Aya Jakobovits, Ph.D. – President and Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Jakobovits joined Kite in September 2010 and brings over 20 years of broad experience in the biotech industry. Prior to joining Kite, Dr. Jakobovits served as Executive Vice President, Head of Research and Development at Agensys, Inc., an affiliate of Astellas Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which acquired Agensys in a deal valued at $537 million in December 2007. Prior to the acquisition, Dr. Jakobovits served as Senior Vice President, technology and Corporate Development, and Chief Scientific Officer of Agensys, which she joined in 1999 and led its transition from a small gene discovery lab into a fully integrated biotech company. She directed research and development, clinical, business and corporate development, and intellectual property activities. Under her leadership, the company established a large proprietary portfolio of novel cancer targets protected by a strong patent estate, a clinical pipeline of therapeutic human antibodies in multiple cancer indications, and partnerships with Genentech, Merck, sanofi-aventis and Seattle Genetics.
Before joining Agensys, Dr. Jakobovits served as the Director, Discovery Research and Principal Scientist at Abgenix, Inc., which was spun out of Cell Genesys in 1996, based on XenoMouse® technology developed under her leadership. Abgenix was acquired by Amgen, Inc. for $2.2 billion. Dr. Jakobovits initiated the development of XenoMouse® technology in 1989 at Cell Genesys, Inc., where she was a scientist founder and served as Director of Molecular Immunology. Dr. Jakobovits was a postdoctoral fellow at Genentech, Inc. and at the University of California, San Francisco. She received her Ph.D. in Life Sciences from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. Dr. Jakobovits is an author of over 50 scientific publications and inventor on over 100 patents related to XenoMouse® technology, proteomics technology, novel cancer targets and antibody therapeutics.
Arie Belldegrun, M.D., FACS – Executive Chairman and Founder
Dr. Belldegrun is Professor of Urology, holds the Roy and Carol Doumani Chair in Urologic Oncology, and Director of the UCLA Institute of Urologic Oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Dr. Belldegrun has been closely involved with the founding, development and sale of several private and public biopharmaceutical companies. In 1996 he founded Agensys, and served as its founding Chairman of the board of directors. Dr. Belldegrun was also the founding vice-chairman of the board of directors and chairman of the scientific advisory board of Cougar Biotechnology that was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 2009 in a $970 million transaction.
Dr. Belldegrun also serves as chairman and partner of Two River Group, a New York–based venture capital firm and merchant bank focusing on building biotechnology companies. He is Chairman of Arno Therapeutics, Inc. and a Director of Nile Therapeutics, Inc., two portfolio companies of Two River Group. Dr. Belldegrun completed his M.D. at the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem, his post graduate fellowship at the Weizmann Institute of Science and his residency in Urological Surgery at Harvard Medical School. Prior to UCLA, Dr. Belldegrun was at the National Cancer Institute/NIH as a research fellow in surgical oncology and immunotherapy under Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg. He has authored more than 400 scientific and medical papers related to urological cancers, immunotherapy, gene therapy, and cancer vaccines. He is certified by the American Board of Urology, and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Association of Genitourinary Surgeons (AAGUS). Dr. Belldegrun’s laboratory has developed GM-CAIX and related products and has published extensively on the potential of CAIX in cancer therapy.
Adrian Bot, M.D., Ph.D. – Chief Scientific Officer
Dr. Bot brings over 13 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry and expertise in discovery, research and development of active immunotherapies in oncology. Before joining Kite, Dr. Bot served as Vice President of Research at MannKind Corp, where he led the efforts to discover and advance through development a number of immunotherapies and targeted therapies for different cancer indications, such as MKC1106-MT for melanoma and MKC1106-PP for various solid tumors. Prior to joining MannKind, he served as Director of Immunology at Allecure Corp. and Director of Immunology at Alliance Pharmaceutical Corp., where he led the research and development of novel vaccine adjuvants and immunotherapies.
Dr. Bot has authored more than 75 scientific publications in basic and applied immunology and is an inventor on more than 10 patents on immune therapeutic approaches and innovative drugs for autoimmune diseases and oncology. He is presently the Editor in Chief of the International Reviews of Immunology, a past Associate Editor of the Journal of Immunology and a member of the Medical and Scientific Review Committee of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Dr. Bot received his M.D. degree from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Timisoara, Romania, and his Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. He conducted his post-graduate training as a Guest Scientist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA.
Marc Better, Ph.D., Vice President, Product Sciences
Dr. Better joined the Kite leadership team in Jan 2013. He brings more than 20 years of experience as
a biotechnology professional in biologics CMC; upstream, downstream, analytical and drug product
process development; non-GMP and GMP manufacturing; commercial manufacturing support;
technology transfer for biologics; contract manufacturing of recombinant proteins; and regulatory
interactions. Dr. Better has a proven track record of strong business skills and technical depth.
Prior to joining Kite, Dr. Better was Executive Director, Process Science at Boehringer Ingelheim
where he led a group of 50 scientists and engineers responsible for process development, technology
transfer and overall CMC activities for biotechnology products. Before joining Boehringer Ingelheim,
Dr. Better was Executive Director, Process Development at Amgen where he led the development
effort for licensure of the monoclonal antibody Vectibix® in the US, Europe, Japan and more than 30
other jurisdictions. Dr. Better joined Amgen through the acquisition of Abgenix in 2006, where he
served as Vice President, Process Sciences. Prior to Abgenix, Dr. Better was Vice President, Technical
Development at XOMA.
Dr. Better received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Brandeis University and holds a B.S in Microbiology
from Michigan State University. He is an author on more than 35 scientific publications, and inventor on
more than 20 issued US patents.
Antoni Ribas, M.D., Ph.D. – Special Advisor, Clinical Research and Development
Antoni Ribas, M.D., Ph.D. is Professor of Medicine, Professor of Surgery, and
Professor of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).
He trained at the University of Barcelona, Spain, with postdoctoral research and clinical fellowships at UCLA.
He is the Director of the Tumor Immunology Program at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC)
and the Chair of the Melanoma Committee at SWOG (Southwest Oncology Group). Dr. Ribas is also a
permanent committee member of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) grant review panels and an elected
member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI).
Dr Ribas is a physician-scientist who has conducted laboratory and clinical research in malignant melanoma, focusing on adoptive cell
transfer with T cell receptor (TCR) engineered lymphocytes, anti-CTLA4 antibodies, BRAF-targeted
therapies and nanoparticle-siRNA. These studies have been published in numerous journals including
the New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, Nature Medicine, Nature Communications, Proceedings of
the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and others.
He has been a consultant for numerous clinical development drug programs for major companies like Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Genentech, GSK, Millennium,
Novartis, Pfizer, Plexxikon, Roche, and others.