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Outsmarting Cancer
to deliver more cures

cancer cell

CARGO is engineering best-in-class CARs that overcome resistance and address barriers to access so that more patients benefit from potentially curative therapies

CARGO Therapeutics, formerly Syncopation Life Sciences, is advancing a new generation of adoptive cell therapies for cancers. Our lead program is addressing a primary mechanism of resistance and relapse to the currently available Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell (CAR T) therapies. Despite advances made by commercially available autologous CARs, these treatments are only curative for less than half of all cancer patients. In addition, far too many patients are unable to access these potentially curative therapies due to other challenges, including manufacturing, supply, time, and reimbursement. CARGO is actively working on novel solutions to achieve better outcomes and experiences. 

Our mission is to outsmart cancer and develop the next generation of best-in-class CARs. Beyond our lead program, our platform technologies enable the multiplex engineering necessary to overcome multiple mechanisms of tumor resistance, to counter inhibition by solid tumors, and in the allogeneic setting to evade immune rejection.

In a beautifully simple way, we have the capability to incorporate complex therapeutic cargo into our CARs, with the potential to achieve durable responses that are curative for more patients.  

Our founders are pioneers and world experts in CAR T cell therapy, and we have built a team with experience and success developing, manufacturing, launching and commercializing oncology and cell therapy products. CARGO colleagues share a passion to help others thrive.  We are tenacious in the relentless pursuit of our mission, and we innovate in order to change the game for the patients we serve.

From research to manufacturing to clinical care, we at CARGO aspire to disrupt the status quo and bring more life to patients!



Gina Chapman

Chief Executive Officer & Board Member

Gina Chapman joined CARGO Therapeutics as CEO and member of the board of directors in May 2022 from Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, where she most recently served as Senior Vice President and Business Unit Head. She brings 30 years of biopharmaceutical commercial and operational experience across numerous therapeutic areas, with a track record of success shaping strategy, building teams, and driving results.  During her 15 years with Genentech, Gina oversaw the development and execution of business unit and therapeutic area strategies including medical and access, and was accountable for delivering P&Ls across Oncology, Neurology, Immunology, Ophthalmology, Respiratory & Rare Diseases.  She was responsible for influencing global pipeline and development decisions, overseeing launch planning and execution in the US for several novel, life-changing NME and line extension medicines, and was actively involved in business development assessments and partnerships. Gina began her biopharma career with Syntex Laboratories, and joined Gilead Sciences during its rapid growth from clinical stage start-up to commercial enterprise where she contributed to its growth and success by leading the launch of their first commercial medicine.  


Corinne Epperly, MD, MPH

Chief Operating Officer

Dr. Corinne Epperly, MD, MPH is the Chief Operating Officer of CARGO Therapeutics and brings over 15 years of deep oncology experience as a physician and scientist blending medicine and business with a proven track record in oncology drug development and launches. Previously she served as Senior Vice President of Strategy and Operations at Iovance Biotherapeutics, a public clinical-stage immuno-oncology company, leading clinical operations overseeing all clinical trials, developing and implementing business strategy to advance drug development including clinical trial design, global business development, and the commercial operating model for the launch of Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes (TIL), with the potential to be the first approved cell therapy for solid tumor cancers. Prior she served as the US Chief Operating Officer at VBL Therapeutics, a public biopharmaceutical focused on first-in-class cancer treatments, where she helped lead corporate strategy, financing, business development, designed a US commercial operating model and marketing plan, and supported immuno-oncology clinical drug development. Prior to VBL, in her 7 years at Bristol Myers Squibb she delivered results across multiple leadership roles spanning marketing, including helping drive the launches of OPDIVO® (nivolumab) and YERVOY® (ipilimumab) in 6+ tumor indications under accelerated timelines, M&A leading global transactions and negotiations, strategic operations, and medical strategy in the US Immuno-Oncology Business. Previously at Goldman Sachs International in London she served as an equity analyst in Global Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Investment Research. She also serves as a director on the board of AVEO Oncology.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Biology from the University of Virginia, a Doctorate of Medicine and a Masters of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). She completed her medical training at the UNC Hospitals. She trained at the National Cancer Institute of the NIH in translational medicine, experimental cancer immunology in checkpoint inhibition, tumor suppressor genes, and bone marrow transplant clinical trials.


Anup Radhakrishnan

Chief Financial Officer

Anup Radhakrishnan joined Cargo Therapeutics as Chief Financial Officer in August of 2022.  He brings over 20 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical sector providing strategic financial leadership across both R&D and commercial stage organizations. Previously, he served as Chief Financial Officer at Dascena Inc., where he was responsible for pre-IPO readiness, capital formation, and scaling the Finance, IT, and Procurement organizations, ultimately leading the company through a successful acquisition by CirrusDx. 

Prior to joining Dascena, Anup was CFO for the Genentech Patient Foundation and Head of Finance for the US Breast and Skin cancer franchises.  Throughout his 11-year career at Genentech, he assumed broader financial responsibility across the US commercial organization supporting products in various therapeutic areas and lifecycle stages, Managed Care, and Government Affairs.  He was actively involved in business development assessments and partnerships which helped shape the future of the commercial portfolio. Before Genentech, Anup held R&D Finance roles of increasing responsibility at Elan Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Perrigo), CV Therapeutics (acquired by Gilead), and UCSF.    


Gregg Fine, MD

Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Gregg Fine, MD is the Chief Medical Officer of Cargo Therapeutics. He is a board-certified hematologist/oncologist who brings extensive experience leading global clinical development organizations. Most recently Gregg was the Vice President of Clinical Development for Cell and Gene Therapy at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) where he oversaw the development of a portfolio of gene-edited TCR- and CAR-T cell products for patients with solid tumors. He was instrumental in the development of letetresgene-autoleucel, a genetically modified NY-ESO-1 TCR T cell targeting NY-ESO-1, now is in pivotal development for patients with sarcoma. Prior to GSK, he was the Vice President and Head of Clinical Development at PACT Pharma, a biotech founded to develop gene-edited TCR T cell therapies targeting neoantigens in patients with solid tumors. He was responsible for the build of the clinical development organization, oversaw regulatory, clinical operations and biostats functions and transitioned the company from a pre-clinical entity into a clinical stage biotech.

Gregg began his tenure in drug development at Genentech/Roche in 2009 and was instrumental in the approvals of Gazyva® (obinutuzumab) for relpased/refractory indolent lymphoma. He developed and led the Phase 3 pivotal GADOLIN and GALLIUM studies. Subsequently he led the development of Tecentriq® (atezolizumab) from the initial dose finding Phase 1 through the initial BLA for in metastatic bladder cancer. While at Genentech/Roche, he led global development of Tecentriq® for genitourinary cancers. He also helped to develop a personalized cancer vaccine in collaboration with BioNTech for the treatment of patients with solid tumors. 

He received his B.A. in mathematical economics from Colgate University and an M.D. from the University of Vermont College of Medicine. He completed his internal medicine residency at Yale-New Haven Hospitals and fellowship in both hematology/oncology and clinical informatics at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.


Shishir Gadam, PhD

Chief Technical Officer

Dr. Shishir Gadam, PhD is the Chief Technical Officer of CARGO Therapeutics.  He is a seasoned Biotechnology leader with over 25 years of experience and brings a wealth of CMC experience across vaccines, biologics and cell therapy modalities. Shishir is passionate about developing employees, building strong technical teams and accelerating development and commercialization of new products and technology. Most recently he was the Vice President of Global Cell Therapy Manufacturing Science and Technology at BMS (which acquired of Celgene and Juno Therapeutics). He played an instrumental role in the global licensure and launch of the CAR T products Breayanzi® and Abecma® and built a global technical organization responsible for product life cycle management, commercialization, technology transfers and support of internal and external manufacturing. Prior to BMS, Shishir was at Genentech/Roche during 2006-2018 in various global leadership roles in Biologics Technical Development and Operations focused on CMC life cycle management, manufacturing science, new facility startup, technology transfers and Site Operations. Shishir established technical teams in multiple countries and interacted with global health authorities to support Roche’s Biologics portfolio, including critical new launches of Actemra®, Perjeta®, Ocrevus®, Tecentriq®.  Prior to Genentech, he was at Merck and Company’s Vaccine/Bioprocess Technical Development Organization and played a key role in the development and approval of critical vaccines including Gardasil®.   

Shishir earned his PhD in Chemical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Masters in Chemical Engineering from West Virginia University and B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Institute of Chemical Technology, India. In 2017, he was inducted to the AIMBE College of Fellows for his outstanding contributions in developing, scaling up, designing and starting up manufacturing processes and factories, along with defining the product technology lifecycle strategy for multiple products.


Michael Bethune, PhD

Head of Discovery Research

Dr. Michael T Bethune, PhD is Head of Discovery Research at CARGO Therapeutics. He has worked in the fields of immuno-oncology and immune cell therapy for 12 years, beginning as a post-doctoral fellow at Caltech. His post-doctoral work on engineering T cell receptors for cell therapy and discovering the antigens and immune receptors that mediate anti-tumor immunity led to the founding of PACT Pharma. At PACT, Michael invented the core technology for neoepitope-specific T cell receptor discovery and led their scientific and technical development of personalized TCR-T therapy from concept to clinic. Thereafter, and just prior to joining CARGO, Michael worked with Allogene Therapeutics to develop technologies that enhance the performance and persistence of allogeneic CAR-T therapies.

Michael obtained his B.S. in Biochemistry from The University of California in Davis and his M.S. in Forensic Molecular Biology from The George Washington University in Washington D.C. He obtained his Ph.D. from Stanford University, working on mechanisms of antigenic peptide transport across the intestinal epithelium and oral protease therapies for celiac sprue.

Michael has co-authored 25 scientific publications and is an inventor on 15 issued or submitted patents.


Matt Siegel, PhD

Head of Translational Research

Dr. Matthew Siegel, PhD is Head of Translational Research at CARGO Therapeutics. He has 15 years of biotech industry experience and 20 years of experience in drug discovery. Matthew previously served as Vice President of Research at Anwita Biosciences where he worked on the discovery and development of multi-functional antibody/cytokine fusion proteins in the fields of oncology and autoimmunity. He worked as Director of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology at Ardelyx (ARDX) where he helped elucidate the mechanism of action of Tenapanor, an investigational first-in-class treatment for hyperphosphatemia, and discovered a novel combination therapy for the treatment of hyperkalemia as biology lead of the RDX013 program. Matthew is an author on over 20 peer-reviewed publications and has broad expertise in biochemistry, cell biology, and immunology. He received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Notre Dame and his Ph.D. from Stanford University.


Yasuhiro Oki, MD

Head of Clinical Development

Dr. Yasuhiro Oki, MD is Vice President, Head of Clinical Development at CARGO. He joined CARGO with abundant clinical and development experience in the field of oncology, with special expertise in lymphoma. Prior to joining CARGO, he was a Clinical Science Lead of mosunetuzumab development for aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma at Genentech and led clinical development of phase I-III studies of mosunetuzumab in combination with polatuzumab vedotin (CD79b antibody drug conjugate) for R/R and untreated DLBCL. He contributed to other clinical and strategic team including filing of polatuzumab vedotin (plus BR) for R/R DLBCL. Prior to Genentech, he was a Medical Director at Jazz Pharmaceuticals and led the studies of defibrotide, which minimizes the endothelial activation and damage. One of the projects was to evaluate the efficacy of the drug in preventing immune effector cell-associated neurotoxicity syndrome (ICANS) after CAR-T therapy in Phase I/II trial. 

Before joining pharma industry, he held extensive academic/clinical experience. Yasuhiro received M.D. from Faculty of Medicine, University of Tokyo. He completed medical residency at Toranomon Hospital, Tokyo Japan and St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, NYC. He then proceeded to hematology-oncology fellowship at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center. After completing the fellowship, he worked as a Chief Physician at the Department of Hematology and Cell Therapy, Aichi Cancer Center Hospital in Japan, and then Associate Professor at the Department of Lymphoma and Myeloma, MD Anderson Cancer Center. He was the T-cell lymphoma research team lead at MD Anderson Cancer Center. He was a PI of multiple clinical trials and QA officer of the department. Yasuhiro has contributed to over 160 peer-reviewed publications in scientific and medical journals.


Erik Poulsen

Head of Regulatory Affairs

Erik Poulsen is Head of Regulatory Affairs at Cargo Therapeutics. He has over 25 years of experience in the industry providing leadership in gaining global approvals for several products. He has led filings across multiple therapeutic areas for both small (NDAs) and large molecules (BLAs), to include leading approvals within cell therapy during his tenure at Kite Pharma, where there he focused on the indications of mantle cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, and large B cell lymphoma. Prior to joining Kite, Erik also worked in the hematology space and supported multiple indications including mantle cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, Waldenström macroglobulinemia, as well as helping lead the approval of ibrutinib in the setting of chronic graft-versus-host disease. He led filings that achieved regulatory approval at Janssen and Amgen, predominantly in the oncology therapeutics and oncology supportive care space.

Prior to becoming a regulatory professional, Erik worked on BLAs at Amgen as a biostatistician before moving to a formal regulatory role in 2003. Erik also has significant experience building regulatory and corresponding subgroups to support the vision of growing companies to ensure regulatory functional area support is robust in the areas of clinical development, through Regulatory Advertising and Promotion to support successful product launches. 

Erik received his MS in Biostatistics at UCLA.


John Rossi

Head of Translational Medicine

John M Rossi is Vice President of Translational Medicine at CARGO Therapeutics.  John is an experienced Cell Therapy and Biotechnology leader with over 22 years of experience building robust clinical pharmacology, predictive biomarker, and correlative science processes to support oncology drug development. Most recently John was Senior Vice President of Research and Head of Translational Medicine at CERo Therapeutics. At CERo, John helped to guide Research, Process Development and Vector Sciences teams to advance preclinical initiatives. Prior to CERo, John was Senior Director and Head of Clinical Pharmacology at Kite, a Gilead Company. At Kite, John played an instrumental role in supporting global approvals of both Yescarta® and Tecartus® as well as IND approvals to advance investigational autologous T cell therapy products (KITE-363 and KITE-222). Among John’s notable achievements at Kite, he has represented the organization through numerous external scientific presentations and collaborative manuscripts with leading academic researchers in the cell therapy field. Significant scientific accomplishments include the discovery of novel metrics to characterize CAR T cells based on functionality and fitness, novel biomarker knowledge helping to elucidate CAR T-cell mechanism of action in humans, mechanistic information on CAR-related toxicities, novel insights into the biology of the tumor immune microenvironment, and the pivotal role of IL-15 in the context of CAR T-cell function. 

John began his tenure in clinical pharmacology and biomarker development at Amgen in 2002, leading global biomarker development for Phase III registrational trials in oncology (trebananib, AMG386), and preclinical, first-in-human and Phase II clinical trials (AMG780, AMG224 and AMG176). 

John has co-authored over 35 publications in the field of cell therapy and is co-inventor on 9 issued or submitted patents. John earned his Master of Science degree in Molecular Biology at Portland State University and his B.S. degree in Biology at Pitzer College in Claremont CA.


Kanika Chawla, PhD

Head of Process Sciences

Dr. Kanika Chawla, PhD is Vice President of Process Sciences at CARGO Therapeutics. She is a proven and strategic CMC team leader and technical development head with 15+ years’ experience in the areas of cell and gene therapy, CAR-T cell therapy, and biologics. Most recently, she headed Technical Operations and Process Sciences at Arsenal Biosciences. At ArsenalBio, Kanika played an instrumental role in building the Technical Operations organization and establishing their first non-viral, CRISPR mediated manufacturing process, along with associated analytical methods, for CAR-T therapies targeting solid tumor cancers. Prior to ArsenalBio, she was at VIR Biotechnology where she led analytical development and played a key role in the submission of multiple INDs for antibody therapeutics for influenza A, Hepatitis B, and COVID-19. In particular, she supported the co-development and commercialization of sotrovimabâ, an antibody therapeutic for COVID-19, with Glaxo Smith Kline. Prior to VIR Bio, Kanika was at Cellerant Therapeutics where she held multiple roles within Process Sciences, developing a stem cell therapy for treatment of neutropenia due to radiation treatment.

Kanika earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of California, San Diego and completed post-doctoral fellowships in biomaterials and regenerative medicine at Northwestern University and the University of California, Irvine. In 2019, she was awarded the Distinguished Young Alumnus award from the University of New Mexico, from where she previously received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering.


Rob McCombie

Head of CMC Regulatory Affairs

Rob McCombie is Head of CMC Regulatory Affairs at Cargo Therapeutics. He has over 17 years of experience in the development of biologics and cell therapy products.  Most recently, Rob headed Regulatory Affairs at Orca Bio. At Orca, he played a pivotal role in developing the CMC and clinical regulatory strategy to prepare Orca Bio’s lead cell therapy program for registrational clinical studies. Prior to Orca Bio, Rob was at Sangamo Therapeutics where he led the Regulatory CMC function, providing technical guidance and leadership for the development of a broad variety of cell and gene therapeutic modalities. Prior to Sangamo Therapeutics, Rob held roles of increasing responsibility at Genentech, Amgen and UCB in the technical development and CMC regulatory affairs functions.

Founders & Board of Directors


Crystal Mackall, MD

Founder and Board Member

Dr. Crystal Mackall, MD is the Ernest and Amelia Gallo Family Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine at Stanford University. She serves as Founding Director of the Stanford Center for Cancer Cell Therapy, Associate Director of Stanford Cancer Institute, Leader of the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program, and Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Stanford. During a 27-year tenure at NCI, culminating as Chief of the Pediatric Oncology Branch, and now at Stanford, she has led an internationally recognized translational research program focused on immuno-oncology. She has led numerous early phase and first-in-human and first-in-child clinical trials spanning dendritic cell vaccines, cytokines, and adoptive immunotherapy using NK cells and genetically modified T cells. Working with colleagues at NCI, her group was among the first to demonstrate impressive activity of CD19-CAR in pediatric leukemia (Lee, Lancet 2014). Dr. Mackall’s lab invented the CD22-CAR which is the focus of this license application (Haso, Blood 2014), and Dr. Mackall played a leading role in the NCI clinical trial of the CD22-CAR (Fry, Nat Med 2018; Shah, JCO, 2020). She also contributed to the invention of the CD19/22 bispecific and bicistronic CARs and led the first two clinical trials of the CD19/22 bispecific-CAR at Stanford.  

Dr. Mackall is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the American Academy of Physicians and received the Lila and Murray Gruber Award for Cancer Research in 2019. She serves in numerous national leadership positions, including co-PI on the NCI Pediatric Cancer Immunotherapy Network (U54), Leader of the NCI Pediatric Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network, and co-Leader of the St. Baldrick’s-StandUp2Cancer Pediatric Dream Team. She is Board Certified in Pediatrics, Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, and Internal Medicine.

She has served on numerous biotechnology and pharmaceutical company scientific advisory boards and previously co-founded Lyell Immunopharma, which is developing next generation CAR-T cells.


Robbie Majzner, MD

Founder and Board Member

Dr. Robbie Majzner, MD is the Taube Distinguished Scholar for Pediatric Immunotherapy and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Stanford University School of Medicine. His laboratory focuses on engineering novel CAR-T cells to overcome resistance in hematologic malignancies and to treat solid tumors. Dr. Majzner’s work has identified target antigen density as a major contributor to CAR-T cell efficacy, and he has generated novel CAR architectures capable of overcoming low target antigen density (Majzner et al., Cancer Discovery, 2020). Dr. Majzner has also generated and optimized novel receptors to recognize antigens over-expressed on pediatric solid tumors such as GD2 (Mount/Majzner et al., Nature Medicine, 2018) B7-H3 (Majzner et al., Clinical Cancer Research, 2019), and ALK (Walker/Majzner et al., Molecular Therapy, 2017), several of which are now in first-in-child clinical trials.

Drawing on deep correlative studies from clinical trials performed at Stanford, Dr. Majzner’s team identified mutations and loss of CD58 in large B cell lymphoma as predictive of poor outcomes after treatment with CD19 CAR-T cells. After modeling the failure of CAR-T cells against CD58-negative tumor cells in murine models and defining the biology of the CD58-CD2 interaction in CAR-T cells, Dr. Majzner’s laboratory engineered novel CAR-T cell receptors capable of overcoming CD58 loss in lymphoma and other cancers. This CD2 platform will be licensed by CARGO and developed alongside the CD22 CAR with the overall mission of overcoming CAR resistance to extend their clinical benefit for patients in need.


John Orwin, MBA

Chairman of the Board

John Orwin, MBA brings over 25 years of diverse experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, having held senior positions at leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Affymax, Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, Genentech, and most recently Relypsa. During Mr. Orwin’s tenure at Relypsa, the company launched and commercialized its lead candidate, Patiromer (US brand name Veltassa®), and was acquired by Galenica (Vifor Pharma) in a transaction worth over $1.5 billion. Prior to Relypsa, he served as Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors of Affymax. Previously, Mr. Orwin was Senior Vice President of the BioOncology Business Unit at Genentech (now a member of the Roche Group), where he was responsible for all marketing, sales, business unit operations and pipeline brand management for Genentech’s oncology portfolio in the United States. He has also held senior marketing and sales positions at Johnson & Johnson, Alza Pharmaceuticals, Sangstat Medical Corporation, Rhône-Poulenc Rorer Pharmaceuticals and Schering-Plough Corporation. Mr. Orwin received an M.B.A. from New York University and a B.A. from Rutgers University.


Gina Chapman

Chief Executive Officer & Board Member

Gina Chapman joined CARGO Therapeutics as CEO and member of the board of directors in May 2022 from Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, where she most recently served as Senior Vice President and Business Unit Head. She brings 30 years of biopharmaceutical commercial and operational experience across numerous therapeutic areas, with a track record of success shaping strategy, building teams, and driving results. During her 15 years with Genentech, Gina oversaw the development and execution of business unit and therapeutic area strategies including medical and access, and was accountable for delivering P&Ls across Oncology, Neurology, Immunology, Ophthalmology, Respiratory & Rare Diseases. She was responsible for influencing global pipeline and development decisions, overseeing launch planning and execution in the US for several novel, life-changing NME and line extension medicines, and was actively involved in business development assessments and partnerships. Gina began her biopharma career with Syntex Laboratories, and joined Gilead Sciences during its rapid growth from clinical stage start-up to commercial enterprise where she contributed to its growth and success by leading the launch of their first commercial medicine.


Krishnan Viswanadhan, Pharm.D

Board Member

Dr. Krishnan Viswanadhan, Pharm.D is a biopharmaceutical executive with over 20 years of broad cross-functional experience in advancing new medicines for patients with serious and life-threatening diseases. Krishnan is currently President and Chief Operating Officer at Be Biopharma, a leader in engineered B cells as a new category of medicines for patients with serious diseases. ​

Prior to Be Bio, Krishnan was Senior Vice President, Global Cell Therapy Franchise Lead at Bristol Myers Squibb where he was responsible for overseeing the integrated cell therapy franchise strategy across the enterprise including building core capabilities and key investments to support long term growth. He oversaw the teams responsible for the development, approval, and life cycle management of Breyanzi, a CD19 CAR T and Abecma, the first BCMA CAR T therapy. ​

Prior to BMS, Krishnan was Vice President, Business Development and Global Alliances at Celgene Corporation responsible for managing the portfolio of partnerships and equity investments. Prior to Celgene, Krishnan had roles in large and small companies in regulatory strategy. ​

Dr. Viswanadhan is a registered Pharmacist and received his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Rutgers University and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Cornell University. 

Krishnan currently serves the board as a non-executive director of JW Therapeutics, a leading cell therapy company in China. 


Srinivas Akkaraju, MD, PhD

Board Member

Dr. Srinivas Akkaraju, MD, PhD is the Founder and Managing General Partner at Samsara BioCapital, a venture fund focusing on long term value creation of start-up cellular therapy companies that target unmet medical needs. Previously, from April 2013 to February 2016, he served as a General Partner of Sofinnova Ventures. From January 2009 until April 2013, he served as Managing Director of New Leaf Venture Partners. Previously, he served as a Managing Director at Panorama Capital, LLC, a private equity firm. Prior to co-founding Panorama Capital, Dr. Akkaraju was with J.P. Morgan Partners, which he joined in 2001 and of which he became a Partner in 2005. From October 1998 to April 2001, he was in Business and Corporate Development at Genentech, Inc. (now a wholly owned member of The Roche Group), a biotechnology company, most recently as Senior Manager.

Prior to joining Genentech, Dr. Akkaraju was a graduate student at Stanford University, where he received his M.D. and a Ph.D. in Immunology. He received his undergraduate degrees in Biochemistry and Computer Science from Rice University. Dr. Akkaraju also serves as a director of Intercept Pharmaceuticals and Syros Pharmaceuticals. Previously, he served as a director on the boards of Seattle Genetics, Principia Biopharma, Aravive, Inc., Barrier Therapeutics, Eyetech Pharmaceuticals, ZS Pharma, Synageva Biopharma Corp., and Amarin Corporation.


Abraham Bassan

Board Member

Abe Bassan, a Vice President at Samsara BioCapital, has significant experience operating and investing in cell therapy companies. Abe was previously at bluebird bio, where he was the project manager for the manufacturing and development activities for the company’s β-Thalassemia, Sickle Cell Anemia, and ALD programs, all based on ex vivogene therapy with lentiviral vectors.

He was also Director of Program Biology at Revolution Medicines, where he co-led early development of the company’s 4EBP1/mTORC1 cancer program. Before taking on operating roles, Abe was an Associate at Third Rock Ventures, where he was involved in the firm’s investment in bluebird bio and concept creation for Blueprint Medicines, a precision medicine oncology company. Abe was also the founder of Aurora Medical, a molecular diagnostics testing services company. Abe received an A.B. in Molecular Biology from Princeton University, and an M.S. in Developmental Biology from Stanford University. Abe serves as a director on the boards of Graphite Bio, a Stanford-founded gene editing company, and Vedere II, a Berkeley-founded ophthalmology gene therapy company. Abe is also an observer on the boards of Autobahn Labs, MiroBio, Neurogene, Primmune, and Palvella. Previously, he was an observer on the board of Nkarta Therapeutics, a NK-CAR cancer cell therapy company. 


Heath Lukatch, PhD

Board Member

Dr. Heath Lukatch, PhD is Founder and Managing Partner of Red Tree Venture Capital, a life sciences venture capital firm. From 2015 to 2020, Dr. Lukatch worked at TPG where he was Partner, Managing Director and Life Sciences Investment Team Leader in TPG’s Biotech, Growth and RISE platforms. In 2006, Dr. Lukatch co-founded Novo Ventures’ San Francisco office, where he was a Partner through 2015. Prior to joining Novo Ventures, Dr. Lukatch was a Managing Director responsible for biotechnology venture investments at Piper Jaffray Ventures and SightLine Partners. Dr. Lukatch currently serves as Chairman of Satsuma Pharmaceuticals (STSA), and is a board member at Acrigen, Excellergy, Magnus Medical, CARGO Therapeutics, Vaxcyte (PCVX) and Virsti. Previously Dr. Lukatch was Chairman of Cianna Medical (acquired by Merit Medical), Inogen (INGN), and Spinifex (acquired by Novartis), and served on multiple life sciences company boards, including: Amira (acquired by BMS), AnaptysBio (ANAB), Elevation Pharma (acquired by Sunovion), Engage Therapeutics (acquired by UCB), FoldRx (acquired by Pfizer), InSound Medical (acquired by Sonova) and Synosia Therapeutics (acquired by BioTie). Dr. Lukatch is currently a board observer at Ceribell and he previously was a board observer at Alios BioPharma (acquired by J&J), Dynavax (DVAX), Fluidigm (FLDM) and SI-Bone (SIBN). Prior to becoming an investor, Dr. Lukatch worked as a strategy consultant with McKinsey & Company and was co-founder and CEO of AutoMate Scientific, a biotechnology instrumentation company. In addition, he was a bench scientist at Chiron, Roche Bioscience and Cetus, doing molecular biology, electrophysiology and protein chemistry, respectively. Dr. Lukatch received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Stanford University where he was a DOD USAF Fellow, and his B.A. with high honors in Biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley.


Nancy Goodman, JD

Founder and Board Observer

Nancy Goodman, JD is the CEO of Kids v Cancer, a nonprofit dedicated to policy reform to attract biotech and pharmaceutical companies to pediatric cancer drug development. Ms. Goodman is an author and the lead advocate of the RACE for Children Act, which was passed into U.S. law in 2017 (21 U.S.C. 355c). The RACE for Children Act amends the Pediatric Research Equity Act to authorize the FDA to require companies developing cancer targeted therapies to undertake pediatric studies when the molecular targets of the drugs in development are substantially relevant to pediatric cancer indications. She is also the author and lead advocate of the Creating Hope Act Rare Pediatric Priority Review Voucher Program, passed into U.S. law in 2012 (21 U.S.C. 360ff). The priority review voucher program establishes a market-based incentive, a voucher, for companies to develop drugs expressly for children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Over $1.2 billion in vouchers have been traded since the establishment of the program. In 2015, Kids v Cancer under Ms Goodman’s leadership launched a Compassionate Use Navigator for pediatric cancer patients. In 2010, Kids v Cancer launched a post mortem pediatric brain tumor tissue donation program under Ms. Goodman’s leadership.  Among the honors she has received are: American Association of Cancer Research Distinguished Advocacy Award, Fast Company Magazine as top ten most innovative nonprofits (award to Kids v Cancer), US Food and Drug Administration Group Recognition Award, Member of U.S. Vice President’ Biden’s Blue Ribbon Pediatric Oncology Panel for the Cancer Moonshot, Member of National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Counselors.


Louai Labanieh, PhD

Founder and Board Observer

Dr. Louai Labanieh, PhD is a founder of CARGO Therapeutics and a Parker Scholar at Stanford University School of Medicine. For his doctoral work, he leveraged synthetic biology and protein engineering to develop smarter, safer, and more effective CAR-T cells using drug-regulated switches and logic-gated protein circuits. As a clinically-oriented bioengineer, he focuses on developing high-performance platform technologies that address the most critical challenges in cell-based immunotherapy. Louai is a Siebel Scholar, NSF Graduate Fellow, and Sanford Graduate Fellow. He has co-authored 24 research articles in top-tier journals including NatureScienceCell, Nature Medicine, and Nature Methods. He is also an inventor of multiple issued/pending patent applications which have been licensed to startup or publicly-traded biotech companies.  

He completed his PhD in the Department of Bioengineering at Stanford. 


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Join us to help make the forward progress that next generation adoptive cell therapies need to benefit even more patients. Our team is making rapid progress to bring curative therapies to patients. Reach out to learn more about the amazing science that is already in development. 

Open Positions

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CARGO Therapeutics
1900 Alameda De Las Pulgas Suite 350
San Mateo, CA 94403

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