Anne (Annie) S. De Groot, M.D.
Founder, CEO & CSO, EpiVax, Inc.
Dr. Anne De Groot is internationally known for her research on the human immune system’s response to vaccines and therapeutics. She graduated from Smith College in 1978 and earned her medical degree at University of Chicago in 1983. After internal medical residency, she obtained advanced training in immunoinformatics and vaccinology with Michael Good, Russell Howard and Jay Berzofsky at the National Institutes of Health, and then returned for a fellowship in ID at New England Medical Center. She then moved to Brown University, establishing the TB/HIV Research Lab as an emerging center for immune-informatics driven Vaccine design. EpiVax spun out from that laboratory in 1998 and she gradually shifted her effort from 20% to 80% effort at the company. In 2008, she was invited to move her academic affiliation from Brown University to University of Rhode Island, in order to establish the Institute for Immunology and Informatics (iCubed). She has been the recipient of many awards for her groundbreaking work at the intersection of immunology and informatics and is recognized as an early adopter of this technology and an evangelist for the use of immunoinformatics to improve vaccines and protein therapeutics. She has won many awards for her work, including most recently, the Smith Medal (2013).
Her work focuses on harnessing the power of T cells to modulate immune responses, whether to improve vaccines or to reduce the immunogenicity of protein therapeutics. In collaboration with the innovative scientists at EpiVax, she has worked to develop and validate a set of immunoinformatics tools that dramatically accelerate the development of vaccines directly from genomic sequences. With Bill Martin, Lenny Moise, Christine Boyle and Frances Terry, she works on a number of projects related to the development and application of the genome-to-vaccine iVAX toolkit, and with the Immunoinformatics team (Bill Martin, Frances Terry, Sheila Chandran) she coordinates the application of ISPRI tools to screening protein therapeutics for immunogenicity. With business associates Anthony Marcello and Phoebe De Groot, she coordinates ISPRI and iVAX services for a global list of Pharma clients. She collaborates with Leslie Cousens and Mindy Marshall to drive Tregitope technology forward, working to develop Tregitope as a stand-alone drug and as an immunomodulators for application to specific autoimmune diseases. With Lenny Moise and AJ Vincelli, she coordinates the application of EpiVax tools to improving Protein Therapeutics like Botulinum Toxin and monoclonal antibodies such as Campath.
Chief Information Officer/ Chief Operating Officer
William Martin is the principal architect and developer of the EpiMatrix System. Building on the work done in Dr. De Groot’s Brown University laboratory, Mr. Martin has revised and expanded the EpiMatrix toolkit. In addition to developing new and improved predictive matrices for many Class I and Class II HLA alleles, Mr. Martin has developed a suite of protocols, ancillary tools and database structures allowing for fast and efficient analysis of input protein sequences. Since joining Dr. De Groot in 1998 Mr. Martin has developed algorithms, software, and protocols related to genome alignment and analysis, the identification of T cell epitopes, vaccine design, and the deimmunization of therapeutic proteins. As CIO at EpiVax, Mr. Martin manages the network, content, business process, and information management systems in place at EpiVax. In collaboration with Dr. De Groot, Mr. Martin has published many peer reviewed articles related to the prediction of T cell epitopes, vaccine design and protein deimmunization. Before joining EpiVax, Mr. Martin worked as a Team Leader, Business Analyst, Database Architect, Application Developer, Clinical Data Manager, and Research Assistant at PAREXEL International Corporation, and Abt Associates.
Cliff Grimm, MBA
Cliff joined EpiVax, Inc. in the summer of 2007 as the Associate Director of Finance. Soon after joining EpiVax, Cliff earned his MBA from the University of Phoenix. During his tenure, Cliff’s responsibilities have continuously evolved. Currently, he represents EpiVax as the Managing Director. In this role, Cliff leads all aspects of operations to include strategy development and execution. He also provides company-wide leadership and is responsible for fostering an environment of accountability, excellence, collaboration and innovation among the staff while ensuring EpiVax’s strategies and policies are executed in the most innovative and economically sound manner. Additionally, Cliff oversees site operations in several functional areas: financial and administrative management, personnel, business and project management, information technology, professional services and office management with the goal of continuously developing and improving systems. Prior to joining EpiVax, Cliff earned extensive experience in sales and operations with companies such as University of Phoenix, DHL WorldWide Express and Frito-Lay. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the GAIA Vaccine Foundation since 2011.
Debbie Bell, M.A., PHR
Human Resources Manager
Debbie is a US Air Force Veteran who served domestically and overseas from 2001-2009. Post-military, Debbie earned her master’s degrees from Salve Regina University and her PHR certification at Bryant University.
Debbie joined the EpiVax team in 2011 with 2 years of previous Human Resources experience. She is responsible for implementing HR related policies, procedures, services and programs for the staff. Debbie also heads up our recruiting efforts, coordinates training and development and ensures the safety and wellbeing of our employees. Her overall goal as the Human Resources Manager is to lead practices and objectives that will provide an employee-oriented, high performance culture that emphasizes empowerment, quality, productivity and standards, goal attainment, and the development of a superior workforce here at EpiVax.
Lenny Moise, Ph.D.
Scientific Director, Vaccine Research
Lenny Moise, PhD is Director of Vaccine Research at EpiVax, Inc. Dr. Moise received his PhD from the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Biochemistry at Brown University in Providence, RI in 2002. His research in Dr. Edward Hawrot’s laboratory focused on structure-function relationships of snake neurotoxin interactions with the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. Dr. Moise’s postdoctoral training at Brown University involved functional analysis of toxin binding sites engineered into toxin-insensitive ion channels. In 2005, he joined Dr. Anne De Groot’s laboratory at Brown University as an Instructor in Medicine in the Department of Medicine (Infectious Disease) to study T-cell epitope-driven vaccination and protein therapeutic immunogenicity. Dr. Moise joined EpiVax, Inc. in Providence, RI in 2006 where he is currently Director of Vaccine Research. He leads T-cell epitope-driven vaccine development projects using a genomes-to-vaccine approach that combines cutting edge immunoinformatic and immunologic methods. Additionally, his research efforts comprise de-immunization of protein therapeutics by epitope modification. In 2008, Dr. Moise accepted a part-time appointment as Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Rhode Island. He is a founding faculty member of the URI Institute for Immunology and Informatics, where he leads vaccine and immunotherapeutic development projects. Dr. Moise has published over 40 manuscripts and reviews and is supported by funding from the NIH and the American Thyroid Association.
Leslie Cousens, Ph.D.
Scientific Director, Protein Therapeutics
Dr. Cousens earned her PhD in Biology and Medicine at Brown University (1999) studying cytokine regulation of T cell-mediated immune responses to viral infections in vivo. and has continued to pursue her interest in immunology. As a post-doctoral fellow, Dr. Cousens initially focused on the cytokine and cell-mediated T cell response elicited upon infection of mice with the intracellular bacterium listeria monocytogenes. Expanding beyond cellular interactions in immunology, she then worked to define molecular mechanisms of cytokine-mediated regulation of T cell survival. Subsequently, as a Research Assistant Professor of Medicine at Boston University, in Cancer Immunotherapy Laboratory at Roger Williams Hospital, she applied her immunology background to the preclinical design, development, and clinical evaluation of novel T cell-based cancer therapies. Dr. Cousens joined the EpiVax team (2010) as Director of Protein Therapeutics where she leads research and development of Tregitope technology towards the goal of promoting T cell tolerance induction that would alleviate the burden of repeated and long-term medical interventions such as those associated with chronic autoimmune diseases and transplant maintenance.
Frances Terry, B.A.
Bioinformatics Program Manager
Frances Terry is the Bioinformatics Program Manager at EpiVax, where she oversees informatics-based analysis of commercial therapeutics and development of genome-derived vaccines. Prior to joining the EpiVax team, Ms. Terry amassed expertise in many laboratory techniques including flow cytometry, molecular and immunological assays, tissue culture and animal handling. She has contributed to research projects at Brown University and Roger Williams Medical Center, most recently developing standard operating procedures and serving as primary quality control operator for a cGMP drug manufacturing facility. Ms. Terry holds a degree in Biological Sciences from Smith College, where she investigated gene flow and diversity in coastal protozoans and became interested in host-pathogen co-evolution. She is currently enrolled in the Master’s of public health program at Brown University.
Mindy Marshall, M.S.
Mindy Marshall graduated from the University of Rhode Island with both a Bachelor and Master degree in Biological Sciences. At the beginning of her career in 2001 she played a critical role in the startup of a biotech company, BCR Diagnostics, Inc. For eight years she independently managed the laboratory while also performing bench work related to fluorogenic spore testing. In 2008 Ms. Marshall accepted a position at Rhode Island Hospital, managing a laboratory for an orthopedic surgeon. Her research was primarily focused on rotator cuff disease and subacromial bursitis, and included in vitro, in vivo and clinical work.
In 2012, Ms. Marshall joined EpiVax, Inc. as a laboratory manager. She quickly implemented critical processes to organize the laboratory allowing it to run more efficiently and effectively. After just over a year of service, Ms. Marshall was promoted to the position of project manager. In conjunction with Dr. Leslie Cousens, Ms. Marshall now manages the entire Tregitope portfolio.
Anthony G. Marcello, B.Sc.
Business Development Associate
Anthony Marcello graduated suma cum laude from the University of Rhode Island in 2012, with a B.Sc. in Medical Laboratory Science (Biotechnology track). Additionally, Marcello holds a certificate in Biotechnology Manufacturing and was awarded the URI’s University Academic Excellence Award (2012).
In 2011, he interned as a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow (RI SURF) at Brown University’s Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology & Biotechnology, in the lab of Dr. Wayne Bowen. During his internship, he helped characterized novel small molecule sigma-2 receptor ligands on cell preparations, and independently performed cytotoxic assays on human neuroblastomas. He was employed post-internship as an associate researcher. Marcello also has experience with various biological and cell based assays, immunological assays, mammalian cell culture and protein purification.
Marcello is currently the business development associate at EpiVax, where he supports the CEO with all marketing strategies, lead generation, sales development, account management, customer relations and new market identification. He also plans and attends many of EpiVax’ conferences and speaking engagements. He has a keen understanding of the immunogenicity risks associated with protein therapeutic development and is familiar with immunogenicity prediction techniques (in-silico, in-vitro, in-vivo), deimmunization strategies, tolerization approaches (Tregitopes), immunomodulation and T cell immunology.
Moise L, Marcello AG, De Groot AS, Tassone R, Martin W, Cousens L. Building Better Biotherapeutics and Vaccines by Design: EpiVax, Inc., an Immunology Company. R.I.
Med. J (2013). 2013 Feb 1;96(2):19-21. PMID: 23641421 [PubMed - in process]
Phoebe De Groot
Business & Science Associate
Phoebe De Groot serves as a Business & Science Associate and the representative for the new European office located in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She assists in business development and marketing as well as in performing supplemental tasks for the science and informatics teams. She represents EpiVax to clients and at scientific events and conferences. Phoebe earned her B.Sc. in Engineering with highest honors from Smith College. Her thesis research was on the design of a self-centering labyrinth seal for centrifugal gas compressors for which a patent is being filed as well as a comprehensive analysis of the “Design for X” methodology for integrated product development and design. Phoebe hopes to pioneer new frontiers for EpiVax both literal and metaphoric.