started and built the finance and HR organizations.  Before that, Dan served as VP Finance at Portola Pharmaceuticals and was an instrumental member of the leadership team that transformed the company from a private, development stage, US company to a public, commercial stage company which launched two products in the US and expanded into Europe.  He has also worked at Johnson & Johnson and Gilead Sciences, holding positions of increasing responsibility.  Dan started his career as a Research Associate at SyStemix, Inc. where he realized that though he loved science, he was not a scientist, and so transitioned to a career in Finance.

Dan received a B.A. in Molecular Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley and an MBA from the University of Southern California.  

When not at Octant, Dan enjoys spending time with family, traveling the world, and exploring museums floor by floor and exhibit by exhibit.

Dan Chen

Daniel Szczpankiewicz

Daniel is an organic chemist with a background in synthetic methodology, high-throughput experimentation, and phenotypic screening. He earned his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), co-advised under the synthetic chemist Prof. David Sarlah, and the chemical biologist Prof. Angad Mehta.

Within Prof. Sarlah’s lab, Daniel worked to develop the platform now dubbed “Reaction Mining”, where he and his coworkers utilized artificial mass is otopologue distributions to autonomously discern the occurrence of reactions by LC/MS. He then demonstrated the utility of this system in high-throughput screens to map the “reaction scope” of metal catalysts, towards the goal of creating an automated method to discover novel chemical reactivity.

In Prof. Mehta’s lab, Daniel applied the same principles of high-throughput methodology towards the development of a phenotypic screen targeting viral RNA-capping enzymes, specifically the SARS-CoV-2 Nsp14 and MPoxVD1/VD12 complex. His work entailed the miniaturization of the system to a robust 384-well plate format, and its evaluation against a wide variety of small molecule inhibitor candidates. He carried out de novo synthesis of hypothesis-driven and computationally designed analogues, and evaluated the activity of diversity-oriented compound collections in high throughput assays.

When he’s not at Octant, you can find Daniel in the woods identifying wildflowers and edible plants, tending to his garden, or in the kitchen cooking with friends.

Daniel Szczpankiewicz

Danny Tagaloa

Danny Tagaloa is in Laboratory Operations for Octant. For over a decade, he led the Facilities group for Plexxikon Inc. and contributed to the success of two market drugs, Zelboraf and Pexidartinib. Danny spent part of his childhood in American Samoa and enjoys the outdoors to garden, camping, or going fishing. In his spare time, he loves spending time with his family, including his grandchildren.

Danny Tagaloa

Diane Dickel


Diane is a genomicist who leads Octant’s Deep Mutational Scanning team.  She is passionate about elucidating the genetic contributors to human disease and harnessing this information to improve treatments.

Diane was previously a Staff Scientist (Principal Investigator) at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, where she co-led a research group that used genomics technologies and in vivo genome engineering in mice to understand the functions of noncoding DNA sequences in development, disease, and evolution.  She received her PhD in Genome Sciences from the University of Washington, where she was the recipient of a National Institutes of Health Kirschstein Predoctoral Fellowship, and her BA in Biology from the University of Chicago.  She has co-authored 50+ publications/preprints to date on mammalian gene expression regulation, human genetics, genomics technologies, and plant biology.

Diane is an avid reader who enjoys hiking, bicycling, and playing board games with her family.

Diane Dickel

Dominic Ky

Dom is a Research Associate leading high-throughput screening for Octant’s rare disease programs. He is passionate about enhancing Octant’s platform to accelerate and optimize early drug discovery efforts. His experience in the biotechnology industry stems from local companies including Bayer and Zymergen (now Ginkgo Bioworks).

Dom formerly worked as a college counselor at Y-Scholars, a nonprofit college-readiness program, where he supported hundreds of high school seniors with applying to and preparing for higher education. With fellow Octonauts, he established a partnership between Octant and the YMCA to foster opportunities geared towards underrepresented youth, with a vision of further diversifying the STEM world.

Outside the lab Dom enjoys long walks, catching the perfect sunset, and adventuring with his favorite humans and canines.

Dominic Ky

Eddie Sanchez

Eddie Sanchez is the Executive Assistant to Sri Kosuri and Ramsey Homsany. He brings 15 years of assistant experience to Octant and has supported many established C-level executives from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Eddie values building relationships with teammates and making a positive impact on work culture. He hopes to be an extension of his executive team while helping uphold the amazing Octant energy.

Originally from San Jose, Eddie spent 17 years in LA and now resides in San Francisco. He’s truly a California kind of guy.

Eddie Sanchez

Edward Lee

Edward received his B.A. in Chemical and Physical Biology from Harvard University. At Harvard, he worked in a membrane protein structural biology lab studying the differences in metal transport among the NRAMP family.

Outside of lab, Edward enjoys martial arts, visiting parks, and drinking tea.

Edward Lee

Eric Jones

(he/him)

Eric is a molecular biologist with a background in synthetic biology and functional genomics. He completed his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology at UCLA in the lab of Sriram Kosuri. His graduate work focused on constructing a massively parallel reporter assay for mapping olfactory receptor-odorant interactions and performing a deep mutational scan of the Beta-2 Adrenergic Receptor. Outside of the lab you can find him playing basketball, sailing, or going to shows.

Papers

J. S. Bloom, L. Sathe, C. Munugala, E. M. Jones, M. Gasperini, N. B. Lubock, F. Yarza, E. M. Thompson, K. M. Kovary, J. Park, D. Marquette, S. Kay, M. Lucas, T. Love, A. Sina Booeshaghi, O. F. Brandenberg, L. Guo, J. Boocock, M. Hochman, S. W. Simpkins, I. Lin, N. LaPierre, D. Hong, Y. Zhang, G. Oland, B. J. Choe, S. Chandrasekaran, E. E. Hilt, M. J. Butte, R. Damoiseaux, C. Kravit, A. R. Cooper, Y. Yin, L. Pachter, O. B. Garner, J. Flint, E. Eskin, C. Luo, S. Kosuri, L. Kruglyak, V. A. Arboleda, Massively scaled-up testing for SARS-CoV-2 RNA via next-generation sequencing of pooled and barcoded nasal and saliva samples. Nat Biomed Eng. 5, 657–665 (2021).

E. M. Jones*, R. Jajoo*, D. Cancilla, N. B. Lubock, J. Wang, M. Satyadi, R. Cheung, C. de March, J. S. Bloom, H. Matsunami, S. Kosuri, A Scalable, Multiplexed Assay for Decoding GPCR-Ligand Interactions with RNA Sequencing. Cell Syst. 8, 254-260.e6 (2019).

Jones EM*, Lubock NB*, Venkatakrishnan AJ, Wang J, Tseng AM, Paggi JM, Latorraca NR, Cancilla D, Satyadi M, Davis JE, Babu MM, Dror RO, Kosuri S. 2020. Structural and functional characterization of G protein–coupled receptors with deep mutational scanning. Elife 9:e54895.

Joshua S. Bloom, Eric M. Jones, Molly Gasperini, Nathan B. Lubock, Laila Sathe, Chetan Munugala, A. Sina Booeshaghi, et al. 2020. “Swab-Seq: A High-Throughput Platform for Massively Scaled up SARS-CoV-2 Testing.” medRxiv.

Jessica E. Davis, Kimberly D. Insigne, Eric M. Jones, Quinn A. Hastings, W. Clifford Boldridge, and Sriram Kosuri. 2020. “Dissection of c-AMP Response Element Architecture by Using Genomic and Episomal Massively Parallel Reporter Assays.” Cell Systems 11 (1): 75–85.

R. Cheung, K. D. Insigne, D. Yao, C. P. Burghard, J. Wang, Y.-H. E. Hsiao, E. M. Jones, D. B. Goodman, X. Xiao, S. Kosuri, A Multiplexed Assay for Exon Recognition Reveals that an Unappreciated Fraction of Rare Genetic Variants Cause Large-Effect Splicing Disruptions. Mol. Cell. 73, 183-194.e8 (2019).

Structure-based design of functional amyloid materials. Li D, Jones EM, Sawaya MR, Furukawa H, Luo F, Ivanova M, Sievers SA, Wang W, Yaghi OM, Liu C, Eisenberg DS. J Am Chem Soc. 2014 Dec 31;136(52):18044-51. doi: 10.1021/ja509648u. Epub 2014 Dec 19.


Eric Jones

Erin Thompson

(she/her)

Erin is a protein biochemist/biophysicist with a background in developing high-throughput screening platforms.

Before joining Octant, she completed her Ph.D. in Chemistry & Chemical Biology at UCSF in Jaime Fraser’s lab. Her thesis work broadly focused on the functional characterization of enzyme conformational states using deep mutational scanning, in vitro kinetics, and structural techniques.

Outside of the lab, Erin loves to get outside to bike, run, hike, and backpack.

Papers

Swab-Seq: A high-throughput platform for massively scaled up SARS-CoV-2 testing. Joshua S. Bloom Eric M. Jones, Molly Gasperini, Nathan B. Lubock, Fauna Yarza, Erin M. Thompson, Kyle M. Kovary, Jimin Park, Myles Hochman,. medrxiv. 2020.

Erin Thompson

Heidi Allison

Before joining Octant as Platform Runner on the High-Throughput Screening team, Heidi had a twenty-four year career as a professional baker in the Bay Area. She did everything from wedding cake design and execution to making that perfect croissant for your breakfast. In 2020 she began an undergraduate degree in biological sciences while continuing to work full time as a baker. In 2023 she earned a spot in Genentech’s inaugural California Community College Internship Program. While working in their Pharmaceutical Technical Development lab she set her sights on drug discovery for rare disease and genetic disorders. As someone living with Diamond Blackfan Anemia Syndrome, she is uniquely aware of the urgency for acceleration of drug discovery for rare genetic disorders. This unique perspective inspired her career change and ultimately drives her dedication to small molecule drug discovery.

Outside of the lab Heidi enjoys pretty much anything to do with the great outdoors, tinkering with new recipes, and road trip adventures.

Heidi Allison

Henry Chan

Henry is a structural and molecular biologist. As a scientist, Henry develops technologies to enable the rapid development of synthetic biology tools at Octant.

Henry received his PhD in Biochemistry from UCLA, where he studied the molecular architecture and structure of the telomerase enzyme. Prior to graduate school, he was the 2nd hire at Inhibrx, where he helped start the lab and develop antibodies and antibody generation techniques.

Henry received his B.S. and M.S. at UCSD in molecular biology where he did research in protein engineering and evolution, and bioinformatics. Outside of work his hobbies include Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, sailing, and rock climbing.

Papers

Structure of Tetrahymena telomerase reveals previously unknown subunits, functions, and interactions. Jiang J, Chan H, Cash DD, Miracco EJ, Loo RRO, ...Feigon J. Science. 2015. (6260).

Progress in Human and Tetrahymena Telomerase Structure Determination. Chan H, Wang Y, Feigon J, Ann Rev. of Biophysics. 2017. 46, 199-225.

The p-type ATPase superfamily. Chan H, Babayan V, Blyumin E, Gandhi C, ...Saier M.H., Jou. Mol. Micro. Bio. 2010 19(1-2), 5-104.

More…

Henry Chan

Hugh Fox

Hugh has 20 years of experience in biotech and another 5 years in healthcare. He joined Octant as Compound Manager in 2023. Prior to Octant, he was Compound Manager at Vir Biotechnology in San Francisco, registering, inventorying and distributing small molecules and reagents for drug discovery while bringing database applications and automation online. He supported Vir and GSK’s collaborative success, bringing the monoclonal antibody drug Sotrovimab to patients all around the world via emergency use authorization at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Before pharma, he specialized in tech transfer, development and preparation of molecular biology, assay and culture media in industrial biotech settings, such as Zymergen in Emeryville and Genencor (now International Flavors and Fragrances) in Palo Alto. During his long tenure at Genencor, he mentored over two dozen community college and high school interns in his media lab, and received a certificate of appreciation for his support of the San Mateo High School Biotechnology Program. During his first several years at Genencor he was a bioreactor operator in the small-scale fermentation lab and helped program the SCADA (factory control and monitoring applications).

Hugh had a non-traditional route to science, including acting school at the University of Colorado in Boulder and a stint in the Army as a medic. He studied biology, chemistry and mathematics at San Francisco State University and Foothill College, but learned most of what he knows on the job or by reading.

Helping bring new drugs to patients is his passion, but when not busy at that he enjoys traveling with his wife, or sampling the great television programming available these days, on the couch with their orange tabby. He is an avid swimmer, especially outdoor/wild swimming when possible.

Hugh Fox

Idriss Njike

Idriss is a seeker of truth, solutions, joy, peace, and forever happiness on the ops team. Born and raised in Douala, Cameroon, he transitioned to the U.S to pursue his education. From the year round tropical sun of Cameroon, he first landed in the frigid arctic temperatures of Minnesota where he graduated from Southwest Minnesota State University with a Bachelor's in Business Administration and Marketing. Longing for more gelid temperatures, he moved to Syracuse University where he completed a Master of Science in Finance. His hobbies are working out, adventurous road trips and he hates long walks on the beach.

Idriss Njike

Jamal Magoti

Jamal is an apprentice on the Discovery Team. He graduated from Washington and Lee University with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience. During his undergraduate career, Jamal contributed in a variety of research settings. He worked in a microbiology lab where he investigated the antimicrobial properties of bacteriocins produced by Serratia marcescens. He also worked in a spider proteomics and genomics lab where he focused on the mapping and quantifying of the post translational modifications in spider silk and glue proteins. More recently, he worked in the Benson Lab at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai where he validated a novel reversible tissue clearing method and optimized it for use on mouse brain and melanoma tumor tissues.

Outside the lab, Jamal enjoys gaming, working out, trying out new recipes and bingeing Grey’s Anatomy.

Paper

Ayoub Nadia A., DuMez Lucas, Lazo Cooper, Luzaran Maria, Magoti Jamal, Morris Sarah A., Baker Richard H., Clarke Thomas, Correa-Garhwal Sandra M., Hayashi Cheryl Y., Friend Kyle, Opell Brent D(2023). Orb weaver aggregate glue protein composition as a mechanism for rapid evolution of material properties. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 11. fevo.2023.1099481.

Jamal Magoti

Jeff Tang

Jeff has a background in biophysics and cell biology and has worked in areas related to microscopy and sequencing. At Octant he’s helping to further push the performance and scale of the company’s core platform technology. Jeff received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley where he studied nucleocytoplasmic transport and then investigated how yeast respond to nutrient deprivation during a postdoc at the ETH Zurich in Switzerland.

Prior to joining Octant, he was a scientist at Zymergen.

Besides tackling exciting problems in biology, Jeff enjoys hiking and playing ultimate frisbee, and he’s also an instructor at the Berkeley Kendo Club.

Papers

β-Oxidation and autophagy are critical energy providers during acute glucose depletion in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Weber CA, Sekar K, Tang JH, Warmer P, Sauer U, Weis K. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 Jun 2;117(22):12239-12248.

A glucose-starvation response regulates the diffusion of macromolecules. Joyner RP, Tang JH, Helenius J, Dultz E, Brune C, Holt LJ, Huet S, Müller DJ, Weis K. Elife. 2016 Mar 22;5:e09376.

Natively unfolded FG repeats stabilize the structure of the nuclear pore complex. Onischenko E, Tang JH, Andersen KR, Knockenhauer KE, Vallotton P, Derrer CP, Kralt A, Mugler CF, Chan LY, Schwartz TU, Weis K. Cell. 2017 Nov 2;171(4):904-917.

Importin-β modulates the permeability of the nuclear pore complex in a Ran-dependent manner. Lowe AR, Tang JH, Yassif J, Graf M, Huang WY, Groves JT, Weis K, Liphardt JT. Elife. 2015 Mar 6;4:e04052.

Scaffold nucleoporins Nup188 and Nup192 share structural and functional properties with nuclear transport receptors. Andersen KR, Onischenko E, Tang JH, Kumar P, Chen JZ, Ulrich A, Liphardt JT, Weis K, Schwartz TU. Elife. 2013 Jun 11;2:e00745.

Jeff Tang

Jessica Lao

Jessica is a geneticist and molecular biologist with a background in platform development and rare disease therapeutics. She earned her PhD in Genetics at UC Davis studying the molecular mechanism of DNA double-strand break repair in the lab of Neil Hunter. She then returned home to the Bay Area to undertake her postdoctoral study. At UCSF in David Toczyski’s lab, she studied how the DNA Damage Response surveillance machinery regulate cellular metabolism in response to DNA damage. Since then, she has worked on discovering and developing therapeutics for rare diseases across several drug modalities. From small molecule screening at Perlara to protein engineering for enzyme replacement therapies at Codexis and more recently developing nucleic acid therapeutics at Ultragenyx. She is excited to continue her passion for rare at Octant.

When she’s not in the lab, Jessica enjoys trying out new recipes, exploring new places, and spending time with her playful cat.

Jessica Lao

Jillian Sanzone

Jillian is a medicinal chemist with a background in synthetic organic chemistry. She received her B.A. from New York University in Chemistry. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in 2018 at New York University under the advisement of Professor K. A. Woerpel working on the development of new synthetic reactions involving strained cyclic alkenes. Prior to joining Octant, she served as a medicinal chemist at Merck Research Laboratories in South San Francisco, CA in both the internal and external discovery chemistry groups. She has co-authored over ten publications and patents.In her free time, Jillian enjoys riding her motorcycle or bicycles, hiking, and exploring dive bars in the Bay Area and beyond.

Jillian Sanzone

Johan Enquist

Johan has spent the last 7 years in biotech working with metabolic disease and weight loss. As an employee of Carmot Therapeutics Johan spearheaded the in vivo pharmacology effort, establishing all in vivo models necessary to push an in house project from inception to Phase 1 clinical trials.

Johan spent his early education getting an MSc in cell and molecular pharmacology at Lund University (1999), with a focus on intracellular movements of GPCRs. Johan followed up his MSc with a PhD from Lund University (2007) extending his studies from his undergraduate degree in GPCR pharmacology - exploring several families of GPCRs. During his postdoctoral fellowship at UCSF (2007-2013) Johan applied his findings from his MSc and PhD to animal models of addiction and tolerance, learning crucial methodology in physiological and behavioral readouts in rodent models, drug delivery and survival surgery techniques.

Along the way Johan has taught medical and biomedical students (lecture series), trained research students, technical staff and scientists, and managed technical staff and scientists in cross functional research teams in both academia and biotech.

Johan Enquist

Jonathan Asfaha

Jonathan is a biochemist and molecular biologist with a background in cell cycle regulation and biotherapeutic discovery. He is currently deploying Octant’s high-throughput and multiplex technologies to understand the pharmacology of the small molecules we discover. 

He received his BA from Berkeley in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry and a PhD in Biochemistry from UCSF with David O. Morgan. His thesis focused on understanding how Cyclin-dependent kinases regulate transcription through multisite phosphorylation mechanisms. 

Outside of the lab, Jonathan enjoys cooking for friends and hunting for new bottles at local wineries and importers. 

Selected Publications

Asfaha JB, Örd M, Carlson CR, Faustova I, Loog M, Morgan DO. Multisite phosphorylation by Cdk1 initiates delayed negative feedback to control mitotic transcription. Curr Biol. 2021. 

Carlson CR*, Asfaha JB*, Ghent CM*, Howard CJ, Hartooni N, Safari M, Frankel AD, Morgan DO. Phosphoregulation of Phase Separation by the SARS-CoV-2 N Protein Suggests a Biophysical Basis for its Dual Functions. Mol Cell. 2020. *Equal Contribution

Rosen LE, Klebba JE, Asfaha JB, Ghent CM, Campbell MG, Cheng Y, Morgan DO. Cohesin cleavage by separase is enhanced by a substrate motif distinct from the cleavage site. Nat Commun. 2019

De La Rosa VY, Asfaha J, Fasullo M, Loguinov A, Li P, Moore LE, Rothman N, Nakamura J, Swenberg JA, Scelo G, Zhang L, Smith MT, Vulpe CD. High-Throughput Functional Genomics Identifies Modulators of TCE Metabolite Genotoxicity and Candidate Susceptibility Genes. Toxicol Sci. 2017 


Jonathan Asfaha

Josh Bloom

Josh is a geneticist and computational biologist. He is interested in understanding the genetic basis of complex traits. He develops technology and computational methods to better understand the relationship between genetic variation and trait variation in populations with a primary focus on yeast genetics. His recent work involves high-throughput variant engineering with CRISPR/Cas9 to identify causal genetic variants as well as the development of new experimental and computational methods to comprehensively identify the heritable genetic factors underlying gene expression differences and other complex traits in very large populations. After studying Neuroscience at UCLA as an undergraduate, Josh earned his PhD in Molecular Biology from Princeton with a certificate in quantitative and computational biology.

Papers

Genetics of trans-regulatory variation in gene expression. Albert FW*, Bloom JS*, Siegel J, Day L, Kruglyak L. eLife. 2018. 7:e35471.

Highly parallel genome variant engineering with CRISPR–Cas9. Sadhu MJ*, Bloom JS*, Day L, Siegel JJ, Kosuri S, Kruglyak L. Nature Genetics. 2018. 50(4):510-14.

Finding the sources of missing heritability in a yeast cross. Bloom JS*, Ehrenreich IM, Loo WT, Lite TLV, Kruglyak L. Nature. 2013. 494 (7436):234-39.

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Josh Bloom

Joshua Paul

Head of Compute

Josh is an engineer passionate about working at the intersection of biology, statistics, and computation. He was previously the Head of Bioinformatics at Invitae, where he built and supported a team responsible for delivering methods and software for the genomic analysis of millions of patients per year. He has led technical efforts ranging from the design and validation of novel statistical techniques to architecting enterprise software systems.

Josh received his PhD in Computer Science at UC Berkeley in Yun Song's group, where he worked on computationally tractable approaches to incorporating recombination in population genetic models. He received a BS in Physics and Computer Science at the University of Illinois.

Outside of work, Josh enjoys riding vintage bicycles, minimalist running, rock climbing, and cooking for his wife and two sons.

Papers

Truty, R., Paul, J.S., Kennemer, M., Lincoln, S.E., Olivares, E., Nussbaum, R.L., Aradhya, S. Prevalence and properties of intragenic copy-number variation in Mendelian disease genes. Genetics in Medicine, 21 (2019) 114-123.

Lincoln, S.E., Truty, R., Lin, C, Zook, J.M., Paul, J.S., Ramey, V.H., Salit, M., Rehm, H.L., Nussbaum, R.L.,Lebo, M.S. A Rigorous Interlaboratory Examination of the Need to Confirm Next-Generation Sequencing-Detected Variants with an Orthogonal Method in Clinical Genetic Testing. The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, 21 (2019) 318-329.

Westbrook, M., Kvitek, D., Gafni, E., Paul, J.S., Kennemer, M., Winder, T., Shieh, P. Prevalence and properties of intragenic copy-number variation in Mendelian disease genes. Neurology, 90 (2018)

Steinrücken, M., Paul, J.S., and Song, Y.S. A sequentially Markov conditional sampling distribution for structured populations with migration and recombination. Theoretical Population Biology 87 (2013) 51-61.

Paul, J.S. and Song, Y.S. Blockwise HMM computation for large-scale population genomic inference. Bioinformatics, 28 (2012) 2008-2015.

Nielsen, R., Paul, J.S., Albrechtsen, A., and Song, Y.S. Genotype and SNP calling from next-generation sequencing data. Nature Reviews Genetics 12 (2011) 443-451.

Paul, J.S., Steinrücken, M., and Song, Y.S. An accurate sequentially Markov conditional sampling distribution for the coalescent with recombination. Genetics 187 (2011) 1115-1128

Paul, J.S. and Song, Y.S. A principled approach to deriving approximate conditional sampling distributions in population genetics models with recombination. Genetics 186 (2010) 321-338.

Joshua Paul

Kaela Lenhart

they/them

Before joining Octant, Kaela worked as an Office Manager at Keegan & Coppin. There, they oversaw the office, assisted the agents with leases, graphic design and marketing. Before that, Kaela was a Senior Administrative Assistant at Verisk Analytics in the Finance department where, along with administrative duties, they assisted in accounting through billing, invoicing, and office expenses and budgeting.

Outside of work, Kaela enjoys boardgames, dungeons and dragons, and digital art.

Kaela Lenhart

Kiran Arimilli

Kiran is a software engineer at Octant on the compute team. Prior to starting his career as a software engineer, Kiran studied Computer science and Economics as an undergrad at UC Berkeley. Outside of work, Kiran is avid sports fan and supports the Las Vegas Raiders and Golden State Warriors.

Kiran Arimilli

Leon Chan

Leon is a molecular geneticist. He builds platforms to engineer biology and designs the sensors that read out the cellular response to the chemical world.

Leon did his post doctoral work in Karsten Weis's lab at UC Berkeley where he developed tools to measure the dynamics of the transcriptome and applied these tools to uncover the relationship between how proteins are made and how long the transcriptome persists in the cell. Prior to this, he did his doctoral work in Angelika Amon's lab at MIT where he elucidated how cells translate spatial information into chemical signals in the context of mitotic checkpoints. It was also at MIT where in Drew Endy's lab Leon helped to construct the first designed synthetic genome and organism.

Leon rock climbs, enjoys mixing up cocktails and wrangling his cats.

Papers

Non-invasive measurement of mRNA decay reveals translation initiation as the major determinant of mRNA stability. Chan LY, Mugler CF, Heinrich S, Vallotton P, Weis K. elife. 2018. 7;7.

Spindle position is coordinated with cell-cycle progression through establishment of mitotic exit-activating and -inhibitory zones. Chan LY, Amon A. Mol Cell. 2010, 13;39(3):444-54.

Refactoring bacteriophage T7. Chan LY, Kosuri S, Endy D. Mol Syst Biol. 2005. 1:2005.0018.

More…

Leon Chan

Lizvette Ayala-Valdez

Lizvette joined Octant as a Research Associate. She currently helps operate Octant’s sequencing pipeline. Lizvette received her B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Biomedical Sciences from CSU Sacramento. There, she was part of a molecular ecology lab where she focused on looking at how changes in gene expression affect individual and population differentiation in marine organisms.

Prior to Octant, Lizvette worked as a Molecular Biology RA where she screened for genetic mutations in multiple cell lines using Next Generation Sequencing.

Outside of the lab, you can find Lizvette chilling with her 2 cats & 1 dog, traveling, or just taking a nap.

Lizvette Ayala-Valdez

Marco Falcioni

Marco is a software engineer with over two decades of experience in cheminformatics, bioinformatics and enterprise software development.He earned his PhD in physics at Syracuse University and completed postdoctoral studies at UCLA.  He started his career at Symyx Technologies (now Biovia) working on cheminformatics, LIMS and ELN. In the past decade Marco worked in early startups and larger companies, ranging from clinical human genetics to synthetic biology. Marco joined the Compute team at Octant in early 2023. In his spare time Marco enjoys sailing, cooking, singing and spending time with his wife and two teenage children.

Marco Falcioni

Matthew Albert

VP Discovery Biology & Early Clinical Development

Matthew brings over two decades of experience in discovery research, pharma and biotechnology to Octant. His expertise includes immuno-oncology, autoimmunity, metabolic diseases and neuro-degeneration. Prior to joining Octant, he was Chief Translational Officer at Human Immunology Biosciences, served as SVP at insitro where he directed the Department of Translational Genetics and Biology, and was founder and Head of the Reverse Translation Organization at Genentech in the Cancer Immunology Department. His academic positions included Director of the Immunology Department at Institut Pasteur, Paris and co-founder of the Milieu Interieur Consortium, a global real-world data effort that has identified actionable insights into the genetic, microbiome and environmental determinants of health and disease. 

Matthew's contributions have led to the discovery of new drug targets and he has helped to advance multiple drug candidates in first-in-human Ph1 studies and through post-marketing / indication expansion trials. His seminal work offered definitive evidence that naturally occurring tumor immunity in humans is established by the cross-priming of antigen-specific cytotoxic (CD8+) T cells, establishing the foundation for current approaches in immuno-oncology. He holds a Ph.D. in Immunology, an M.D. and residency training in Clinical Pathology, from Rockefeller University, Weill Cornell Medical School and New York Presbyterian Hospital, respectively. 

Matthew enjoys spending quality time with his wife and daughter, as well as cycling, backcountry skiing and cooking.

Matthew Albert

Michael Davidson

Michael previously worked as a microbiologist in R&D for Roche Molecular Systems for 12 years. He worked on various assays, including the Cobas MPX & DPX system, as well as the HPV genotype test for women. He received a B.A. in Microbiology, with a minor in chemistry, at the University of Florida. Michael took a break from science to start his own food truck/catering business known as the GrilledCheezGuy in the Bay Area. His business lasted for 10 years and had two store locations & a brand that even made it on television! Now Michael has become a member of the Octant Operations team. Outside of the lab, Michael enjoys camping, fishing, being a foodie, and traveling the world.

Michael recently was on Wheel of Fortune and WON!

Michael Davidson

Michelle Wong

(she/her)
VP Operations

Before joining Octant, Michelle advised the asset management industry as an attorney at a large global law firm and worked in sales, training and marketing at Johnson & Johnson.  She was shortlisted by Chambers in 2019 as a “Future Leader” for her commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.

In addition to her law degree from Northwestern, Michelle received her MBA from Drexel University and a B.S. in health studies from Georgetown University. She volunteers for the regional alumni chapters of Georgetown University and Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

Michelle enjoys food and sailing in the San Francisco Bay and further afield.

Michelle Wong

Nabil Mohammed

Nabil is an apprentice on the compute team. He received his B.S in Bioinformatics from UC Santa Cruz. During his time there he was a part of the schools iGEM team and helped create a programmatic gene editing solution to combat Shiga toxin-producing E. coli without the need for antibiotics. Additionally he was a part of the Treehouse Childhood Cancer Institute where he helped maintain pipelines used in analyzing bulk cancer gene expression data.

Outside of work, he enjoys wrenching on his bike, hiking, and anything else that gets him outside in nature.

Nabil Mohammed

Naomi Handly

(she/her)
VP Platform

Naomi is a quantitative cell biologist by training. At Octant she's worn a few different hats including recruiting, establishing the OA program, building Octant HQ, demonstrating Octant's multiplexed platform technology, building cell engineering, and more.

Naomi received her PhD from the University of California, San Diego under Roy Wollman quantifying how cells communicate with one another to determine their position in relation to a wound. She's passionate about bringing science to the public through effective scientific communication and meaningful technological advances.

Outside of work you'll find Naomi spending time with her family and two dogs, hiking, running, and playing the piano.

Papers

Wound induced Ca2+ wave propagates through a simple Release and Diffusion mechanism. Mol. Biol. Cell. Handly LN, Wollman R. 2017. 28:1457-66.

Signal Transduction at the Single-Cell Level: Approaches to Study the Dynamic Nature of Signaling Networks. Handly LN, Yao J, Wollman R, J. Mol. Biol. 2016, 428: 3669-82.  

Paracrine communication maximizes cellular response fidelity in wound signaling. Handly LN; Pilko, A, Wollman R. eLife. 2015, 4:e09652.

Naomi Handly

Nate Lubock

Nathan Lubock is a computational biologist interested in deriving insights from large-scale experiments. Before joining Octant, he completed his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at UCLA under Sriram Kosuri. There he developed computational tools to understand and improve methods for multiplexed gene synthesis and GPCR-ligand interaction screens. In his free time, Nathan spends too much money on wine.

Papers

A systematic comparison of error correction enzymes by next-generation sequencing. Lubock NB, Zhang D, Sidore AM, Church GM, KosuriS . Nucleic acids research 45 (15), 9206-17.

Multiplexed gene synthesis in emulsions for exploring protein functional landscapes. Plesa C, Sidore AM, Lubock NB, Zhang D, Kosuri S. Science 359 (6373), 343-47.  

A Scalable, Multiplexed Assay for Decoding Receptor-Ligand Interactions. Jones EM, Jajoo R, Cancilla D, Lubock NB, Wang J, Satyadi M, Cheung R, March CD, Matsunami J, Kosuri S. bioRxiv, 358739.

Structural and functional characterization of G protein–coupled receptors with deep mutational scanning, EM Jones*, NB Lubock*, …, S Kosuri. eLife, 2020

A scalable, multiplexed assay for decoding GPCR-ligand interactions with RNA sequencing, EM Jones, R Jajoo, D Cancilla, NB Lubock, …, S Kosuri. Cell systems, 2020

Massively scaled-up testing for SARS-CoV-2 RNA via next-generation sequencing of pooled and barcoded nasal and saliva samples, JS Bloom, L Sathe, C Munugala, EM Jones, M Gasperini, NB Lubock, …, VA Arboleda. Nature Biomedical Engineering, 2021

More...

Nate Lubock

Nathan Abell

Nathan is a computational geneticist and a member of the Octant Compute team. He works on the design and statistical interpretation of multiplexed, high-throughput functional assays of human genetic variation. His other research interests include statistical human genetics, RNA-mediated post-transcriptional gene regulation and applied machine learning in molecular biology. He obtained his PhD in Genetics and MS in Statistics from Stanford University, and his BS in Molecular Biology and BA in Political Science from the University of Texas at Austin. In a past life, he contributed to empirical studies in comparative constitutional design and participated in/coached high school debate for many years.

Nathan Abell

Nathaniel Luis

Nathaniel is currently an Octant Apprentice on the HT Chem team. Before Octant, he studied The Dark Arts (Chemistry) at Harvey Mudd College with an emphasis in Environmental Analysis. While at Mudd, Nathaniel did research in a variety of fields, including computational chemistry, materials synthesis/characterization, and synthetic organic chemistry. For his undergraduate thesis, he worked in the Vosburg Lab on a collaboration with BMS, determining the effectiveness of TCFH as a coupling reagent for esterifications. Outside of the lab, Nathaniel enjoys fermenting various foods and beverages, experimenting with new recipes, and getting lost in sci-fi and fantasy worlds. If there’s one thing he’s learned in life so far, whether you let him cook in the lab or the kitchen, the results will certainly be interesting.

Nathaniel Luis

Nithish Narasimman

Nithish is an intern-turned-apprentice on the Compute team. He has worked on projects to improve tools for chemists, and is currently working with Software to develop new tools and workflows to help biologists, chemists, and data scientists do their job better. His interests lie at the intersection of data science, computer science, and biology.

Prior to Octant, Nithish graduated with a BS in Bioengineering: Bioinformatics from UC San Diego with a minor in Computer Music! Through his undergraduate years, Nithish worked in the Alexandrov Lab at the Moores Cancer Center on developing SigProfilerExtractor and SigProfilerAssignment: two utilities to better understand and deduce the impact of mutational processes on the cancer genome through the use of mutational signatures— patterned genomic scars found in cancer cells due processes like radiation and smoking. Nithish also worked at Zentalis, a publicly traded drug discovery company, where he applied the tools he developed in the Alexandrov Lab on real patient data.

Nithish loves programming (in Rust!), coffee, biking, playing video games, and playing a slew of instruments including the guitar, violin, and singing (although he is shy sometimes).

Nithish Narasimman

Ramsey Homsany

(he/him)
Cofounder & President

Ramsey has spent his career building high-performance teams and technology companies. Before Octant, he was an executive at Dropbox, where he had roles leading Dropbox's communications, public policy & government affairs, human resources, legal, and trust & security teams. During that time Dropbox raised $1+ billion in capital, grew to more than 500 million users, and was the fastest SAAS company in history to reach $1 billion in revenue run rate. Prior to Dropbox, Ramsey was a Vice President at Google, where he managed Google's commercial legal groups and negotiated some of the internet industry's largest partnerships.    

Before that, Ramsey was a technology attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and a Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He has also done pro bono work representing indigent clients seeking political asylum. Ramsey received a B.S. in Chemical & Biochemical Engineering from Rutgers University and a J.D. from NYU.

Ramsey is a Board member at the Rutgers College of Engineering, and Represent.us, a grassroots political reform organization.

Ramsey grew up in Athens, Greece and Sparta, NJ. He enjoys hiking, camping, cooking over fire, punk music, and wandering through neighborhood art galleries.

Ramsey Homsany

Robert Warneford-Thomson

Robert trained as a biochemist and molecular biologist, and has joined Octant to work ondeveloping Deep Mutational Scanning (DMS) approaches to understand the biology of naturallyoccurring variants and unlock its potential to drive drug discovery.

Robert obtained his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania in Roberto Bonasio’s lab, where heworked on developing mass spectrometry-based technologies to identify and characterize RNA-binding proteins and applying these methods to understand the function of the chromatin regulator Polycomb Repressive Complex (PRC2). During the pandemic he also developed a high-throughput sequencing method using Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification  (LAMP) to detect COVID-19 and Influenza from human saliva. Robert was drawn to Octant by its emphasis on ‘rapid empiricism’, underpinned by the converging technologies of inexpensive DNA synthesis and sequencing, and believes these trends will greatly increase our understanding of disease biology in the coming years.

Outside work Robert likes to go hiking, cook for family and friends, and boring himself to sleepwith newspaper articles about central bank policy.

Papers

Oksuz, O., Henninger, J.E., Warneford-Thomson, R., Zheng, M.M., Erb, H., Overholt, K.J.,Hawken, S.W., Banani, S.F., Lauman, R., Vancura, A., Robertson, A.L., Hannett, N.M., Lee, T.,Zon, L.I., Bonasio, R. & Young, R.A. Transcription factors interact with RNA to regulate genes. bioRxiv, 2022.

Warneford-Thomson, R., Shah, P.P., Lundgren, P., Lerner, J., Morgan, J., Davila, A., Abella,B.S., Zaret, K., Schug, J., Jain, R., Thaiss, C.A. & Bonasio, R. A LAMP sequencing approach for high-throughput co-detection of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza virus in human saliva. eLife, 2022.

Ren, W., Medeiros, N., Warneford-Thomson, R., Wulfridge, P., Yan, Q., Bian, J., Sidoli, S.,Garcia, B.A., Skordalakes, E., Joyce, E., Bonasio, R. & Sarma, K. Disruption of ATRX-RNA interactions uncovers roles in ATRX localization and PRC2 function. Nature Communications, 2020.

Zhang, Q.§, McKenzie, N.J.§, Warneford-Thomson, R.§, Gail, E.H., Flanigan, S.F., Owen, B.M.,Lauman, R., Levina, V., Garcia, B.A., Schittenhelm, R.B., Bonasio, R. & Davidovich, C. RNA exploits an exposed regulatory site to inhibit the enzymatic activity of PRC2. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, 2019.

He, C., Sidoli, S., Warneford-Thomson, R., Tatomer, D.C., Wilusz, J.E., Garcia, B.A. & Bonasio, R. High-Resolution Mapping of RNA-Binding Regions in the Nuclear Proteome of Embryonic Stem Cells. Molecular Cell, 2016.

Robert Warneford-Thomson

Roy Luo

Roy is a software engineer at Octant, working on building tools and infrastructure to empower scientists.

Roy received a Masters in Computer Science from the University of Toronto, and worked in the Tech industry for a number of years. Previous to Octant he discovered the Biotech world while working at Zymergen, and hasn’t looked back since.

In his spare time, Roy enjoys playing pool, making art, and doting on his pet lungfish.

Papers:

Luo, Roy; Valenzano, Richard; Li, Yi; Beck, J. Christopher; McIlraith, Sheila. "Using Metric
Temporal Logic to Specify Scheduling Problems." Proceedings, Fifteenth International Conference on Principles of Knowledge Representation and Reasoning (2016).

Roy Luo

Sarah Tarver

Sarah is a cell biologist with a background in high throughput screening.

She received her B.S. in Biological Sciences from University of Maryland Baltimore County. Sarah has worked in various industry labs over the years. She got her start at Precision Antibody, making custom monoclonal antibodies for customers. She then went to DNA Electronics, where she supported the development of a machine to rapidly diagnose sepsis. After that, Sarah returned to the Bay Area where she is originally from and worked at Marin Biologic Laboratories- a contract research organization- performing various cell-based assays for clients.

Before coming to Octant she worked at Carmot Therapeutics where she ran high throughput drug screening assays and developed cell-based assays to further characterize screening hits.

Outside of the lab, Sarah enjoys mountain biking, snowboarding, playing video games, and binge watching shows with her two cats.

Sarah Tarver

Sathvik Koneru

Sathvik is a software engineer at Octant focused on building software tools and infrastructure to accelerate research. He obtained his B.S.E from the University of Michigan in Computer Science. At Michigan, he was a part of the Computer-Aided Diagnosis Lab in the Department of Radiology, where he applied machine learning methods towards breast cancer diagnosis.

Sathvik enjoys watching/playing basketball, taking long walks, reading the first three chapters of a book, and watching lots of Parks and Rec.

Sathvik Koneru

Scott Simpkins

He/Him

Scott is a computational biologist passionate about developing usable tools for analyzing new types of high-throughput, biological data. He completed his PhD in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology in the lab of Dr. Chad Myers at the University of Minnesota, where his thesis work focused on the design and analysis of high-throughput, chemical-genetic interaction screens in yeast.

Outside of the lab, Scott enjoys international travel, playing the bass, cooking, and drinking non-IPA craft beer.

Papers

Using BEAN-counter to quantify genetic interactions from multiplexed barcode sequencing experiments. Simpkins SW, Deshpande R, Nelson J, Li SC, Piotrowski JS, Ward HN, Yashiroda Y, Osada H, Yoshida M, Boone C, Myers CL. Nat. Protoc. 14, 415–440 (2019).

Predicting bioprocess targets of chemical compounds through integration of chemical-genetic and genetic interactions. Simpkins SW, Nelson J, Deshpande R, Li SC, Piotrowski JS, Wilson EH, Gebre AA, Safizadeh H, Okamoto R, Yoshimura M, Costanzo M, Yashiroda Y, Ohya Y, Osada H, Yoshida M, Boone C, Myers CL. PLOS Comp. Biol. 14, e1006532 (2018).

Functional annotation of chemical libraries across diverse biological processes. *Piotrowski JS, *Li SC, *Deshpande R, *Simpkins SW, Nelson J, Yashiroda Y, Barber JM, Safizadeh H, Wilson E, Okada H, Gebre AA, Kubo K, Torres NP, LeBlanc MA, Andrusiak K, Okamoto R, Yoshimura M, DeRango-Adem E, van Leeuwen J, Shirahige K, Baryshnikova A, Brown GW, Hirano H, Costanzo M, Andrews B, Ohya Y, Osada H, Yoshida M, Myers CL, Boone C. Nat. Chem. Biol. 13, 982–993 (2017).

Scott Simpkins

Shoham Das

I am a bioinformatics software engineer with a passion for building software to push the boundaries of science and medicine. I have previously worked at institutions such as Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Denali Therapeutics, and Illumina where I had the great opportunity to work alongside scientists and researchers to build out software solutions. I obtained my bachelors in biology and the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign before moving to the bay.

In my spare time I like to cook and watch too much tv.

Shoham Das

Sri Kosuri

Cofounder & CEO

Sri is a biologist that has helped build technologies, labs, and companies in synthetic biology, functional genomics, and bioinformatics over the last 20 years. He is passionate about developing more rational ways to understand and engineer biology.

Sri is a co-founder at Octant and an Associate Professor at UCLA in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, where his lab has worked on building large-scale ways of empirically exploring questions in protein biochemistry, human genetic variation, gene regulation, chemical biology, synthetic biology, and functional genomics.

Sri previously worked at the Wyss Institute and Harvard, where he built numerous technologies in gene synthesis, DNA information storage, gene editing, and large-scale multiplexed assays. He helped build Gen9, a gene synthesis company, as a member of the SAB and was the first employee of Joule Unlimited, an engineered algal biofuel company. He is a Searle Scholar (2015), NIH New Innovator (2014), and received his ScD in Biological Engineering at MIT and BS in Bioengineering at UC Berkeley.

Sri is originally from New Jersey, by way of Philadelphia and Kansas, and was born in North Carolina. He enjoys eating, getting outdoors, and traveling with his wife and two children.

More papers…

Sri Kosuri

Stacie Kim

(she/her)

Stacie is a Scientist in the Chemistry group with a background in chemical biology, metabolomics and (bio)synthesis.

She received her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University under the supervision of Prof. Elizabeth Sattely. Her thesis work focused on medicinal plant natural product biosynthesis and engineering, accomplished with metabolite analysis of plant extracts and enzymatic assays by LC-qToF and metabolic engineering approaches for yield optimization.

Outside of the lab, Stacie enjoys traveling, cooking, and perhaps the combination of the two: trying out different cuisines.

Papers

Kim S. S. & Sattely E. S. Dirigent Proteins Guide Asymmetric Heterocoupling for the Synthesis of Complex Natural Product Analogues. (2021) J Am Chem Soc. 143 (13), pp 5011-5021. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.0c13164.

Schultz B. J., Kim S., Lau W., & Sattely E. S. Total Biosynthesis for Milligram-Scale Production of Etoposide Intermediates in a Plant Chassis. (2019) J Am Chem Soc. 141 (49), pp 19231-19235. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.9b10717.

Stacie Kim

Sylvia Arifin

Sylvia runs People Operations at Octant and is responsible for driving processes that make for a healthy and high-performing team. Prior to joining Octant, Sylvia was the first HR hire at Invitae and led the People team through the organization's rapid growth, developing areas like compensation, benefits, employee experience, people analytics, learning and development, talent acquisition, and M&A diligence and integration. She also ran HR at Carnegie Mellon University's Silicon Valley campus where she supported engineering faculty as well as researchers and engineers at NASA Ames. Sylvia has a B.S. in Business Administration from Carnegie Mellon University and an MBA from University of California, Davis with concentrations in Strategy and Organizational Behavior.

In her spare time, she cooks, listens to jazz, and plays ukulele for her twin toddler boys.

Sylvia Arifin

Tao Zheng

Tao Zheng is our medicinal chemist. She received her PhD in organic chemistry from Michigan State University in 2006 and spent two years at UC Davis as a postdoctoral fellow. She returned to China to begin her career in process chemistry and custom organic synthesis. In 2016, she brought her talents back to the United States, working for Nanosyn, Inc in Santa Clara CA for five years before finally becoming an Octanaut in September of 2021.

She enjoys watching movies, cooking, and spending quality time with her cat, Pinky.

Tao Zheng

Tarek Saoud

Tarek does business operations at Octant and loves the multidisciplinary nature of being a generalist.

Prior to Octant, Tarek was an Operations Generalist at On Deck, both working internally on building operational processes, systems, and infrastructure as well as externally supporting founders and fellows in the community.

Tarek graduated from American University, spending most of his time learning and building as a member of the university’s startup incubator and Institute for IDEAS.

Tarek Saoud

Terry Lou

Terry is an organic chemist. He specialized in transition metal-catalysis and method development, with a background of flow chemistry and electrochemical synthesis. As a Synthetic Chemistry Methodologist, Terry develops new synthesis on Octant’s high-throughput chemistry platform and enables new chemical space for drug discovery.

Prior to joining Octant, Terry was a postdoctoral fellow in Scripps Research working with Prof Phil Baran. He obtained his DPhil degree from the University of Oxford in the UK, under Prof Michael Willis’ supervision. During his undergraduate study, Terry also worked in Prof Chi-Ming Che’s and Prof Steve Ley’s group in the University of Hong Kong and University of Cambridge, respectively.

Outside of the lab, Terry enjoys cooking, traveling and working out in the gym.

Terry Lou

Theo Tarver

Theo is a biologist in the Platform group with experience in assay development and the study of cancer therapies. He received a B.S. in Biology, with a minor in Biochemistry, at the University of San Francisco. At Roche Molecular Systems, he participated in the research and development of medical diagnostic assays for targets such as HIV and genetic mutations implicated in lung cancer. Then, at UCSF under Dr. Catherine Smith, he researched mechanisms of response and resistance to targeted drug therapy for acute myeloid leukemia. Outside of the lab, Theo enjoys golfing, hiking, and following his Bay Area sports teams.

Publications

Smith, C.C., Viny, A.D., Massi, E., Kandoth, C., Socci, N.D., Rapaport, F., Najm, M., Medina-Martinez, J.S.,Papaemmanuil, E. Tarver, T.C., Hsu, H.H., Le, M.H., West, B., Bollag, G., Taylor, B.S., Levine. R.L., & Shah, N.P. Recurrent Mutations in Cyclin D3 Confer Clinical Resistance to FLT3 Inhibitors in Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Clinical Cancer Research (2021) 27 (14), 14, 4003-4011

Tarver, T., Hill, J. Rahmat, L., Perl, A., Bahceci, E., Mori, K., & Smith, C C. Gilteritinib is a clinically active FLT3 inhibitor with broad activity against FLT3 kinase domain mutations. Blood Adv (2020) 4 (3): 514–524.

Smith, C. C., Paguirigan, A., Jeschke, G. R., Lin, K. C., Massi, E., Tarver, T., Chin, C. S., Asthana, S., Olshen, A., Travers, K. J., Wang, S., Levis, M. J., Perl, A. E., Radich, J. P., & Shah, N. P. (2017). Heterogeneous resistance to quizartinib in acute myeloid leukemia revealed by single-cell analysis. Blood (2017), 130 (1), 48–58.

Theo Tarver

Yuning Shen

Yuning is a chemist with a background in novel transition metal catalyzed methodology development enabled by high throughput chemistry.

Yuning obtained her PhD in medicinal chemistry from University of Michigan under the supervision of Dr. Tim Cernak. Her research focused on identifying new reactivity, achieved by copper catalysis for amine–acid coupling facilitated by cheminformatic analysis. Such method development is enabled by nanoscale synthesis on a high throughput chemistry platform that was established in Tim’s lab.  

Outside of lab, she likes to play video games and spend time with her cats.

Papers

Shen, Y., Mahjour B. and Cernak, T., Development of deaminative esterification using high-throughput experimentation. Commun. Chem., 5, 83 (2022).

Shen, Y., Borowski, J.E., Hardy, M.A., Sarpong, R., Doyle, A.G. and Cernak, T., Automation and computer-assisted planning for chemical synthesis. Nat. Rev. Methods Primers, 1,1-23 (2021).

Mahjour, B., Shen, Y. and Cernak, T., Ultrahigh-Throughput Experimentation for Information-Rich Chemical Synthesis. Acc. Chem. Res., 54, 2337-2346, (2021).

Lin, Y., Zhang, Z., Mahjour, B., Wang, D., Zhang, R., Shim, E., McGrath, A., Shen, Y., Brugger, N., Turnbull, R. and Trice, S., Reinforcing the supply chain of umifenovir and other antiviral drugs with retrosynthetic software. Nat. Commun., 12, (2021).

Mahjour, B., Shen, Y., Liu, W., & Cernak, T., A map of the amine–carboxylic acid coupling system. Nature, 580, 71-75 (2020).

Shen, Y., Lee, W.C.C., Gutierrez, D.A. and Li, J.J., Palladium-Catalyzed Direct C(sp2)–H ortho-Arylation of Anilides Using 2-Aminophenylpyrazole as the Directing Group. J. Org. Chem., 82, 11620-11625 (2017).

Yuning Shen

Zach Casey

Zach recently started at Octant as a Research Associate working on high-throughput chemical assembly and screening. He graduated from James Madison University with a B.S. in Biotechnology in 2021. While at JMU, Zach was a research assistant in the lab of George Vidal where he studied the effect of integrin beta-3 deficiency on the morphology of cortical neurons in the developing mouse brain.

Outside of the lab, Zach enjoys, hiking, playing board games, and slaying monsters in Dungeons and Dragons.

Zach Casey

Scientific Advisory Board

Charles Zuker

Professor — Columbia University

Charles S. Zuker is an American molecular geneticist and neurobiologist of Chilean descent. His lab, in collaboration with Nick Ryba at the NIH, have transformed our understanding of cell signaling and mammalian taste. Zuker is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a Senior Fellow at the Janelia Research Campus. Zuker is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. After more than 20 years at the University of California, San Diego, he began his appointment at Columbia University in 2009.

Charles Zuker

Professor — Columbia University

Vijay Pande

General Partner — a16z

Vijay Pande, PhD, is a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, where he focuses on investments in biopharma and healthcare. As the founding investor of a16z’s Bio Fund, Vijay leads the firm’s investments at the cross section of biology and computer science, including applications in computation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence in healthcare; digital therapeutics; diagnostics; and other novel transformative scientific advances applied to industry that take bio beyond healthcare. Op-eds by Vijay defining trends and issues in this emerging space have been published by The New York Times, Scientific American, and Forbes, among others. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering at Stanford University.

Previously, Vijay was the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Structural Biology and of Computer Science at Stanford University, where he led a team of researchers pioneering computational methods and their application to medicine and biology (resulting in over 300 publications, two patents, and two novel drug candidates). Vijay was also concurrently the director of the Biophysics program at Stanford, where he led a team of more than 50 faculty members and propelled the program to the top in the country.

During his time at Stanford, Vijay co-founded Globavir Biosciences, where he translated his research advances into a successful startup that aimed to discover cures for Dengue Fever and Ebola. Vijay also founded the Folding@Home Distributed Computing Project for disease research, which pushed the boundaries of computer science techniques (distributed systems, machine learning, and exotic computer architectures) into biology and medicine, in both research as well as the development of new therapeutics.

Vijay holds a BA in Physics from Princeton University and a PhD in Physics from MIT. He has been awarded the DeLano Prize in Computation; a Guinness World Record for Folding@Home; the American Chemical Society Thomas Kuhn Paradigm Shift Award; and was selected for MIT TR10. In his teens, Vijay was the first employee at video game startup Naughty Dog Software, maker of Crash Bandicoot.

Vijay Pande

General Partner — a16z

Hosea Nelson

Professor of Chemistry — CalTech

After studying at City College of San Francisco, Hosea obtained a B.S. in Chemistry from University of California Berkeley and a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 2012 under the mentorship of Brian Stoltz. After postdoctoral training at University of California Berkeley with Dean Toste, Hosea joined the UCLA faculty in 2015 as an assistant professor. In 2021 he moved his group to Caltech where they currently focus on developing enabling technologies for the biomedical sciences. More specifically they utilize cutting-edge electron microscopy methods to identify new bioactive small molecules and main group metal catalysis to prepare complex molecules through novel chemical reactions.

Hosea Nelson

Professor of Chemistry — CalTech

Debora Marks

Professor of Systems Biology — Harvard and Associate Member, Broad Institute

Debora is a mathematician and computational biologist with a track record of using novel algorithms and statistics to successfully address unsolved biological problems. She has a passion for interpreting genetic variation in a way that impacts biomedical applications. During her PhD, she quantified the potential pan-genomic scope of microRNA targeting and combinatorial regulation of protein expression and co-discovered the first microRNA in a virus. As a postdoc she and her colleagues cracked the classic, unsolved problem of ab initio 3D structure prediction of proteins using a maximum entropy probability model for evolutionary sequences. She has developed this approach to determine functional interactions, biomolecular structures, including the 3D structure of RNA and RNA-protein complexes and the conformational ensembles of apparently disordered proteins. Her new lab at Harvard is interested in developing methods in deep learning to address a wide range of biological challenges including predicting the effects of genetic variation and sequence design for biosynthetic applications.

Debora Marks

Professor of Systems Biology — Harvard and Associate Member, Broad Institute

Mark Murcko

Founder and Board Member, Relay Therapeutics & Founding CSO and Board Member, Dewpoint Therapeutics

Mark Murcko was an early leader in structure-based drug design and has directly contributed to nine marketed drugs spanning HIV, HCV, cystic fibrosis, and glaucoma. He is a Founder, Board member, and was the interim CSO at Relay Therapeutics. More recently he was the founding CSO and remains a board member and advisor to Dewpoint Therapeutics.  In addition, Mark is a senior lecturer in the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT, and has served on numerous scientific advisory boards and corporate boards of directors for a diverse range of organizations.  Mark was chief technology officer and chair of the SAB of Vertex Pharmaceuticals and was responsible for the identification, validation and implementation of disruptive technologies across R&D. Mark is a co-inventor of the HCV protease inhibitor Incivek (telaprevir), as well as Agenerase (amprenavir) and Lexiva (fosamprenavir), Vertex’s two marketed drugs for the treatment of HIV. In addition, he guided the early efforts of Vertex’s cystic fibrosis program that has produced four marketed drugs.

Prior to Vertex, Mark worked at Merck Sharpe & Dohme, where he helped discover multiple clinical candidates, including Dorzolamide, a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor for the treatment of glaucoma which was commercialized in two approved drugs, Trusopt and Cosopt.  Trusopt was the first medicine in history to come from a structure-based drug design program.  He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the GRC and the Board of Advisors of the Boston Museum of Science.  He is a co-inventor on more than 50 issued patents and has co-authored more than 85 scientific articles. Mark holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Yale University.



Mark Murcko

Founder and Board Member, Relay Therapeutics & Founding CSO and Board Member, Dewpoint Therapeutics

Feng Zhang

Core Institute Member - Broad Institute

Feng Zhang is a core institute member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, as well as an investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the James and Patricia Poitras Professor of Neuroscience at MIT, and a professor at MIT, with joint appointments in the departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biological Engineering. Zhang is also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Zhang is a molecular biologist developing and applying novel molecular technologies for studying the brain. Zhang pioneered the development of genome editing tools for use in eukaryotic cells – including human cells – from natural microbial CRISPR-Cas9 systems. He and his team have adapted multiple other CRISPR systems for use as genome engineering tools, including RNA-targeting CRISPR-Cas13 systems and CRISPR-associated transposon systems, which can be used for gene insertion.

Zhang leverages CRISPR and other methods to study the genetics and epigenetics of human diseases, especially complex disorders, such as psychiatric and neurological diseases that are caused by multiple genetic and environmental risk factors and are difficult to model using conventional methods. His lab’s tools, which he has made widely available, are also being used in the fields of immunology, clinical medicine, and cancer biology, among others. His long-term goal is to develop novel therapeutic strategies for disease treatment.

Zhang is a recipient of many awards including the Canada Gairdner International Award, the Tang Prize, the Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists, the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, the Lemelson-MIT Prize, and the Keio Medical Science Prize. He has also received technology innovation awards from the Paul G. Allen Family, McKnight, New York Stem Cell, and Damon Runyon foundations. Zhang is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Zhang received his A.B. in chemistry and physics from Harvard College and his Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford University.

Feng Zhang

Core Institute Member - Broad Institute

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