AutoImmune Disease Treatments
Tom I. Davis President and Chief Executive Officer, Co-Founder Mr. Davis co-founded arGentis Pharmaceuticals, LLC in October 2005. Prior to founding arGentis, Mr. Davis spent 25 years in senior management positions within the healthcare services industry. From 2000 - 2005, Mr. Davis was Chief Executive Officer of BEP Services LP, an operator of 35 healthcare services businesses in 12 states. Prior to BEP, Mr. Davis spent seven years as Chief Operating Officer of ServiceMaster Diversified Healthcare Services, LP. Previously, Mr. Davis spent over 10 years as COO of The Brian Center Corporation, a privately owned diversified group of 60 companies including a multi-state nursing home operation, pharmacy services, and rehabilitation facilities which merged with a large public company in 1995. Mr. Davis has served on numerous corporate, industry, and philanthropic boards. Mr. Davis holds a B.S. in Business Administration from East Carolina University and is a Certified Public Accountant.
Andrew H. Kang, MD, Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Kang is the Goodman Professor of Medicine, Emeritus, and Director Research Center for Connective Tissue Disease in the Department of Medicine at UTHSC in Memphis. He received his MD degree from Harvard Medical School and performed his post-graduate residency at Brigham Hospital, Boston, and fellowships at the NIH and Mass. General Hospital. Dr. Kang is the recipient of VA's most prestigious research award, the William S. Middleton Award as well as the Russell L. Cecil, Senior Investigator Award from the Arthritis Foundation. He is certified by the American Boards of Internal Medicine. Dr. Kang was the leading investigator in identifying the now burgeoning numbers of types in the collagen family of proteins and personally published over 200 publications spanning many fields. Dr. Kang is also a leading authority in the field of immunobiology of connective tissue macromolecules and his laboratory was the discoverer of an important animal model of autoimmune arthritis known as collagen induced arthritis. His work has had a considerable impact on the field, resulting in over 23,000 published papers on this subject to date. Dr. Kang has served as the principal investigator or program director on over 20 other major research grants and served a pivotal role in determining policy as a member of the Publication Committee of the American College of Rheumatology for 6 years, 3 of which he served as Chairman. Dr. Kang directs the operation of an active group of basic and clinical science research laboratories in Memphis at both the University of Tennessee and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Arnold E. Postlethwaite, MD, Chief Science Officer and Lead Researcher
Dr. Postlethwaite is the Professor of Medicine and Director, Division of Connective Tissue Disease in the Department of Medicine at UTHCS. He received his MD degree from Cornell University Medical College with Internal Medicine Residency Training at Tulane and Duke. Dr. Postlethwaite received Rheumatology Fellowship training at Duke University Medical Center followed by being the recipient of VA Research and Education and Clinical Investigator Career Development Awards at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Memphis, Tennessee, where he presently has an appointment as a Staff Physician in Rheumatology. Dr. Postlethwaite is certified by the American Boards of Internal Medicine and Rheumatology. He has published over 100 scientific articles dealing with his research interests including chemotaxis, inflammation, fibrosis, systemic sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, fibroblast and macrophage biology, cytokines, and oral immune tolerance. Dr. Postlewthwaite has published extensively in the area of fibroblast and monocyte chemotaxis, cytokine modulation of inflammation, and fibroblast function. He is an internationally recognized expert on these topics. He has a successful record of continuous grant support from the Federal Government and private foundations in these areas. Currently is a principle investigator on seven grants. He has served on numerous editorial boards and grant reviews for the NIH, Department of Veterans Affairs and private foundations. He has served as chairman of study sections for the National Arthritis Foundation and has been a member of the VA Immunology Merit Review Board, NIH-NIAMS Special Grants Review Committee and numerous NIH ad hoc grant review panels. Dr. Postlethwaite is presently Principal Investigator on a VA Merit Review Grant to study the role of PGE2 on oral tolerance, an NIH R01 grant to determine whether oral bovine type II collagen is efficacious in rheumatoid arthritis patients off NSAIDS, an NIH N01 contract grant to determine whether oral bovine type I collagen is efficacious in scleroderma, and is Program Director of a T32 NIH training grant to study diseases of connective tissue.
David D. Brand, Ph.D., Chief of Collagen Development
Dr. Brand is an Associate Professor, Department of Medicine and Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Biochemistry, UTHSC, Memphis TN. He received his BS in Biology from The College of William & Mary and his Ph.D. in Biology from Georgetown University. Dr. Brand’s research focuses on animal models of inflammatory disease, the immune cell interactions that drive autoimmunity, but he also provides large scale collagen purification (types I, II, III, V, IX and XI), production and chromatographic separation of cyanogen bromide peptides and alpha chains for use in research at both domestic institutions and those overseas. In addition, he has written over 80 selected, peer-reviewed publications of scientific articles related to the mechanisms of tolerance and autoimmunity, the role of regulatory T cells in peripheral tolerance and those related to collagen both as a scaffold for bioengineering and its role in autoimmune disease and therapy. Using a humanized mouse model, Dr. Brand is currently studying the aggravated inflammation driven by periodontal disease in autoimmune arthritis.
Weikuan Gu, PhD, Associate Scientific Director
Dr. Gu joined the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) in 2002. He obtained his PhD in 1994 from Cornell University and completed postdoctoral studies in 1996. Dr. Gu has published 102 peer reviewed publications, nine book chapters, and 63 abstracts/presentations. Dr. Gu recently edited a book named "Gene Discovery for Disease Models" which has been published by Wiley. His research currently focuses on two areas: (a) positional cloning and functional studies of spontaneous mutations of genes in mice using a newly developed integrative strategy, which combines genomic resources and updated biotechnologies, and (b) identification of genetic factors that regulate bone density, bone structure, and susceptibility to arthritis. For characterization of genes involved with bone metabolism, his researchers are using the nanoindentation technology and genetic markers to map the quantitative trait loci (QTL) of bone quality from a mouse F2 population. In arthritis research, he is using the QTL mapping and microarray technology to identify pathways that regulate resistance to the spontaneous arthritis in IL-1ra deficient mice (funded by NIH, collaborating with Dr. J. Stuart at VA Medical Center and Dr. K. Hasty). In addition, he is Director for the DNA Discovery Core of the UTHSC Center of Genomics and Bioinformatics. The core, which services the UT research and education community, has the capacity of high throughput gene expression analysis, genotyping, and mutation/polymorphism screening.
Ralph (Ed) Henderson, Vice President, Business Development and Chief Marketing Officer, Co-Founder
Ralph Henderson has had 30+ successful years in a variety of positions in Specialty Pharmaceuticals Sales and Sales Management. He has been involved in 6 successful new product launches during his career. Mr Henderson received his B.S. in Biology from The University of Memphis. He presently is a Board Member and Committee Chair for The Highland Hundred of The University of Memphis. Mr. Henderson has served as Chief Marketing Officer since 2007.
Edward Jensen, Vice President, Corporate Development
Edward Jensen has over 30 years' successful leadership and managerial experience - driving innovation, development and commercialization in diverse global, multi-national business environments and has a demonstrable track record of consistently delivering on strategic business objectives. He has substantial in-depth, broad-based, hands-on experience of most aspects of pharmaceutical drug development and commercialization, having previously held responsibilities that covered early research, manufacturing, clinical development and regulatory submissions through to product launch. Edward is also the interim Head of Global Project Management at Daiichi-Sankyo and has previously senior leadership positions at major pharmaceutical and life sciences companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Biogen, AstraZeneca, Blueprint, and the TransCelerate industry collaboration.
William E. Cochran, O.D., Executive Director
Dr. Cochran served as President of the Southern College of Optometry (SCO) from 1984 to 2007. He is a 1968 graduate of SCO and during his term as President of the college, SCO became one of the premier optometry schools in North America with SCO graduates consistently performing in the top three schools on national board examinations. SCO's reserve fund increased from $2.8 million to $37 million while tuition has continuously decreased. Dr. Cochran's leadership resulted in many advances and milestones for SCO, notably the opening of a 55,000 square foot Eye Center in 2002. This Eye Center is the largest facility of its kind in the country, seeing more than 60,000 patients per year. In addition to his position at SCO, Dr. Cochran has served as the president of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry; on the National Board of Examiners in Optometry; and as president of the Memphis Association of Colleges and Universities. In June 2007, the SCO Board of Trustees announced its unanimous decision to confer the title President Emeritus upon Dr. Cochran in his retirement. In July 2007, Dr. Cochran was named an Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors of arGentis Pharmaceuticals, LLC, a specialty pharmaceutical company located in Memphis.