Daria Mochly-Rosen, PhD

Dr. Daria Mochly-Rosen is the George D. Smith Professor of Translational Medicine, Professor at the Department of Chemical and Systems Biology and the Senior Associate Dean for Research at Stanford University, School of Medicine.

At her laboratory at Stanford, she leads a multi-disciplinary group that spans basic to translational research. She has taught drug discovery classes for the past 20 years and is the director of SPARK At Stanford, a drug and diagnostic development program that she established in 2006 to help translate early academic discoveries to products that impact human health.

Recent research in her lab focuses on determining the role of aldehyde dehydrogenases, a family of detoxifying enzymes that are involved in a variety of human diseases. Her laboratory identified small molecule activators and inhibitors of individual members of this family, and they use them to determine how these enzymes contribute to signal transduction in normal and disease states. These early studies led to founding ALDEA Pharmaceuticals in 2011.

Another major research focus of the lab involves the rational design of peptides that interfere with protein-protein interactions and their use in the study of intracellular signal transduction in normal and disease states. Early studies for the lab led to her founding KAI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in 2002 with Dr. Leon Chen. For the first year, she was KAI's Chief Scientific Officer, and then served as the Chairperson of the Scientific Advisory Board and Director, until 2012, when KAI was acquired by Amgen (with $315 M in cash).

Dr. Mochly-Rosen holds about twenty issued patents, several additional patents pending and has authored over 200 publications. She has served on several scientific advisory boards and has been a Fellow in the Council on Basic Cardiovascular Sciences of the American Heart Association, a Founding Fellow of the International Society of Heart Research and a recipient of a number of prestigious awards.

Dr. Mochly-Rosen received her B.Sc. in Life Sciences from Tel Aviv University and her Ph.D. in Chemical Immunology from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley and spent seven years at the University of California, San Francisco, prior to joining Stanford University in 1993.

Che-Hong Chen

Dr. Che-Hong Chen, a molecular biologist and geneticist, has been working in Dr. Daria Mochly-Rosen's laboratory at Stanford University for the past 20 years. Dr. Chen's early research includes the characterization of the first intra-cellular receptor for protein kinase C and its protein-protein interaction with other signaling molecules. Dr. Chen's research interest also focuses on the role of ethanol in the mechanism of cardioprotection against ischemia-reperfusion injuries. Dr. Chen's research demonstrated that acute ethanol protects the heart from ischemic events by mimicking preconditioning.

Several protein kinase C substrates involved in this ethanol-induced protective mechanism have been identified in his research including an important detoxifying enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH).

More recently, Dr. Chen has been studying the ALDH gene family and its association with human diseases. By high throughput screening of small molecule libraries, Dr. Chen has pioneered the discovery of a class of novel enzyme activators and inhibitors of aldehyde dehydrogenase (Aldas & Aldis). Many of the 19 human ALDH isoyzmes and their mutations have been implicated in diseases caused by the accumulation of toxic aldehdyes and oxidative stress. Aldas have been shown to be effective in enhancing the cell's detoxifying capacity both in vitro and in vivo. The discovery of Aldas & Aldis as a class of unique enzyme modulators therefore carries an enormous potential for treating a wide range of human diseases. Dr. Chen's current research focuses on the isolation and characterization of ALDH isozyme-specific modulators and the understanding of the basic molecular interaction between ALDH and these small molecules.

Dr. Chen's goals are to further refine the ALDH modulator compounds and to develop Aldas and Aldis into useful therapeutics for human diseases that are associated with reactive and toxic aldehydes.

Wenjin Yang, Co-Founder and VP Research

Dr. Yang has over 20 years of industry experience in drug discovery and pre-clinical development of small molecules related to target selection through development candidate selection for antiviral, anti-inflammatory and oncology therapeutic indications.

Prior to joining Aldea, Dr. Yang was Vice President of Chemistry at Eiger BioPharmaceuticals, where he oversaw research and manufacturing functions. He previously served as Director and Head of Medicinal Chemistry at Sunesis Pharmaceuticals where he was responsible for scientific team management and multiple medicinal chemistry programs, including new technology development, hit identification and lead optimization to development candidate selection.

Before joining Sunesis, Dr. Yang was a Research Scientist at Gilead Sciences, responsible for design and synthesis of antiviral and antiretroviral compounds and a postdoctoral research associate at The Scripps Research Institute. Dr. Yang holds a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of California, Riverside.