Board of Directors
Jay Backstrom, M.D., M.P.H.
Jay Backstrom, M.D., M.P.H. most recently served as executive vice president, research and development, at Acceleron Pharma through its acquisition by Merck in 2021. Previously, Dr. Backstrom was chief medical officer and head of regulatory affairs for Celgene Corporation, where he was instrumental in bringing REBLOZYL®, co-developed by Celgene and Acceleron, through to regulatory approval. Prior, he worked as vice president of clinical research and development, myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia, as well as chief medical officer, through the completion of the Bristol Myers Squibb-Celgene merger in 2019. Dr. Backstrom now serves as a non-executive board director of Autolus Therapeutics, Be Biopharma and Disc Medicine. He earned his M.D. and completed medical training at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, and he received a Master’s in public health from the Saint Louis University School of Public Health.
Kapil Dhingra, M.B.B.S.
Kapil Dhingra, M.B.B.S. is chair of the LAVA Therapeutics board of directors. Dr. Dhingra is a medical oncologist and a physician-scientist with a proven track record in academic research, patient care and drug development. He served as vice president, head of the oncology disease biology leadership team and head of oncology clinical development at Hoffmann-La Roche (“Roche”), during which he led numerous drug approvals, including Herceptin®, Tarceva® and Avastin®. Prior to joining Roche, he worked in the oncology clinical development group at Eli Lilly and Company. Dr. Dhingra has served as a faculty member at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Indiana University School of Medicine and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Dhingra is currently a member of the boards of directors/supervisors of Black Diamond Therapeutics, Inc., Replimune, Inc., Inc., Autolus Therapeutics plc, Median Technologies, Servier, Curie Therapeutics and Kirilys Therapeutics. He previously served on the boards of several successful biotech companies, including Biovex, Micromet, Algeta, YM Biosciences, Epitherapeutics, Advanced Accelerator Applications, Exosome Diagnostics and Five Prime. He is a member of the NCI Experimental Therapeutics Panel. Dr. Dhingra founded KAPital Consulting, LLC in 2008, a company dedicated to helping biotechnology, pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies realize the clinical and commercial advances in oncology. Dr. Dhingra obtained his bachelor of medicine-bachelor of surgery degree from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, India. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, New York Medical College and completed his fellowship in hematology and oncology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.
Steve Hurly, MS.c., M.B.A.
Steve Hurly, MS.c., M.B.A. is the chief executive officer and a board director at LAVA Therapeutics. He brings nearly two decades of leadership experience in the life sciences industry. He served as president and chief executive officer of Sesen Bio, a NASDAQ-listed, late-stage oncology firm. Prior he served as the president and chief executive officer of Viventia Bio Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company acquired by Sesen Bio Inc. in September 2016. Steve has more than 15 years of experience in the investment banking business. He has served on the board of directors of PHusis Therapeutics Inc., a private targeted small molecule therapeutics company, since May 2011. Previously, he was the chief executive officer of Burrill & Co.’s merchant banking division, a finance business for life science companies. He was also the head of the life sciences investment banking practice at Boenning & Scattergood, a securities asset management and investment banking firm. He graduated from Swarthmore College with a bachelor of arts degree in engineering and earned a master of business administration from the University of Chicago.
Peter A. Kiener, DPhil
Dr. Peter Kiener is board director at LAVA Therapeutics. Dr. Kiener is an industry veteran with extensive experience in both biologics and immunotherapy, and biopharmaceutical research and development. Previously, he was chief scientific officer at Sucampo, which was acquired by Mallinckrodt and served as chief scientific officer of Ambrx Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs). Dr. Kiener was also president and co-founder of Zyngenia Inc., an early-stage biopharmaceutical company and served as executive vice president and global head of biologics research and development at MedImmune LLC, the global biologics arm of AstraZeneca. He received a Bachelor of Science from Lancaster University in Lancaster, UK and his DPhil from Oxford University, Sir William Dunn School of Pathology.
Stefan Luzi, M.Sc., M.Phil., Ph.D.
Stefan Luzi, Ph.D. joined Gilde Healthcare in 2015. He focuses on venture and growth capital investments in the biopharmaceutical sector. He led several investments and currently represents Gilde on the boards of LAVA Therapeutics B.V., Amphista Therapeutics Ltd. and Lumicks B.V. Prior to joining Gilde, Dr. Luzi worked at Merck KGaA where he completed international assignments in the global business intelligence and M ventures divisions. Dr. Luzi received a bachelor of science degree in biology and master of science degree in biotechnology from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) and a master of philosophy degree in bioscience enterprise from the University of Cambridge. He completed his doctor of philosophy degree with Nobel Laureate Sir Gregory Winter at the MRC laboratory of molecular biology in Cambridge, where he developed a bicyclic peptide-based drug discovery platform.
James Noble, M.A.
James Noble, M.A., most recently served as chief executive officer of Adaptimmune Therapeutics plc until 2019 after co-founding it in 2008; he remains on the board. Prior, Mr. Noble was chief executive officer of Immunocore, which he also co-founded. Mr. Noble has also served as a non-executive board director for publicly traded life science companies, including as deputy chairman of GW Pharmaceuticals until its acquisition by Jazz Pharmaceuticals in 2021. Currently, Mr. Noble is chairman of Orexo AB, Sutura Therapeutics and Celleron Therapeutics. Mr. Noble received an M.A. from the University of Oxford.
Christy J. Oliger
Christy J. Oliger has over 30 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry and is recognized for building highly effective teams, leading significant product launches and having broad therapeutic expertise. Most recently, Ms. Oliger served as senior vice president, Oncology Business Unit Head at Genentech, where she also held numerous senior leadership roles of increasing responsibility across a variety of therapeutic areas including oncology, neurology, rare disease, respiratory, dermatology and immunology. In addition, she led Roche’s global portfolio management function comprised of a late-stage development portfolio of greater than 300 projects. Prior to Genentech, Ms. Oliger held management positions at Schering-Plough. She currently serves as a member of the board at Karyopharm Therapeutics, Reata Pharmaceuticals, and Replimune Therapeutics. She was a member of the board of Sierra Oncology until the company was acquired by GSK in 2022. Ms. Oliger holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Mary E. Wadlinger
Ms. Mary Wadlinger is a board director at LAVA Therapeutics. Ms. Wadlinger brings 25 years of experience as a strategic human resources leader in biotechnology and global biopharmaceuticals. Ms. Wadlinger was senior vice president and Chief Human Resources Officer at Forma Therapeutics where she led the organization and people strategy through critical growth and reorganization as the company transformed from drug discovery to a fully integrated drug development and commercial readiness company. Prior to Forma, she served as vice president, human resources at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Takeda Pharmaceuticals where she served as a key leader in numerous corporate transformations, growth initiatives, M&A activity, and overall integration within Takeda. Ms. Wadlinger earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from the University of Maine Business School.
Karen Wilson, C.P.A.
Karen Wilson, C.P.A. has served as one of the LAVA Therapeutics supervisory directors since March 2021. She currently serves on the board of directors of Angion Biomedica, Connect Biopharma and Vaxart, Inc. Ms. Wilson served as senior vice president of finance at Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc until September 2020 after serving as vice president of finance and principal accounting officer. Prior to joining Jazz Pharmaceuticals in February 2011, Ms. Wilson served as vice president of finance and principal accounting officer at PDL BioPharma, Inc. She also previously served as a principal at the consulting firm of Wilson Crisler LLC, chief financial officer of ViroLogic, Inc., chief financial officer and vice president of operations for Novare Surgical Systems, Inc., and as a consultant and auditor for Deloitte & Touche LLP. Ms. Wilson is a certified public accountant and received a bachelor of science degree in business from the University of California, Berkeley.