Scientific Advisory Board


Dr. Santosh Kesari is a board-certified neurologist and neuro-oncologist and is currently Chair, Department of Translational Neuro-Oncology and Neurotherapeutics, John Wayne Cancer Institute.

He is also Director of Neuro-Oncology, Providence Saint John’s Health Center and Member, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute. Dr. Kesari is ranked among the top 1% of neuro-oncologists and neurologists in the nation, according to Castle Connolly Medical Ltd and an internationally recognized scientist and clinician. He is a winner of an Innovation Award by the San Diego Business Journal. He is on the advisory board of American Brain Tumor Association, San Diego Brain Tumor Foundation, Chris Elliott Fund, Nicolas Conor Institute, Voices Against Brain Cancer, and Philippine Brain Tumor Alliance. He has been the author of over 250 scientific publications, reviews, or books. He is the inventor on several patents and patent applications, and founder and advisor to many cancer and neurosciences focused biotech startups.

Dr. Kesari has had a long-standing interest in cancer stem cells and studies their role in the formation of brain tumors and resistance to treatment. He believes that in order to cure patients with brain tumors we first need to gain a better molecular and biological understanding of the disease. A physician/scientist, Kesari harnesses his experience in surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy and novel devices to help develop Precision Therapeutic Strategies that will advance medicine to a new stage in the battle against brain tumors and eradicate the disease.

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Franco Marincola is the Chief Scientific Officer of Sonata Therapeutics. Franco brings over 30 years of research and development experience in immunology, oncology and cell therapy to Sonata.

Most recently, Franco served as Senior Vice President and Global Head of Research at Kite Pharma where he led the research organization to identify novel therapies for hematologic malignancies and solid tumors. Prior to Kite, he was President and Chief Scientific Officer at Refuge Biotechnologies, where he developed research strategies for adoptive cell therapy products and led therapeutic programs based on nuclease deactivated CRISPR circuits. Prior to Refuge, Franco was Distinguished Research Fellow in Immune Oncology at AbbVie, and Chief Research Officer at Sidra Medical and Research Centre.

Before joining the biopharma industry, Franco spent more than two decades at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Cancer Institute (NCI), most recently as a tenured senior investigator in cancer immunotherapy and biomarker research and as Chief Infectious Disease and Immunogenetics Investigator at the NIH Clinical Center.

Franco is the former President of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC). He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for multiple peer-reviewed publications, including Journal of Translational Medicine, Translational Medicine Communications, and Immunotherapy, and is the author of more than 600 peer-reviewed publications.

Franco received his M.D. from the University of Milan and completed his residency at Stanford University

Dr. Donald Banerji is a Clinical development professional with 33 years of global clinical research and development experience (Phase I-IV) in the pharmaceutical industry. Recently retired from Novartis as Global Clinical Development Head of Respiratory and Allergy Medicine. Recognized by peers and external scientific community as an expert in pulmonary and allergy drug development bringing several iconic brands to market with millions of patients benefitting from treatment through improving care and outcomes for patients with respiratory diseases. Managed multidisciplinary teams in the filing of several new drug applications. Responsibilities included strategic and tactical planning, regulatory interactions with global health authorities, appropriate resource and budgetary management and timely execution, approval of high-quality large drug development programs and delivery of groundbreaking data. These global programs over a span of 3 decades resulted in the approval and competitive labeling of 14 innovative medicines, including 3 inhaled steroids for asthma, a triple combination of 2 bronchodilator and an inhaled steroid for asthma, 3 non-steroidal inhaled controller drugs for asthma, 3 intranasal steroids for allergic rhinitis and 4 bronchodilator drugs for COPD.

Signature achievements at Novartis included first to market with the development and approval of the first to market inhaled dual combination medicine in COPD (Ultibro) and the first to market triple combination medicine in asthma (Enerzair). With reimagining medicine as a core driver, these treatments changed the practice of medicine and were incorporated in global treatment guidelines for COPD and asthma. Recipient of numerous corporate awards including the highest scientific award of Distinguished Scientist 2016 for pioneering work in COPD. Published over 400 primary manuscripts and abstracts, including the landmark study FLAME in NEJM.

Curriculum Vitae 

Dr. Boris Minev is a highly accomplished physician-scientist with extensive industrial and academic experience in Immuno-Oncology, oncolytic viruses and stem cell biology and applications. He has a significant track record in tumor immunology and cancer vaccine development, having worked closely on the development of the first cancer vaccine to be approved by a regulatory body (Melacine).

Dr. Minev has also extensive expertise in immunotherapy clinical trial designs, logistics, and regulatory issues. He has a considerable supervision & management experience in industrial and academic settings and has excellent skills in biotech business development, communication, and collaboration.

Previously he held a position as the Director of Immunotherapy and Translational Oncology at Genelux Corporation, where he was directing several preclinical and translational projects on oncolytic virotherapy, immunotherapy, and nanotechnology.

Dr. Minev is also an adjunct professor at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center. There, he served previously as Principal Investigator and Director, Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy where, for more than 15 years, his research has been focused on the discovery of new target antigens for immunotherapy of cancer and the development of optimized cancer vaccines. Prior to that, Dr. Minev worked in Dr. Steven Rosenberg’s Tumor Immunology Section at the Surgery Branch of the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Minev is an Advisory Board Member of the European Society for Translational Medicine (EUSTM). He is a member of the Scientific and Clinical Advisory Boards of several biotechnology companies and has been an advisor for Amgen, Johnson & Johnson, Geron Corporation, McKinsey Consulting and Thomson Current Drugs, among others. He is the recipient of the European Association of Cancer Research Fellowship and the Fogarty International Fellowship.

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Navneet Boddu, is a Board Certified, and Fellowship trained Pain Management Specialist practicing interventional pain management for more than 28 years. He is also a Board Certified Anesthesiologist specializing in cardiac anesthesia. Dr. Boddu practiced in North County for more than 12 years. He was Chairman of the Anesthesiology Department at Tri-City Medical Center from 2015 to 2017. Dr. Boddu practiced pain management and anesthesiology at Providence Mission Hospital, Laguna Beach, between 2001 and 2010, where he was Chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology for three years.

Dr. Boddu conducted FDA authorized Stem Cell treatment for patients with severe COVID19. He published journal articles about stem cell therapies. Dr. Boddu is a contributing author of several chapters about nerve blocks and pain injections in the upcoming Atlas of Interventional Orthopedics Procedures.
Dr. Boddu was awarded the Top Doctor honor in Anesthesiology by San Diego Magazine in 2023, 2022, 2021 and 2017.

Dr. Pablo Guzman is a cardiologist in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where he is on staff at Holy Cross Hospital. He received his medical degree from University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine and his Cardiology Fellowship at The Johns Hopkins Hospital where he then spent the first part of his career continuing his basic science and clinical research along with his clinical duties. His CV includes over 25 papers published in peer-reviewed journals and more than 15 abstracts.

He is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and practiced for more than 30 years. Dr. Guzman is well experienced in basic and clinical research, having participated in many clinical trials. He is also the acting Chief Medical Officer of Variant Pharmaceuticals, a Specialty Pharma company developing treatments for kidney diseases.

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Juergen Winkler is presently practicing at Quantum Functional Medicine in Carlsbad, CA, which he founded in July of 2012. In 2005 he was the co-founder of Genesis Health Systems (Integrative Cancer and Medical Treatment Center) located in Oceanside, CA. He has been a featured speaker for: the NSCC Women’s Health Seminar, Annual IPT/IPTLD Integrative Cancer Care Conference (Multiple years), Health Freedom Expo 2011 & 2012, the Japanese Society of Oxidative Medicine in Osaka Japan, ACOSPM 2010 & 2011 conferences, NSCC Health and Wellness Series 2013, and various other events. He is the physician author of Chapter 5 in the Defeat Cancer book and has been a featured physician in the Townsend Letter.

Dr. Nassir Azimi is a cardiologist in La Mesa, California and attended Dartmouth Medical School and completed his residency at the University of Colorado. He finished his four year fellowship in Cardiovascular and Peripheral Interventions at Yale University in New Haven. Dr. Azimi has been in private practice for over 13 years establishing a thriving clinical practice for cardiac patients as well as treating patients for peripheral vascular disease. He is active in Interventional Cardiology and Peripheral Interventions. Dr. Azimi is the director of La Mesa Cardiac Center’s Nuclear Cardiology Laboratory. He is also an investigator in multiple clinical research studies for various cardiac and peripheral diseases.

He has been recognized as San Diego’s Top Interventional Cardiologists by San Diego Magazine 2013,2014,2016, 2017 and also by Castle Connoly for 2013, 2014, 2015,2016, 2017, and 2018. He is a former chief of biomedical ethics (6 years), former chief of Medicine and former chief of Endovascular Medicine as well as Vice Chief of Cardiology at SGH. He is on the board of directors of the California ACC where he serves as chair of the public relations committee. He is on Editorial Review Board for multiple medical journals. He is a national speaker on various topics in cardiology and internal medicine.

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. James Veltmeyer is a board-certified family physician in La Mesa, California. A graduate of UC San Diego and the Ross University School of Medicine, he completed his residency through the UC San Francisco system where he became Chief of Family Medicine Residency, overseeing 36 doctors.

Dr. Veltmeyer, a member of the San Diego Critical Care Medical Group, has been elected for four years (2012, 2014, 2016, and 2017) by his colleagues in the San Diego County Medical Society as a “Physician of Exceptional Excellence,” the most prestigious honor awarded to a “Top Doctor” in San Diego County. He is among a select group of San Diego physicians who was chosen four of the last fifteen years and he consistently ranks in the top 1% to 2% for patient satisfaction. He is currently the Chief of the Department of Family Medicine at Sharp Grossmont Hospital where he provides senior leadership to over 200 doctors.

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Barry Glassman, DMD, DAAPM, DAACP, FICCMO, Diplomate ABDSM, FADI, is a Diplomate of the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain and the American Academy of Pain Management, as well as a Fellow of the International College of Craniomandibular Orthopedics and the Academy of Dentistry International, he is also on staff at the Lehigh Valley Hospital where he serves as a resident instructor of Craniofacial Pain and Dysfunction and Dental Sleep Medicine.

Dr. Glassman is a Diplomate of the Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. He is on the staff at the Sacred Heart Hospital Sleep Disorder Center, as well as serving as the Chief Dental Consultant to three other sleep centers in the Lehigh Valley. A popular and dynamic speaker, Dr. Glassman lectures internationally, as well as throughout the United States. In addition to his extensive schedule which includes guest lecture appearances and in-depth courses on joint dysfunction, chronic pain, headache, sleep disorders, and migraine headache, Dr. Glassman is a frequent speaker at major chronic pain and joint dysfunction professional conferences.

University of Pittsburgh: Bachelor of Science 1969, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine; D.M.D. 1973, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Post Graduate Hours in Craniomandibular Dysfunction and Sleep Disorders: Over 2500

Curriculum Vitae

J. Christopher Mizer founded Vivaris in June of 1998. Vivaris (formerly Lake Erie Capital) invests in and acquires middle-market businesses in a broad range of industries that are leaders in their market niches. Mr. Mizer serves as the chairman of each of the portfolio companies and guides key strategic decisions and their execution. He also serves as the operating president on an interim basis when companies are going through periods of ownership succession and new management team members are being assembled.

Mr. Mizer is a former Vice President and Officer of the investment banking division of Key Capital Markets, where he focused on merger, acquisition, and financing projects for Fortune 500 clients, private companies, and successful entrepreneurs. Prior to joining Key Corp., he was Consultant in the Capital Markets practice with Ernst & Young.

He began his career as a Research Assistant with The Center for Economic Issues, a think-tank focused on economic development. He earned the B.S. (biology, applied math), B.A. (economics), M.S. degrees (biology – neurogenetics), and MBA (finance, accounting) degrees from Case Western Reserve University.

Christopher has taught business strategy, finance and entrepreneurship at the graduate level at Case Western Reserve University, John Carroll University, and the University of California, San Diego and at the undergraduate at San Diego State University.

Howard Leonhardt is an inventor and serial entrepreneur. He has 21 U.S. patents with over 100 patent claims for products for treating cardiovascular disease and has over 40 new patent claims pending. His TALENT (Taheri-Leonhardt) stent graft developed in the early 1990′s holds a leading world market share for repairing aortic aneurysms without surgery.

His inventions have treated over 500,000 patients in 60 countries. In early 1999 Leonhardt founded Bioheart, Inc. a leader in applying adult muscle stem cells to treat heart failure.. Leonhardt holds a Diploma in International Trade from Anoka Technical College. He attended the University of Minnesota,Anoka Ramsey College and UCLA Extension. He holds an honorary Doctorate in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Northern California and is an honorary alumnus of the University of Florida and Florida International University. He is co-leader of Startup California and Founder and Chairman of The California Stock Exchange TM (Cal-X) preparing to be the first social good impact stock exchange currently operating the Cal-X 30 Social Good Impact fund powered by Motif Investing- – He founded Cal-X Crowdfund Connect a crowdfunding campaign management co. and Cal-X Stars Business Accelerator, a business incubator and accelerator focused on cardiovascular life sciences and social good impact innovations.

There are 30 regenerative medtech and regenerative economy startups in the current portfolio class. His Leonhardt Ventures angels network has raised and put to work over $145 million in 32 companies to date, most of them founded by Leonhardt. BioLeonhardt is developing the first implantable programmable and re-fillable stem cell pump. He leads CerebraCell for brain regeneration. EyeCell for eye regeneration and AortaCell for aorta regeneration and number of other organ regeneration spin offs from his patented core technologies. . Leonhardt serves as state spokesperson in California for the JOBS ACT and Crowdfunding for Startup California and has given over 40 speeches on the subject. He has operated Leonhardt’s Launchpads NorCal at the University of Northern California Science & Technology Innovation Center in Rohnert Park, CA since 2008 and recently opened Leonhardt’s Launchpads Utah in Salt Lake City just off the campus of the University of Utah. He has served on the Board of Directors of the University of Northern California, a private biomedical engineering school, since 1999.