Integrated personalized cell technologies for improving health outcomes in children and adults

OUR TEAM

Photo of Jacques Galipeau

Jacques Galipeau, MD
Director

Jacques Galipeau, M.D. FRCP(C) is the Don and Marilyn Anderson Professor of Oncology within the Department of Medicine and UW Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and is the inaugural Associate Dean for Therapeutics Development at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health

Prior to coming to UW Madison, Dr. Galipeau was at the Winship Cancer Center at Emory University, where he founded the Emory Personalized Immunotherapy Center and launched clinical trials of MSC-based treatments for Crohn’s disease and graft versus host disease (GVHD), a life-threatening complication of bone marrow transplant. Prior to this, he was a faculty member at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He is an internationally recognized expert in translational development of cell therapies and the sponsor of a series of FDA-sanctioned clinical trials examining the use of autologous marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells for immune disorders, including Crohn’s disease and graft vs host disease. Dr. Galipeau has also developed the field of fusion engineered cytokines known as fusokines, as a novel pharmaceutical means of treating immune disorders and cancer. Dr. Galipeau is the director of the University of Wisconsin Advanced Cell Therapy Program whose mission is to develop personalized cell therapies for immune and malignant disorders and to promote and deploy first-in-human clinical trials of UW cell therapy innovations to improve outcomes for children and adults.

Ross O. Meyers, PhD
Director of Cellular Manufacturing

Ross O. Meyers, PhD is the Director of Cell Manufacturing for PACT as of June 2019. Dr. Meyers contributes expertise in GMP Biomanufacturing, drug product quality and stability testing oversight and documentation preparation and review to PACT. He led the Waisman Biomanufacturing Quality Control program operations at UW-Madison from June 2011 to June 2019 and a team of analytical method validation scientists at the Madison, WI PPD GMP laboratories from February 2006 to June 2011.

He received his PhD from the University of Arizona Cancer Center, Tucson, AZ where he was engaged in the Experimental Therapeutics Development program. He gained education, training and experience in the development and validation of novel cancer chemotherapeutic and chemopreventative compounds and drug targets. Dr. Meyers’ Oncology-based doctorate training is interdisciplinary in the areas of Nutrition, Pharmacology/Toxicology and Medicinal Chemistry. His early medical research was at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL in the Protein Chemistry of articular arthritis and cartilage wound injury.

Dr. Meyers adds three decades of technical drug development experience to PACT in the performance, education, training, management and supervision of cell and tissue culture, analytical small molecule, protein and nucleic acid Chemistry, vaccine development, Pharmacology, Medicinal Chemistry, drug target validation, molecular interaction analysis and cell and in vivo-based bioassay development. Dr. Meyers is an Instructor in the UW School of Pharmacy, Applied Drug Development Master of Science degree program.

Kimberly McDowell, MD, PhD
Director, Regulatory Affairs

Kim McDowell, PhD is the Director of Regulatory Affairs as of July 2019. Dr. McDowell oversees all things regulatory to ensure rigorous administrative FDA compliance for the PACT program, including crafting and managing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research investigational new drug (IND) and investigational device exemption (IDE) applications for PACT-sponsored clinical trials and regulatory compliance.

Prior to arriving at PACT, McDowell has been an Associate Scientist in the Department of Pediatrics, where she worked with pediatric hematology/oncology physician-scientists to help translate immunotherapy research findings into investigator-initiated clinical trials. Her contributions include clinical protocol development, numerous IND/IDE submissions to the FDA and biological studies assessing the effect of investigational therapies. In addition, she is engaged in clinical investigation educational activities for research staff, students and fellows.

McDowell earned a PhD in Anatomy and Cell Biology from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, a medical degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, and a master’s degree in clinical investigation from UW-Madison. She has extensive experience in medicine, research and scientific writing.

Andrea Pennati, MSc, PhD
Director, Research & Development

Dr. Pennati has been with the University of Wisconsin – Madison since September 2016, when he transferred from Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to coming to UW Madison, he worked in Dr. Galipeau’s laboratory for five years. Dr. Pennati completed a M.Sc. in Molecular Biology and a Ph.D. in Molecular Cell Biology at the University of Milan, Italy. Before joining the Galipeau lab, Dr. Pennati worked as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Giovanni Gadda at Georgia State University, in Atlanta, Georgia, in mechanistic enzymology of flavin-dependent enzymes. His work in Dr. Galipeau’s lab has included investigating the role of novel engineered fusion cytokines as part of cancer vaccine and cellular immunotherapy strategies. Current studies are aimed at defining the expansion and use of regulatory B cells in the treatment of different autoimmune ailments. With more than a decade of laboratory experience, Dr. Pennati leads translating cell-based research projects into clinical investigations by developing, standardized and establishing cellular processing protocols for use in cellular therapies.

Olga GAnzOlga Ganz, BS (CPGP)
Process Development and Manufacturing Scientist

Olga R. Ganz, B.S. (CPGP) is a Process Development and Manufacturing Scientist in PACT. Ms. Ganz has been continuously engaged in the development and qualification of the cGMP cell manufacturing processes, cleanroom facility maintenance, and supporting documentation since October of 2017. She is involved in all aspects of the development, implementation, and management of the PACT quality system.

Prior to coming to UW Madison, Olga worked in the biopharmaceutical and stem cell industries. Her experience includes cell culture, cryobanking, cell-based assays and cGMP regulations. Olga has a Post-Baccalaureate degree in Biotechnology, and Stem Cell Technologies certification from Madison College. In 2021, Olga completed the necessary qualifications for the American Society for Quality, Certified Pharmaceutical GMP Professional (CPGP).

Ms. Ganz is an instructor in the School of Pharmacy, Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences Applied Drug Development, Master of Science program.

Jessica Murphy

Jessica Murphy, MLS
Process Development and Manufacturing Scientist

Jessica Murphy, MLS is a Process Development and Manufacturing Scientist in PACT as of October 2022. Cell therapy expertise includes experience at Mayo Clinic- Rochester, from 2017-2022, in the Center for Regenerative Medicine: Immune, Progenitor and Cell Therapy (IMPACT) Laboratory where she gained experience in the manufacture of therapeutic CAR-T, dendritic and mesenchymal stromal cells, as well as training and project/laboratory management.

She earned a B.S. in Clinical Laboratory Science-Medical Technologist from The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a minor in Chemistry. Jessica practiced Clinical Laboratory Science at Mayo Clinic in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Division of Hematology as a certified Medical Technologist from 2007-2017 before entering the field of cGMP cell therapy manufacturing.

 

Sondra Minter

Sondra Minter, BA
Process Development and Manufacturing Scientist

Sondra Minter, B.A is a Process Development and Manufacturing Scientist in PACT as of May 2024. Since achieving her bachelor’s in Zoology from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013, she has obtained a post-baccalaureate certificate in Stem Cell Technology from Madison College.
Sondra is a subject matter expert in the growth and differentiation of stems cells. Prior to joining the PACT team, Sondra worked with human pluripotent stem cells within the Madison area biotechnology industry for approximately 8 years. She has extensive knowledge and experience growing a wide variety of stem cells, induced pluripotent and embryonic, from a broad range of sources covering both diseased and non-diseased cell lines. She also has over 4 years of experience performing specified neuronal differentiations of pluripotent stems cells following protocols designed by Dr. Su-Chun Zhang. In addition to this experience, Sondra is experienced in mRNA lipofectamine transfection of human fibroblasts to generate new stem cell lines, and DNA transfections of stem cells via electroporation. Sondra will apply her expertise and knowledge base to the mission of the PACT team, deploying new cell therapies in clinical trials.

 

Crystal Weinberger, MBA
Program Administrator

A native of Wisconsin, Crystal graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2004 with Bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and Political Science. She completed her Master’s in Business Administration in 2013 from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. Her professional experience includes over 15 years of administrative service in the fields of healthcare, nonprofit management and academic medicine.