The SSTI team has over 20 years of working experience in biotech/pharmaceutical industry. Our research team has broad experience in several therapeutic areas including oncology, metabolic disease, neuroscience and anti-infectives. Our approach towards stem cell related disease relies on medicinal chemistry-driven drug discovery projects. These projects were developed using computational and ligand-based compound design, with lead generation and validated using in vitro and in vivo screening models. Our team has the experience in molecular modeling, rational drug design and cancer biology to progress our programs into the clinical stages.
Darren Orton, PhD
Darren obtained a PhD from the University of Durham (United Kingdom) in synthetic organic chemistry, working on the synthesis and biological properties of the antibiotic Oryzoxymycin and the natural product Vinigrol. He took a position at Albany Molecular Research in medicinal chemistry where he was part of a team that collaborated with Bristol-Myers Squibb to take a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease into the clinic, and he was also responsible for managing other neuroscience and cancer related projects. He moved to Vanderbilt University where he specialized in early lead discovery, high-throughput screening and molecular modeling. For the last five years he has been the Director of Medicinal Chemistry at StemSynergy Therapeutics, and he is responsible for all aspects of research and development. During this time he has led two successful Phase I SBIR projects (Lung and colorectal cancer) and is currently leading a Phase II SBIR grant on colorectal cancer. His accomplishments include being part of the team that progressed BMS708163 (gamma secretase inhibitor) into clinical trials, and as part of StemSynergy Therapeutics, Inc. He is the sole author for the company’s patents.
Thomas Doundoulakis, PhD
Thomas obtained a PhD from University of Texas at Arlington in synthetic organic chemistry, working on the natural product palau’amine and derivatives of capsaicin and THC. Before his thesis research he worked in the custom synthesis of pharmaceutical building blocks at Rhodia Chirex and at Anadys Pharmaceuticals as a medicinal chemist. He generated lead compounds based on myxopyronin B for drug discovery, and the preparation of imidazoline analogs as inhibitors of P53/MDM2. Most recently, he was group leader in chemical synthesis at Sirrus Chemistry (formerly Bioformix, Inc.), a specialty chemical company developing a novel monomer platform for a new class of materials and composites. His current position is Senior Principle Scientist involved in lead optimization on multiple projects.
Marcy Guerra, PhD
Marcy graduated from Washington and Jefferson College with a BA in Biochemistry. She obtained her PhD from the department of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology in the laboratory of Dr. Gregory H. Hockerman at Purdue University. She continued her research career as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Melanie H. Cobb in the department of Pharmacology at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. She is currently managing cell and molecular biology, including all in vitro assays.
Kellye C. Kirkbride, PhD
Kellye earned her PhD in Molecular Cancer Biology from Duke University where she focused on characterizing TGF-beta superfamily member interactions with the type III TGF-beta receptor and understanding the molecular and cellular consequences of these interactions on tumorigenesis. As a Postdoctoral Research Scholar in Cancer Biology at Vanderbilt University, she studied the role of the actin-binding protein, cortactin, in intracellular protein trafficking. She joined Vanderbilt’s Department of Biomedical Engineering where she tested the in vivo targeting of smart polymeric nanocarriers designed for cancer therapeutics.