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.



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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 (Consulting)

Ildiko Csiki currently serves as consulting Chief Medical Officer, and she has served in the CMO role since August 2018. She has both academic and industry experience in immune-oncology.  Dr. Csiki joined 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.

Alice Drumheller
Vice President, Clinical Operations

Alice Drumheller has over twenty years’ experience in the clinical operations area with the focus on executing clinical trials. Prior to joining the Sensei Bio, Alice was Senior Director of Clinical Operations at MacroGenics where she executed the company’s clinical strategy. Previous to MacroGenics, Alice was part of the team at Amgen/Micomet where she contributed to the approval of BLINCYTO®. Alice has held positions of increasing responsibility at large pharmaceutical companies, start-up companies and clinical research organizations, including Nabi Biopharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Kendle (now Syneos), British Biotech and Henri Beaufour Institute (a subsidiary of Ipsen). Alice holds a BS in Public and Community Health from Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, CT.



Steven A. Fuller, PhD
Chief Biopharmaceuticals Development 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.

Edward van der Horst
Vice President, Preclinical Development

Edward van der Horst is a molecular pharmacologist with a strong focus on antibody drug development across diverse target classes in oncology.  He has 18 years of research and development experience from Zenith Epigenetics Ltd, Igenica Biotherapeutics Inc., OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Tularik, Inc. (now Amgen) and U3 Pharma GmbH (now Daiichi-Sankyo).  Edward’s contributions and discoveries have led to the clinical evaluation of several novel drug candidates at Igenica Biotherapeutics and OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, as well as to the first clinical stage anti-HER3 antibody at U3 Pharma GmbH.  Edward earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Max-Planck Institute of Biochemistry and conducted his master’s thesis at Max-Planck Institute of Neurobiology. He received his postdoctoral training at Tularik, Inc.  He graduated with a master’s degree of chemistry from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.


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Samuel Broder, M.D.

Dr. Broder is the former Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the largest and most important Agency for cancer research, where he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1989.  While at the NCI, he oversaw the development of numerous anti-cancer therapeutic agents, helped launch a number of large-scale clinical trials related to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer and inaugurated the highly successful SPORE Program.  Most recently, he served as Senior Vice President and Health Sector Head at Intrexon Corporation.  Dr. Broder spent his entire career in translational medicine and his laboratory interests have included antiretroviral therapy, the relationship between immunodeficiency disorders and cancer, the human genome, and the proteomics of cancer cells. In the mid-1980s, in response to the AIDS pandemic, he focused his attention on HIV-1/AIDS. His laboratory played a major role in developing the first 3 agents approved by FDA specifically to treat the AIDS virus, Retrovir® (AZT), Videx® (ddI), and HIVID® (ddC).  After serving as the Director of the NCI from 1989-1995, Dr. Broder served as Senior Vice President, Research and Development and Chief Scientific Officer at IVAX Corporation.  He then joined the Celera Corporation, as the Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer, and helped advance the human genome project, the elucidation of the 3 billion letters of code that make up human DNA. He has received numerous scientific awards related to his research in cancer and AIDS. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1993.

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.

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).

James Peyer, PhD

James Peyer, PhD is the Founder and CEO of a stealth-mode diversified pharmaceutical R&D holding company developing therapeutics targeting the biology of aging (‘geroscience’). The New York-based company builds, finances, and manages biotech companies. Dr. Peyer founded the company to translate laboratory breakthroughs in the extension of healthy lifespan into the clinic, predicting that the world is entering a revolution in biomedical research by targeting the root causes of aging and age-related disease.

Dr. Peyer has spoken on the topic of longevity biotech and investing for The Economist, TEDx, Longevity Leaders, ETH Zurich, and the Max Planck Institute on the Biology of Aging, to advance the mission of achieving widespread availability of longevity therapeutics this decade.

Before his current role, James was Founder and Managing Partner at Apollo Ventures, one of the major longevity-focused venture capital firms. Apollo has deployed over $20M and raised over $50M in the first three years of operations. He led investments in Cleara Biotech, Aeovian Pharmaceuticals, and Samsara Therapeutics and served on the Board and/or in executive roles for all three companies.

Prior to Apollo, James was a consultant at McKinsey & Company, earned his PhD in stem cell biology at UTSW as a National Science Foundation fellow, and received his B.A. with special honors from the University of Chicago.

Tom Ricks, MBA

Tom Ricks has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2015 and currently serves as Interim Chairman of the Board. 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.

Immuno-Oncology Advisory Board

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Alain Algazi, M.D.

Alain Algazi, M.D., is an oncologist and Associate Professor at The University of California San Francisco Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Algazi conducts clinical trials on personalized medical therapies for patients with head and neck and high-risk skin cancers, in addition to serving as the leader of the head and neck medical oncology research program at UCSF. Dr. Algazi has served as the national study chair for several pivotal trials in oncology and is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, and the American Association for Cancer Research. He also served previously as a member of The National Comprehensive Cancer Network Melanoma Panel.

Saar Gill, M.D., Ph.D.

Saar Gill, M.D., Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where his clinical practice is bone marrow transplantation. His laboratory studies novel approaches to produce effective and safe CAR T cells for the treatment of hematologic malignancies and CAR macrophages for the treatment of solid cancers. Dr. Gill is a scientific committee member at the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy (where he is a recent past Chair of the Cancer Gene and Cell Therapy committee) and at the American Society of Hematology, and he was recently elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation.

Sara Pai, M.D., Ph.D.

Sara Pai, M.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and an Associate Surgeon and Director of Translational Research in Head and Neck Cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital. She leads several immunotherapy trials in head and neck cancer patients.  Pai’s research interests focus on understanding mechanisms of immune evasion utilized by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and evaluates novel ways to reactive the host immune response against the virus as it relates to cancer cells. Dr. Pai is recognized both nationally and internationally as an expert in HPV-associated head and neck cancers and cancer immunotherapy, in addition she has a research laboratory that is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as well as industry.

Robert Pierce, M.D.

Robert Pierce, M.D., is the Scientific Director of the Immunopathology Lab in the Clinical Research Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Dr. Pierce is an Anatomic Pathologist with a strong academic and industry background in immuno-oncology. He was previously the Chief Scientific Officer of OncoSec. His research is focused on the mechanisms of tumor-induced immune tolerance and has longstanding expertise in the development of biomarkers to predict responses to immuno-oncology treatments. While at Merck, Dr. Pierce led a team focused on the development of tissue-based biomarkers for Merck’s anti-PD- 1 therapeutic antibody (pembrolizumab; KEYTRUDA®) and was the medical lead responsible for kicking-off the clinical trials of pembrolizumab in Merkel cell carcinoma and mycosis fungoides.

Robert Schreiber, Ph.D.

Robert Schreiber, Ph.D., is an Andrew M. Bursky and Jane M. Bursky Distinguished Professor of Pathology and Immunology, Professor of Molecular Microbiology, co-leader of the tumor immunology program at the Siteman Comprehensive Cancer Center and founding Director of the Center for Human Immunology and Immunotherapy Programs at The Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. Schreiber is recognized globally as a pioneer in efforts to understand how the immune system may be useful in battling cancer.  His research interests include the molecular and cellular basis of cancer immunoediting (a process that he discovered whereby the immune system protects against cancer development and shapes tumor immunogenicity), the biology and signaling of cytokines with special emphasis on IFN-gamma and TNF, as well as the role of IFN-gamma in tumor immunity. He has served in leadership roles for many international organizations. His has achieved multiple honors, including the 2017 Balzan Prize for Immunological Approaches in Cancer Therapy, membership in the National Academy of Sciences (US), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Cancer Research Institute’s Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Basic Tumor Immunology and the AACR-CRI Lloyd J. Old Award in Cancer Immunology.

Daniel H. Sterman, M.D.

Daniel H. Sterman, M.D., is the Thomas and Suzanne Murphy Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine in the Departments of Medicine and Cardiothoracic Surgery at the New York University School of Medicine, and Director of the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine and Director of the Multidisciplinary Pulmonary Oncology Program at NYU Langone Health in New York City. He was previously lead clinical investigator in the multidisciplinary Thoracic Oncology Research Group at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the Principal Investigator of the Clinical Trials Project for the NCI.  Sterman’s research interests are related to the treatment of thoracic malignancies, specifically as they apply to the synergy of molecular medicine, tumor immunotherapy and novel technologies in Interventional Pulmonology.  Over the past 20 years, he has focused on the translation of laboratory discoveries from the bench to the bedside: conducting multiple human clinical trials of gene therapy and vaccine therapy for lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other pleural malignancies. More recently, as Director of the NYU PORT (Pulmonary Oncology Research Team), Dr. Sterman has expanded his research interests into assessment of the immune microenvironment of tumor-draining lymph nodes, as well as the development of local intra-tumoral and intra-nodal immunotherapies.


Jan 01, 1970



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.


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.

Vice President, Clinical Development, Oncology

The Vice President, Clinical Development, Oncology will be trained in oncology (e.g. medical oncology, hematology-oncology, radiation oncology) and will serve as a key member of the Senior Leadership Team participating in the strategic development and operational execution of Sensei Bio’s oncology pipeline. This role is both very “hands on” and “strategic” and the individual will interact closely with all members of the company and with external vendors, principal investigators and key thought leaders.

Full job description




Sensei Biotherapeutics

620 Professional Drive

Gaithersburg, MD 20879




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