A focal point
for broad impact
in immuno-oncology
Uniquely human targetWe have conducted
pioneering work with ASPH,
a human embryonic antigen.
Tumor-specific antigenASPH is tumor-specific and
has been detected in more
than 20 cancer types.
Patient-focused impactOur precision therapies
include cancer vaccines
and T-cell therapies.

Sensei Biotherapeutics is an innovator in the field of next-generation cancer immunotherapies, including cancer vaccines and T-cell therapies. We are pioneering the development of precision therapeutics that target ASPH, a powerful, uniquely human, tumor-specific antigen to treat cancer. SNS-301, our lead program, is a first-in-class cancer immunotherapy and has successfully completed a Phase 1 clinical study with plans for further clinical development in hematological malignancies and solid tumors.

About Us

Our mission is to pioneer the development of first-in-class precision immunotherapies based on a novel cancer target.  Our passion is to develop innovative immuno-oncology medicines that have potential for a positive and profound impact on the health and quality of the lives of patients with unmet needs.

Sensei Biotherapeutics is pioneering the development of precision cancer therapeutics that target a novel and untapped tumor-specific antigen called ASPH, or aspartate β-hydroxylase.  ASPH is expressed in more than 20 cancer types, both solid and hematologic tumors, and correlates with poor patient survival. Our therapeutics are immunologically optimized to effectively promote robust and multi-functional, target-specific immune response, and are being developed with proprietary companion diagnostics to enable precision medicine through highly-specified patient selection.

Additionally, Sensei has pioneered a proprietary immuno-oncology technology platform, called SPIRIT, to aid the immune system in the detection and elimination of cancer. The presence of subtle differences in antigen expression between cancer and normal is key to this process.

Headquartered in Gaithersburg, MD, Sensei has a pipeline of cancer vaccines and T-cell therapies based on a proprietary R&D approach in-house and in collaboration with key academic collaborators at Brown University.

Our Pipeline

 

ASPH: A novel, first-in-class cancer target

Sensei’s immunotherapies target human aspartate β-hydroxylase (ASPH), a cell surface enzyme normally expressed during human embryonic development.  Following embryonic development, expression of ASPH occurs only during malignancy where it is involved in cancer cell growth, proliferation and evasion of the immune system.

ASPH is a unique and attractive target for cancer immunotherapies because:

  • It is a tumor-specific antigen that offers unique selectivity for directing the immune system to recognize and fight cancer.
  • ASPH-targeted therapies have broad potential applications in cancer, as this antigen has been detected in more than 20 different types of cancer, both solid tumors and hematological malignancies, and is correlated with tumor resistance and poor patient survival.
  • ASPH has been shown to play a significant role in driving cancer cell growth and proliferation and evades detection by the immune system.
  • Immunotherapies can be designed to target ASPH through different drug modalities, including cancer vaccines and T-cell therapies.

Our Pipeline

SNS-301 is a first-in-class cancer vaccine that has successfully completed a Phase 1 clinical study. Intradermal administration of SNS-301 demonstrated a favorable safety profile and improvements in disease biomarkers.  It also demonstrated robust, dose-dependent ASPH-specific CD8+ T cells and B-cell responses. Based on these positive results, Sensei plans to initiate a Phase 2 trial for SNS-301 in various hematological malignancies and solid tumors in 2019.

SNS-723 is a first-in-class CAR-T cell therapy that is currently in preclinical development. The recognition domain of the CAR is the scFv portion of a high affinity anti-ASPH mAb. We continue to advance the development of our cell therapy program targeting ASPH as a direct way to target T-cells in advanced cancers, with the goal of moving into clinical trials as soon as possible.

Our Approach

 

Our SPIRIT platform enables the development of immuno-oncology therapies that teach the immune system to recognize and attack cancer, and also use a precision medicine approach that leverages companion diagnostics. Our precision cancer therapeutics – including those that address our novel cancer target, ASPH – have the following unique features:

Optimal immune response. Our immunotherapies are designed based on proprietary targeting, optimizing and presenting of our novel antigen, ASPH, to the immune system, enabling robust and multi-functional immune response to detect and destroy cancer.
Multiple drug modalities. Sensei designs ASPH-targeted therapies with different modalities, cancer vaccines and T-cell therapies, for different patient populations and in different combinations to address various cancers at different stages.
Precision targeting to patients. With broad application in many types of cancer, use of our ASPH-targeted therapeutics includes a companion diagnostic to select patients with ASPH-expressing tumors that are most likely to respond.

The SPIRIT platform overcomes disabled immune recognition caused by cancer. The immune system has evolved to protect its host from foreign pathogens, effectively distinguishing healthy ‘self’ tissues from ‘non-self’. Cancer is a unique challenge to the immune system. It arises from ‘self’ making immune recognition challenging, yet it is known to be altered. Immune recognition of the subtle differences between ‘self’ and ‘non-self’ is key to effective cancer immunotherapy.

 

SENIOR LEADERSHIP

 
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John K. Celebi, MBA
President and CEO

John Celebi has over 20 years of experience building innovative entrepreneurial biotechnology companies.  Previously, Mr. Celebi served as the Chief Operating Officer of X4 Pharmaceuticals where he established and oversaw the company’s oncology business strategy.  He also served as Chief Business Officer of Igenica Biotherapeutics, Inc., an immunotherapy company formed by The Column Group, 5AM Ventures, Orbimed and Third Rock Ventures, where he established key academic and industry relationships, including with MedImmune.  He has extensive transactional and alliance management experience. Previously, he served as Vice President of Business Development, New Product Planning and Alliance Management at ArQule, Inc., where he played a central role in the formation of alliances with Roche, Daiichi-Sankyo, and Kyowa Hakko Kirin.  Mr. Celebi was one of the early employees at Tularik, Inc., where he conducted drug discovery and basic research for an anti-viral drug program. Mr. Celebi received an M.B.A. from Carnegie Mellon University and a B.S. in Biophysics from the University of California, San Diego.

Pauline Callinan, PhD
Vice President, Business Development

Pauline Callinan has over a dozen years of experience forming partnerships between biotechnology companies, sources of venture capital and academic groups. Prior to joining Sensei, Dr. Callinan served in MedImmune’s Partnering and Strategy Group within the oncology therapeutic area, where she engaged in business development activities covering licensing of innovative assets, technologies and strategic partnerships. Prior to MedImmune, Dr. Callinan held various positions at Johns Hopkins Technology Transfer, most recently as Portfolio Director, Life Sciences, where she managed the Life Sciences Intellectual Property portfolio with a team of Technology Transfer Associates.  Dr. Callinan completed a post-doc at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where she studied the epigenetics of human disease.  She has published a book chapter, review articles and first authored publications in peer reviewed journals. Dr. Callinan holds a PhD degree in Biochemistry from the Louisiana State University, and a BSc Human Biology (with honors) from Loughborough University, U.K.

Ildiko Csiki, MD, PhD
Chief Medical Officer

Ildiko Csiki has recently joined Sensei in August 2018.  She has both academic and industry experience in immune-oncology.  Dr. Csiki comes to Sensei from Inovio Pharmaceuticals where she had been Vice President Immuno-Oncology Clinical Development since 2016.  She also served for two years at Merck as Immuno-Oncology Clinical Lead and Senior Director of Clinical Research for Keytruda.  She was global lead for a large phase III gastric pivotal study.  Prior to that, Dr. Csiki was at GlaxoSmithKline in a blended role with medical monitor responsibilities on phase I, II, and III oncology clinical trials.  Dr. Csiki received both her BA and BS degrees from the University of Arkansas and her MD/PhD degrees in the medical scientist program at Vanderbilt University.  She completed sub-specialty training and residencies at Vanderbilt in Internal Medicine and Radiation Oncology.  She then served for two years as Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania.  Currently, Dr. Csiki is also pursuing a degree in general management from the Wharton Business School with a focus on Executive Coaching/Leadership and Strategic Innovation.

Steven A. Fuller, PhD
Chief Operating Officer

Steven Fuller has over 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries working on a range of therapeutic and diagnostic products. Prior to joining Sensei, Dr. Fuller served as Vice President, Product and Process Development at Nabi Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. While at Nabi, he held positions of increasing responsibility in the development, GMP manufacture, quality control, quality assurance and clinical testing of vaccine and immune globulin products for infectious disease and drugs of addiction. Dr. Fuller was an integral part of a team that filed two biologics license applications for immunotherapeutic products and also filed numerous Investigation New Drug (IND) applications for vaccine products. At ADI Diagnostics, Inc., Toronto, Ontario, Dr. Fuller was Director of Operations for ADI’s diagnostics development and manufacturing of tests for cancer and infectious disease.  He is author of numerous peer-reviewed publications and multiple patents. Dr. Fuller received his B.S. degree in Biology from Wheaton College and his Ph.D. in genetics from Michigan State University.

Hossein A. Ghanbari, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer

Hossein Ghanbari is a co-founder of Sensei Biotherapeutics and currently serves as its Chief Science Officer and Board Chair.  He served as Chairman, CEO and CSO of the company until February 2018 during which he led the company into clinical studies with SNS-301 and was instrumental in raising significant financing for the company.  Dr. Ghanbari began his career in the pharmaceutical industry at Abbott Laboratories in Chicago, where he developed several pharmaceuticals and the first ever commercialized diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).  He was part of the New Drug Application (NDA) team for Leupron, the successful prostate cancer drug, as well as for Survanta, the current drug of choice for preventing and treating respiratory distress syndrome in premature infants.  He directed the Analytical sections of the Investigational New Drug (IND) application for an antibody-based antiviral drug and was a member of Abbott’s Technical Advisory Board.  Dr. Ghanbari was inducted into the prestigious honorary organization, the Volwiler Society, established by Abbott to recognize the company’s most distinguished and accomplished scientists.  After nearly a decade with Abbott, Dr. Ghanbari left to form Molecular Geriatrics Corporation, (a biopharma company focused on developing drugs for neurodegenerative diseases) and served as its Senior Vice-President for R&D.  Subsequently, Dr. Ghanbari was instrumental in establishing Nymox Pharmaceutical Corporation (NASDAQ: NYMX), and served as Senior Vice-President for R&D and Strategic Planning as well as a Director on its board.  While with Nymox, he developed the first commercially available cerebral spinal fluid- and urine-based diagnostics tests for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and identified opportunities for complementary technologies that Nymox in-licensed, which together established the company’s international presence as a leader in AD diagnostics and therapeutics.  Prior to entering private industry, Dr. Ghanbari held professorships at Pennsylvania State University, University of Florida, and Arya-Mehr University of Technology (now Sharif University).  He was also on the academic staff of The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences as an Adjunct Professor.  He currently serves as a Board member of the Gastric Cancer Foundation.  Dr. Ghanbari received his Bachelor of Sciences degree, with distinction, from the American University in Beirut, and his master’s and doctorate degrees in Biochemistry from Pennsylvania State University.  He has authored over 70 peer reviewed publications, and is an inventor on nearly 100 patents and patent applications worldwide.

Michael S. Lebowitz, PhD
Vice President, Research

Michael Lebowitz has more than 20 years of experience in biomedical research within the biotech industry having previously served as the Director of Research at 20/20 GeneSystems, Inc. and Vice President of Research at Ariadne Diagnostics, LLC.  He was a leader in the research leading up to the IND approval of Sensei Bio’s lead vaccine candidate, SNS-301, and the commercial launch of six cancer diagnostic tests.  Dr. Lebowitz holds a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Biochemistry, Cellular, and Molecular Biology where he subsequently completed a three-year fellowship in immunology in the Department of Pathology, Division of Immunopathology. He is an adjunct Lecturer in the Advanced Academic Program in Biotechnology within the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at JHU.

 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

 
Expand All
John K. Celebi, MBA

John Celebi has over 20 years of experience building innovative entrepreneurial biotechnology companies.  Previously, Mr. Celebi served as the Chief Operating Officer of X4 Pharmaceuticals where he established and oversaw the company’s oncology business strategy.  He also served as Chief Business Officer of Igenica Biotherapeutics, Inc., an immunotherapy company formed by The Column Group, 5AM Ventures, Orbimed and Third Rock Ventures, where he established key academic and industry relationships, including with MedImmune.  He has extensive transactional and alliance management experience. Previously, he served as Vice President of Business Development, New Product Planning and Alliance Management at ArQule, Inc., where he played a central role in the formation of alliances with Roche, Daiichi-Sankyo, and Kyowa Hakko Kirin.  Mr. Celebi was one of the early employees at Tularik, Inc., where he conducted drug discovery and basic research for an anti-viral drug program. Mr. Celebi received an M.B.A. from Carnegie Mellon University and a B.S. in Biophysics from the University of California, San Diego.

Mark Lee Ford, PhD

Mark Lee Ford leads business turnarounds of companies in industries such as financial services and consumer products. Based in Tokyo and Hong Kong, he also educates young entrepreneurs in the region by serving as a business school professor. Dr. Ford’s scientific interests include fluid mechanics and oncology. He received his BSc degree in Astrophysics from Trinity College, University of Toronto, MS and Ph.D. degrees in Aerospace Engineering from Boston University, and MBA degree from Duke University.

Hossein A. Ghanbari, PhD

Hossein Ghanbari is a co-founder of Sensei Biotherapeutics and currently serves as its Chief Science Officer and Board Chair.  He served as Chairman, CEO and CSO of the company until February 2018 during which he led the company into clinical studies with SNS-301 and was instrumental in raising significant financing for the company.  Dr. Ghanbari began his career in the pharmaceutical industry at Abbott Laboratories in Chicago, where he developed several pharmaceuticals and the first ever commercialized diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).  He was part of the New Drug Application (NDA) team for Leupron, the successful prostate cancer drug, as well as for Survanta, the current drug of choice for preventing and treating respiratory distress syndrome in premature infants.  He directed the Analytical sections of the Investigational New Drug (IND) application for an antibody-based antiviral drug and was a member of Abbott’s Technical Advisory Board.  Dr. Ghanbari was inducted into the prestigious honorary organization, the Volwiler Society, established by Abbott to recognize the company’s most distinguished and accomplished scientists.  After nearly a decade with Abbott, Dr. Ghanbari left to form Molecular Geriatrics Corporation, (a biopharma company focused on developing drugs for neurodegenerative diseases) and served as its Senior Vice-President for R&D.  Subsequently, Dr. Ghanbari was instrumental in establishing Nymox Pharmaceutical Corporation (NASDAQ: NYMX), and served as Senior Vice-President for R&D and Strategic Planning as well as a Director on its board.  While with Nymox, he developed the first commercially available cerebral spinal fluid- and urine-based diagnostics tests for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and identified opportunities for complementary technologies that Nymox in-licensed, which together established the company’s international presence as a leader in AD diagnostics and therapeutics.  Prior to entering private industry, Dr. Ghanbari held professorships at Pennsylvania State University, University of Florida, and Arya-Mehr University of Technology (now Sharif University).  He was also on the academic staff of The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences as an Adjunct Professor.  He currently serves as a Board member of the Gastric Cancer Foundation.  Dr. Ghanbari received his Bachelor of Sciences degree, with distinction, from the American University in Beirut, and his master’s and doctorate degrees in Biochemistry from Pennsylvania State University.  He has authored over 70 peer reviewed publications, and is an inventor on nearly 100 patents and patent applications worldwide.

Mehdi Hatamian, PhD

Mehdi Hatamian received his B.S.  degree in Electrical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology in 1977, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, in 1978 and 1982 respectively.  Most recently, Dr. Hatamian was Chief Scientist of Central Engineering and Fellow at Broadcom Limited, and Senior VP Engineering at Broadcom Corporation. Previously, Dr. Hatamian worked for NASA’s Space Shuttle program, developing hardware and software designs to support in-flight biomedical experiments. He was a member of the Visual Communications Research and the VLSI Systems Research departments of Bell Laboratories, where he was named Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff. He also served as Vice President of Technology at Silicon Design Experts (SDE), Inc., a company he co-founded. SDE was acquired by Level One Corp. which was later acquired by Intel Corp.  He has published 50 papers and holds 94 issued patents with several patents pending.  Dr. Hatamian has been inducted in the National Academy of Engineering for his contributions to the development of integrated circuits for video, communications, and digital signal processing. He is a Fellow member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Dr. Hatamian received the “#1 Patent Holder” award from Broadcom Corp. and the Broadcom Fellow award. He received the University of Michigan’s ECE Division Alumni Merit Award for 2008. He served on the Engineering Advisory Council of the University of Michigan. He has participated in numerous national and international conferences and other professional activities in his field as keynote speaker, organizer, session chair, panelist, invited lecturer, and moderator. In addition to Sensei Bio, Dr. Hatamian has served on the board of directors of PharmacoKinesis, Inc.

Bob Holmen, JD

Mr. Holmen has over 25 years’ experience working in and advising technology, healthcare and financial services companies.  He has engaged at every phase of corporate development, from formation to financing to operations to exiting, and has served in diverse roles from electrical engineer (Hughes Aircraft) to an associate at major law firms (Latham &Watkins, Morrison & Foerster) to general counsel for a series of technology and financial services companies to co-founder and managing director for a family of venture funds (Miramar Venture Partners).

Currently, Mr. Holmen provides legal services to investors through his boutique law firm Investor Counsel, focused on the venture capital and private equity markets.  His work encompasses fund formation, financing and operations, structuring and negotiating investments, mergers and acquisition, and purchaser representation.  In addition, he continues to serve as a Managing Director for the legacy (fully invested) Miramar Venture Partners funds.  Mr. Holmen also has served as an adjunct professor, teaching “Venture Capital Law” at the UC, Irvine Law School and “Investing in New Ventures” at USC’s Marshall School of Business, in addition to writing about venture and M&A matters.  He received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and his J.D. from UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall).

Tom Ricks, MBA

Tom Ricks has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2015. Mr. Ricks is the former Chief Investment Officer of H&S Ventures LLC, a private investment firm. Prior to taking this position with H&S Ventures, he was Chief Executive Officer of The University of Texas Investment Management Company. Mr. Ricks also served as Vice Chancellor for Asset Management for The University of Texas System and as Executive Director of Finance and Private Investments. He has been a director of Newfield Exploration Company (NYSE:NFX) since 1992 and is Chairman of its Audit Committee. He is a former director of BDM International, DTM Corporation, LifeCell Corporation and Argus Pharmaceuticals. Mr. Ricks also previously served on the Investment Committee of the University of California Foundation, Irvine and previously served on the board of the Ocean Institute.   Mr. Ricks holds a B.A. in Economics from Trinity College, an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago.

NEWS

 

CAREERS

 

Sensei Bio is an innovator positioned to build the next generation of immuno-oncology therapeutics. We have deep expertise in developing novel biologic therapies for cancer patients where unmet needs remain high.

Integrity
Excellence
Innovation
Teamwork
 

We are a patient-focused, team-oriented, and product-driven organization. Our diverse employee base is united by a common vision: to be a globally recognized leader in the discovery, development and commercialization of precision therapeutics that positively impact the lives of patients. Like our namesake, the sensei, we work hard to constantly improve our and create products that teach the immune system to recognize and attack cancer.

Please check back soon for new job openings.

CONTACT US

 

Sensei Biotherapeutics

620 Professional Drive

Gaithersburg, MD 20879

 

+1.240.243.8000

info@senseibio.com

 
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