Collaborators with synergistic skills in disease modeling, AI, bioinformatics, and drug discovery, AcuraStem's co-founders discovered PIKFYVE as a therapeutic target for ALS and FTD in a project led by co-founder Dr. Justin Ichida and published in Nature Medicine in 2018. The company has since established the iNeuroRx® technology platform, built out its team incorporating world-class antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) expertise, and established a growing pipeline of treatments.
We are a purpose-driven company on a mission to get our promising treatments into patients' hands as quickly as possible.
We work hard every day to match the intensity of these devastating neurodegenerative disorders so that we can deliver promising treatments to patients.
We are led by data and science. We never hesitate to make difficult program choices in order to advance those most likely to benefit patients.
Our success depends on the day-to-day excellence of our team. We believe in rewarding our team members and empowering them in their daily roles and the entirety of their careers.
Who We Are
AcuraStem is an LA-based biotechnology company employing cutting-edge technology in its efforts to find effective treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. AcuraStem’s team of scientists, professors, tech entrepreneurs, and successful drug company veterans are employing the latest scientific breakthroughs to address the most challenging, but we believe tractable, health problems of our time, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, frontotemporal dementia and other neurodegenerative indications.
Sam Alworth, MS, MBA – Co-founder and CEO
Mr. Samuel V. Alworth is the CEO and co-founder at AcuraStem. AcuraStem is pioneering patient-based therapeutics in the field of neurodegeneration. Mr. Alworth has over 20 years of broad experience in the life sciences covering research, drug development and business development. Read More.
Wen-Hsuan Chang, PhD – Head of Target Validation
Dr. Wen-Hsuan Chang is the Head of Target Validation at AcuraStem. She leads the biology team on the NeuroRx® technology platform. Dr. Chang’s team has performed the detailed work to understand the therapeutic mechanisms underlying our drug programs, and utilizing that knowledge for clinical biomarker development. Read More.
Peter Sazani, PhD – Head of Translational Medicine
Dr. Peter Sazani is the Head of Translational Medicine at AcuraStem. He is an expert in oligonucleotide and RNA therapeutics with two new drug approvals and several successful INDs. He played a major role in the entry of ASOs into the clinical mainstream, by leading the development of FDA approved eteplirsen for DMD from preclinical through to NDA submission. Read More.
James McArdle, PhD – Head of CMC
Dr. Jim McArdle is a chemist and was Vice President of Isis/Ionis Corporation from 1999-2008. Due to his leadership experience at Ionis, and several nucleic acid therapeutics projects he oversaw at Archemix and as a consultant, he is a leading expert in ASO delivery, formulation, development and related regulatory filings. Read More.
Kaela Porter – Director Clinical Pharmacology
With an extensive career in the pharmaceutical industry spanning over 30 years, Kaela Porter brings a wealth of experience and expertise to her role as Director of Clinical Pharmacology, particularly in the realm of preclinical and clinical DMPK. Read More.
John W. Steele, PhD - Associate Director, hiPSC Platform
Dr. Steele joins us with over a decade of experience in the development of novel iPSC-based models of rare and common neurodegenerative diseases, including tauopathies and lysosomal storage diseases. His expertise is in cellular and molecular neurobiology, assay development, stem cell biology, genome engineering, and rare disease biology. Read More.
Zhihua Feng, PhD - Principal Scientist
Dr. Feng brings a wealth of knowledge in biological sciences to the role of Principal Scientist at AcuraStem, with a specialized focus on spinal muscular atrophy and neuromuscular junction interactions. She received her B.S. from the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, China, and her Ph.D. from the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Read More.
SHU-TING “Michelle” Hung, Ph.D. – Scientist I
Michelle Hung joins AcuraStem with a specialized background in stem cell research, neurodegenerative diseases, and molecular biology. Her expertise lies in development, stem cells, and regenerative medicine, particularly in formulating therapeutic approaches for ALS. Read More.
Justin Ichida, PhD
Dr. Justin Ichida is an AcuraStem co-founder and close collaborator. He is an Associate Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and the Director of the Choi Therapeutic Screening Center at the Broad CIRM Center for Stem Cell Research. His major focus is in understanding cellular reprogramming and applying this approach to investigate neurological disorders. Read More.
Dan Geschwind, MD, PhD
Dr. Geschwind is the Gordon and Virginia MacDonald Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics, Neurology and Psychiatry at UCLA. His group has pioneered the application of systems biology methods in neurologic and psychiatric disease, with a focus on autism spectrum disorders and neurodegenerative conditions. Read More.
Robert Bowser, PhD
Robert Bowser, PhD, is Chief Scientific Officer, the John and Betty Van Denburgh Chair of Neuromuscular Disease, and professor and Chair of the Department of Translational Neuroscience at Barrow Neurological Institute. Dr. Bowser is an internationally recognized leader in ALS research, contributing pioneering efforts to discover and validate biomarkers for ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases. Read More.
Jeremy Shefner, MD, PhD
Jeremy Shefner, MD, PhD, is a neurologist in the Gregory W. Fulton ALS & Neuromuscular Disease Center and professor in the Department of Neurology at Barrow Neurological Institute. He is board certified in neurology by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and he specializes in ALS and neuromuscular disorders. Read More.
Doug Treco, PhD
Dr. Douglas Treco is the former Chief Executive Officer and a Director of Ra Pharmaceuticals, a public biotechnology company developing treatments for complement-mediated disorders, which he founded in 2008. Ra Pharma was acquired by UCB in 2019. In 1988 Dr. Treco co-founded Transkaryotic Therapies, Inc. (TKT, acquired in 2005 by Shire plc), a multi-platform biopharmaceutical company developing protein and gene therapy products. Read More.
If you are passionate about harnessing great technology to make an impact against neurodegenerative disease, we welcome you to place your resume on file. When you join the AcuraStem team, you become part of something big.
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At AcuraStem, we understand that innovation doesn’t flourish in a vacuum and believe that collaborations are often the key to achieving life-altering breakthroughs. We actively engage with collaborators who are uniquely positioned to advance our mission.