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Introducing Pavel Aronov, Senior Director, Bioanalytics 

In today’s blog, we are pleased to introduce Pavel Aronov, Senior Director of Bioanalytics. Pavel and his team have developed the processes to accurately measure the quantity of our biosynthetic KSMs and APIs produced via biomanufacturing, which is no small feat when working with biological products. We sat down with Pavel to ask him about his background and what inspires him about working at Antheia: 

You’ve had an interesting career journey. What can you tell us about your path to Antheia? 

As a kid growing up in the Soviet Union and Russia, I was always interested in science. I earned my bachelor’s degree in environmental chemistry there, but there were few resources available for new research in the country, so I applied to graduate school in California. I went straight from Siberia to UC Davis, where I got my Ph.D. in biochemistry.  

At that time the fields of metabolomics and mass spectrometry were emerging. One of my PhD advisors explained that while genetics and genomics research uncovered what may happen to living organisms, metabolomics focused on what was actually happening inside living organisms. I focused my research on how to apply mass spectrometry to study metabolism and other aspects of biology. I wasn’t aware of the impact at the time, but my work on diagnostic tests for active forms of vitamin D was later adopted by some major clinical diagnostics companies, resulting in more accurate and precise measurements over traditional immunoassays.  

After working as a scientist in the Stanford University Mass Spectrometry (SUMS) lab for four years, I joined the sales and business development team at Thermo Fisher Scientific, a premier manufacturer of mass spectrometers. However, I couldn’t stay away from biological research for long. I ended up starting the analytics team at Impossible Foods, developing ways to reliably measure leghemoglobin (a protein that carries heme), identify impurities, and understand what happens to the protein and flavor molecules when cooked or stored. I also built out the analytical chemistry, flavor chemistry, lipid chemistry, and data science teams before moving on to an even earlier stage food startup, Climax Foods. I was employee number two there and built their initial laboratory and bioscience capabilities from the ground up amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  

As the world was starting to normalize again after the pandemic, I saw a job listing for Antheia and felt like the description fit me perfectly, so I joined as Interim Director of Bioanalytics in late 2021 before taking my current role as Senior Director in early 2022.  

What made you say yes to Antheia? 

I’m a practical person. I majored in biochemistry to work in a field that will always be in demand, and I am drawn to companies with the potential to scale into thriving, profitable businesses. Antheia was attractive to me as a company with innovative technology and a high chance of commercial success. The work we are doing is highly complex and difficult to replicate, which gives us a competitive advantage. I am also amazed at how efficient our team is. Antheia has accomplished so much with a small team of smart and dedicated people, and this type of responsible and steady approach to corporate growth really stood out to me in a hyper growth startup market.  

What does the bioanalytics team focus on at Antheia? 

At a high level, our work focuses on analytical chemistry, which involves understanding the quantitative composition of matter. For example, in food, analytical chemistry examines how many carbs and proteins are present in a sample.  

Bioanalytics is a subset of analytical chemistry that is applied to biological samples, so at Antheia, we’re measuring the products that are produced by yeast cells in fermentation flasks and tanks. We work closely with our downstream processing (DSP) team to guide the process and jointly work to improve yields and remove impurities from our biosynthetic ​​KSMs and APIs. As we scale our biomanufacturing processes toward commercial levels and have to isolate our products from larger fermentation containers, this work becomes even more important to ensure optimal production. The questions we’re answering with our work include: are we making the right product, is it pure enough, and is the measurement accurate?  

As someone in a leadership position on this team, what does your day-to-day role look like? 

For me, it’s all about data accuracy. There’s a saying that a mass spectrometer is a truth machine, and while this is true, after 20 years in this field, I’ve learned that there is still a layer of interpretation that needs to happen. It’s not as simple as what you see on CSI: Miami where you put a sample into a machine and it spits out a report. My role is to look at the data from a more critical perspective, test basic assumptions, and ask the right questions to ensure accuracy. I also coach my team in developing and honing their own skills and collaborate closely with the biology and fermentation teams to understand and support their processes.  

What role did the bioanalytics team play in Antheia’s recent commercial milestones 

Our team made crucial contributions to strain and process development by tracking strain performance, purity, and yields. This work is critical from an economic perspective – having accurate measurements of the quantity of our products plays a major role in our commercial strategy.  

Another key part of this work was transferring our methods from one laboratory to another, moving from bench scale to pilot scale, and then eventually, commercial scale. This is a common technical challenge in our field because of the nuanced variabilities in how scientists work from one lab to another. Our team helped ensure the results we saw onsite in our own labs aligned with the results we got in our CMO partners’ labs. That consistency was and will continue to be critical to our commercialization efforts.  

What do you hope to achieve with Antheia in the next year? What about in five years?  

In the next year, the bioanalytics team will focus on understanding and overcoming the inhibiting factors that may lower the ability of our strains to produce our KSMs and APIs. In five years, it’s about incorporating the entire scope of information about our biological pathways into the decisions we make. Personally, I think machine learning tools will eventually enable us to better understand and use all of this data. We collect so much data in our work that at some point, the volume of information just becomes insurmountable for humans to analyze comprehensively. I think there is a huge opportunity to automate some of the analysis process that can lead to new discoveries, though human supervision and interpretation will always be critically important.  

What makes Antheia a great place to work? 

In addition to the smart, hard-working people who make up our team, we also have a team of unflappable and optimistic leaders. There is a saying that slow is smooth and smooth is fast, and Antheia really embodies this – our leadership has intentionally cultivated a focused workplace environment and this stands out among the more frenzied experiences you often find at startups. Our consistent pace and clear goals and objectives boost productivity and eliminate busy work. From a commercial perspective, we’re on track to make valuable products, and customers are already responding well to our work, which is exciting. 

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Richard Sherwin

Head of Commercialization

Richard is an industry veteran with more than 30 years of experience in the KSM, API, and intermediate markets. He is responsible for leading the commercialization and revenue generation for Antheia’s robust pipeline of products. Richard brings an exceptional track record of leading international sales teams, driving revenue growth, building strategic partnerships, and delivering innovative products to market, including ANDA and NDA developments. Richard led commercial efforts at some of the leading global pharmaceutical companies and most recently, built his own consultancy business advising a range of clients, including $1B divisions of major multinationals.

Appropriate regulatory submissions will be prepared and submitted to support Antheia’s customers who need to reference and access necessary process-related information.

Yihui Zhu, PhD

Head of Fermentation

Yihui leads the fermentation team at Antheia. With over 25 years of hands-on experience in the field, he brings in-depth knowledge and expertise in microbial metabolism and fermentation process development. He is also skilled in developing comprehensive fermentation data collection, analysis, and visualization systems. Prior to joining Antheia, he served as a fermentation lead at Intrexon and Codexis where he successfully built fermentation labs and teams and led multiple biofuel and biochemical projects to reach stretch milestones and tech transfer. Yihui is passionate about the potential of fermentation and is dedicated to advancing the field through innovative research and development.

Yen-Hsiang Wang, PhD

Head of Strategy, Partnerships, and Finance

Yen-Hsiang leads strategy, partnerships and finance at Antheia. He completed his M.S. and Ph.D. in Bioengineering at Stanford, with extensive research experience in synthetic biology, metabolic engineering and computational modeling. Before joining Antheia, he worked at McKinsey and Tencent with a strong focus in corporate strategy and big data/advanced analytics. At Tencent, he served as Director of Strategy and Business Development for the AI Lab, leading corporate initiatives in healthcare AI/ML applications and commercialization. He also served in AI4H (Artificial Intelligence for Health), a collaboration between WHO and ITU, to establish global standards for AI in healthcare.

Audrey Wang

Head of Financial Planning and Analysis

Audrey leads financial planning and analysis at Antheia. With an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis, Audrey is passionate about leveraging financial analysis, digital technology, and data analytics to guide companies in making optimal investments and strategic business decisions. Audrey has a decade of experience in helping companies solve unique problems and creating long-term impact with unconventional approaches. Before joining Antheia, she was at Vir Biotechnology and Merck where she led various FP&A workstreams, including investment valuation, asset prioritization, and manufacturing sites operation finance support. Audrey completed CFA Level II and passed the U.S. CPA exam in 2011.

Antonij Tjahjadi, CPA

Head of Accounting

Antonij Tjahjadi leads accounting at Antheia and holds active CPA license. He joined Antheia with more than 20 years of experience in corporate accounting, bringing deep expertise in ramping up accounting operations for start-up companies, SEC reporting/technical accounting, and SOX implementation efforts. Before joining Antheia, he held various leading roles in both public and private company settings, including directing accounting functions at Ambys Medicines, where he successfully implemented Netsuite with Point Purchasing integration and set up various accounting policies and processes, and played a key role in the initial public offering of Nutanix, Inc.

Ken Takeoka

Head of Biology

Ken leads the Biology team at Antheia, which incorporates both strain and protein engineering functions. He has more than 16 years of experience in the synthetic biology field, working with leading companies, including Amyris and Novartis. One of his passions is molecular biology tool development and he previously worked to build the foundation for the automated strain engineering pipeline at Amyris. At Novartis, he modernized the molecular biology techniques and established a platform to model mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in a range of organisms.

Suzanne Sato

Head of Downstream Processing

Suzy leads downstream chemistry processes at Antheia. She has 19 years of experience in process development, including route development through synthetic chemistry and scale-up of small molecule APIs for GPCR targets under cGMP for Phase I-III trials. Before joining Antheia, Suzy led a full DSP team at Amyris where she successfully pivoted developments from biofuels hydrocarbon products to pharmaceutical intermediate, flavor, fragrance and nutraceutical products. She led a team that scaled 11 products and took five products to commercial manufacturing.

Farrah Pulce, PMP

Head of Project Management

Farrah leads program and project management at Antheia. She has over 20 years of experience leading program and project management, operations, and engineering for companies across the CPG, aerospace, and automotive industries. Prior to joining Antheia, Farrah implemented and led the sustaining program management team at Impossible Foods. She also led product operations, project management, and cost optimization at Blue Bottle Coffee and Tyson Foods to develop and commercialize new products. As a certified project management professional (PMP), Farrah has a proven record of successful project delivery, improving project management practices, and building collaborative teams.

Jordyn Lee

Head of Communications

Jordyn leads communications and external affairs at Antheia. She brings a decade of multidisciplinary communications experience in helping companies make complex science and technology accessible to broad audiences, all while maintaining technical accuracy and integrity. She has a passion for visionary storytelling and translating impact across the entire communications ecosystem – her work has spanned from public relations to corporate communications to marketing. Jordyn has served as an advisor to a number of different life sciences companies and most recently led corporate communications at Amyris.

Ben Kotopka, PhD

Head of Data Science

As Head of Data Science at Antheia, Ben manages in-house software development and external partnerships for storing and interpreting research data, executing bioinformatics analyses, and streamlining business processes. Prior to Antheia, Ben worked as an academic researcher at the intersection of machine learning, bioinformatics, and synthetic biology. Following this, as an entrepreneur and consultant, he developed and deployed data science solutions for biotechnology applications ranging from metabolomics-driven compound discovery to MRI segmentation.

Guerin Kob

Head of Supply Chain

Guerin is responsible for leading the design, development, management and improvement of Antheia’s end-to-end global supply chain. He has over 15 years of experience leading high-performing supply chain and procurement teams at leading biotechnology and specialty chemical companies, with extensive experience in process development and end-to-end supply chain optimization. Prior to joining Antheia, Guerin served as Senior Director of Global Supply Chain for Sumitomo Chemical’s biotechnology division with Valent Biosciences, where he led the end-to end supply chain including procurement, logistics and distribution, integrated business planning, materials management, customer service, and supply planning functions globally.

Pavel Aronov, PhD

Head of Bioanalytics

Pavel leads the Bioanalytics team at Antheia. He has 20 years of experience in analytical and clinical chemistry, mass spectrometry, chromatography, and metabolomics. Pavel built and led the original Chemistry and Analytics team at Impossible Foods enabling strain development, fermentation, DSP, regulatory, QC, and scale-up of leghemoglobin biomanufacturing. During his academic career at UC Davis and Stanford University Pavel developed a vitamin D assay used by all major clinical diagnostics laboratories and pioneered metabolomics studies to investigate kidney disease and microbiome.

Jesse Ahrendt

Head of Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs

Jesse has more than 25 years of experience in regulatory affairs, quality systems, manufacturing quality, and regulated industries, ranging from early- to late-stage pharmaceuticals, biomanufacturing, consumer care, and medical devices. He has supported global product launches and the underlying quality supply chain components in industries that require strict adherence to internationally accepted quality standards. Before Antheia, he led quality efforts at Zymergen and Sandoz, and supported many global pharmaceutical companies during his time in Biotech Consulting at NSF International, all to bring quality to the forefront in manufacturing, standardize global processes, and support customer regulatory requirements.

Heidi Pucel

Chief People Officer

Heidi is a results-driven human resources executive and HR business partner who leverages decades of experience in empowering, motivating, and inspiring to drive transformation within high-performing and rapidly-growing workforces. A certified executive coach and passionate advocate for people-oriented solutions, Pucel serves as a partner to executive teams to design programs that support employee development, engagement, and recruitment and retention. Pucel most recently served as Chief People Officer for Countsy, where she worked as an interim HR executive for clients in the biotechnology and software industries, such as Ceribell and Tune Therapeutics.

Zack McGahey

Chief Operating Officer

Zack is a leading executive in operations management, specializing in bioprocess engineering and manufacturing management. He has over 20 years of experience leading manufacturing functions for companies across the pharmaceutical, synthetic biology, diagnostics, and automotive industries. Before joining Antheia, Zack was VP of manufacturing and capex project management at Zymergen. He also gained experience managing commercial scale facilities operations for Tesla, where he was responsible for managing 10 million square feet of factory, lab and warehouse space during the Model 3 ramp.

Kristy Hawkins, PhD

Co-Founder & CSO

Kristy has over 20 years of experience in the field of synthetic biology, focusing on yeast metabolic engineering for the production of small molecules. She did the founding work on the benzylisoquinoline alkaloid pathway during her graduate studies and gained valuable industry experience at Amyris and Lygos. Kristy is an expert in tool development, high-throughput screening, and host strain and heterologous pathway engineering.

Christina Smolke, PhD

Co-Founder & CEO

Christina is a pioneer in synthetic biology and metabolic engineering, where she has over 20 years of experience. As Professor of Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering at Stanford University, her laboratory led the breakthrough research to engineer baker’s yeast to produce some of the most complex and valuable medicines known. Under her leadership, Antheia’s synthetic biology platform enables new possibilities for drug discovery and efficient, sustainable, transparent, and on-demand drug manufacturing at scale. Her vision and accomplishments have garnered numerous awards, including the Chan-Zuckerberg Biohub Investigator, NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, Nature’s 10, Novozymes Award for Excellence in Biochemical Engineering, and TR35 Award.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken visits Antheia to discuss biotechnology innovation

Appropriate regulatory submissions will be prepared and submitted to support Antheia’s customers who need to reference and access necessary process-related information.