Leading our research: Garland and Yanofsky
The two scientists leading Tosk’s efforts to change the fundamental nature of cancer care were inspired to pursue science in one case by his dad, in another case, by his grandfather.
Actually Dr. Bill Garland, Vice President of Research & Development, credits not only his grandfather but President John F. Kennedy for the scientific path he took. Bill’s grandfather was gassed and shot in World War I, and after the war, was provided a government job in Washington DC as a disabled veteran. Bill grew up admiring his grandfather’s refusal to let something as “minor” as damaged lungs and a gunshot wound get in the way of his job, or his life. President Kennedy’s role was to emphasize the importance of science and engineering to the future of the country and mankind.
“This was the age of the space race, sputnik, intense competition with the Russians,” Garland says. “President Kennedy inspired me and many others to pursue science by stressing the ‘endless possibilities’ that science held for each one of us, and the nation. I entered a science fair competition, won it, and I was hooked. I happened to be good in chemistry, so I decided to major in chemistry.”
In Steve Yanofsky’s case, it was his father, the world-renowned geneticist Charles Yanofsky, who was the inspiration. The younger Yanofsky, now Vice President of Research, puttered (or more accurately, got in the way, he says) in his father’s lab at Stanford University literally from the time he can remember. By his early teenage years, he became “chief bottle washer.”
“Most kids, especially in California, were outside playing ball, or whatever, “he says. “I liked to play too, but my dad’s lab was like home to me. I loved the microscopes, the Petri dishes, the beakers — all the sights, smells and sounds. I especially loved the intensity of the pursuit of knowledge, and the joy at achieving a breakthrough.”
Inspired, both set their sights on becoming PhDs. Yanofsky received his doctorate in biochemistry at the University of California, San Francisco, and followed up as a post-doctoral fellow in the lab of genetics pioneer Dr. Herbert Boyer, who was the co-founder of Genentech. He has worked for large companies and small, including Affymax, which went public and was subsequently purchased by Glaxo. At Affymax for 13 years, he directed the high throughput screening group, great training for the screening he now does for Tosk. Garland’s PhD is in medicinal chemistry, which he earned at the University of Washington. He also worked for companies large and small, including 20 years with Roche, where he was Head of International Project Management.
Both cite their broad-based experience as well as their education as a perfect fit for their roles at Tosk. “I learned basic science in school,” Garland says, “and in business, I learned the complexity involved in moving a drug through discovery, trials, and regulatory approval. It’s a complicated, non-linear process.” Understanding the process, he says, came in handy when he steered Tosk’s first patented drug, TK-90, into human trials in cancer patients, in May of this year. “Human studies are a big step for any company,” he emphasizes, “but, in particular, for a small company like ours. We obviously don’t have the staff or the financial resources of Big Pharma, but that’s not always an advantage. Our progress shows what a dedicated, focused group of scientists can accomplish when they believe in their mission.”
Yanofsky learned first hand at Affymax and, subsequently, at other drug development companies, the critical role toxicity plays in the science of cancer research. “There are many effective therapies available to cancer patients today,” he says, “but if patients get sick because of the drugs they take or the radiation they undergo, their doctors have to eliminate or cut back on optimum dosage, which short circuits the entire treatment process.”
It’s the challenge of making therapies more effective and safe as well as the small company environment that brought the two scientists to Tosk. “Tosk is one of the few development companies that is totally focused on enhancing commonly administered cancer drugs by eliminating their toxic effects,” Yanofsky says, “I’m a molecular biologist, and I appreciate that I can spend virtually all my time in our lab working to reach a goal that is noble and achievable.” Garland concurs: “We spend almost all of our time in the lab, screening for compounds that can literally transform cancer therapy. If we succeed, cancer patients across the world will have a better quality of life and a better opportunity to beat the disease. What scientist wouldn’t want that as their legacy?
Brian D. Frenzel, President and CEO
Mr. Frenzel has over 25 years experience as a biomedical company executive, including serving as CEO of Centaur Pharmaceuticals, CEO of Adeza Biomedical, CEO of Vesta Medical, and COO of Genelabs Technologies. Previously, Mr. Frenzel was director of corporate planning at Syntex Corporation, a principal at Booz, Allen & Hamilton, a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, and a lieutenant in the United States Navy Nuclear Power Program. Mr. Frenzel holds a BS in physics and an MBA from Stanford University.
Harold Crow, Chairman of the Board
Mr. Crow is a retired pharmaceutical and life science executive with extensive experience in general management, product development, business development, sales, and marketing. Mr. Crow co-founded and served as President and CEO of Hystagel and Aquintel. Previously, Mr. Crow held the positions of director of international operations at Alza Corporation and area director for an eight-country Asian region and director of business and public sector development for Syntex Corporation. Mr. Crow received a BA from San Francisco State University and holds a certificate in finance and accounting from the Wharton School of Business.
Charles Garvin, Director
Mr. Garvin is a Principal with Palisades Associates, a merchant banking firm investing in companies on behalf of institutional investors. In his role at Palisades, Mr. Garvin has served on the boards of a number of companies, including TVC Communications, Riviera Trading and EK Holdings. Previously, Mr. Garvin was Founder, Chairman and CEO of Telescan Systems and Personics Corporation and was a Principal at the Beta Group and a Vice President at the Boston Consulting Group. Mr. Garvin holds a JD from Harvard Law School, studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, and holds a BA, magna cum laude, from Harvard University.
William A. Garland, PhD, VP, R&D
Dr. Garland is a consultant and entrepreneur specializing in medicinal chemistry and pharmaceutical discovery and development. Dr. Garland has over 35 years experience in the pharmaceutical industry, including serving as senior director and head of international product management at Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc., vice president of pharmaceutical development at Centaur Pharmaceuticals, vice president of development at Lpath, Inc., and CEO of AngioGenex, Inc.
Stephen Yanofsky, PhD, VP, Research
Dr. Yanofsky is an experienced cell biologist, pharmacologist and project manager with more than 20 years in the biotechnology industry. He held positions of increasing responsibility with Affymax, Receptron, Multispan and Amunix before coming to Tosk. His prior positions have involved scientific work in molecular biology, biochemistry and pharmacology, including extensive work in cell culture and analytical assay development to support drug discovery efforts. Dr. Yanofsky holds a Ph.D. in biology from the University of California, San Francisco.
Solomon Ungashe, PhD, Vice President, Medicinal Chemistry.
Dr. Ungashe is an accomplished medicinal chemist with extensive experience in discovering and optimizing pharmaceutical products. He has particular expertise in molecular modeling, combinatory chemistry, and parallel synthesis. Prior to joining Tosk, Dr. Ungashe served as a discovery chemist at ATT Bell Labs, Affymax, and Chemocentryx, where he helped to build the medicinal chemistry department and led the group that discovered the novel CCR2 agonist, CCX282. He has more than 20 patents on proprietary medicinal chemistry methods and pharmaceutical compounds. Dr. Ungashe received an MA in organic chemistry and a PhD in bioorganic chemistry from Princeton University.
Scientific & Medical Advisors
Donald Kennedy, PhD, Scientific Advisor
Dr. Kennedy retired in 2008 as editor-in-chief of Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Previously, he served as the Commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration, the President of Stanford University, the Provost of Stanford University, and a Professor of Biology at Stanford University.
J. Lawrence Marsh, PhD, Scientific Advisor
Dr. Marsh is Professor of Developmental and Cell Biology and of Pathology and Director of the Developmental Biology Center at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Marsh is an internationally recognized expert in using Drosophila to engineer models of human diseases to identify and validate therapeutic targets and drugs that slow the disease processes. He serves on the editorial board of BioEssays and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
David Shuman, DVM, Scientific Advisor
Dr. Shuman is a graduate of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis. He has extensive experience in small animal, large animal and laboratory animal medicine and has more than 15 years of experience working with USDA registered research facilities. He owns and operates the Westside Animal Hospital in Santa Cruz, California.
William Sullivan, PhD, Scientific Advisor
Dr. Sullivan is professor of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Dr. Sullivan is a recognized expert in using Drosophila embryonic divisions for real-time profiling of anti-cancer drugs and the molecular and cellular mechanisms driving cytokinesis.
Jeffrey Thomas, PhD, Scientific Advisor
Dr. Thomas is an Assistant Professor of Cell Biology and Biochemistry at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. Professor Thomas is an expert in Drosophila genetics, particularly as they relate to development, reproduction, and disease. He holds appointments in both the School of Medicine and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
Steven Deitcher, MD, Medical Advisor
Dr. Deitcher is a physician-entrepreneur who has developed therapeutics, diagnostics, and drug-device combinations for hematology, oncology, infectious disease, and cardiovascular medicine. He holds BS and MD degrees from the Northwestern University Medical School. Dr. Deitcher is the author of over 225 peer-reviewed journal papers, abstracts, and book chapters.
Ravi Patel, MD, Medical Advisor
Dr. Patel is the founder and director of the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center in Bakersfield, CA and an Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Patel is American Board Certified in internal medicine with a subspecialty in medical oncology. In addition to directing a leading West Coast cancer center, Dr. Patel is a practicing oncologist and has been the principal investigator for over 50 human clinical studies of cancer therapeutics.
Ralph W. deVere White, MD, Medical Advisor
Dr. deVere White is professor and chair of the Department of Urology at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine and director of the UC Davis Cancer Center which, under his direction, became an NCI-designated cancer center. He is past chair of the prostrate cancer research program for the U.S. Department of Defense. His research program focuses on the molecular biology of prostate cancer with the goal of developing new therapies.