Operating Team

Meet Our Operating Team

Claudia Kloth, PhD

Vice President of Manufacturing

Dr. Kloth leads the manufacturing efforts for clinical and pre-clinical gene therapy vectors for Benitec.  Dr. Kloth has over 20 years of cGMP manufacturing and process development experience in therapeutics, including adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors used by Benitec in its hepatitis C, hepatitis B, AMD and OMPD programs.

Prior to joining Benitec, Dr. Kloth led the Process Development group at the CMO Lonza Viral Therapeutics and successfully developed, optimized and transferred robust viral-based products (Ad5, AAV, lentivirus) to cGMP manufacturing. She contributed to enabling process scalability from small to large manufacturing scale of over 1000L using disposable technologies.  She was also instrumental in establishing a scalable AAV process production platform.

During her tenure at Medarex Inc. as a process development specialist, she guided the process transfer and process validation activities of its most advanced anti-melanoma antibody product Ipilimumab, aka Yervoy (Bristol-Myers Squibb) approved by the FDA in 2011.

Dr. Kloth earned her Ph.D. in Biotechnology Engineering from the Technical University Berlin, Germany.  She joined Benitec in April 2015 and is based in New Jersey, U.S.A.

Peter Roelvink, DScAg

Senior Director Research

Peter joined Benitec in March 2015 and is responsible for overseeing scientific development in the San Francisco lab.

In 1989 Peter received a Doctorate in Agricultural Sciences from the Agricultural University of Wageningen, the Netherlands. After graduation, he completed two post-doctorals at the Agricultural University in the Netherlands  and Cornell University, New York on the use of baculoviruses as bio pesticides.

Between 1994 and 2003, he researched and developed targeted adenovirus vectors. Dr. Roelvink and his research colleagues were the first to demonstrate delivery of a targeted vector from its native receptor to an artificial receptor. Between 2003 and 2006, he was one of three Benitec senior scientists to design an AAV based short hairpin RNA interference treatment of Hepatitis C.

Peter is a (co) inventor on 19 issued US patents that cover RNAi vectors and approaches, targeted delivery of adenoviruses, tissue specific expression using adeno associated viral vectors and the use of adenovirus in vaccine strategy.

Tin Mao, PhD

Senior Scientist

Tin Mao is a Senior Scientist with a background in molecular and cellular immunology. He joined Benitec Biopharma in May 2014 and is currently the lead scientist overseeing the company’s research efforts for the Hepatitis B program. His postdoctoral training at Stanford University studying the role of microRNAs in immune cell development sparked a longstanding interest in translating a powerful biological process of RNA interference into life-saving therapeutics. Excited about the prospects of RNAi therapeutics following his postdoctoral experience, Tin joined Tacere Therapeutics in 2008 as a Research Scientist and was a significant contributor on their Hepatitis C and Age-Related Macular Degeneration programs. Tin has leveraged his expertise in microRNA biology to design and improve upon first generation shRNA expression molecules. This technology became the basis by which therapeutic shRNAs were designed for other in-house programs. Tin holds a B.S. in Biochemistry and a Ph.D. in Immunology, both from the University of California at Davis.

Shih-Chu Kao, PhD

Senior Scientist

Shih-Chu Kao is a Cellular and Molecular Biologist. She joined Benitec as a Senior Scientist in May 2014 and was one of the first two scientists who started the wet lab in Hayward, California. She is the lead scientist for Benitec’s Ocular Programs including Age-related Macular Degeneration.

Shih-Chu acquired her first experience in developing ddRNAi-based therapy during her postdoc at Harvard Medical School studying Alzheimer’s disease. She was recruited to Tacere Therapeutics in 2008 and was one of the key scientists who developed TTO33X, series of compounds targeting Hepatitis C virus. During a brief break between Tacere and Benitec, Shih-Chu was the leader of the target validation group at Quanticel Pharmaceuticals, a small molecule drug company acquired by Celgene, developing epigenetic drugs targeting cancer stem cells.

Shih-Chu holds a B.S. in Zoology from the National Taiwan University and earned her Ph.D. in Neurosciences at the Case Western Reserve University. She conducted her Postdoctoral studies in Howard Hughes Medical Institute sponsored laboratories at Harvard Medical School and Stanford University.

Vanessa Strings-Ufombah, PhD

Scientist II

Vanessa Strings-Ufombah is a Research Scientist II with training in Virology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) where she studied the mechanisms of poliovirus replication, with the goal of identifying novel host factors involved in the replication process. Following her Ph.D., Vanessa accepted an Associate Scientist position at a company where she continued to work in the field of virology. She specifically worked on production of an attenuated viral therapeutic for HIV. There she learned GLP and GMP procedures as well as the ins and outs of the viral manufacturing processes. After yearning to return back to bench science, in February of 2015 Vanessa joined Benitec Biopharma and is currently the lead scientist overseeing the company’s research efforts for the orphan disease, Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) program.

Patty Garcia, PhD

Scientist I

Patty Garcia is a Research Scientist with training in both immunology and cancer biology.  She is currently the lead scientist in the company’s research efforts to improve upon CAR-T technologies.

After receiving her B.S. from Santa Clara University, she went on to obtain her Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology with an emphasis in Immunology and Pathogenesis. Her thesis culminated in published work that identified miRNAs that govern key regulatory check-points in lymphocyte development. This work led her to have a long-standing interest in miRNAs.

Patty went on to complete her post-doctoral work in the Cancer Biology program at Stanford University. There, her work focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms by which Gain-of-Function mutations in the tumor suppressor p53, cause it to promote oncogenesis.  Upon completion of her post-doctoral work, Patty returned to her deep-rooted interest of miRNAS and lymphocyte biology and joined Benitec Biopharma in December, 2015.

Badriprasad Ananthanarayanan, PhD

Scientist II

Badriprasad Ananthanarayanan joined Benitec in Aug 2015 and serves as the lead scientist on the team developing novel DNA delivery technologies for Benitec’s ddRNAi pipeline.

Badri’s expertise is in the areas of bioengineering and drug delivery. He obtained his PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he developed peptide-based nanomaterials for targeted drug delivery and tissue engineering applications. He then pursued post-doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where he investigated mechanisms of brain tumor invasion using novel culture models for visualizing 3D cell migration. He also developed an innovative delivery technology for cell therapy that resulted in increased cell survival after transplantation.

Keiko Takahashi, PhD

Scientist I

Keiko obtained her Ph.D. in Bioscience at Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) in Japan, studying the regulation of p53 tumor suppressor by nuclear localization. Her post-doctoral study was at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory focusing on the molecular mechanisms of gene regulation resulting from epigenetic changes in stem cells. Two years of this work was supported by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). She then transitioned to the Stanford Neuroscience Gene Vector Virus Core and managed the production of AAV and lentivirus and started developing new AAV capsids.

Sonal Harbaran

Research Associate

Sonal Harbaran is a Senior Research Associate I with extensive training in cell and molecular biology. She obtained her B.S in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Georgia and has since worked in the fields of neuroscience, cancer virology and chronic kidney disease. She joined Benitec BioPharma in Nov 2015 and is currently working on the orphan disease, Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) program.

Edward Yang, PhD

Scientist I

Edward Yang is a Research Scientist with a background in virology and molecular biology. He joined Benitec Biopharma in April 2017 and serves as a scientist for the Head and Neck, Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC) oncology program.

Edward received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied the Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) proteome and contributed to the identification of HCMV-encoded microRNAs. He then went on to complete his post-doctoral work in the Pediatrics Infectious Disease department at Stanford University. There, his work focused on understanding the mechanisms of membrane fusion mediated by glycoproteins encoded by Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) and the role of fusion regulation on VZV skin pathogenesis. He also developed a novel assay to study the fusion-step in enveloped virus entry and adapted it into a platform to characterize neutralizing antibodies against HIV and Ebolavirus.

Kerrie Boyd

Director, Clinical Development

Kerrie joined Benitec in October 2017, bringing with her 24 years of experience in drug development and operations. She has held senior positions in pharma, biotech and CROs, and managed projects across most Asia-Pacific countries as well as the US, UK and Russia. Her most recent role was Director of Drug Development at Actinogen Medical where she was responsible for the clinical, CMC, non-clinical and regulatory operations and was integral to their successful IND in 2016.

She holds a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Chemistry and Biochemistry. Kerrie is based at the Benitec head office in North Sydney.

Claudia Kloth, PhD

Vice President of Manufacturing

Dr. Kloth leads the manufacturing efforts for clinical and pre-clinical gene therapy vectors for Benitec.  Dr. Kloth has over 20 years of cGMP manufacturing and process development experience in therapeutics, including adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors used by Benitec in its hepatitis C, hepatitis B, AMD and OMPD programs.

Prior to joining Benitec, Dr. Kloth led the Process Development group at the CMO Lonza Viral Therapeutics and successfully developed, optimized and transferred robust viral-based products (Ad5, AAV, lentivirus) to cGMP manufacturing. She contributed to enabling process scalability from small to large manufacturing scale of over 1000L using disposable technologies.  She was also instrumental in establishing a scalable AAV process production platform.

During her tenure at Medarex Inc. as a process development specialist, she guided the process transfer and process validation activities of its most advanced anti-melanoma antibody product Ipilimumab, aka Yervoy (Bristol-Myers Squibb) approved by the FDA in 2011.

Dr. Kloth earned her Ph.D. in Biotechnology Engineering from the Technical University Berlin, Germany.  She joined Benitec in April 2015 and is based in New Jersey, U.S.A.

Peter Roelvink, DScAg

Senior Director Research

Peter joined Benitec in March 2015 and is responsible for overseeing scientific development in the San Francisco lab.

In 1989 Peter received a Doctorate in Agricultural Sciences from the Agricultural University of Wageningen, the Netherlands. After graduation, he completed two post-doctorals at the Agricultural University in the Netherlands  and Cornell University, New York on the use of baculoviruses as bio pesticides.

Between 1994 and 2003, he researched and developed targeted adenovirus vectors. Dr. Roelvink and his research colleagues were the first to demonstrate delivery of a targeted vector from its native receptor to an artificial receptor. Between 2003 and 2006, he was one of three Benitec senior scientists to design an AAV based short hairpin RNA interference treatment of Hepatitis C.

Peter is a (co) inventor on 19 issued US patents that cover RNAi vectors and approaches, targeted delivery of adenoviruses, tissue specific expression using adeno associated viral vectors and the use of adenovirus in vaccine strategy.

Tin Mao, PhD

Senior Scientist

Tin Mao is a Senior Scientist with a background in molecular and cellular immunology. He joined Benitec Biopharma in May 2014 and is currently the lead scientist overseeing the company’s research efforts for the Hepatitis B program. His postdoctoral training at Stanford University studying the role of microRNAs in immune cell development sparked a longstanding interest in translating a powerful biological process of RNA interference into life-saving therapeutics. Excited about the prospects of RNAi therapeutics following his postdoctoral experience, Tin joined Tacere Therapeutics in 2008 as a Research Scientist and was a significant contributor on their Hepatitis C and Age-Related Macular Degeneration programs. Tin has leveraged his expertise in microRNA biology to design and improve upon first generation shRNA expression molecules. This technology became the basis by which therapeutic shRNAs were designed for other in-house programs. Tin holds a B.S. in Biochemistry and a Ph.D. in Immunology, both from the University of California at Davis.

Shih-Chu Kao, PhD

Senior Scientist

Shih-Chu Kao is a Cellular and Molecular Biologist. She joined Benitec as a Senior Scientist in May 2014 and was one of the first two scientists who started the wet lab in Hayward, California. She is the lead scientist for Benitec’s Ocular Programs including Age-related Macular Degeneration.

Shih-Chu acquired her first experience in developing ddRNAi-based therapy during her postdoc at Harvard Medical School studying Alzheimer’s disease. She was recruited to Tacere Therapeutics in 2008 and was one of the key scientists who developed TTO33X, series of compounds targeting Hepatitis C virus. During a brief break between Tacere and Benitec, Shih-Chu was the leader of the target validation group at Quanticel Pharmaceuticals, a small molecule drug company acquired by Celgene, developing epigenetic drugs targeting cancer stem cells.

Shih-Chu holds a B.S. in Zoology from the National Taiwan University and earned her Ph.D. in Neurosciences at the Case Western Reserve University. She conducted her Postdoctoral studies in Howard Hughes Medical Institute sponsored laboratories at Harvard Medical School and Stanford University.

Vanessa Strings-Ufombah, PhD

Scientist II

Vanessa Strings-Ufombah is a Research Scientist II with training in Virology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) where she studied the mechanisms of poliovirus replication, with the goal of identifying novel host factors involved in the replication process. Following her Ph.D., Vanessa accepted an Associate Scientist position at a company where she continued to work in the field of virology. She specifically worked on production of an attenuated viral therapeutic for HIV. There she learned GLP and GMP procedures as well as the ins and outs of the viral manufacturing processes. After yearning to return back to bench science, in February of 2015 Vanessa joined Benitec Biopharma and is currently the lead scientist overseeing the company’s research efforts for the orphan disease, Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) program.

Patty Garcia, PhD

Scientist I

Patty Garcia is a Research Scientist with training in both immunology and cancer biology.  She is currently the lead scientist in the company’s research efforts to improve upon CAR-T technologies.

After receiving her B.S. from Santa Clara University, she went on to obtain her Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology with an emphasis in Immunology and Pathogenesis. Her thesis culminated in published work that identified miRNAs that govern key regulatory check-points in lymphocyte development. This work led her to have a long-standing interest in miRNAs.

Patty went on to complete her post-doctoral work in the Cancer Biology program at Stanford University. There, her work focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms by which Gain-of-Function mutations in the tumor suppressor p53, cause it to promote oncogenesis.  Upon completion of her post-doctoral work, Patty returned to her deep-rooted interest of miRNAS and lymphocyte biology and joined Benitec Biopharma in December, 2015.

Badriprasad Ananthanarayanan, PhD

Scientist II

Badriprasad Ananthanarayanan joined Benitec in Aug 2015 and serves as the lead scientist on the team developing novel DNA delivery technologies for Benitec’s ddRNAi pipeline.

Badri’s expertise is in the areas of bioengineering and drug delivery. He obtained his PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he developed peptide-based nanomaterials for targeted drug delivery and tissue engineering applications. He then pursued post-doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where he investigated mechanisms of brain tumor invasion using novel culture models for visualizing 3D cell migration. He also developed an innovative delivery technology for cell therapy that resulted in increased cell survival after transplantation.

Keiko Takahashi, PhD

Scientist I

Keiko obtained her Ph.D. in Bioscience at Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) in Japan, studying the regulation of p53 tumor suppressor by nuclear localization. Her post-doctoral study was at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory focusing on the molecular mechanisms of gene regulation resulting from epigenetic changes in stem cells. Two years of this work was supported by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). She then transitioned to the Stanford Neuroscience Gene Vector Virus Core and managed the production of AAV and lentivirus and started developing new AAV capsids.

Sonal Harbaran

Research Associate

Sonal Harbaran is a Senior Research Associate I with extensive training in cell and molecular biology. She obtained her B.S in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Georgia and has since worked in the fields of neuroscience, cancer virology and chronic kidney disease. She joined Benitec BioPharma in Nov 2015 and is currently working on the orphan disease, Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) program.

Edward Yang, PhD

Scientist I

Edward Yang is a Research Scientist with a background in virology and molecular biology. He joined Benitec Biopharma in April 2017 and serves as a scientist for the Head and Neck, Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC) oncology program.

Edward received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied the Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) proteome and contributed to the identification of HCMV-encoded microRNAs. He then went on to complete his post-doctoral work in the Pediatrics Infectious Disease department at Stanford University. There, his work focused on understanding the mechanisms of membrane fusion mediated by glycoproteins encoded by Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) and the role of fusion regulation on VZV skin pathogenesis. He also developed a novel assay to study the fusion-step in enveloped virus entry and adapted it into a platform to characterize neutralizing antibodies against HIV and Ebolavirus.

Kerrie Boyd

Director, Clinical Development

Kerrie joined Benitec in October 2017, bringing with her 24 years of experience in drug development and operations. She has held senior positions in pharma, biotech and CROs, and managed projects across most Asia-Pacific countries as well as the US, UK and Russia. Her most recent role was Director of Drug Development at Actinogen Medical where she was responsible for the clinical, CMC, non-clinical and regulatory operations and was integral to their successful IND in 2016.

She holds a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Chemistry and Biochemistry. Kerrie is based at the Benitec head office in North Sydney.

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