BIO Investor Forum Therapeutic Workshop

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Diagnostics: X Marks the Spot-Companion Dx in Oncology

Wednesday, October 26th, 10:30am-11:25am, Twin Peaks N/S

Insights into the molecular and genetic basis of disease are driving new product and therapeutic opportunities while changing the treatment paradigm for many cancers.  The use of companion diagnostics in oncology may play a role in optimizing and expediting the development of targeted therapies for many cancers and other conditions among validated patient populations.  Promising improved treatment outcomes tailored to genetic etiology and disease pathology, the field of companion diagnostics not only ignites the interest of clinicians and investors, but is also spurring potentially lucrative industry partnerships. Focusing on these new markets, industry executives and investors will guide a discussion of some of the most compelling new technologies and applications for companion diagnostics in oncology.  


  • Scott Allocco, President and a Co-founder, BioMarker Strategies


  • Steven M. Anderson, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of Oncology and Genetics, LabCorp and Monogram Biosciences
  • Rollie Carlson, PhD, President, Asuragen, Inc.
  • Vivek Mittal , PhD, Manager, Health Advances, LLC
  • Alan Wahl, Senior Director Oncology, Global Pharmaceutical Research & Development, Abbott

Who's Who


Scott Allocco - Mr. Allocco is the President and a co-founder of BioMarker Strategies, an emerging growth cancer diagnostics company that is developing the SnapPath™ live tumor cell testing system--a next generation platform designed to enable companion diagnostics.   SnapPath™ enables predictive, ex vivo diagnostics for targeted therapies, called functional signaling profiles, that are not possible using dead, fixed tumor tissue.  The company, which is based at the Johns Hopkins Science+Technology Park, was recently awarded an SBIR contract from the National Cancer Institute to use the automated SnapPath™ platform to develop a pathway-based companion diagnostic test for drug inhibitors targeting the ErbB signal transduction network in melanoma and other solid tumors.   The company will also be presenting the results of its preclinical research collaboration with the Wistar Institute at the 2011 Melanoma Congress in November.

As President of the company, Mr. Allocco coordinates all fundraising, external relations, strategic partnerships, communications and regulatory affairs for the company.  He is also an active member of the Personalized Medicine Coalition (PMC), the BIO Personalized Medicine and Molecular Diagnostics Committee, and ADVAMED Dx, where he is actively engaged in efforts to reform FDA regulatory and CMS reimbursement policies for next generation biomarker tests, including companion diagnostics.  He is currently the co-chair of the Personalized Medicine Coalition's Task Force on CMS Coverage, Coverage and Reimbursement Reform, which issued a white paper in the December of 2010, titled “The Adverse Impact of the US Reimbursement System on the Development and Adoption of Personalized Medicine Diagnostics.” 

Prior to founding BioMarker Strategies, he had 15 years of healthcare and pharmaceutical industry experience, including drug coverage and reimbursement issues for commercial and public sector health insurance programs. Most recently, Mr. Allocco was Vice President of State Government Relations for Coventry Health Care, one of the nation's largest health insurance companies. He was also Vice President for Business Development and Government Affairs at First Health Services, which he helped build into the nation's largest pharmacy benefits administrator of Medicaid drug-benefit programs.

Prior to joining First Health Services, Mr. Allocco was a Managing Director in the health public affairs group at Hill and Knowlton's Washington, D.C. office. He also served for four years as the Director of the Office of Government Affairs for the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services under Governor Christine Todd Whitman. He graduated cum laude with a B.A. in public policy from Hamilton College.


Steven M. Anderson, PhD - Dr Anderson received a PhD in genetics from Iowa State University. He has served in a variety of technical director positions for LabCorp during his 20-year tenure, including positions at the Center for Molecular Biology and Pathology (CMBP) and ViroMed Laboratories. Dr Anderson recently held the position of national director of research and development before assuming his current positions.

Dr Anderson has a professional history in the molecular diagnostics field, having participated in the development and validation of many commonly used diagnostic assays that utilize methods such as immunohistochemistry, fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), and molecular biology methods that characterize mutations and gene expression levels.  He has served as a principle investigator for many of the FDA-cleared molecular diagnostic methods.

Dr Anderson has authored more than 150 articles and abstracts that have been published in journals such as Genetics, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Clinical Chemistry, Journal of Infectious Disease, Human Pathology, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Oncogene, Journal of the National Cancer Institute,  Clinical Cancer Research, and Journal of Molecular Diagnostics. 


Rollie Carlson, PhD - Dr. Carlson is President of Asuragen, Inc., a molecular diagnostic company specializing in personalized diagnostics since its inception in 2006. He has been responsible for growing Asuragen into one of the top 50 privately held companies in Central Texas and was a founder of Mirna Therapeutics, a spin-out of Asuragen, which is developing novel miRNA-based therapeutics for lung, liver and prostate cancer. He has over 25 years of commercial, business development, and new product development experience in biotechnology. Prior to joining Asuragen Dr. Carlson held several senior positions at Abbott Laboratories, including Vice President and General Manager of the Vysis molecular diagnostic business following its acquisition, where he drove significant increased personalized diagnostic test growth for oncology therapeutic applications (i.e., PathVysion® HER-2 diagnostic for Herceptin® therapy), and introduced several new products such as UroVysion® for early detection of bladder cancer and a broad line of leukemia diagnostic and prognostic products. He led the FDA and international regulatory campaign for these products, including reimbursement strategy resulting in the global expansion of the product line. He was also responsible for business development, licensing and strategic planning to establish new pharmaceutical and diagnostic platforms, and ran Abbott’s custom biopharmaceutical development, specialty generics and global bulk pharmaceutical business.


Vivek Mittal - Vivek is focused on building Health Advances’ expertise in transitional medicine through his work across therapeutics, diagnostics, and life science tools. He has worked on the commercialization of a novel companion diagnostic in infectious disease, helped set the CoDx strategy for a therapeutics company in autoimmune disease, and works with life science tools companies in developing product strategies to enable biomarker and CoDx development.

He recently presented at the Partnerships in Personalized Medicine conference and is working on an industry whitepaper highlighting the critical success factors to companion diagnostics from a drug developer’s standpoint.

Prior to his work at Health Advances, Vivek earned his Ph.D. in Molecular Cell Biology at Washington University in Saint Louis, studying G-protein regulation. While at WashU, Vivek founded the BioEntrepreneurship Core (BEC), a program designed to introduce life science students to the drug development process. Vivek received a BA in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology and an MA in Biotechnology from Boston University.