SPEAKERS

2021 Meeting

GREG SIMON

Executive Director, Biden Cancer Initiative
Executive Director, White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force

Chief of Domestic Policy under Vice President Al Gore

Pfizer, Former Director of Worldwide Policy

Mr. Simon serves as President of the Biden Cancer Initiative at the Biden Foundation. Previously, he was the Executive Director of the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force, a position created by President Barack Obama and for which he was chosen by Vice President Joe Biden in March 2016. As Executive Director, Greg assembled and led a team of eight professionals to support the work of the Vice President in developing and promoting the goals of the Cancer Moonshot in numerous meetings and presentations and to coordinate the work of the Task Force comprised of twenty cabinet and sub-cabinet offices.

Over the past ten months Greg and his team worked across the Task Force, academia and the private sector to create over seventy innovative collaborations. On October 17th, 2016, Greg joined the Vice President to present the Cancer Moonshot reports to President Obama in an Oval Office briefing. On December 7, 2016, the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act provided $1.8 billion for the Cancer Moonshot over the next seven years.

In his career, Greg has held senior positions in both chambers of Congress, was Chief Domestic Policy Advisor to Vice President Al Gore, was a senior strategy consultant to a variety of international technology CEO’s, co-founded and led FasterCures and the Melanoma Research Alliance, was the Senior Vice President at Pfizer for worldwide policy and public engagement and was the CEO of Poliwogg, a financial services company creating unique capital market opportunities in healthcare and life sciences. He has developed a reputation as a visionary strategist, a dynamic public speaker and writer, and as a knowledgeable analyst of emerging trends in healthcare, information technology, innovative drug research and development and patient advocacy.

Greg came to Washington, DC in 1985 as General Counsel and then Staff Director of the Investigations Subcommittee of the House of Representatives’ Science, Space and Technology Committee. During his years with the Science Committee, Greg organized a series of investigatory hearings on biotechnology policy and was involved in hearings and investigations related to NASA and the Challenger explosion, scientific misconduct, the use of human biological materials in research and the artificial heart program.

Mr. Simon served as Sen. Gore's Legislative Director from 1991 to 1993 before joining him in the White House as his Chief Domestic Policy Advisor. He was the lead staffer for the Clinton-Gore Administration for development and passage of the Telecommunications Reform Act of 1996 as well as development of the National and Global Information Infrastructure. He represented the Vice President on the National Economic Council, helped negotiate the US-Russia agreement on the International Space Station and oversaw a number of key initiatives, including programs at the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Human Genome Project. He was also instrumental in crafting the regulatory framework that is now the foundation for the biotechnology industry.

Following his White House service Greg was CEO of Simon Strategies and provided strategic advice to CEO’s of major firms such as Sony, Cisco, Netscape, Motorola, Sega and AOL.

Starting in 2003, Mr. Simon worked with Mike Milken to co-found FasterCures/The Center for Accelerating Medical Solutions. FasterCures has become an organization valued and recognized for catalyzing systematic change in the process of discovery and development and of new therapies for deadly and debilitating diseases.

Under Greg’s leadership, FasterCures created the FasterCures Philanthropy Advisory Service, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  This initiative accelerates and increases the flow of philanthropic support to nonprofit medical research organizations by providing in-depth data on the methods, goals, and potential impacts of nonprofit medical research organizations engaged in specific disease areas. He also created The Research Acceleration and Innovation Network (TRAIN) to promote innovation in disease research and to support the activities of organizations engaged in cutting-edge research.

While at FasterCures Greg co-founded the Melanoma Research Alliance with Leon and Debra Black.

From 2009-1012 Simon was Senior Vice President for Worldwide Policy and Patient Engagement at Pfizer, Inc. He led a global team of professionals in:  1) worldwide government policy, 2) science policy, 3) economic policy and research, and 4) international policy. He advised the CEO on the company’s efforts in Healthcare Reform.  He also focused on engaging patients more productively in research and clinical trials and on helping Pfizer develop policies, practices, and medical solutions to improve health, happiness and productivity.

Prior to becoming Executive Director of the Cancer Moonshot, Greg was the CEO of Poliwogg, a financial services company creating unique capital market opportunities in healthcare and life sciences. Poliwogg’s first index, the Poliwogg Medical Breakthroughs Index, was the basis for the best performing health Exchange Traded Fund, “SBIO,” in 2015.

The journal Nature Medicine named Greg one of “Ten People to Watch” in health care policy, noting that he was among “a handful of influential people who quietly keep the wheels of biomedical science turning.” In 2010 he received the Genetic Alliance’s “Art of Advocacy” award. In May 2011 Greg was invited to be the second lecturer in the Constantin Spiegelfeld Lecture series of the Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. He is the recipient of the Arab American Institute’s 2017 Najeem Halaby Public Service Award established by Queen Noor in memory of her father. He is a regular presenter at the Milken Institute Global Conference, the OECD, the Washington Campus (a nonprofit educational institution in Washington, D.C.) and at health conferences and academic institutions around the country.

He received his law degree from the University of Washington in 1983 where he was a member of the Law Review and the Moot Court. He has a B.A. in history from the University of Arkansas.

LIEPING CHEN, MD, PHD

Discoverer, PD-L1

Co-Leader, Cancer Immunology, Yale Cancer Center

United Technologies Corporation Professor in Cancer Research and Professor of Immunobiology

Lieping Chen studies immune cell communications via cell surface protein-protein interactions. He is also interested in translating laboratory findings to treat human diseases including cancer, autoimmune diseases and infection.


In 1992, Dr. Chen showed the first proof-of-concept study that the B7-CD28 family molecules could be the targets for cancer immunotherapy. This study inspires subsequent studies targeting the B7-CD28 family molecules for the treatment of human cancer.


In 1999, Dr. Chen, then at the Mayo Clinic, first to discover a molecule he called B7-H1, which is now also known as PD-L1. He subsequently showed that PD-L1 is expressed by several types of tumors and that its activity can cause the death of T cells, thus preventing them from eliminating cancer cells. Bringing these lines of inquiry full circle, he later showed that blocking this interaction between PD-1 and PD-L1 by monoclonal antibodies improved the immune system’s ability to eliminate tumors in a 2002 paper. Chen’s work provided an important foundation for the subsequent development of immunotherapies designed to block this activity, and thereby enable more effective immune responses against cancer. Dr. Chen also initiated and help organized the first-in-man clinical trial of anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody for treating human cancer in 2006, when he moved to the Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, and developed PD-L1 staining as a biomarker to predict treatment outcome. His discoveries directly led to the development of anti-PD-1/PD-L1 antibody therapy against broad spectrum of human cancers. These discoveries have revolutionized cancer treatment.
 

Other important breakthroughs made by Dr. Chen's laboratory include the development of an agonist antibody against the 4-1BB co-stimulatory pathway, also known as CD137. Multiple 4-1BB-targeting antibodies have since been developed and are now being evaluated in clinical trials for a variety of cancer types. Dr. Chen’s laboratory also discovered various molecular pathways with T cell costimulatory and coinhibitory functions and/or their applications in human disease treatment. These pathways include B7-H2 (ICOSL), B7-H3, B7-H4, B7-H5/CD28H, PD-1H (VISTA), TNFRSF19, RELT, LIGHT/HVEM, B7-H2/CD28/CTLA-4 (human), SALM5/HVEM, FGL1/LAG-3, Siglec-15 etc. Many of these findings are now being developed clinically for the treatment of human diseases.

DR. BRIAN LEYLAND JONES
Former Director of Emory and McGill Cancer Centers
CMO National Foundation for Cancer Research
Chief Science Officer, The Darwin Foundation

Brian Leyland-Jones, BSc (Ist class Hons), MB BS, PhD, FRACP, FRCPC is the Chief Medical Officer and Scientific Advisory Board Member for the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) and Chief Scientific Officer of The Darwin Foundation.   He also serves as the Chief Medical Officer of OTraces, Xylonix and the N OF 1 Mission, collectively devoted to the implementation of prevention and cure of malignancy globally.  He sits on several national and international boards including the Asian Foundation for Cancer Research (AFCR), NED Biosystems, Non-Pareil, Ratio and is Director Emeritus for the WIN Consortium.  He founded Xanthus, AKESOgen and Viviphi.

Dr.  Leyland-Jones holds biochemistry, medical, and doctoral degrees from the University of London. Following residency training at Hammersmith, Brompton, St. Bartholomew’s and London hospitals, he completed a clinical pharmacology fellowship at Cornell University and a medical oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He then joined the academic staff at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and New York Hospitals with a special research interest in Early Phase clinical, clinical pharmacological and biomarker evaluation of many anticancer compounds, including the platinums and anthracycline analogs in use today. In 1983, he moved to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to head the Developmental Chemotherapy section. During his time with the NCI, he was responsible for the overall development of approximately 70 anti-cancer compounds in various stages of transition from in-vitro screening to Phase III clinical trials, including overseeing the early development of paclitaxel in Phase 1 and 2 trials. From 1990 to 2000, he served as founding chair of Oncology and director of the McGill University Comprehensive Cancer Centre. He recruited and built a broad multifaceted cancer centre, including a robust cross-hospital clinical trials enterprise, with deep clinical pharmacologic and biomarker support. Dr. Leyland-Jones continued as the Minda de Gunzberg Chair in Oncology and professor of medicine at McGill University in Montreal, Canada for 7 additional years, focusing on the development and biomarker strategies of several of the new targeted oncologic agents.

He joined Emory University in 2007. As Director of the Winship Cancer Centre and Associate Vice-President of Health Sciences, Dr. Leyland-Jones lead the Centre to obtain National Cancer Institute Cancer Centre Designation, the first in the State of Georgia, and for the first time in 30 years.  Dr. Leyland-Jones was instrumental in building the Genomics Medicine Program at the Avera Cancer Institute in Sioux Falls, SD where he was the Vice President of Molecular and Experimental Medicine from 2014-2019.   Dr. Leyland-Jones’ principal academic contributions have been in the fields of anticancer therapy development, the pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacogenetics of oncological clinical trials, the translation of preclinical models into the clinic, biomarker endpoints in Phase I/II clinical trials, and screening and mechanistic studies of novel targeted and chemotherapeutic anticancer agents.

Dr. Leyland-Jones is the recipient of numerous research grants, and has served as principal, co-principal and co-investigator on more than 100 clinical studies. He has authored and co-authored more than 210 peer-reviewed articles and book contributions, 25 books and book chapters, 425 abstracts and 35 patents.  He has a robust speaking and private consulting practice that takes him all over the world.

DR. ALFRED SLANETZ

CEO, Geneius Biotechnology

Former CEO, Bluebird Bio

Former Head of Product Development, Genetech

Dr. Slanetz is the founder of Geneius Biotechnology and has been President, Chief Executive Officer and a director of the Company full time since its inception. Prior to co-founding the Company, he served as Chief Executive Officer and President of Bluebird Bio.

 

Dr. Slanetz also served as Vice President, Business Development of TRANSGENE in May 1996. From 1994 to 1996, he served as Manager, New Product Planning and Development at Genentech Inc. Prior to that, Dr. Slanetz was a Management Consultant for Arthur D. Little.

 

He received his Ph.D. in Molecular and Immunobiology from Yale University, as well as a Masters from Brown University.

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