Vala Board of Directors
John Chickosky joined Vala Science’s Board in April 2018 and was elected Executive Chairman in February 2019.
Previously, Mr. Chickosky served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Natrix Separations, Inc., a developer and manufacturer of innovative chromatography technology for biopharmaceutical purification, from 2011 until December 2017. He also served on Natrix’s board of directors from 2010 until December 2017. Before Natrix, Mr. Chickosky held the position of Chief Commercial Officer and President of the BioSystems Division of Xcellerex, Inc., where he was instrumental in developing and executing the company’s commercial strategy until its acquisition by GE Healthcare. Prior to Xcellerex, he held senior positions at Kendro Laboratory Products (now part of ThermoFisher), where he was Vice President, Global Bioprocessing and Drug Discovery Sales and at CARR Separations, where he was Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing. Prior to CARR, he served as Vice President of Sales and Marketing at AquaAir, Inc. and at Sepracor, Inc as Vice President, Marketing and Vice President, Business Development. He was also a member of the Board of Directors at Bionova Scientific until its acquisition by Asahi Kasei in 2022.
John holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Santa Clara University and an MBA from St. Mary’s College (California).
Mark Mercola, Ph.D.
Dr. Mercola is Professor of Medicine and Professor in the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute. He completed postdoctoral training at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, was on the faculty in the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School for 12 years, and later at the Sanford-Burnham-Prebys Institute and Department of Bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego before relocating to Stanford in 2015.
Prof. Mercola is known for identifying many of the factors that are responsible for inducing and forming the heart, including the discovery that Wnt inhibition is a critical step in cardiogenesis that provided the conceptual basis and reagents for the large-scale production of cardiovascular tissues from pluripotent stem cells. He has collaborated with medicinal chemists, optical engineers and software developers to pioneer the use of patient iPSC-cardiomyocytes for disease modeling, safety pharmacology and drug development. His academic research is focused on developing and using quantitative high throughput assays of patient-specific cardiomyocyte function to discover druggable targets for preserving contractile function in heart failure and promoting regeneration following ischemic injury. He co-established drug screening and assay development at the Conrad Prebys Drug Discovery Center (San Diego), which operated as one of 4 large screening centers of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) Molecular Libraries screening initiative and continues as one of the largest academic drug screening centers.
Prof. Mercola received an NIH MERIT award for his work on heart formation. He holds numerous patents, including describing the invention of the first engineered dominant negative protein and small molecules for stem cell and cancer applications. He serves on multiple editorial and advisory boards, including Vala Sciences, Regencor, The Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research and the Human Biomolecular Research Institute. His laboratory is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Phospholamban Foundation and Fondation Leducq.
Mark McWilliams, MSME
Mark currently serves as CEO of Medipacs, an early stage medical device firm bringing to market a series of miniature, disposable infusion pumps. Prior to Medipacs, Mark was Director of Cell Imaging and Analysis at Beckman Coulter after the sale of Q3DM to Beckman in December 2003. He was Chief Executive Officer and Director of Q3DM, a life -sciences startup that brought to market a high-speed imaging and analysis system for life science research and diagnostics. Prior to Q3DM, Mark was founder and COO of Medication Delivery Devices (MDD), an alternate care infusion systems company that was acquired by Baxter Healthcare in 1996. Mr. McWilliams served as a VP of Research and Development at Baxter Healthcare for three years following the sale of MDD. Prior to MDD, he served as Product Development Manager at the founding of Block Medical where he was responsible for bringing the company’s first two FDA approved products rapidly to market. Block was sold to Hillenbrand Industries in 1991. Mark serves on the board of directors of Spectra Science, a cancer diagnostic instrument company. He earned his MSME from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his BSME from Northeastern University and holds eight utility patents.
Jeffrey H. Price, M.D., Ph.D.
Founder, President & CEO
Jeffrey Price is Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Vala Sciences. He is widely recognized as a pioneer in high throughput microscopy research. His work is focused on creating drug discovery techniques built on novel microscopy imaging tools, and advancing in vitro preclinical hiPSC-derived disease-in-a-dish drug discovery models for heart and neurodegenerative diseases. These bioengineering efforts include advancing fundamental aspects of instrumentation such as increased speed, resolution, and data interpretation and management, to speed preclinical drug discovery.
In 1999, Dr. Price founded Q3DM which was acquired by Beckman Coulter Inc in 2003. Subsequently, he founded Vala Sciences in 2004. He is the author of several refereed publications and is the inventor of record on multiple high throughput microscopy patents. Dr. Price is also a Professor at Scintillon Institute for Biomedical and Bioenergy Research where he is Principal Investigator at Price Lab. Previously, he served as Associate Professor (2004-2014) and Adjunct Professor (2015-2018) at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and as a Research Scientist in the Department of Bioengineering at UCSD (1996-2004).
Dr. Price received his B.S. in Biomedical (Electrical) Engineering from the University of Southern California, his M.D. from Loma Linda University, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in bioengineering from UC San Diego.
John K. Westwick, Ph.D.
Dr. Westwick is founder and CEO at Courier Therapeutics, a leading-edge immune-therapeutics company. Dr. Westwick is also founder, President and CEO of Resonant Therapeutics, a biotechnology start-up discovering novel targets and antibody therapeutics for cancer treatment, and a venture advisor with Mercury Fund. John has worked in cancer research and drug discovery for more than 35 years and has extensive experience with the founding, financing, technical and executive management of biotechnology companies. Prior to Resonant and Courier, John was President and CEO of Odyssey Thera, a biotechnology company that developed breakthrough technologies for cellular analysis and established strategic alliance or license agreements with multiple major pharmaceutical companies. Prior to Odyssey, John held scientific management positions at Celgene Corp. and Signal Pharmaceuticals. John received his Ph.D. in molecular pathology from the UC San Diego School of Medicine, and was the Lineberger Cancer Center Fellow at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He has over 60 published research articles and issued patents and speaks widely at international scientific and business conferences. He also serves on the board of directors of Courier Therapeutics, Resonant Therapeutics, and Vala Sciences, and is an adjunct faculty member of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Baylor College of Medicine.