Neil Fanger, PhD

President & CEO, Virtici, LLC
Principal Investigator, ASCEND Accelerator Hub

Neil Fanger has more than 20 years of experience in the life sciences industry, spanning business development, product strategy, and biological research. He is currently CEO of Virtici, a product development company that works closely with leading scientific investigators and their respective research institutions to commercialize innovations. As CEO, he has helped establish business affiliates in Boston, MA (Celdara) and Indianapolis, IN (MBV), and pipeline development partners, such as Daiichi Sankyo. Prior to Virtici, Dr. Fanger co-founded Teranode Corporation (acquired by Rage Frameworks in 2010). At Teranode, he led teams that introduced new products into the marketplace and secured worldwide partnerships with strategic customers such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, and GlaxoSmithKline. Prior to Teranode, Dr. Fanger focused on product development at Corixa and Immunex. Dr. Fanger is co-inventor on several patents covering novel biological therapeutics and software technologies, and co-author on numerous research publications in leading scientific journals. He earned a PhD in physiology from Dartmouth Medical School, and a BS in chemistry from Denison University.

Eric Prossnitz, PhD

Professor, Department of Medicine, University of New Mexico
Academic Principal Investigator, ASCEND Accelerator Hub

Eric Prossnitz has more than 25 years of experience in studying receptor-mediated signaling and drug discovery, having been continuously funded by the NIH since 1994. The goal of his research is to determine the role of individual estrogen receptors in health and disease, particularly cancer. He has published over 200 articles in the area of GPCR biology, drug discovery and physiology, and has made several important contributions to the GPCR field, including seminal studies of the 7-transmembrane G protein-coupled estrogen receptor, GPR30/GPER, along with the discovery of selective activators and inhibitors of this receptor. He received the 2002 UNM Dean’s Award of Distinction for Outstanding Faculty Performance, the 2009 UNM Excellence in Basic Research Award, and six STC Innovation Awards. He holds seven UNM-affiliated U.S. issued patents. Dr. Prossnitz received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley and completed post-doctoral training at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, where he advanced to faculty before relocating to UNM in 1997. He is currently a professor in the Division of Molecular Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine at UNM’s Health Sciences Center. Additionally, he is co-leader of the Cancer Therapeutics Research Program at UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center and holds the Maralyn S. Budke Endowed Chair in Cancer Chemical Biology and Therapeutics.

Jay Evans, PhD

Director, Center for Translational Medicine, University of Montana
Academic Co-Lead, ASCEND Accelerator Hub

Jay Evans is a Research Professor in the Division of Biological Sciences and Director of the Center for Translational Medicine at the University of Montana. Prior to joining the DBS Faculty at the University of Montana, Dr. Evans worked in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry for 15 years at GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines (formerly Corixa Corporation) where he held various positions including Senior Scientist, Investigator and Project Leader. While at GSK Vaccines, Dr. Evans worked on the discovery and development of novel vaccines, adjuvants and immunotherapeutics. Dr. Evans completed his Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital working on HIV immunology, stem cell transplantation and lentiviral-based gene therapy systems. Dr. Evans holds a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Oregon State University and a B.S. in biology from Pacific Lutheran University. Dr. Evans is also the President and CEO of Inimmune, a biotech company in Missoula, MT focused on the discovery and development of new immunomodulatory therapeutics for treatment of allergic diseases, upper respiratory tract infection, topical treatment of skin diseases and other diseases targeted through innate immune receptor activation or inhibition.