The COUR Team

JOHN J. PUISIS
JOHN J. PUISIS
Co-Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer

John is a senior executive with over 25 years’ experience at transforming technology-based companies into product-based organizations. He combines a unique set of strategic, financial, talent management, and operating skills to identify unmet medical needs optimizing an organization to translate cutting–edge technology into products that address our most pressing hard to treat diseases to enhance people’s lives.

Prior to co-founding and joining Cour, John was Co-Founder and CEO of Tolera Therapeutics. He led the company from initial startup through manufacturing optimization, pre-clinical, completion of a Phase 2 clinical trial, and filing of a Phase 3 Special Protocol Assessment (SPA) with the FDA. The company built significant barriers to entry by achieving several orphan drug designations and issuance of composition of matter patents utilizing a unique patent strategy.

John was also instrumental to the startup of Cleveland Heart Labs (sold to LabCorp). He has served on the boards of Third Wave Technologies (NASDQ:TWTI) and ProNAi Therapeutics (NASDQ:DNAI), Tolera Therapeutics. John is a current board member at Cour Pharmaceuticals and advisory board member of NewCures of Northwestern University. He is also a member of the Economic Club of Chicago.

Prior to Tolera, he was President and CEO of Third Wave Technologies (NASDAQ: TWTI), a biotechnology company, where he led the transformation of a non-sustainable genomics tools business into a robust growth-driven molecular diagnostics company primarily by leading the development of hard to detect infections and cancers. Third Wave was eventually sold for $600 million. John also served as a strategic consultant to DEKALB Genetics Corporation (NYSE) that was ultimately sold for $3.2 billion. Earlier in his career, John was with Spencer Stuart and Egon Zehnder International, in their life sciences practice groups where he consulted with biotech and pharmaceutical firms. After receiving his BS in Accounting from Northern Illinois University, John started his career at Arthur Andersen and also worked for Price Waterhouse. He received his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

KITTY MACKEY, PHD
KITTY MACKEY, PHD
Board Member/Advisor

Catherine J. Mackey, Ph.D. brings over thirty years of accomplishment in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and agricultural industries to her role as Chair of Cour’s Board of Directors. She is an experienced corporate director and currently serves on the Boards of Directors of GW Pharma (GWPH), Avid Bioservices (CDMO), and Poseida. In addition she is a member of the Board of Trustees of Rady Children’s Hospital and Rady Children’s Institute of Genomic Medicine. Dr. Mackey received her B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in microbiology from Cornell University. She is the former Vice President of DEKALB Genetics, Inc, and Sr. Vice President of Pfizer Global Research and Development.

JIM HERRMANN
JIM HERRMANN
Co-founder, Chief Operating and Chief Financial Officer

Jim is a financial and operations executive with over 25 years experience spanning finance, product development, manufacturing and regulatory, in both diagnostics and therapeutics. Jim co-founded Tolera Therapeutics, where he worked with CEO John Puisis to raise $20 million and bring its MAb therapy from pre-clinical to a Phase 3 Special Protocol Assessment. Prior to this, Jim served as CFO for Third Wave Technologies (NASDAQ: TWTI), where he oversaw long-range and annual planning, company-wide systems and infrastructure development, operational management as well as quality system oversight. Jim oversaw the company’s first FDA 510k filing for a molecular diagnostic and the launch of its multiplexing diagnostic platform. Jim is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago (MBA).

ASHLEY RUTH, PHD
ASHLEY RUTH, PHD
Director of Quality

Ashley Ruth, PhD. was formerly an industry consultant, and worked at the US Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, where she was a Research Chemist within the Division of Pharmaceutical Analysis. As a Consultant in Analytical Services, Ashley supported clients in a variety of areas including Quality Management Systems. She will lead the Company’s development of quality systems, including qualification and/or validation of analytical methods pertaining to biopharmaceutical analysis and CMC development used throughout the drug development and approval process under GxP guidelines. Ashley is also an expert in data compliance and integrity, with experience implementing such workflows for the FDA. While with the Agency, Ashley served as an expert in bioanalytical method development, qualification and validation, with expertise in mass spectrometry, chromatography and spectroscopy. She has authored 17 peer-reviewed publications and is involved with several professional societies, including the American Society for Mass Spectrometry and CASSS. Prior to joining FDA, Ashley was a Chateaubriand Fellow of the Office of Science of Technology of the Embassy of France in the United States at École Polytechnique in Palaiseau, France. Ashley has a BA in Chemistry from Pomona College in Claremont, California and a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Arizona.

MICHAEL BOYNE, PHD
MICHAEL BOYNE, PHD
Vice President of Product Development and Analytics

Michael Boyne, PhD. is an accomplished scientific professional. Before joining Cour, he was a Senior Consultant at BiotechLogic where he advised pharmaceutical manufacturers on drug development and CMC strategy, including drafting, reviewing, and authoring Pharmaceutical Quality/CMC sections (Module 3) of the CTD for regulatory submissions. Prior to consulting, he was a Research Chemist in the Division of Pharmaceutical Analysis at the US Food and Drug Administration where he established a laboratory developing and applying modern analytical technologies for the evaluation and regulation of complex drug products.

Michael has authored over 30 peer-reviewed publications and is an internationally recognized speaker on the application of modern analytical technologies. He is currently the chair of the 15th Symposium on the Practical Applications of Mass Spectrometry in the Biotechnology Industry and sits on the organizing committee for the inaugural CASSS meeting on Cell and Gene Therapies.

GRETA WODARCYK, PHD
GRETA WODARCYK, PHD
Senior Scientist, Project Management

Greta Wodarcyk, PhD. is an experienced molecular biologist, having spent her career to date working in novel chemoprevention drug development, where she has led several multi-disciplinary, translational research projects.

Greta obtained her doctorate in biological sciences at Northwestern University. Her doctoral research focused on the nanoscale epigenetic structure-function relationship of chromatin in cancer cell chemo-evasion and the development of strategies to physiochemically target chromatin structure as a means of increasing chemotherapeutic efficacy. Previously, Greta worked as a research fellow at Mayo College of Medicine in Rochester, MN, where she developed clinical assays to quantify low levels of Metformin in patient blood plasma and customize dosage based on patient-specific metabolism. While at Northwestern University, Greta received a year-long fellowship from the NIH-funded Biotechnology Training Program as well as a two-year fellowship with the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center Translational Bridge Program. Greta has authored several peer-reviewed publications that appear in top tier scientific journals such as Nature Biomedical Engineering and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and has presented her work at several national research conferences.

QICHEN XU
QICHEN XU
Development Scientist

Qichen Xu, MS is a recent Biomedical Engineering graduate from Northwestern University where she worked on nanoparticle vaccine development. She has previous industrial experience with Genentech and Seattle Genetics where she worked on protein purification and analysis strategies.

Qichen holds a BS in Bioengineering from the University of Washington and an MS in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University.

JOSEPH PODOJIL, PHD
JOSEPH PODOJIL, PHD
Director, Immunology

Dr. Joseph Podojil is an experienced investigator with a keen interest in the expression and function of the novel immune modulatory proteins and mechanisms. Dr. Podojil has extensive experience with the analysis of T cell and B cell responses both in vivo and in in vitro. During his graduate school training, Dr. Podojil’s work focused on the ability of neurotransmitters released from the sympathetic nervous system to modulate B cell function/antibody production during an immune response. During Dr. Podojil’s postdoctoral training, his primary research focus was to determine the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the differential effect of costimulatory and co-inhibitory molecules expressed by T cells to modulate immune cell function in disease models of multiple sclerosis, type-1 diabetes, and cancer.

Dr. Podojil has published manuscripts in top tier scientific journals including Nature, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Communications, Nature Reviews Immunology, the Journal of Biological Chemistry, and the Journal of Immunology. Dr. Podojil holds a B.S. in Molecular Biology from Benedictine University, and Ph.D. in Cell Biology, Neurobiology, and Anatomy from Loyola University Chicago Medical School. He has also trained at the Ohio State University and Northwestern University. Dr. Podojil has ten years of experience consulting with a number of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, having assisted in the development of new therapeutics from proof of concept through to Phase 1 clinical testing.

Zhiyi Lin, PhD
Zhiyi Lin, PhD
Research Fellow

Dr. Lin graduated from University of Nebraska Medical Center where her doctoral research focused on the development of long-acting nanoformulations for the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS. At COUR Zhiyi oversees numerous research and product development activities including polymer development and new product designs and formulations. Zhiyi holds a BS in Tradition Chinese Medicine Development and an MS in Pharmaceutical Science from China Pharmaceutical University. She also had one-year internship in Chinese National Institute for Food and Drug Control. Zhiyi has published several peer-reviewed papers in top tier scientific journals such as Nature, Biomaterials, and Chemical Communications.

TUSHAR MURTHY, PHD
TUSHAR MURTHY, PHD
Biotechnology Analyst

Tushar Murthy, Ph.D. is a Biotechnology Analyst at Cour where he currently helps manage and build the company’s intellectual property portfolio, develop business plans, monitor market developments and provide competitive intelligence to the R&D and management teams.

Tushar obtained a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Northwestern University where his doctoral thesis focused on the mechanism by which disease-associated mutations in splicing factor proteins contribute to the pathogenesis of hematologic disorders. His doctoral research has been published in major peer-reviewed journals.

While at Northwestern, Tushar earned a Certificate in Management from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business and also gained experience in business and entrepreneurship via internships at the University’s Innovation and New Ventures Office and the N.XT Venture fund where he leveraged his technical expertise in conducting due diligence on technologies emerging from the University’s research labs.

Prior to graduate school at Northwestern University, Tushar worked in drug development at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, MD. Tushar also holds a Master’s degree in Biotechnology from Pennsylvania State University, University Park.

OLGA JASINSKY
OLGA JASINSKY
Director of Operations

Olga has over 25 years of experience in pharmaceutical research and development at both multinational and startup pharmaceutical companies. She is well-versed in all phases of clinical research. Most recently, she was Associate Director of Project Management at Worldwide Clinical Trials where she managed Phase 3 Clinical Studies. Previously, Olga was Director of Operations at Neurotherapeutics Pharma, where she was responsible for IND planning activities for lead and back up compounds.

The majority of Olga’s career was spent with Abbott, where she held positions in Project Management and Clinical Operations in several different therapeutic areas. During her tenure at Abbott, she led global project teams in the early development of nine new chemical entities, taking these compounds from Discovery to IND enabling studies, successful IND submissions, and Phase 1 First-in-Human through Phase 2 Proof of Concept Studies. Her experience also includes several successful regulatory submissions resulting in global registrations for new products and label extensions for approved drugs.

Olga holds a BS degree in Biology from DePaul University, an MBA in Finance from Loyola University, and a MS degree in Product Development from Northwestern University.

ADAM ELHOFY, PHD
ADAM ELHOFY, PHD
Director, Immunology

Dr. Adam Elhofy has over 14 years of scientific research experience in the areas of immunology, neuroscience, and oncology, with multiple publications and grants. He was funded by both the National Institutes of Health and the Multiple Sclerosis society as an investigator at Northwestern University Medical School. He has served in various roles from Principal Investigator of a Nanotech start-up to Chief Science officer. He developed the core technology for the Cell-Ess® line of products and aided in creating patents around novel uses of materials.

His doctoral research won him the award of the Top 5 trainee scientists by the American Association of Immunologists. Dr. Elhofy has 15 scientific publications in peer reviewed journals. He has played a variety of roles with start-up biotech companies ranging from Principal Investigator to Director of Corporate Development.

Nick Bortolotti
Nick Bortolotti
Director of Planning & Finance

Nick is a proven manager and operator with a strong analytical background and strategic mindset. At COUR, he oversees long-term forecasting, program budgets, and key processes across finance, accounting, and operations. Previously, Nick worked at several high-growth companies in the online retail and fintechindustries. He has broad experience in functional areas such as strategy & analytics, sales operations, technology program management, and corporate finance. Nick has a BBA in Finance from the University of Notre Dame, and is currently pursuing an MBA through the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

JILL HEADY
JILL HEADY
Vice President of Finance and Administration

Jill is a financial executive with significant experience in financial and operational management. She initially joined Cour as Controller. Prior to joining Cour, Jill worked in financial management at two major media companies with an emphasis on earnings and process improvement. She started her career in banking and later joined the FDIC. Jill is a licensed CPA and she is a graduate of the University of Illinois (BS, Accountancy) and DePaul University (MBA).

Carlos Montoya
Carlos Montoya
Operations Supervisor

Carlos Montoya joined the COUR in 2018. As the Operations Supervisor, Carlos is responsible for overseeing the readiness of the COUR facilities and participating in the manufacture of pre-clinical and clinical materials in the GLP and GMP facilities. He has participated in several training programs since joining COUR, including the Comprehensive Pharmaceutical Aseptic course sponsored by the UT Health Science Center, Project Management Academy Training Course, and Certified Quality Improvement Associate from ASQ.

Carlos received his B.S. from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2008 with a double major in Economics and Spanish. Carlos is also a certified fitness and training coach and an owner and operator of his own training center in Glenview, Illinois.

SANDEEP KAKADE
SANDEEP KAKADE
Development Scientist

Sandeep Kakade, MS is a seasoned scientist and biomedical engineering expert in the field of drug/gene/vaccine delivery systems. He has studied and worked in nanomedicine for the past 11 years with more than 8 years of experience carrying out research in nanotechnology-based drug delivery systems for atherosclerosis, cancer and inflammatory diseases.

Prior to joining Cour, he worked as a Nanoparticle Scientist in Lonnie Shea’s lab at The University of Michigan. He has published in major peer-reviewed journals such as Langmuir and International Journal of Pharmaceutics. He has also presented his research findings at multiple research symposiums such as American Institute of Chemical Engineers annual meeting, Society of Biological Engineering’s Bioengineering and Translational Medicine Conference, The Society for Biomaterials Annual Meeting and Controlled Release Society Annual Symposium and Meeting.

Sandeep has a two Master’s degrees; one in Chemical Engineering from Iowa State University and another in Materials Science and Engineering from Wayne State University, Detroit, MI. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from B.M.S. College of Engineering, Bangalore, India.

Samantha Reilly
Samantha Reilly
Senior Engineer / Program Manager

Sam is responsible for process design and management of new and existing manufacturing efforts. She is also involved in the translation of COUR therapies from R&D to production, building experimental plans targeting manufacturing considerations for products under development and scale-up. Samantha has over seven years of intensive hands-on experience in the startup biotechnology product development space. Most recently, she was a Project Manager and Product Development Engineer at a biotechnology company in Massachusetts developing innovative solutions for cell culture and tissue repair technologies. Samantha led all cleanroom operations and process development efforts for new and commercial products. Her background includes: cleanroom design (ISO 14644), design control, process validation, and Good Manufacturing Practices, (ISO 9001, 21 CFR Part 211), and lyophilization. Samantha received her Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering with a Biomolecular Concentration from the University of Notre Dame.

Kevin O’Brien
Kevin O’Brien
Quality Manager

Kevin is an experienced Quality & Operations professional, previously working within the Food Packaging, Consumer Goods and Electrical industries prior to COUR. His background in Quality and Operations includes significant experience in supplier & product quality management, QMS development/auditing, and continuous improvement initiatives. Kevin holds a BS in Enterprise Systems Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MBA from Auburn University.

Abby S. Gelb, PhD
Abby S. Gelb, PhD
Senior Scientist, Analytical Sciences

Abby S. Gelb, PhD. is an experienced bioanalytical mass spectrometrist with expertise in proteomics and glycoproteomics. At COUR, she is involved in the development of analytical analyses from R&D to QC.

Abby obtained her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Arizona in 2012 with 3 years of research experience. Her doctorate was completed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2018 with her doctoral research focused on ion mobility spectrometry coupled to mass spectrometry for the analysis and characterization of glycopeptides. In 2015, she was awarded an NIH T32 predoctoral training grant to extend her research towards clinical analysis of prostate cancer-related enzymes. Abby obtained a postdoctoral fellowship at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veteran’s Affairs Hospital (Bedford, Massachusetts) in collaboration with the Center for Biomedical Mass Spectrometry, Boston University School of Medicine in 2018 to analyze post-mortem brain tissue samples from Alzheimer’s patients for analysis by imaging mass spectrometry. In 2019, Abby moved full time to the Boston University to analyze glycoconjugates, specifically glycolipids, sourced from human and animal milks. Abby has authored several peer-reviewed publications appearing in Analytical Chemistry and The Analyst and has presented her work at several national and international research conferences.

Janice Kim
Janice Kim
Project/Program Manager

Janice is an experienced Project/Program Manager with years of working in academic research labs and biotech companies. Her research experiences in academic labs involve in the study of reactivation of latent virus in immunocompromised individuals and the mechanism of glioma stem cells and how it promotes chemoresistance in glioblastoma multiforme. She has participated and authored in academic journals during those years and continues to grow her interest in science. She also has experience working as a Clinical Data Analyst and a Variant Scientist at a cancer biotech company where she facilitated clinical data curation process and analyzed gene variant sequences in cancer patients. She then transitioned to work as a Project/Program Manager at an ECG Core lab company and managed various projects in clinical trials to completion. Janice holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Cellular Biology from the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign and has studied at Northwestern University to further her science education.

Amanda Duke
Amanda Duke
Quality Control

At COUR, Amanda is responsible to perform Quality Control testing to support clinical phase lot release and stability as well as research, preclinical and GLP products. She has 5 years quality experience having worked in quality assurance and quality control. Her experience includes working as a QC analyst at a fully integrated gene therapy company where she was involved in testing and releasing the first gene therapy drug to market. Amanda graduated from University of the Sciences in Philadelphia with a BS in Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Abigail Moynihan
Abigail Moynihan
Operations Audit and Quality Systems Manager

Abby Moynihan joined COUR in July 2020. Abby is an experienced auditor professional, previously working at top public accounting firms, KPMG and EY, as a CPA prior to COUR. Her background in auditing includes significant experience in inventory and financial audits. As the Operations Audit and Quality System Manager, Abby is responsible for regular audits of key components of the quality management system, specifically document control management and supplier- product quality management. Abby is a licensed CPA and holds a BS in Accounting from Truman State University and a MAcc from the University of Michigan.

Emily Ferrara
Emily Ferrara
Site Coordinator

Emily graduated with her Bachelors in Psychology from Marquette University where she worked as a lab assistant and data manager collecting, analyzing, and entering lab data to further research in the field of Affective Neuroscience and emotional regulation. She went on to teach ABA therapy to children with autism followed by teaching preschool. At Cour, Emily is the Site Coordinator assisting in roles for Quality Document Control and organizational and management tasks.

Kevin Rowland
Kevin Rowland
Inventory and Vendor Specialist

Kevin joined COUR in 2020 as an Inventory and Vendor Specialist. He brings with him over 20 years of retail operations experience and 12 years of accounting experience in the hotel industry. At COUR he assists with readiness of the COUR facilities and participates in the manufacture of pre-clinical and clinical materials in the GLP and GMP facilities. On the accounting side he assists on purchase order creation and accounts payable. Kevin attended Harper College where he majored in Accounting.