Class Notes: Winter 2023

Published in Hopkins Medicine - Winter 2023

School of Medicine


A. Lee Dellon (Ph.D.) has published his first novel, The Prosecutor, about a young woman accepted in 1900 into the new Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She battles extreme prejudice from establishment doctors in her efforts to conduct groundbreaking research on cadavers and eventually discovers new surgical procedures that could eliminate pain. Founder of the Dellon Institutes for Peripheral Nerve Surgery, Dellon has won research prizes in anatomy, immunobiology, neural regeneration and the treatment of chronic nerve compression. He has written five surgical texts and retired from surgery in 2022. 


Kenneth M. Ludmerer, professor of history and medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, has been elected to the board of directors of the Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Ludmerer has been elected to the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars.


Alexander G. Little III, of Tucson, Arizona, has published Cracking Chests: How Thoracic Surgery Got from Rocks to Sticks (SDP Publishing Solutions, 2022). This book traces the development of thoracic surgery as a specialty and includes Little’s stories and insights from his experiences as an insider in the field. During his career as an academic thoracic surgeon, he has witnessed rapid growth in general thoracic surgery and worked with many of the surgeons instrumental in the development of the specialty.


Charles G. Helmick III, of Atlanta, received the 2022 Addie Thomas Service Award from the Association of Rheumatology Professionals (ARP), a division of the American College of Rheumatology. This award is presented to an ARP member in honor of the association’s first president and recognizes active volunteers in arthritis-related activities. As a medical epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Helmick spent more than 40 years working in public health and helped to raise the visibility of arthritis as a public health issue.


Arthur P. Bertolino was appointed chief medical officer of CytoAgents, a clinical-stage, privately held biotech, in September 2022. Most recently, he was chief medical officer at Innovation Pharmaceuticals Inc. He has served in roles at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Revance Therapeutics, Peplin Inc. and Pfizer.

Robert N. Hotchkiss, of New York City, is the co-founder of Imagen Technologies. The company is considered one of the key players in the artificial intelligence in diagnostics market. It provides immediate in-office diagnostic testing and results using proprietary, FDA-cleared software that helps physicians detect and diagnose findings more comprehensively and document findings more automatically.


In May 2022, David Wheadon was elected to the board of directors of ChemoCentryx Inc. as an independent director. He retired from AstraZeneca in 2019 as senior vice president of global regulatory affairs, patient safety and quality assurance. Previously, Wheadon held a variety of leadership roles at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Abbott Laboratories, GlaxoSmithKline Laboratories and PhRMA, the Pharmaceutical Industry Research and Manufacturers of America. Wheadon currently serves on the boards of Karuna Therapeutics Inc., Sotera Health Company and Vaxart Inc.

Ellen R. Strahlman has been appointed an independent director to the board of Eyenovia Inc., an ophthalmic pharmaceutical technology company. Strahlman retired from Becton, Dickinson in 2018 and over the years has held leadership roles at GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Novartis, Merck and Bausch & Lomb. Strahlman has served on the boards of Syncona and the Altria Group Inc. In addition to her corporate board service, Strahlman is a visiting professor at the University of Turku in Finland.


In August 2022, Leslie Russek (Ph.D.), professor emeritus of physical therapy at Clarkson University, was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Society) ECHO Award for her work teaching through the Ehlers-Danlos Society’s ECHO programs. Russek facilitates the North America Allied Health Provider series for ECHO, which offers educational sessions for clinicians led by EDS expert health care providers. She has also recently completed nearly two years of work for the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine Committee for Selected Heritable Disorders of Connective Tissue and Disability.


Frances E. H. Lee, director of the Adult Asthma, Allergy and Immunology Program in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, has co-founded Micro BPlex. The company uses a patented technology incorporating nascent blood plasma cells to diagnose microbial infections, enabling health care professionals to record diagnostic information essential for effective early therapeutic intervention. Lee is also an assistant professor in the division as well as in the Lowance Center for Human Immunology.


Donna E. Hansel has been named division head of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Hansel will lead a team of 650, including more than 130 clinical and research faculty members, across four departments that serve as a bridge between basic research, translational research and clinical care at MD Anderson.

Jason E. Silvers has been named chief financial officer of Generate Biomedicines, which uses machine learning-powered generative biology to rapidly invent new drugs across a wide range of protein modalities and previously undiscoverable protein therapeutics. For 20 years, Silvers was at Goldman Sachs, most recently based in London as a partner co-managing health care investment banking for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Previously, he served as the global head of health care mergers and acquisitions.


Kate Tulenko has been appointed by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa. The council advises President Joe Biden and the Department of Commerce on how to expand investment and trade in goods and services between the U.S. and Africa. Tulenko is a globally recognized expert in health workforce design and management, and is a serial entrepreneur who founded Corvus Health, a global health workforce firm and Appleseed Education, an educational technology platform that scales up health professional schools in Africa. 


James Jefferson “Jeff” Smith (Ph.D.) is now the chief research officer at Precision BioSciences, an ex vivo allogeneic CAR T and in vivo gene editing firm, which he co-founded with fellow alumnus Derek Jantz ’03 (see below). Smith formerly served as chief technology officer, but he will now be managing the direction of the biotech’s research programs. The change follows the formation of deals with Eli Lilly and Novartis.


Derek N. Jantz (Ph.D.) co-founded Precision BioSciences with fellow Hopkins alumnus Jeff Smith and has recently taken on a revised role at the company, chief science officer, to focus on formulating company strategy and managing relationships with external stakeholders. 

In June, Deborah G. Nguyen (Ph.D.) was named to the Board of Governors of Biocom California, the association representing California’s life science industry. Nguyen has spent the last 20 years enabling drug discovery and development within the San Diego biotech ecosystem. She was recently named site head at Takeda San Diego and leads the Gastrointestinal Inflammation Division within the GI Drug Discovery Unit at Takeda. Prior to Takeda, she worked at COI Pharmaceuticals, Organovo and Novartis.


Brian S. Cornblatt (Ph.D.) has been named chief medical officer of BioHarvest Sciences Inc., a fast-growing biotech firm whose patented biofarming technology harnesses the active and beneficial ingredients in plants (secondary metabolites) to ensure the highest bioavailability and efficacy for the human body.


Priscilla K. Brastianos, director of the Central Nervous System Metastasis Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, has been appointed to the newly launched Scientific Advisory Board of Kazia Therapeutics, an oncology-focused drug development company. Brastianos leads a multi-R01-funded laboratory that investigates the genomic mechanisms that drive primary and metastatic brain tumors. She has led studies that have identified novel therapeutic targets in brain tumors.


Mythili Markowski (Ph.D.) joined the Washington, DC, office of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney in July as counsel in the firm’s intellectual property section. She rejoins the firm from a global pharmaceutical company, where she was a senior patent attorney. Markowski will focus specifically on patent prosecution and litigation for clients in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

Michael G. Nicholson (Ph.D.) is president and chief operating officer of Interceptor Bio, which in May announced its latest funding round of $37 million. Inceptor is pursuing CAR T, CAR-NK and the newer CAR macrophage, or CAR-M, therapy. It is planning to build out a manufacturing facility in Gainesville, Florida, which it bought from Massachusetts CDMO Arranta Bio late last year.


In March, Prashant G. Mali (Ph.D.) was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering for his pioneering work in genome editing (CRISPRs and ADARs) and gene- and cell-based human therapeutics. Mali, a bioengineering professor at the University of California San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, is co-founder of Shape Therapeutics, Engine Biosciences and Navega Therapeutics. Navega is pursuing the next generation of gene therapy by commercializing epigenetic editing.


Jason Liebowitz and Phil Seo have published Clinical Innovation in Rheumatology. The book highlights landmark research articles and scientific discoveries to analyze how big data, personalized medicine and new biomarkers for disease are profoundly changing our understanding of many rheumatologic conditions and creating a new frontier for effective treatments.