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12.21.2015

AureoGen closes a licensing agreement with Merck.

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AureoGen Biosciences 
4717 Campus Drive Suite 2300 
Kalamazoo, MI 49008 
1.269.353.3805   

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Founders and Management

AureoGen was founded by Ake Elhammer, Ph.D. and Jerry Slightom, Ph.D. Dr. Elhammer inspired the company’s creation and selected its business area and scope. As Chief Executive Officer he is responsible for the strategic direction, organization and business development of the company. Dr. Slightom is AureoGen’s Chief Operating Officer. His responsibilities include administrating the company’s finances, human resources, supply chain, and the physical operation of the company laboratory. Dr. Slightom has considerable expertise in molecular biology and is also involved in the development and review of the Company scientific strategies. 

Dr. Ake Elhammer has a B.S. in Chemistry and Biology and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, from the University of Stockholm, Sweden. He carried out postdoctoral research a Washington University, St. Louis, MO, in the laboratory of Professor Stuart Kornfeld. Dr. Elhammer has over 27 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, primarily in biochemistry, glycobiology, molecular biology, protein expression, assay development, and enzymology. Therapeutic areas include cancer, inflammation, metabolic diseases, central nervous system (CNS) diseases and, the last 20 years, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal drug development. Dr. Elhammer also has previous biotech experience; he was head of the protein expression laboratory at KabiGen AB, Stockholm, Sweden, working on recombinant factor VIII, a treatment for haemophilia. Dr. Elhammer joined The Upjohn Company, in 1987. Important scientific accomplishments include: carbohydrate work on the vaccine protein FG - a marketed product; seminal work on the importance and function of selectin ligand oligosaccharide structures in the inflammatory cascade; seminal work (first report) on the importance of selectins and their ligands in gamete interaction (fertility); cloning, expression and extensive characterization of the first polypeptide GalNAc- transferase; development of GalNAc- transferase as a cancer target, design of a screening assay and identification of specific inhibitors; development of several patented assays, including an assay for the fungal target IPC synthase; cloning, expression and purification of number of proteins, including intrinsic membrane proteins; identification and development of prolyloligopeptidase from the hypertheromophile P. furiosus, as an industrial process reagent. Dr. Elhammer’s complete CV includes 20 U.S. patents and 56 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. He received the Pharmacia Special Recognition Award in 2001. Dr. Elhammer is also Adjunct Professor at the Department of Biological Sciences at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI. 

Dr. Jerry Slightom has a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Arizona, Tucson, and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Ill. Dr. Slightom did postdoctoral research at the University of Wisconsin, first in the Department of Pharmacology (Dr. Bernard Weisblum, Advisor) and then in the Genetics Department (Drs. Fredrick Blattner and Oliver Smithies, Advisors). Dr. Slightom has over 30 years of industrial experience in biotechnology research that ranges from plant molecular biology to the use of pharmacogenetics. Dr. Slightom was the first to isolate a structural plant gene (seed storage protein gene, phaseolin) and as a result, was the first to determine that plant genes contain intervening sequences (introns). While working for the biotechnology company, Agrigenetics Advanced Research, Madison, WI, Dr. Slightom was co-inventor on a patent covering the use of Agrobacterium tumefaciens for the transfer of foreign genes into plants. Dr. Slightom joined the Upjohn Company in 1985. He established a plant antiviral program which resulted in the development of six commercial products. Most notably, Dr. Slightom was a co-developer of a virus resistant papaya. This invention saved the entire papaya industry in the state of Hawaii, and Dr. Slightom was awarded (co-recipient) of the 2002 Alexander von Humboldt Award. After Upjohn exited plant research, Dr. Slightom’s research focused on the use of genetic techniques to identify disease susceptibility genes. This research involved working in several therapeutic areas, including infectious diseases (antimicrobials), central nervous system (CNS), cardiovascular, and inflammation. Notable collaborations include a co-directorship of the University of Michigan DNA Sequencing Core within Dr. Francis Collins at the NIH Human Genome Center (1990-1994); a longstanding collaboration with Prof. Morris Goodman, Wayne State University; and a collaborative effort, with Prof. Leroy Hood, University of Washington, to sequence large regions of the beta-type T-cell receptor gene family. Dr. Slightom’s CV includes 16 U.S. patents and 181 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. He was an Editor of GENE (1984-2003) and Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution (1991-1999). Dr. Slightom was a recipient of the Pharmacia Special Recognition Award in 2001 and was appointed Pharmacia Fellow in 2003. Dr. Slightom was an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Wayne State University, Medical School, Detroit, MI, from 1985 to 2010.


AureoGen’s Board of Scientific Advisors

AureoGen’s Board of Scientific Advisors includes leaders in the fields of bacterial and fungal pathobiology and medicinal chemistry. Current board members:

Donald H. Batts, M.D., has a M.D. from Loyola University, Maywood, Illinois. He did his internship and residency, in internal medicine, at the University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Dr. Batts is AureoGen’s resident expert on clinical practice in infectious diseases and the clinical development of antibacterial and antiviral drugs. Dr. Batts has over 30 years clinical experience in infectious diseases and he also has considerable experience in both the preclinical and clinical development of antibiotics. Dr. Batts was directly involved in the development of twelve marketed antibiotics, 7 antibacterials (paldimycin, trospectomycin, clindamycin, cefmetazole, cefpodoxime, eperezolid, linezolid) and 5 antivirals (bropiramine, CD4-PE40 immunotoxin, atevirdine, delavirdine), during his tenure at the Upjohn Company. Dr. Batts is presently Professor of Medicine, and Head of the Infectious Diseases Section at Michigan State University, and he is Infectious Disease Consultant for the South West Michigan Area. He is chairman of AureoGen’s Medical Advisor Board. Dr. Batts has received numerous awards and published 38 peer-reviewed articles.

Mahmoud Ghannoum, Ph.D. Director of the Center for Medical Mycology, Department of Dermatology, University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH. Dr. Ghannoum is a Fellow of the Infectious Disease Society of America. He was awarded the Billy Cooper Awards by the Mycological Society of the Americas for his contributions to the field of Medical Mycology in 2009. Dr. Ghannoum has devoted his entire academic career to studying medically important fungi with special focus on Candida and Cryptococcus (the two most important fungal pathogens infecting HIV/AIDS patients). He has published nearly 200 peer reviewed articles addressing various aspects of Candida and other fungal infections. And he recently published the first study describing the oral mycobiome in healthy individuals. Dr. Ghannoum was appointed Chairman of the Subcommittee on Antifungal Susceptibility Testing, Clinical Laboratory Standards Institute, in 2009. He has been involved in clinical studies evaluating antifungal resistance in Candida, Cryptococcus, as well as other fungal pathogens, and he has considerable expertise in the oral complications associated with HIV/AIDS, particularly oral candidiasis. Dr. Ghannoum is currently co-chair of Oral Health HIV-AIDS Research Alliance (OHARA) and the PI of OHARA’s Medical Mycology Unit at Case Western.

Ivan G. Gilbert, Ph.D., has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. Dr. Gilbert has 26 years of experiences as a process chemist at The Upjohn Company/Pharmacia, Inc./Pfizer, Inc., where he acquired considerable experience with the development of production processes for pharmaceuticals. Dr. Gilbert was involved in the development of 25 different production processes, seven of which were for natural product antibiotics, i.e. processes that involved isolation of an antibiotic from a crude fermentation beer.

Jonathan Walton, Ph.D., has an A.B. in Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, CA, a M.S. in Plant Pathology from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, and a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA. Dr. Walton is presently Professor Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory and Associate Director of the DOE Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, Michigan State University East Lansing, MI. Dr Walton is an expert in fungal biology, with particular emphasis on the biology of cyclic peptide producing fungi. He has extensive experience, both with the identification, characterization and cloning of the genes encoding cyclic peptide producing biosynthesis (NRPS) complexes, and with the biological mechanisms involved in their synthesis and secretion. Dr. Walton has over 110 peer reviewed publications and one US Patent.

Peter G.M. Wuts, Ph.D., has a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Washington, Seattle, WA and a Ph.D. in Chemistry (advisor Prof. J.A. Marshall) from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. He did postdoctoral research in Chemistry (advisor, Prof. R.E. Ireland) at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA. During a 24 year career as a medicinal and process chemist at the Upjohn Company (later to become Pharmacia and Upjohn, Pharmacia, and finally Pfizer) Dr. Wuts was responsible for the design and development of many large scale chemical manufacturing processes, for both pharmaceutical and nonpharmaceutical compounds. Many of the processes he developed involved the synthesis or semi-synthesis of large complex molecules with a number of chiral centers (e.g., 7-Hydroxy-Dehydroepiandrosterone, semi-synthetic taxol, Cabergoline, Sumanirole, and others). Dr. Wuts also has considerable experience in troubleshooting existing production processes. Following the merger with Pfizer, Inc., Dr. Wuts served as internal chemistry consultant to the medicinal chemistry and greater Pfizer research community. Dr. Wuts is presently a Distinguished Scientist at Kalexsyn, Inc. Kalamazoo, MI. Dr. Wuts is AureoGen’s medicinal and process chemistry consultant and is responsible for the design of most of the medicinal chemistry and synthesis strategies associated with AureoGen’s modified cyclic peptide compounds. Dr. Wuts has published 80 peer-reviewed articles, two chemistry textbooks, and has been awarded 16 U.S. patents.

Gary E. Zurenko, M.S., has a B.S. in Zoology and a M.S. in Microbiology from Ohio University, Athens, OH. He is presently Chief Scientific Officer of Micromyx, LLC. Mr. Zurenko has over 30 years experience with the preclinical and clinical development of antibiotics, at the Upjohn Company, Pharmacia & Upjohn and Pharmacia. Mr. Zurenko was recipient of the 1993 W.E. Upjohn Award, for his efforts to acquire FDA approval of Vantin. Mr. Zurenko has been a principal scientific contributor to the successful introduction of several marketed antimicrobial drugs inclucing: Cleocin T (acne), Cleocin Vaginal Cream (bacterial vaginosis), Zefazone (surgical prophylaxis), Vantin (respiratory infections), and Zyvox (life-threatening Gram-positive infections). Mr. Zurenko has published 44 peer-reviewed articles and been awarded three U.S. patents.