Our Mission

Our mission is to build and support a sustainable platform for drug development in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. We seek to maximize the value of discovery research opportunities by leveraging our industry experience and our strategic partnerships in the global biotech industry.

Our values

•    Be science based
•    Ensure quality
•    Work with good people and be collaborative
•    Enjoy what we do


Co-Founders

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Dirk Smith brings over 20 years of research and leadership experience in the biotech sector and is acting Manager of CDGG. Previously as Scientific Director at Amgen he led research programs from discovery to clinical testing. He was Global Research Leader for AMG 282, a first-in-class, phase 2 IL-33 receptor antibody for respiratory disease and also advanced to clinical readiness AMG 601, a first in class antibody that targets the IL-18 pathway. He led basic research programs in immunology and inflammatory disease and supported development of new TNF inhibitors. He also championed patient stratification strategies for inflammatory disease and coordinated several human genetic studies as the Immunology liaison with deCODE Genetics in Iceland. Prior to Amgen, Dirk was at Immunex, where he contributed to early mining of the human genome and discovered several new cytokines and receptors.

Dirk is a board member and officer of the Inflammation Research Association. He serves as an external committee member for WSU and Fred Hutchinson commercialization funds and is a contributor to the Life Science Washington Institute’s WIN mentoring program as well as an ad hoc member of the Institute of Translational Health Sciences' Drug and Device Advisory Committee at the University of Washington. He also teaches a course on Drug Discovery of Biologic agents for the University of Washington Masters program in Pharmaceutical Bioengineering.

Prior to working in biotech, Dirk was at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where he performed basic oncology research to elucidate mechanisms of tumor growth and drug resistance. He received his BSc. in Microbiology and Molecular Biology from Washington State University and his MSc. in Genetics from the University of New Hampshire. Dirk has published over 45 scientific research and review articles, including in Nature, Immunity, and Science Translational Medicine, been granted 7 patents and is frequently invited to speak at international conferences. 

 

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Wayne Tsuji, MD is a rheumatologist with 20 years of clinical experience and more than 15 years of experience in the biotech industry spanning preclinical, early and late clinical development and multiple academic-industry collaborations. Wayne initially contributed to the development of Enbrel®  (etanercept), Prolia® (denosumab), and AMG 714 (anti IL-15) in rheumatic diseases at both Immunex and Amgen.  He was responsible for design and execution of the registrational trial of Enbrel® in ankylosing spondylitis and for the analysis and filing of the claim for prevention of structural damage in psoriatic arthritis.  He also managed Enbrel® extension trials in rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and juvenile idiopathic arthritis, designed and completed the trial of Prolia® in rheumatoid arthritis and completed the analysis of the trial of AMG 714 in rheumatoid arthritis.

As part of the  Medical Sciences group in Early Development at Amgen, Wayne held leadership positions on multiple preclinical and clinical teams. These teams developed novel products including:  AMG 714 (presently being developed by Celimmune in celiac disease and refractory celiac disease, type II); AMG 139 (anti IL-23p19), currently in Phase 2 study in Crohn’s disease as MEDI2070; AMG 557 (anti ICOSL), currently in Phase 1b-2 studies in SLE and Sjögren’s syndrome.  He designed and managed early clinical trials in non-rheumatic inflammatory diseases (psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease) seeking early proof of concept. Wayne also contributed to early development of AMG 403 (fulranumab, anti NGF in osteoarthritis), AMG 601 (anti IL-18R), AMG 827 (brodalumab, anti IL-17R), and AMG 357 (PI3K delta inhibitor).

Wayne participated in multiple academic-industry collaborations including the ABPI RA-MAP collaboration, SICCA Registry collaboration for Sjögren’s syndrome, and NIH Foundation renal biomarker and osteoarthritis biomarker collaborations. Wayne is a Clinical Professor in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology at the University of Washington.

Since leaving Amgen at the end of 2015, Wayne has been consulting for Celimmune on continued development of AMG 714 in celiac disease and refractory celiac disease, type II.  He has also consulted with companies developing products in SLE and Sjögren’s syndrome.

 

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Eric Butz brings more than 25 years of innovative research and team leadership in academic and biotechnology settings.  Dr. Butz received his Ph.D. in Microbiology at the University of Minnesota where he worked on acute virus infection-induced immune suppression.  At the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Washington, he made seminal observations on the nature and magnitude of anti-viral CD8 T cells responses to acute virus infections working in the lab of Michael Bevan. Thereafter, he joined Immunex where his work on T-cell priming and T cell/dendritic cell interactions and dendritic cell biology led to several patents.  After Immunex was acquired by Amgen, he joined the Inflammation group, where he led projects ranging from target discovery and validation through phase II clinical development, including AMG 714, a first in class IL-15-neutralizing antibody.  His research employed a wide variety of in vivo and in vitro techniques and gene expression analysis systems and was focused largely on inflammatory diseases, including work on immuno-oncology strategies.  He has worked with modalities including antibodies, soluble receptors, small molecules, antibody-drug conjugates and novel strategies to alter cytokine-receptor interactions and to improve cell specific drug targeting.  

In 2014 he founded Cascade Immunobiology, LLC, a biotechnology consulting service.  He is also the Head of Biomarkers and a consulting immunologist for Celimmune in their planning and execution of a first of its kind phase II clinical trial the treatment of type II refractory celiac disease, an in situ intestinal T cell lymphoma. He is also an Affiliate Associate Professor in the University of Washington Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, where he serves as an external consultant, and is an affiliate member of the Center for Innate Immunity and Immune Disease. 

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Bill Dougall, Ph.D. has over 25 years’ experience in biotechnology drug development and academia. He is currently owner of WCD Biotherapeutics Consulting, LLC and previously a Group Leader in Translational Cancer Immunotherapy and Senior Principal Research Fellow in Immunology in Cancer and Infection at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute where he studied novel checkpoint and immunosuppressive pathways in cancer. Previously as Scientific Director at Amgen he was Global Research Leader for denosumab (anti-RANKL antibody) in oncology, which was approved worldwide in 2010 and is registered as Xgeva® for the treatment of skeletal complications of bone metastasis and treatment of patients with giant cell tumor of bone.

Bill has experience with immunotherapy clinical trial design and broad range of drug modalities such as antagonistic and agonistic antibodies/ligands, antibody-drug conjugates (ADC), and bispecific antibodies and he led successful development of drugs representing each of these modalities at least through IND-enabling studies. Bill held a leadership role in the Therapeutic Innovation Unit at Amgen which was responsible for review and prioritization of cancer immunotherapy projects and he managed the scientific teams within the Oncology Research group responsible for development and Phase 1 testing of therapeutics including AMG 951 Apo2L/TRAIL (dulanermin), AMG 820 (anti-cFMS mAb; novel antagonist of CSF-1) and AMG 224 (an antibody-drug conjugate targeting BCMA for treatment of multiple myeloma).  

Bill has been active in industry-academic collaborations throughout his career and is currently an investigator/contributor on 3 oncology clinical studies of denosumab either as monotherapy or concomitant treatment with immunotherapies. Bill is an author on 7 issued patents and over 80 scientific papers, including publications in Nature, Nature Medicine,  Immunity, OncoImmunology, Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology, Cancer Immunology Research and Science Translational Medicine and has made frequent contributions to industry advisory boards or presented at international conferences.