Uniquely positioned to expand therapeutic applications
Hank Safferstein, MBA, PhD, JD
Chief Executive Officer
Hank is the Chief Executive Officer of Generian and serves as Executive-in-Residence at UPMC Enterprises. Previously, he was founding CEO of Cognition Therapeutics, Inc. and Complexa, Inc. He is Board Director at Ariel Precision Medicine and Adjunct Professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Hank served as VP, Business Development for both Cognition Therapeutics, Inc. and Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. and was an Investment Advisor at Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse. Hank was also Director, Lifecycle Management, Metabolics Marketing and Director, Licensing, Cardiovascular with Bristol-Myers Squibb. From 1991-1997, he was Director, Technology Transfer at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and Cooperative Venture Manager for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health. He was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at NIH and the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Hank received a BA in Biochemistry from Rutgers University, a PhD in Human Anatomy and Neurobiology from the University of Louisville, a JD from the American University, Washington College of Law and an MBA from Columbia University. He is a member of the Maryland Bar and is RAPS Certified.
Toren Finkel, MD, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer
Toren is the Chief Scientific Officer and a Co-Founder of Generian. In addition, he is the Director of the Aging Institute at the University of Pittsburgh and holds the Beckwith Endowed Chair of Translational Medicine. He is the author of over 200 scientific manuscripts and holds multiple patents. According to the Web of Science Clarivate Analytics, Toren ranks as one of the most highly cited researchers of the last decade and Google Scholar estimates his work has been cited over 70,000 times. He is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Research, the Association of American Physicians, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Medicine. He serves on numerous editorial boards including the journal Science. Prior to his current position, he served as Chief of the Center for Molecular Medicine within the NIH intramural program. Toren obtained a combined MD and PhD from Harvard Medical School, then completed his medical residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital and a cardiology fellowship at Johns Hopkins.
Alan Barber, CPA
Chief Financial Officer
Alan is the Chief Financial Officer of Generian. As Founder and Principal of the Prestar Group, he brings more than 30 years of experience to his work for life sciences clients ranging from start-ups to publicly traded companies. He has served as CFO and advisor to numerous companies including Karyopharm Therapeutics, Forma Therapeutics, Foundation Medicine, Marinus Pharmaceuticals, Durata Therapeutics and Repligen. Over the course of his career, he has assisted in raising more than $500 million in development and growth capital for life sciences companies in the private and public financial markets (including IPOs). Alan is a CPA and began his career in public accounting where he served as a Partner with Pricewaterhouse Coopers. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from the Florida State University, Rovetta School of Business.
Valerie Cullen, PhD
Vice President, Translation and Development
Valerie is the Vice President of Translation and Development at Generian, where she leads scientific strategy around preclinical development and translation to the clinic. She also holds an Assistant Professor position (adjunct) at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Valerie brings over 20 years of experience in R&D across a number of therapeutic areas including neurology, inflammation, pulmonary disorders, dermatology and rare disease. Most recently, Valerie held a VP role at Lysosomal Therapeutics, Inc. where she was the program lead for a clinical-stage GCase activator in Parkinson’s disease, with responsibilities in translational medicine as well as program and alliance management. Valerie holds multiple patents and has won various awards, including the Annals of Neurology Prize for Clinical Impact. Valerie earned her BSc and PhD in pharmacology from University College Dublin, Ireland, and conducted post-doctoral research at King’s College London and Harvard Medical School.
Bill Chen, PhD
Vice President, Drug Discovery
Bill is the Vice President of Drug Discovery and a Co-Founder of Generian. He is also an Associate Professor at University of Pittsburgh, where he directs the Small Molecule Therapeutic Center, and is the Co-Director of the Acute Lung Injury Center of Excellence within the Department of Medicine. In addition to Generian, he also co-Founded E3 Therapeutics and Koutif Therapeutics. Bill was instrumental in developing novel series of first-in-class small molecule FBXO3 protein inhibitors. One of his lead compounds, BC-1261 has received IND approval from FDA. Bill has co-authored more than 60 publications in top-tier journals related to the mechanism of protein ubiquitination and drug discovery—including Nature Immunology, Nature Medicine, Cell Reports and Science Translational Medicine, Journal of Experimental Medicine, and eLife. He is the recipient of NHLBI Emerging Investigator Award (R35). Bill obtained his PhD from the University of Iowa.
Yuan Liu, PhD
Vice President, Biology
Yuan is the Vice President of Biology and a Co-Founder of Generian. She is trained as a molecular biologist and biochemist in protein degradation and her main research interest focuses on the mechanistic study of proteostasis and its regulation. Based on her molecular biology discoveries, Yuan also leads novel strategy design and small molecule therapeutics development targeting age-related diseases, including metabolic disorders, neurodegeneration diseases and inflammation. She joined University of Pittsburgh Faculty in 2015 and jointly filed 8 provisional patent applications. She has recently developed the AMPK and TFEB activators at the Aging Institute. Yuan obtained her PhD in Molecular Biology from Nagoya University and completed postdoctoral training from the California Institute of Technology.
Michelle Higgin, PhD
Head of Regulatory Affairs and Program Management
Michelle is the Head of Regulatory Affairs and Program Management at Generian. She is a trained biochemist with over 15 years of experience facilitating regulatory approval processes and managing programs across all phases of drug development. Michelle has conducted numerous health authority meetings and has successfully opened more than 40 investigational medicine, clinical trial, and new drug applications in the United States, Europe, and Australia in a variety of therapeutic areas including neuroscience, oncology, and gene therapy. She has held leadership positions at several biotech companies including Complexa, Cavion Inc. (now Jazz Pharmaceuticals), and Cortendo (now Strongbridge Biopharma). She currently holds leadership roles at ZielBio and CSA BioTech and serves as the Managing Principal of PharmaDirections. Michelle obtained her PhD in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completed postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health.
Molly Curran, MEM
Senior Director, Operations
Molly is the Senior Director of Operations at Generian where she safeguards and monitors the efficiency of corporate operations so that the team can remain focused on the scientific mission. She began her healthcare career in Boston, MA as a Venture Capital analyst and strategy consultant with special interest in emerging technology within the healthcare sector. Prior to joining Generian, Molly served in various roles at ZOLL LifeVest and UPMC Enterprises including leadership of product development, international corporate expansion, minimally viable product deployment, and new product and investment opportunity evaluation. Molly received her BS with Honors in Materials Engineering from Brown University and earned her Master of Engineering Management, a program for engineering and science graduates who seek to become leaders in businesses and organizations driven by technology, from Dartmouth College in collaboration with Tuck School of Business.
Scientific Advisory Board
Ana Maria Cuervo, MD, PhD
- Robert and Renee Belfer Chair of Neurodegenerative Diseases
- Albert Einstein College of Medicine
- Expertise: Autophagic regulation
- Elected National Academy of Sciences
Gerald Shulman, MD, PhD
- George R. Cowgill Professor of Medicine and Cellular & Molecular Physiology at Yale School of Medicine
- Expertise: Metabolic diseases, human physiology
- Elected National Academy of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences
Reuben Shaw, PhD
- Professor Molecular and Cell
- William R. Brody Chair, Salk Institute
- Expertise: Energy signal transduction
- NCI Outstanding Investigator Award, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist
Board of Directors
Hank Safferstein, PhD, JD
- Chief Executive Officer, Generian
- Executive-in-Residence, UPMC Enterprises
Toren Finkel, MD, PhD
- Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder, Generian
- Director of the Aging Institute at the University of Pittsburgh
Bill Chen, PhD
- Vice President of Drug Discovery, Generian
- Associate Professor at University of Pittsburgh
- Executive Vice President, UPMC Enterprises
Matthias Kleinz, DVM, PhD,
- Vice President, UPMC Enterprises