management team

Steven Brugger
President and CEO
Steve Brugger
Steve Brugger

Steven Brugger brings over 35 years of experience in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry to Affinivax. He most recently served as the Chief Executive Officer of Visterra, a private biotech company which was acquired by Otsuka Pharmaceutical in September 2018. During his tenure at Visterra, Mr. Brugger led the company in closing a Series A round of financing, advancing its lead antibody program toward IND, and establishing strategic partnerships with both Pfizer and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Prior to Visterra, Mr. Brugger was the Chief Operating Officer at Momenta Pharmaceuticals. While at Momenta, he held several leadership roles as the company grew from a private start-up to a successful public-traded biotechnology company. Prior to Momenta, Mr. Brugger held various leadership and management positions at Millennium, Novartis, Ayerst, and Hoechst Pharmaceuticals. He received his BA in Biology from Susquehanna University and his MBA from the Rutgers Graduate School of Management.

Kara Bickham, MD
Chief Medical Officer
Kara Bickham
Kara Bickham

Kara Bickham brings over 20 years of infectious disease expertise to Affinivax across clinical practice, academic research and vaccine development. She most recently served as the Program Lead for the pediatric clinical program for Vaxneuvance®, a 15-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine being developed by Merck & Co., Inc. In this role, she led a large cross-functional team which was responsible for 13 clinical trials, enrolling more than 12,000 participants, across more than 30 countries. Dr. Bickham also was a key clinical team member for the adult clinical program for Vaxneuvance,®, and also served as the Program Lead for Zostavax®, the first vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the prevention of herpes zoster (shingles) in individuals 50 years of age and older. Prior to joining Merck, she held research positions at the Center for Translational Immunology at Columbia University and the Ralph M. Steinman Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and Immunology at The Rockefeller University. She began her clinical career in pediatric infectious diseases at Weill Cornell Medical College. She holds a B.S. in Neuroscience from Texas Christian University and an M.D. from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Stuart Chaffee, PhD
Chief Business Officer
Stuart Chaffee
Stuart Chaffee

Stuart Chaffee joined in March 2021 and brings over 20 years of R&D, business and corporate development experience to Affinivax.  Most recently, Dr. Chaffee served as the Chief Business Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Praxis Precision Medicines. Dr. Chaffee’s business-building background in drug discovery and development includes his role as Entrepreneur in Residence at Atlas Venture where he was co-founder and Head of Business Operations at Kymera Therapeutics. Earlier in his career, Dr. Chaffee served in a number of roles at Biogen across Finance, Business Development, Program Leadership, and Corporate Strategy. Dr. Chaffee received a B.S. in chemistry from The College of William and Mary, a PhD in organic chemistry from Yale University, and an MBA in finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Elizabeth Radcliffe
Chief Financial Officer
Elizabeth Radcliffe
Elizabeth Radcliffe

Elizabeth Radcliffe brings over 20 years of experience, with progressive financial leadership roles across the full range of biopharmaceutical R&D, commercial and business operations at both large and small organizations, including contribution to six product launches. She most recently served as Vice President, Finance and Strategy and Treasurer at Arrakis Therapeutics. Prior to Arrakis, Ms. Radcliffe was Vice President, Financial Planning & Analysis at Agios Pharmaceuticals and spent over 10 years at Biogen, culminating in the role of Senior Director, Head of R&D Finance, where she led financial planning and accounting for Biogen’s worldwide R&D and Medical Affairs functions. Her prior leadership roles at Biogen included head of U.S. revenue planning for Biogen’s Multiple Sclerosis and Hemophilia franchises, Head of Portfolio Management, and Director of Corporate FP&A, with earlier experience supporting Business Development and Technical Operations. Earlier in her career, Ms. Radcliffe held consulting positions at The Parthenon Group and Excelon Corporation. She holds a B.S. in chemistry from Yale University, a Master’s degree in organic chemistry from Harvard University, and an M.B.A. from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Frank Malinoski, MD, PhD
Senior Vice President, Clinical Development and Regulatory Affairs
Frank Malinoski
Frank Malinoski

Dr. Malinoski brings over 30 years of executive experience in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries to Affinivax, working on numerous vaccines and immunotherapy products. Dr. Malinoski has an extensive background in the fields of vaccines, immunology, oncology, infectious disease and other key therapeutic areas. He has held senior positions at Liquidia, Wyeth, MedImmune, and Nabi, and held consulting positions at several other biopharmaceutical companies. Dr. Malinoski’s experience includes direct responsibility for clinical development planning, execution, and regulatory interactions of vaccines from Phase I through IV, including the licensure of Prevnar®, Meningitec®, and several combination vaccines. Dr. Malinoski began his career a Clinical Investigator and Chief of Viral Biology at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. He received his B.A. from Colby College, his Ph.D. in microbiology from Rutgers University, and his M.D. from Albany Medical College.

Shite Sebastian, PhD
Senior Vice President, Head of Product Development
Shite Sebastian
Shite Sebastian

Dr. Sebastian brings over 15 years of experience in the research, development and commercialization of vaccines to Affinivax. Prior to joining Affinivax, Dr. Sebastian was an Associate Research Fellow and Group Leader in the Vaccines Research and Development group at Pfizer. In this role he led a team in the development, qualification and validation of clinical assays, supporting the development of the Pfizer vaccine pipeline, including Prevnar® and multiple vaccines in development (targeting Staphylococcus, Meningococcal, Group B Streptococcus and Clostridium difficile bacteria). Previously, Dr. Sebastian was the Deputy Director in Research and Development at Sanofi-Pasteur Vaccines, and a Research Fellow in the Biodefense Vaccine Development, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Sebastian received his BS and MS in Microbiology from Maharaja Sayajirao University, his PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from Boston University School of Medicine, and his MBA in Business and Economics from Lehigh University.

David Slatcher
Vice President, Corporate Controller
David Slatcher
David Slatcher

David Slatcher joined in March 2021 and brings over 30 years of corporate accounting, financial reporting and management experience to Affinivax, including over 15 years in publicly held life sciences companies. Most recently, Mr. Slatcher played a pivotal role in executing the spin-off of Cyclerion Therapeutics, where he served as Corporate Controller and was responsible for building financial systems and business processes. Prior to Cyclerion, Mr. Slatcher served as Corporate Controller at Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, where he had overall responsibility for accounting operations, including commercial collaborations and in-licensing, and was a key participant on several debt and equity financings. Previously, Mr. Slatcher served as the Director of Accounting at Sanofi Pasteur, where he was responsible for financial reporting and administration of the Acambis division, as well as the financial integration after its acquisition. Prior to that Mr. Slatcher had financial leadership roles in early-stage software companies.  He began his career in public accounting at Deloitte, where he earned his CPA, and holds a BS in accounting from New York University Stern School of Business.

Gilles Besin, PhD
Vice President, Head of Discovery Research
Gilles Besin
Gilles Besin

Dr. Besin brings 15 years of research experience in immunology and vaccines for infectious diseases, oncology and metabolic disorders to Affinivax. Recently, Dr. Besin led the Research and Discovery groups at both Moderna and In-Cell-Art. In Moderna, he led the platform immunology and the efforts to modulate T cell responses in cancer and autoimmune diseases using mRNA lipid nanoparticles. Dr. Besin also collaborated in the development of numerous mRNA cancer and infectious diseases vaccines in Moderna, some in clinical phase. Prior to Moderna, Dr. Besin was involved in the discovery of DNA vaccines mainly in cancer, e.g. hepatocellular carcinoma in In-Cell-ART (France). In parallel to these efforts, Dr. Besin participated in the development of mRNA vaccines in collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur and CureVac under the umbrella of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Prior to his industry experience, Dr Besin worked on the characterization of autoimmune T cells and dendritic cells in autoimmune disease (Type 1 diabetes) in the Clinical Research Center of Sherbrooke University in Canada. Dr. Besin received his PhD in Immunology from the Max Planck Institute for Immunobiology in Germany and an Engineering Diploma in Biotechnology from ESBS in France.

Ann Straight
Director, Human Resources and Administration
Ann Straight
Ann Straight

Ann Straight brings over 25 years of diverse experience in research and development, sales and product marketing, and customer relations. Most recently, Ann was Associate Director of Client Services at MGH Development Office. Ann began her career as an analytical chemist at the Kendall Company and moved on to product development before assuming a sales and marketing role for aerospace composite products at Ciba Composite Materials. She was responsible for product management of a leading composite product line and successfully worked with a Fortune 500 company to implement novel composite materials applications. Ann joined Affinivax in 2018 to head up the Human Resources group. Ann received her MBA in Marketing from Babson College F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business.

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