About Us

REVOLUTIONIZING GENE THERAPIES

Gene therapy—delivering a gene into specific cell types so that its expression can treat or cure a disease—is a concept that dates back more than three decades. The field has shown tremendous potential and has now produced approved products that have helped many patients. However, the development of new gene therapies has been beset by safety issues, technical obstacles, and manufacturing cost challenges that have so far restricted their use to a small subset of diseases. It is increasingly accepted that the limitations of current gene therapy approaches are often related to the use of adeno-associated viral vectors (AAVs) or other viral vectors to deliver the genetic material.

Intergalactic Therapeutics was founded by ATP (Apple Tree Partners), a leading life sciences venture capital firm, to overcome the limitations of viral-based gene therapy and develop a best-in-class non-viral alternative. Intergalactic uses synthetic biology and engineered gene circuits to make covalently closed and circular DNA (“C3DNA”) molecules designed to deliver a potentially safer and more effective solution for patients.

  • C3DNA mimics host chromatin without integrating into the host genome
  • C3DNA is synthetic and inert, unlike viruses or bacteria; the body doesn’t recognize it as an invader and does not mount an immune attack
  • Intergalactic delivers C3DNA with its proprietary focal delivery technology, the COMET® pulsed electric field system

Intergalactic’s approach promises benefits beyond patient safety. Our customizable C3DNA format offers the versatility to treat a broad range of diseases, and its synthetic construction allows simpler, faster, and more cost-efficient production.

Our Science

Leadership

Michael Ehlers, M.D., Ph.D.

Chief Executive Officer

José Lora, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer

Eileen Higham, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President, Head of Technical Operations

Vincent Hennemand, M.S., MBA

Chief Operating Officer

Robert Farra, M.S.

Chief Engineer, Head of Device Development

Gayathri Ramaswamy, Ph.D.

Vice President, Drug Discovery and Disease Biology

Charles Allen, CPA

Vice President, Finance Operations

Michael McHugh, Ph.D, J.D.

Head of Intellectual Property

Anastasia Semienko, MBA

Vice President, Strategic Portfolio, Program, and Alliance Management

Kimberly McGonagle, PHR, SHRM-CP

Senior Director, Head of Human Resources

Marina Feschenko, Ph.D.

Senior Director, Head of Analytical Development

Meisam Bakhshayeshi, Ph.D.

Senior Director, Process Development

Board of Directors

Seth Harrison, M.D.

Anna Batarina, CFA

Michael Ehlers, M.D., Ph.D.

Scientific Advisory Board

Sangeeta N. Bhatia, M.D., Ph.D.

Thaddeus P. Dryja, M.D.

Rachel Huckfeldt, M.D., Ph.D.

Francisco J. Quintana, Ph.D.

Ulrich von Andrian, M.D., Ph.D.

Weiping Zou, M.D., Ph.D.

Michael Ehlers, M.D., Ph.D.

Chief Executive Officer

Michael Ehlers is founder and Chief Executive Officer of Intergalactic Therapeutics. He is also chief scientific officer of, and a venture partner at, ATP (Apple Tree Partners). Mike brings to Intergalactic extensive expertise gained leading research and development at major biopharmaceutical companies. As executive vice president for research and development at Biogen, he led discovery sciences, translational medicine, clinical development and regulatory sciences, with a focus on neurological, immunological and rare diseases. He significantly expanded and diversified Biogen’s clinical portfolio, transformed its research and development productivity, advanced more than 20 novel clinical candidates, and oversaw global filings and approvals of Spinraza™️ (nusinersin), the first drug approved for spinal muscular atrophy. Prior to Biogen, Mike was biotherapeutics group senior vice president and neuroscience chief scientific officer at Pfizer, where he created and advanced the neuroscience and rare disease portfolios; directed global development activities in biologics design, synthesis and manufacturing; steered academic collaborations focused on immunology and oncology; and successfully brought 22 compounds into the clinic. Before entering industry in 2010, Mike was a professor and investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Duke University Medical Center, where he pioneered studies on neuronal organelles and the trafficking of neurotransmitter receptors. He has authored more than 100 scientific papers and served on multiple editorial boards as well as advisory boards for the National Institutes of Health, private foundations and other organizations spanning industry, academia and government. He received a B.S. in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology and holds an M.D. and Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

José Lora, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer

José Lora serves as Chief Scientific Officer at Intergalactic Therapeutics, where he brings 20 years’ experience in Research and Development to lead the company’s scientific strategy and operations. Most recently, José was Chief Scientific Officer at enGene, a clinical-stage non-viral gene therapy company focused on gene delivery to mucosal surfaces. At enGene, he and his team were responsible for the conception, development and advancement of EG-70, a plasmid-based therapeutic for the treatment of bladder cancer, to Ph1/Ph2 clinical trials. Prior to enGene, José was Vice President, Research, at Synlogic, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the application of synthetic biology to the discovery and development of therapies for metabolic and immune-mediated diseases, and cancer. At Synlogic, José built and led the Immunomodulation therapy area and led a multidisciplinary team to conceive, develop, and advance SYNB1891, an engineered bacterial cell therapy designed to engage the STING pathway in solid tumors, to clinical trials. Prior to Synlogic, he served in several biotech and pharmaceutical companies, including Constellation, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche, and Millennium, in positions of increasing impact and responsibility. José received his Ph.D. from the University of Seville, Spain, and was a postdoctoral researcher at Brown University and the University of Utah. He is co-author of numerous publications, including papers in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, PNAS, Nature, Nature Immunology, Nature Communications, and Nature Reviews.

Eileen Higham, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President, Head of Technical Operations

Eileen Higham has more than two decades of experience in academia and industry, leveraging deep technical, strategic and operational expertise to develop innovative cell therapies, gene therapies, and biologics to transform human health. She is currently Senior Vice President, Head of Technical Operations at Intergalactic Therapeutics. Before joining Intergalactic, Eileen was Vice President, Head of Analytical & Process Development at Sana Biotechnology, where she led a team developing best-in-class manufacturing processes and analytical packages for production of next generation cell and gene therapies. Prior to Sana, Eileen was Senior Director, Head of Analytical & Process Development at Juno Therapeutics (Celgene/Bristol Myers Squibb), where she provided technical, strategic, and operational leadership for development of best-in-class manufacturing processes and analytical packages for production of autologous T cell therapies. In this role, she built and led an organization of 100+ scientists and engineers developing strategies to enable robust, well-controlled, scalable, and well-characterized Drug Product process design and associated analytical packages to support Phase 0 through commercialization. Prior to Juno, Eileen served as Associate Director/Product Development Team Leader - Adoptive Cellular Therapy at MedImmune/AstraZeneca, with joint appointments in Biopharmaceutical Development (BPD) and the Oncology Innovative Medicines Unit (iMED). She started her career in industry at Merck as a Biochemical Engineer developing in-house, serum-free cell culture media to derisk large scale production of viral vaccines. Eileen received a B.S. in Engineering in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in Biological Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Vincent Hennemand, M.S., MBA

Chief Operating Officer

As Chief Operating Officer for Intergalactic Therapeutics, Vincent Hennemand oversees all Business and Science Operations for the company. Before joining Intergalactic, he was Senior Vice President and Head of Strategy, Corporate and Business Development as well as Head of the Immuno-Inflammation Unit at Akili Interactive. Prior to that, Vincent worked at PureTech Health, the founding institution of Akili Therapeutic Labs, as Vice President of Strategy, Corporate, and Business Development across the portfolio companies; he also contributed to the company creation group supporting the seed stage of several PureTech portfolio companies, including Vedanta Bio and Sonde Health. Vincent spent a decade in pharma at Sanofi Genzyme, during which he had the opportunity to hold several positions in R&D, General Management, Manufacturing, and Corporate Venture (SGBV), where he was responsible for developing and managing new investment opportunities including Myokardia, Voyager Therapeutics, WarpDrive Bio and Portal Instruments. Vincent holds an MSc in Engineering from Ecole Nationale Superieure Arts et Metiers in France, an MSc in Bioengineering from Georgia Tech, and an MBA from MIT, where he received a Martin Trust Center Fellowship.

Robert Farra, M.S.

Chief Engineer, Head of Device Development

Bob Farra is Intergalactic’s Chief Engineer and Head of Device Development. Bob is a hands-on entrepreneur/engineer with expertise in technology and product development of medical devices and combination products including wirelessly enabled wearables, implants, life support systems, drug delivery devices, and surgical and interventional devices. His experience spans all aspects of transforming technologies into successful, commercial products, including research, product development, IP development, regulatory, quality, and manufacturing. Prior to Intergalactic, Bob worked at CeQur Corp, a company focused on reducing the burden of diabetes by eliminating insulin injections. As CEO, he led the development of the company’s proprietary three-day wearable patch for on-demand mealtime insulin as well as the acquisition of the company’s commercial three-day wearable patch. Prior to CeQur, he worked at Microchips, an MIT startup developing implantable drug delivery devices and sensors; there he led the company through the world’s first clinical trial of a wirelessly enabled drug deliver implant. At Microchips, Bob held roles including President and Chief Operating Officer, Chief Technology Officer, and Vice President of R&D. Bob was also Vice President of Engineering and Manufacturing for Abiomed, leading all new product development and commercial manufacturing of ventricular assist devices and the artificial heart program. He also held senior leadership positions at Accellent (now part of Integer), a CMO for medical devices, and Arthur D. Little, a global consulting firm specializing in contract R&D. Bob is currently an active advisor and mentor at MIT and Northeastern University; he was also a former advisor at MGH’s technology assessment and development group and Boston Biomedical Innovation Center, a life science accelerator program funded by the National Institutes of Health. He has over 20 patents and received his Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering from MIT.

Gayathri Ramaswamy, Ph.D.

Vice President, Drug Discovery and Disease Biology

Gayathri Ramaswamy is Vice President and Head of Drug Discovery and Disease Biology at Intergalactic Therapeutics. Gayathri is a passionate drug hunter and a drug discovery leader with an extensive background and experience across different modalities ranging from small molecules to biologics, from defined targets to phenotypic screens, with an emphasis on neuroscience. Most recently, Gayathri was at Biogen as a Director-Research in the Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Research Unit, where she successfully headed a research group of neuroscientists and multiple drug discovery programs for Alzheimer’s disease. Prior to Biogen, she worked at Pfizer, where she was the head of a research group in Neuroscience and led drug discovery programs targeting apolipoprotein E for Alzheimer’s disease and GBA1 for Parkinson’s disease. Throughout her career, Gayathri has repeatedly built top-notch teams, created, and expanded portfolio of pre-clinical programs in multiple therapeutic areas, established drug discovery strategy for many challenging targets, and successfully advanced them through portfolio milestones. She has steered impactful collaborations with academic groups and external companies on Alzheimer’s disease. She is an expert in apolipoprotein E as well as its role in Alzheimer’s disease and has made seminal contributions to this field. Gayathri received her Ph.D. in Molecular Sciences (Biochemistry) from St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, University of Tennessee, Memphis. She did her post-doctoral training at Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease, University of California at San Francisco.

Charles Allen, CPA

Vice President, Finance Operations

Charles Allen is Vice President of Finance Operations at Intergalactic. He has over 14 years of experience in finance and accounting roles within life science companies ranging from pre-commercial to global top 10 pharma. Before joining Intergalactic, Charles was Senior Director, Finance and Controller of Goldfinch Bio, a clinical stage biotech. He held several finance roles at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, including Global Value Capture Lead in support of Takeda’s acquisition of Shire and Finance Head for the Global Oncology development portfolio. Charles has also held positions at ARIAD Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Takeda), EMD Serono, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals. He earned a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting from the University of Maine and is a certified public accountant in the State of Maryland.

Michael McHugh, Ph.D, J.D.

Head of Intellectual Property

Michael McHugh is Head of Intellectual Property at Intergalactic, where he leads the development and implementation of the company’s IP strategy. Michael joined Intergalactic in 2021 from Clark+Elbing LLP, a Boston-based life science-focused IP law firm, where he managed global IP portfolios for a variety early-stage and public biotechnology and medical device companies. Prior to starting his law career, he was scientifically trained in the field of drug delivery for immune modulation at Yale University. Michael earned a B.S. and M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Drexel University, completed his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at Yale University, and earned a J.D. with a concentration in intellectual property law from Suffolk University. He is a member of the Massachusetts Bar and registered to practice with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Anastasia Semienko, MBA

Vice President, Strategic Portfolio, Program, and Alliance Management

As Vice President of Strategic Portfolio, Program, and Alliance Management, Anastasia is responsible for crafting and implementing portfolio strategy at the technology, platform, and therapeutic levels. She brings over 20 years of drug development expertise in the areas of finance, clinical operations, and program and alliance management. Prior to joining Intergalactic, Anastasia was the Executive Director of Portfolio, Program, and Alliance Management at Morphic Therapeutic, where she built the Program and Alliance Management functions and helped the company file its first IND and embark on its clinical program. Anastasia earned an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management and a BBA in Economics from Baylor University.

Kimberly McGonagle, PHR, SHRM-CP

Senior Director, Head of Human Resources

Kim McGonagle is Senior Director and Head of Human Resources at Intergalactic. Kim has over 15 years of experience in Human Resources spanning different industries and company stages. Prior to Intergalactic, she was Director of People & Culture at Life Biosciences, where she led HR for the early-stage biotech. Prior to Life Biosciences, she held various HR leadership roles at Harvest Power, Inc. (acquired by True North Venture Partners) and ABM Industries, Inc. Kim received her B.S. in Business and Economics from the State University of New York at Oneonta and maintains active Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and Society for Human Resources Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) certifications.

Marina Feschenko, Ph.D.

Senior Director, Head of Analytical Development

As Head of Analytical Development at Intergalactic Therapeutics, Marina Feschenko is leading efforts in development, qualification, and transfer of all assays for non-viral gene therapy candidates and in overall analytical strategy design. Her expertise in analytics comes from Biogen, where she worked for more than 10 years in positions with increasing responsibilities. At Biogen, Marina led assay development both for protein biologics and AAV-based vectors, including methods used for commercial drug release such as aducanumab and blood factors. She also brought in house and implemented a number of new technologies for expansion of analytical capabilities and has several patent applications. Prior to Biogen, she was employed by Pfizer and Adolor Corporation. Before entering industry, Marina held a double appointment as Research Instructor with Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital studying cancer-related signal transduction. She has more than 20 publications in peer reviewed journals and has served as a chair at various scientific events and as an expert on potency assessment for USP. Marina has a B.S. and M.S. in Biochemistry form Lomonosov Moscow State University and holds a Ph.D. from Shemyakin Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry in Russia, where her work was focused on monoclonal antibody generation and characterization.

Meisam Bakhshayeshi, Ph.D.

Senior Director, Process Development

Meisam is Head of Process Development at Intergalactic Therapeutics, leading design, development, optimization, and tech transfer of C3DNA Drug Substance and Drug Product manufacturing processes to enable the Intergalactic pipeline. Meisam has extensive experience in process development and manufacturing across therapeutic modalities, including protein biologics, AAV viral vectors, plasmid DNA, and lipid nanoparticles. He was most recently Director, Process Development at Tessera Therapeutics, where he led the process development and manufacturing activities for AAV, plasmid DNA, and lipid nanoparticles. Prior to Tessera, he spent 10 years at Biogen in process development roles of increasing scope and responsibilities, including Head of Downstream Process Development for gene therapy and CMC Technical Development Lead for early- and late-stage gene therapy programs. Meisam holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Penn State and a M.S and B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology in Iran.

Seth Harrison, M.D.

Seth Harrison is founder and managing partner at ATP (Apple Tree Partners). He began investing in life sciences in 1991 as a venture partner at Sevin Rosen Funds and went on to be a general partner at Oak Investment Partners before starting ATP in 1999. Some of his earlier investments include Aileron Therapeutics, Akero Therapeutics, ArQule, Coelacanth, Corvidia Therapeutics, Cyrano Sciences, Gloucester Pharmaceuticals, HeartWare International, Informed Access, SGX Pharmaceuticals, Stoke Therapeutics, Syntimmune, Tendyne, Ultracision and ViroPharma. He currently serves on the boards of Akero Therapeutics and Stoke Therapeutics as well as the 15 portfolio companies created within ATP V, ATP’s current fund, to date. From 2002 to 2010, he was a member of the board of the International Partnership for Microbicides, a nonprofit product development partnership focused on women’s health and HIV prevention. Seth received an A.B. from Princeton University and holds an M.D. and MBA from Columbia University. He completed a surgery internship at the Presbyterian Hospital in the City of New York.

Anna Batarina, CFA

Anna Batarina is a partner at ATP (Apple Tree Partners) and a leader in international business, capital markets, corporate finance and strategy. Anna joined ATP in 2016 from Braeburn, an ATP portfolio company, where she served as vice president of strategic development. Before Braeburn, she was a member of the strategy team at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Prior to that, Anna was senior vice president and head of capital markets and investor relations at Uralkali, a leading global agrochemical business, where she led one of the most successful IPOs on the London Stock Exchange. Anna received an M.A. in Global Affairs (Global Health track) and a graduate certificate in Global Health, Public Health from Yale University. She holds an M.S. in Clinical Psychology from Lomonosov Moscow State University, a B.S. in Finance from Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, and a CFA charter.

Michael Ehlers, M.D., Ph.D.

Michael Ehlers is founder and Chief Executive Officer of Intergalactic Therapeutics. He is also chief scientific officer of, and a venture partner at, ATP (Apple Tree Partners). Mike brings to Intergalactic extensive expertise gained leading research and development at major biopharmaceutical companies. As executive vice president for research and development at Biogen, he led discovery sciences, translational medicine, clinical development and regulatory sciences, with a focus on neurological, immunological and rare diseases. He significantly expanded and diversified Biogen’s clinical portfolio, transformed its research and development productivity, advanced more than 20 novel clinical candidates, and oversaw global filings and approvals of Spinraza™️ (nusinersin), the first drug approved for spinal muscular atrophy. Prior to Biogen, Mike was biotherapeutics group senior vice president and neuroscience chief scientific officer at Pfizer, where he created and advanced the neuroscience and rare disease portfolios; directed global development activities in biologics design, synthesis and manufacturing; steered academic collaborations focused on immunology and oncology; and successfully brought 22 compounds into the clinic. Before entering industry in 2010, Mike was a professor and investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Duke University Medical Center, where he pioneered studies on neuronal organelles and the trafficking of neurotransmitter receptors. He has authored more than 100 scientific papers and served on multiple editorial boards as well as advisory boards for the National Institutes of Health, private foundations and other organizations spanning industry, academia and government. He received a B.S. in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology and holds an M.D. and Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Sangeeta N. Bhatia, M.D., Ph.D.

Sangeeta N. Bhatia M.D., Ph.D., is a Professor of Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Her laboratory leverages miniaturization tools from the computer industry for medical innovation with applications in liver disease, cancer and infectious diseases. In addition, Sangeeta has contributed to more than 50 issued or pending patents, launched multiple biotechnology companies to improve human health, and published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers. She was the 25th person in history to be an elected member of all three US National Academies: National Academy of Science (NAS), National Academy of Medicine (NAM), and National Academy of Engineering (NAE). She has been honored with the Lemelson-MIT Prize, the Heinz Medal, and the Othmer Gold Medal for groundbreaking inventions and advocacy for women in STEM fields.

Thaddeus P. Dryja, M.D.

Thaddeus Dryja, M.D., is a Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and an eye pathologist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear. At the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, he was the Head of Translational Medicine in Ophthalmology and then the Vice President and Head of Ophthalmology research. His research discoveries included finding compelling evidence for the recessive nature of oncogenic mutations at tumor suppressor genes like the retinoblastoma gene, the identification and cloning of the retinoblastoma gene, and the identification of 16 different genes responsible for retinitis pigmentosa and other forms of retinal degeneration and retinal dysfunction.

Rachel Huckfeldt, M.D., Ph.D.

Rachel Huckfeldt, M.D., Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and a clinician-scientist in the Inherited Retinal Disorders Service at Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE). She completed combined M.D./Ph.D. training at Washington University in St. Louis, followed by an ophthalmology residency at MEE and clinical fellowships in medical retina at the University of Iowa and inherited retinal disorders at MEE. She is the principal investigator for MEE’s participation in multiple first-in-human clinical trials of genetic therapies.

Francisco J. Quintana, Ph.D.

Francisco Quintana, Ph.D., is a Professor of Neurology at the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and an Associate Member at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. He is also the incoming President of the International Society of Neuro Immunology (ISNI). His neuroimmunological research is focused on investigating signaling pathways that control inflammation and neurodegeneration, with the ultimate goal of identifying novel therapeutic targets and biomarkers for immune-mediated and neurodegenerative disorders. Francisco has published over 200 peer reviewed articles and book chapters.

Ulrich von Andrian, M.D., Ph.D.

Ulrich von Andrian, M.D., Ph.D., is a Professor of Immunology at Harvard Medical School and a steering committee member of the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT, and Harvard University. Throughout his career, he has worked to elucidate the multi-faceted fundamental processes that are essential for the body's defense against infections and for the pathogenesis, prevention, and treatment of inflammatory diseases. His work on leukocyte trafficking is now an integral part of every immunology textbook and has helped to lay a conceptual foundation for the development of drugs that block tissue-specific leukocyte trafficking to treat autoimmune diseases.

Weiping Zou, M.D., Ph.D.

Weiping Zou, M.D., Ph.D., is a Professor of Pathology, Immunology, Biology and Surgery at the University of Michigan and Director of the Michigan Center of Excellence for Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy. He was the AACR Cancer Immunology (CIMM) Chairperson 2019-2020 and has served as the AAI Cancer Immunology Abstract Programming Chair for four years. He has published more than 200 articles and book chapters, including 36 articles in Nature, Science, and Cell journal series. His laboratory is one of the most cited research teams in the field of immunology. His early concept of combinatorial immunotherapeutic strategies has laid the foundation for current cancer immunotherapy and has provided rationales for novel combinations.