Accelerating Therapeutic DiscoveryTM

About The Alpha-1 Project

The Alpha-1 Project (TAP) is a wholly-owned for profit subsidiary of the Alpha-1 Foundation singularly focused on providing critical funding and advice to speed the commercialization of therapies for the elimination of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and liver disease caused by Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1).

TAP will focus funding into highly promising drug therapies or devices in the translational research or clinical trial stage of development to speed the commercialization of these therapies. It will leverage the experience and scientific knowledge of the Alpha-1 Foundation as well as the drug therapy and device commercialization expertise of large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

Our Business and Scientific Advisory Council will guide the establishment of the therapeutic strategies and ensure that TAP’s investments in various drug and device therapy projects is fiscally sound.

The Alpha-1 Project leadership

Jean-Marc D. Quach
President and CEO

Jean-Marc Quach is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Alpha-1 Project, Inc. responsible for overall coordination and management activities. Prior to joining The Alpha-1 Project, Inc., his most recent position was Vice President at Bayer Diabetes Care responsible for… managed care, durable medical equipment marketing, reimbursement, government, and contracts.

Prior to Bayer, he was with Express Scripts Inc., where he held various leadership roles in line and staff positions from 1998 to 2006. He was the Vice-President of Strategic Planning and Market Analysis from 2004 to 2006. As the Vice-President and General Manager of the Express Scripts Specialty Distribution Services subsidiary, he presided over the growth of a start-up to a $100 million entity. He also worked at NYLCare Health Plans (now Aetna) as its director of pharmacy, and at American Express Company.

He earned his B.A. in International Business Administration (Magna Cum Laude) from the American University of Paris, in Paris, France, and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Karen L. Erickson
Chief Operating Officer

Karen Erickson is the Chief Operating Officer of The Alpha-1 Project, Inc. and recently served as the Associate Executive Director of Community Engagement at the Alpha-1 Foundation. Prior to her position on staff, she held voluntary positions of service in the alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) and rare disease and disability communities.

Erickson held a management position at Amgen and specialized in performance management in Clinical Operations. Karen has extensive experience in protein science, with particular interest in drug product characterization, formulation and manufacturing. She has experience in both clinical product/process development and commercial product sustainment activities and has held related leadership positions in both the U.S. and international arenas. Karen held an expat position in portfolio and technology transfer at Trinity Biotech, Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

She was co-founder and Chair of Ability Bettered through Leadership and Education (ABLE), an affinity group commissioned to improve the quality of life of Amgen employees and community members who were differently challenged by disease or conditions. She represented the Alpha-1 Foundation on the steering committee of Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative and was an elected member of the American Thoracic Society Public Advisory Roundtable, serving on the Clinicians Advisory, Awards and Drug/Device Discovery and Development Committees in that capacity. Karen was elected and served as Co-Chair of the Coalition of Patient Advocacy Groups (CPAG) at NCATS and was recently selected to serve on the newly formed FDA Patient Engagement Collaborative (PEC).

Prior to accepting her role as COO of TAP, Karen served on the TAP Scientific and Business Advisory Council.

 

Gordon E. Cadwgan, Jr., Ph.D.

Gordon Cadwgan was diagnosed with Alpha-1 in 1992. He and his wife, Ruth, seeking information and support for his mysterious condition, attended the first Alpha-1 Association annual meeting in Minneapolis and have missed only two since then. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) in 1967 and holds a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry (1975) from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA. He worked for Union Carbide in West Virginia and DuPont in Wilmington, DE and is now retired on disability. Mr. Cadwgan is a trustee of the Board of Directors of his family's charitable foundation. Since moving to Florida in 2000, he and his wife have been active with the Alpha-1 Foundation and Alpha-1 Association, leading a support group in West Palm Beach and working to raise money to find "the cure." Mr. Cadwgan is a member of the Board of Directors of the Alpha-1 Foundation, The Alpha-1 Project and the COPD Foundation.

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Andrew Curtis

Andrew Curtis leads Pfizer's Specialty Care Business Unit's External Opportunities and New Business team. Specifically, his team explores novel white space strategies and provides commercial and strategic business development guidance to key SCBU stakeholders. Previously, Andrew led the Biotherapeutic's Business Innovation and Strategy team, focusing on a novel Open Innovation model for Pfizer's BioTherapeutics R&D organization. Andrew and his team focused on establishing new partnerships with the venture capital and biotech communities in an effort to create value through innovative investment in Discovery-stage opportunities. Previously, Andrew was Global Team Lead for the Biosimilars and Orphan Drugs division within Pfizer’s Established Products Business Unit, where he crafted the company’s first-ever rare disease unit and biosimilar program. He has built a career in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry dedicated to the treatment of rare diseases and disorders. Prior to rejoining Pfizer in 2008, Andrew was President and CEO for Jerini US, a Berlin-based biotech company, focused on the commercialization of peptides to treat rare genetic diseases. As a member of the Jerini AG senior management team, he built and led the U.S. commercial team – including Medical, Scientific Affairs, Marketing, Distribution, and Reimbursement – in preparation for approval and launch of an Orphan Drug treatment for a rare genetic disease. Andrew initially joined Pfizer in 2003 as U.S. Diversified Senior Product Manager and was later named Director of Marketing for Aricept, a product approved for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. His career also includes commercial marketing and sales positions with Genzyme, TargetRx, J&J, and Merck. Andrew holds a B.A. from Muhlenberg College and a M.A. from Lehigh University.

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Igor Gonda, Ph.D

Dr. Igor Gonda, Ph.D. has been the Chief Executive Officer and President of Aradigm Corporation, Hayward, CA, since August 2006. Aradigm's mission is to prevent and treat severe respiratory diseases. Dr. Gonda served as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Acrux Ltd., a public specialty pharmaceutical company in Melbourne, Australia, from December 2001 to August 10, 2006. He has extensive experience in building entrepreneurial research and development groups and corporate partnerships in the pharmaceutical industry. He served as the Chief Scientific Officer of Aradigm Corp. from July 2001 to December 2001 and also served as its Vice President of Research and Development from October 1995 to July 2001. From February 1992 to September 1995, Dr. Gonda served as a Senior Scientist and Group Leader at Genentech, Inc., with responsibility for non-oral drug delivery, and specifically for the inhalation development of Pulmozyme - recombinant human DNase used in the management of the orphan disease cystic fibrosis. Dr.

Gonda has held academic positions at the University of Aston in Birmingham, UK, and the University of Sydney, Australia. Dr. Gonda has a B.Sc. in Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Leeds University, UK.

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Kenneth A. Irvine

Mr. Irvine is a recently retired director of Scotia Capital, the corporate and investment banking arm of the Bank of Nova Scotia, where he designed and worked on strategic projects which align the capital markets sectors of Scotia Capital and the new economic environment. This required a multi-faceted perspective to create the tactical implementation of tracking and forecasting risk-weighted assets, business implications and decisions regarding loan portfolio analysis for marketing plans and funding allocations.

At Scotia Capital, he had also held the position as the head of investor relations and was a portfolio manager for the US investment advisory company, Citadel Hill Advisors which invested in leveraged loans and high yield bonds. He founded the US private placement effort and helped to establish the high yield group.

Mr. Irvine has over 40 years of Wall Street background and expertise in financial engineering, corporate finance, private placements, securitization and portfolio management. He brings a synthesis of investment banking perspectives through his experience at Bank of Nova Scotia and prior securities firms.

Mr. Irvine received his B.A. in Economics from the University of Michigan and his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He is also a Chartered Financial Analyst. Mr. Irvine’s late wife, Bettina, had Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency and was the recipient of a double lung transplant. Mr. Irvine serves on the Alpha-1 Foundation’s Development Committee.

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John (Jack) McCormick, M.D.
Albert (Ab) Rees

Jeanine M. D’Armiento, MD, PhD, is a Professor of Medicine in Anesthesiology at Columbia University in New York City. She is the Director of the Center for Molecular Pulmonary Disease in Anesthesiology and Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, and Director of the Center for Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) and Rare Lung Disease. Her clinical center serves as a tertiary referral center for the Northeast region and cares for patients with LAM and Alpha-1.

Dr. D’Armiento’s research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of lung injury and repair. The foremost goal of her research program is to develop insight into lung physiology and pathology through understanding the fundamental mechanisms modulating lung injury and repair and translating these findings into practical clinical solutions. Another focus of her work has been understanding the role of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in normal physiology and in human disease, with an emphasis on the processes leading to tissue destruction in the lung and vasculature. Her laboratory integrates both in vitro and in vivo approaches and is uniquely situated to characterize the molecular changes in the study of lung injury and disease to identify potential therapeutic targets.

She was the first to describe the role for collagenolytic enzymes in the pathogenesis of emphysema and has identified the essential signaling pathways leading to the induction of these proteases in lung disease. Her current work in this area is to examine a series of therapeutic approaches blocking expression of these proteases in lung models. Most recently, her group identified a novel compound capable of attenuating lung destruction in animal models of the disease, which she is now developing for use in the clinic.

Currently she is the principal investigator (PI) of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded R01 exploring the mechanisms of smoke induced lung injury. Additionally, she is a Co-PI of an NIH funded study exploring non-invasive imaging modalities in lung disease. Through both studies she is utilizing the knowledge gained from her basic research studies over the past years to develop novel therapeutic agents in the treatment of lung disease. The imaging studies have allowed the development of a new agent targeted to the inflamed lung, which she is actively testing to determine its use as a non-invasive imaging modality in patients with lung disease.

Dr. D’Armiento has been involved with the mentoring and training of young faculty. She has trained over 15 clinical and basic fellows most of which now hold academic and industry positions. In 2008, she completed a two-year appointment as the Associate Dean for Gender Equity and Faculty Development at Columbia University where she concentrated on professional development programs specific for women faculty. She currently serves on the Executive committee of the Columbia University senate and Chairs the Commission on the Status of Women at the University.

She has served on the Executive Board of the Alpha-1 Foundation and was recently named as Chair of the board of directors of the Foundation. She is also presently serving as a Consultant to the Director of the Office of Rare Disease, NCATs, National Institute of Health.

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Robert A. Sandhaus, M.D., Ph.D.

Robert A. (Sandy) Sandhaus, M.D., Ph.D., received his bachelor degree in molecular biology from Haverford College, followed by a Ph.D., in cell biology from Stony Brook University in New York, where he also obtained his M.D. He completed his residency in internal medicine at the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston and a pulmonary fellowship at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). He was then appointed to the UCSF medical faculty and subsequently joined the faculty at National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado where, starting in 1981, he developed the Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency Program.

In addition to his ongoing academic career, he worked for a decade in research and development in the biopharmaceutical industry running clinical development programs at Cortech, Inc., NeXstar Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Gilead Sciences. Dr. Sandhaus has served on the Boards of Directors of the Alpha-1 Association, the Alpha-1 Foundation, AlphaNet, and the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation. For the past eight years, he has been the Executive Vice President and Medical Director of AlphaNet and the Clinical Director of the Alpha-1 Foundation.

Dr. Sandhaus is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary disease, and critical care medicine.

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John W. Walsh

Mr. Walsh is the co-founder, President and CEO of the Alpha-1 Foundation in Miami, Florida. Under his leadership, the organization has become internationally recognized and has invested millions of dollars to support Alpha-1 research and research-related projects worldwide. Mr. Walsh is also co-founder and President of AlphaNet, Inc., a not-for-profit disease management services company providing comprehensive care exclusively for individuals with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency. AlphaNet, Inc., currently provides services to over 2,500 individuals with Alpha-1 in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. As a result of the infrastructure and support provided by the Foundation and AlphaNet, several companies have drugs in development for the treatment of Alpha-1. In 2002 Mr. Walsh’s contribution to pioneering collaboration in orphan drug development was recognized by the FDA with the Commissioner’s Special Citation. Mr. Walsh has an extensive background in business management and government relations and regularly testifies before Congress and advisory groups as a patient advocate. Mr. Walsh serves on the following organizations:

  • Member of the NIH Director’s Council of Public Representatives
  • Past Chairperson of the National Health Council’s Board of Directors (2005-2006)
  • Past Chairperson of the American Thoracic Society Public Advisory Roundtable (PAR)
  • Presidential Appointee of the American Thoracic Society’s Board of Directors (2004-2005)
  • Trustee on the Foundation of the American Thoracic Society (2006-2008)
  • Completed his third term on the DHHS’ Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability (1997-2006)
  • Member of the Advisory Board of the Center for Genetic Research Ethics And Law (CGREAL) at Case Western Reserve University
  • Member of the US COPD Coalition Executive Committee
  • Past Chairperson of the International COPD Coalition (2006-2008)
  • Co-Founder and Member of the COPD Foundation Board of Directors and serves as President

Mr. Walsh was diagnosed with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency in 1989.

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Wayne E. (Chip) Withers, Jr.
Chair of the Board of Directors

Mr. Withers is the president of Withers Transfer & Storage of Coral Gables, Florida, Withers Worldwide Forwarders, Inc. and Withers Transportation Systems. Withers Worldwide is a multi-dimensional organization with satisfied clients on six continents. Mr. Withers, who is serving his fifth term as a Coral Gables Commissioner, is a graduate of the University of Florida (UF) and is a member of the UF Foundation Board and the UF Gator Booster Organization. Before being elected to office, Commissioner Withers held appointed positions on the City of Coral Gables' Planning and Zoning, Economic Development, Code Enforcement, Youth Advisory and Parks and Recreation Boards. A fourth generation Miamian, he is also active on the boards of many local and civic charitable organizations, such as the Alpha -1 Foundation. He is a past-president of the Pan American International Mover's Association and is a member of the University of Florida Alumni Association. Mr. Withers served as the Governor's appointee to the small Business Council of the State of Florida and was recently honored as one of Ronald McDonald House's Twelve Good Men.

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More Information

For more information on The Alpha-1 Project, contact us at: info@thealpha-1project.com.


About The Alpha-1 Project

The Alpha-1 Project (TAP) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Alpha-1 Foundation singularly focused on bridging the gap between clinical trials and commercialization of therapies for the elimination of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and liver disease caused by Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1).

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Latest News

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Posted on November 05, 2018

General Contact

The Alpha-1 Project

3300 Ponce de Leon Boulevard
Coral Gables, FL 33134
Phone: 305-648-9541
Toll-free: 888-920-0002
Fax: 305-441-2110
Email: info@thealpha-1project.com