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Tuesday, October 9th, 10:30am-11:25am, Twin Peaks N/S

Also known as tumor-initiating cells, cancer stem cells (CSC) have the unique capability endemic to stem cells of self-renewal and differentiation, thereby causing tumor relapse and/or metastasis. While traditional cancer treatments focus on tumor shrinkage, it’s a distinct possibility that these agents do not effectively destroy all of the CSCs, causing the tumor to reappear. The CSC theory is relatively new, thus the treatment pipeline is still in its early stages; however, big pharma and a number of biotech companies have jumped on the CSC bandwagon, propelling these promising new therapies to the limelight. Companies and scientific experts at the forefront of developing treatments targeting CSCs will discuss the rapidly growing pipeline, the market potential and investment opportunity.


  • Nathan Sadeghi-Nejad, Contributor, Forbes & TheStreet


  • Thomas Cirrito, PhD, VP, Research & Development, Director, Business Development, Stemline Therapeutics 
  • Leslie Crews Robertson, PhD, Project Scientist, Catriona Jamieson Laboratory, Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine and Moores UCSD Cancer Center
  • John Lewicki, PhD, Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Jonathan Pachter, PhD, Head of Research, Verastem

Who's Who


Thomas Cirrito, PhD
VP, Research & Development, Director, Business Development, Stemline Therapeutics

Dr. Cirrito is currently VP of Research and Development and Director of Business Development for Stemline. Prior to joining Stemline in 2005, Dr. Cirrito was a biopharmaceuticals equities analyst at Piper Jaffray, where he covered large and small cap biotechnology companies. Previously he was a life sciences consultant for A.G. Edwards Capital Partners, a venture capital group. He received a BA in Biological Sciences and a PhD in Immunology from Washington University (St. Louis, MO). Dr. Cirrito currently serves on the Scientific and Business Advisory Board of the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation.


Leslie Crews Robertson, PhD
Project Scientist, Catriona Jamieson Laboratory, Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine and Moores UCSD Cancer Center 

Dr. Leslie Crews is a scientist at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center and the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine. Her research interests are focused on understanding the function of stem cells in degenerative and malignant disorders. She has investigated this topic across several fields from cancer to neuroscience, which has resulted in her co-authorship of over 50 peer-reviewed articles. Dr. Crews is currently a member of the research team of Dr. Catriona Jamieson at UCSD, where she studies stem cell molecular pathways to explore critical questions about the pathology of blood cancers such as chronic myeloid leukemia. In these disorders, leukemia stem cells are thought to fuel disease relapse and resistance to therapy, and Dr. Crews’s research aims to elucidate the key mechanisms involved in leukemia stem cell survival and self-renewal. The goal of her work is to identify novel therapeutics to selectively target and eradicate these cancer stem cells, which may be a key strategy towards developing curative therapies for hematologic malignancies.

John Lewicki, PhD
Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

John Lewicki joined OncoMed after serving 16 years with Scios, Inc., where he managed the company's research organization across diverse therapeutic areas. Among his many achievements with that organization was the co-discovery of Natrecor™, an FDA approved drug for congestive heart failure. Previously, Dr. Lewicki was Senior Vice President, Research and Development of an early-stage biotechnology company working in the infectious disease field.

Dr. Lewicki received his PhD in Physiology/Pharmacology from U.C. San Diego and conducted his post-doctoral training at University of Virginia and Stanford University. He is the author of more than 70 research papers and book chapters and is an inventor on over 30 issued U.S. patents.

Jonathan Pachter, PhD
Head of Research, Verastem

Dr. Jonathan Pachter brings over 20 years of experience in leading discovery of small molecule and monoclonal antibody therapeutics for treatment of cancer. He was previously Head of Cancer Biology at OSI Pharmaceuticals where his team was responsible for development of models of tumor cell EMT (epithelial-mesenchymal transition) and discovery of drugs disrupting this process. At OSI he advanced five small molecules into development for treatment of cancer, including OSI-906 – a selective IGF-1R/ insulin receptor kinase inhibitor currently in phase III clinical trials and OSI-027 – a selective mTOR kinase inhibitor.

Prior to OSI, Dr. Pachter held positions of increasing responsibility at Schering-Plough where he progressed three agents into development including the monoclonal antibody robatumumab which advanced to phase II clinical evaluation in cancer patients. Dr. Pachter also made key contributions to the regulatory approval of temozolomide for treatment of glioblastoma. He is an author of over 40 peer-reviewed publications and inventor on numerous patents. Dr. Pachter did his postdoctoral work in Pharmacology at Yale University School of Medicine and he holds a PhD from Baylor College of Medicine.


Nathan Sadeghi-Nejad
Contributor, Forbes & TheStreet

Nathan Sadeghi-Nejad has 15 years experience as a professional healthcare investor, and is currently a Contributor for both Forbes and TheStreet. He has worked on the buyside (as healthcare sector head for Highside Capital and as Senior Analyst at Kilkenny Capital) and sellside (with independent research boutiques Avalon Research and Sturza’s Medical Research). Sadeghi-Nejad is a graduate of Columbia University and lives in New York. You can follow him on Twitter @natesadeghi.