Meet Our Operating Team
Claudia Kloth PhD
Vice President of Manufacturing
Dr. Kloth leads the manufacturing efforts for clinical and pre-clinical gene therapy vectors for Benitec. Dr. Kloth has over 20 years of cGMP manufacturing and process development experience in therapeutics, including adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors used by Benitec in its hepatitis C, hepatitis B, AMD and OMPD programs.
Prior to joining Benitec, Dr. Kloth led the Process Development group at the CMO Lonza Viral Therapeutics and successfully developed, optimized and transferred robust viral-based products (Ad5, AAV, lentivirus) to cGMP manufacturing. She contributed to enabling process scalability from small to large manufacturing scale of over 1000L using disposable technologies. She was also instrumental in establishing a scalable AAV process production platform.
During her tenure at Medarex Inc. as a process development specialist, she guided the process transfer and process validation activities of its most advanced anti-melanoma antibody product Ipilimumab, aka Yervoy (Bristol-Myers Squibb), approved by the FDA in 2011
Dr. Kloth earned her Ph.D. in Biotechnology Engineering from the Technical University Berlin, Germany. She joined Benitec in April 2015 and is based in New Jersey, U.S.A.
Appointed April 2015
Peter Roelvink DScAg
Senior Director Research
Peter joined Benitec in March 2015 and is responsible for overseeing scientific development in the San Francisco lab.
In 1989 Peter received a Doctorate in Agricultural Sciences from the Agricultural University of Wageningen, the Netherlands. After graduation, he completed two post-doctorals at the Agricultural University in the Netherlands and Cornell University, New York on the use of baculoviruses as bio pesticides.
Between 1994 and 2003, he researched and developed targeted adenovirus vectors. Dr. Roelvink and his research colleagues were the first to demonstrate delivery of a targeted vector from its native receptor to an artificial receptor. Between 2003 and 2006, he was one of three Benitec senior scientists to design an AAV based short hairpin RNA interference treatment of Hepatitis C.
Peter is a (co) inventor on 19 issued US patents that cover RNAi vectors and approaches, targeted delivery of adenoviruses, tissue specific expression using adeno associated viral vectors and the use of adenovirus in vaccine strategy.
Appointed March 2015
Tin Mao PhD
Tin Mao is a Senior Scientist with a background in molecular and cellular immunology. He joined Benitec Biopharma in May 2014 and is currently the lead scientist overseeing the company’s research efforts for the Hepatitis B program. His postdoctoral training at Stanford University studying the role of microRNAs in immune cell development sparked a longstanding interest in translating a powerful biological process of RNA interference into life-saving therapeutics. Excited about the prospects of RNAi therapeutics following his postdoctoral experience, Tin joined Tacere Therapeutics in 2008 as a Research Scientist and was a significant contributor on their Hepatitis C and Age-Related Macular Degeneration programs. Tin has leveraged his expertise in microRNA biology to design and improve upon first generation shRNA expression molecules. This technology became the basis by which therapeutic shRNAs were designed for other in-house programs. Tin holds a B.S. in Biochemistry and a Ph.D. in Immunology, both from the University of California at Davis.
Appointed May 2014
Shih-Chu Kao PhD
Shih-Chu Kao is a Cellular and Molecular Biologist. She joined Benitec as a Senior Scientist in May 2014 and was one of the first two scientists who started the wet lab in Hayward, California. She is the lead scientist for Benitec’s Ocular Programs including Age-related Macular Degeneration.
Shih-Chu acquired her first experience in developing ddRNAi-based therapy during her postdoc at Harvard Medical School studying Alzheimer’s disease. She was recruited to Tacere Therapeutics in 2008 and was one of the key scientists who developed TTO33X, series of compounds targeting Hepatitis C virus. During a brief break between Tacere and Benitec, Shih-Chu was the leader of the target validation group at Quanticel Pharmaceuticals, a small molecule drug company acquired by Celgene, developing epigenetic drugs targeting cancer stem cells.
Shih-Chu holds a B.S. in Zoology from the National Taiwan University and earned her Ph.D. in Neurosciences at the Case Western Reserve University. She conducted her Postdoctoral studies in Howard Hughes Medical Institute sponsored laboratories at Harvard Medical School and Stanford University.
Appointed May 2014
Vanessa Strings-Ufombah PhD
Vanessa Strings-Ufombah is a Research Scientist II with training in Virology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) where she studied the mechanisms of poliovirus replication, with the goal of identifying novel host factors involved in the replication process. Following her Ph.D., Vanessa accepted an Associate Scientist position at a company where she continued to work in the field of virology. She specifically worked on production of an attenuated viral therapeutic for HIV. There she learned GLP and GMP procedures as well as the ins and outs of the viral manufacturing processes. After yearning to return back to bench science, in February of 2015 Vanessa joined Benitec Biopharma and is currently the lead scientist overseeing the company’s research efforts for the orphan disease, Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) program.
Appointed Feb 2015
Patty Garcia PhD
Patty Garcia is a Research Scientist with training in both immunology and cancer biology. She is currently the lead scientist in the company’s research efforts to improve upon CAR-T technologies.
After receiving her B.S. from Santa Clara University, she went on to obtain her Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology with an emphasis in Immunology and Pathogenesis. Her thesis culminated in published work that identified miRNAs that govern key regulatory check-points in lymphocyte development. This work led her to have a long-standing interest in miRNAs.
Patty went on to complete her post-doctoral work in the Cancer Biology program at Stanford University. There, her work focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms by which Gain-of-Function mutations in the tumor suppressor p53, cause it to promote oncogenesis. Upon completion of her post-doctoral work, Patty returned to her deep-rooted interest of miRNAS and lymphocyte biology and joined Benitec Biopharma in December, 2015.
Appointed Dec 2015
Badriprasad Ananthanarayanan PhD
Badriprasad Ananthanarayanan joined Benitec in Aug 2015 and serves as the lead scientist on the team developing novel DNA delivery technologies for Benitec’s ddRNAi pipeline.
Badri’s expertise is in the areas of bioengineering and drug delivery. He obtained his PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he developed peptide-based nanomaterials for targeted drug delivery and tissue engineering applications. He then pursued post-doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where he investigated mechanisms of brain tumor invasion using novel culture models for visualizing 3D cell migration. He also developed an innovative delivery technology for cell therapy that resulted in increased cell survival after transplantation.
Appointed Aug 2015
Varsha Sitaraman PhD
Varsha Sitaraman is a virologist with a long standing interest in therapeutic gene delivery and gene modification. She is the newest member of the team, having joined Benitec as a Research Scientist in March 2016, to lead efforts to develop in house rAAV manufacturing capabilities.
Varsha’s PhD and postdoctoral work at Stony Brook University, NY, focused on production of a hybrid Adenovirus carrying AAV Rep, for long term gene delivery and efficient production of rAAV. She then continued her research on Adenovirus and gene modification of iPS cells at the Stony Brook Stem Cell Facility, where she also managed the AAV and Adenovirus production section of the viral vector core.
Appointed March 2016