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Founders At Work Speaker Series

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Zachary Hill, PhD, is co-founder and President of Soteria Biotherapeutics, a protein engineering company focused on developing next-generation T-cell therapies for the treatment of cancer. Prior to founding Soteria, Zach was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Professor Jim Wells at UCSF, where he helped to co-invent the technological basis for Soteria’s founding. While at UCSF, Zach was a Helen Hay Whitney Fellow, as well as the recipient of a NIH K99/R00 Transition Award from the NCI. Zach received his PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Washington, where he worked under the direction of Professor Dustin Maly on the development of bivalent inhibitors of protein kinases. Zach’s scientific interests sit at the interface of proteins and small molecules, with an emphasis on developing novel therapeutics.

James A. Wells, PhD is Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at UCSF. The Wells’ group pioneered the engineering of proteins, antibodies, and small molecules that target catalytic, allosteric, and protein-protein interaction sites; and technologies including protein phage display, alanine-scanning, engineered proteases for improved hydrolysis, bioconjugations, N-terminomics, disulfide “tethering” (a novel site-directed fragment based approach for drug discovery), and more recently an industrialized recombinant antibody production pipeline for the proteome. These lead to important new insights into protease mechanisms, growth factor signaling, hot-spots in protein-protein interfaces, role of caspases in biology, and more recently determining how cell surfaces change in health and disease. His team was integral to several protein products including Somavert for acromegaly, Avastin for cancer, Lifitegrast for dry eye disease, and engineered proteases sold by Pfizer, Genentech, Shire and Genencor, respectively. He is an elected member of the US National Academy of Science, American Association of Arts and Science, and the National Academy of Inventors.