BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Samy Y. Lamouille, PhD
Co-Founder and CEO
Dr. Lamouille’s research program focuses on targeting critical oncogenic mechanisms and developing new therapeutic strategies to limit cancer cell tumorigenic capacities. He is a leading expert in the fields of TGF-β signaling, epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), and cancer metastasis, with a published review in Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology (2014). Upon completion of my postdoctoral training, he was recruited as a founding member to Sarcotein Diagnostics as Principal Scientist, where I investigated a novel class of biomarkers, providing clinical capability in detection, monitoring, and potential treatment of cancer progression. In 2014, I joined the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute (FBRI) at Virginia Tech Carilion, and FirstString Research as Head of Discovery to lead the development of novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment of GBM utilizing a mimetic of the zonula occludens-binding domain of the gap junction protein connexin43 (Cx43), αCT1. At FirstString Research, I was awarded a Phase I SBIR from NCI as Principal Investigator on a project that has been recently funded with a Phase II SBIR grant based on the work I initiated there. In collaboration with Drs. Robert Gourdie and Zhi Sheng at FBRI, we have demonstrated that Cx43 promotes chemoresistance in GBM and inversely correlates with GBM patient survival. His rapid success at FBRI and FirstString led to the recent founding of Acomhal Research, Inc., where he serves CEO. At Acomhal Research we exploit the therapeutic potential of a novel Cx43 mimetic peptide, JM2, to alter Cx43-microtubule interactions and target the glioma cancer stem cell population. Acomhal Research was awarded a Phase I STTR grant in 2017 from NCI to develop biodegradable nanoparticles encapsulating JM2 for the treatment of GBM, and a Phase I STTR grant in 2020 from NCI to evaluate the therapeutic potential of JM2 in metastatic triple-negative breast cancer cells. A letter of patent allowance for composition and use of JM2, has been provided by the USPTO, and the patent assignee the Medical University of South Carolina has agreed to option a license on this newly issued patent on JM2 in the field of cancer to Acomhal Research exclusively. In 2017, Acomhal Research was one of 22 companies selected nationally at the University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.
Robert G. Gourdie, PhD
Co-Founder and CSO
Dr. Gourdie is an expert in the biology of the gap junction protein connexin 43 (Cx43) with specific interests in the role of Cx43 in cardiac electrical activity, the tissue injury response, and glioblastoma (GBM). With his leadership, we also have the benefit of his experience in multiple biotech startup companies and the ranslational process. Currently, Dr. Gourdie serves as Director of the Center for Vascular and Heart and Research (CVHR) at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC (FBRI). Together with its eight PIs, CVHR numbers around 30 post-docs, graduate students, and staff. He has authored more than 160 scientific publications on connexins in the heart, wound healing, and cancer (H factor = 58), and he has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1997, including two current R01 grants as PI and considerable experience leading NIH STTR and SBIR grant-funded projects. Presently, Dr. Gourdie holds more than a dozen issued patents, with more than 50 other patent applications pending. A peptide drug developed in his lab called αCT1 is presently in Phase III clinical trials under license to FirstString Research, Inc., a $150m+ clinical stage biotech company that he co-founded with his former post-doc and FirstString President and CEO, Dr. Gautam Ghatnekar. Dr. Gourdie's teaching and mentoring experience include training five MD-PhD students, nine graduate students (including three bioengineering graduate students), and service on the thesis committee of more than 20 graduate students during the last 5 years. He has mentored numerous post-docs, medical residents and fellows, junior faculty, and high school students. In addition to taking traditional academic career paths, my students and mentees have founded multiple biotech startup companies. In addition, he was a charter member of the NIH ESTA study section and continues to serve on this and numerous other NIH and AHA grant review panels.
Craig T. Ramey, PhD
Dr. Ramey has extensive methodological and statistical training as a life-span developmental psychologist with a specialty in early experience and causal modeling via randomized controlled trials. He has led eight research teams, each addressing preventive and early intervention treatments for pediatric populations. Using an Applied Biosocial Contextual Model of Development (ABCD Model) (developed with Sharon L. Ramey), he has created and overseen clinical implementation core units, as well as data management and statistical analysis core facilities at four major research universities. Since coming to VT, he has been engaged in structural and functional neuroimaging studies that follow the original Abecedarian Project sample into their fifth decade of life, with evidence of improved decision-making and structural brain changes in the group receiving high-quality center-based early education and care from birth to school entry (e.g., Farah MJ, Sternberg S, Nichols TA, Duda JT, Lohrenz T, Luo Y, Sonnier L, Ramey SL, Montague PR, Ramey CT. Randomized manipulation of early cognitive experience impacts adult brain structure. J Cogn Neurosci. 2021 May 1;33(6):1197-1209.DOI: 10.1162/jocn_a_01709.) Dr. Ramey's background in research design and data analytics ranges from single subject analyses to multi-site RCTs. He especially enjoys helping teams of investigators from diverse disciplinary backgrounds conceptualize and conduct complex longitudinal RCTs with pediatric clinical and “at risk” populations. In addition to his own research, his scientific background has resulted in my serving as a frequent statistical reviewer or methodology consultant to NIH, DHHS, DOE, and other federal agencies and private foundations.