Leadership Team

Engineering best-in-class
CAR T-cell therapy to overcome
resistance to cancer treatment

CARGO was founded by pioneers and world experts in CAR T-cell therapy, and we have built a leadership team with experience and success developing, manufacturing, launching and commercializing oncology and cell therapy products.

Executive Team

Gina Chapman

President and Chief Executive Officer

Gina Chapman joined CARGO Therapeutics as President and CEO in May 2022. She brings over 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.

Most recently, Gina served as Senior Vice President and Business Unit Head at Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. During Gina’s 15 years at Genentech, she 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 and Rare Diseases. She was responsible for influencing global pipeline and development decisions and led or oversaw launch planning and execution in the United States for several novel, life-changing new medicines. 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.

Anup Radhakrishnan

Chief Financial Officer/Chief Business Officer

Anup Radhakrishnan joined CARGO Therapeutics as CFO in August 2022. He brings over 20 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical sector providing strategic financial leadership across both R&D and commercial stage organizations.

Most recently, Anup served as Chief Financial Officer at Dascena, where he was responsible for pre-IPO readiness, capital formation and scaling the Finance, Information Technology and Procurement organizations, ultimately leading the company through a successful acquisition. Prior to Dascena, Anup was CFO for the Genentech Patient Foundation and Head of Finance for the U.S. Breast and Skin cancer franchises. During his 11 year career at Genentech, he gained broad financial responsibility across the U.S. 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 University of California San Francisco (UCSF).   

Michael Ports, PhD

Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Michael Ports joined CARGO as Chief Scientific Officer in August 2023.  He brings extensive scientific leadership expertise to his role at CARGO with multi-company cell therapy drug development experience spanning early discovery initiatives through late-stage development. 

Prior to joining CARGO, Michael was the Vice President and Head of Cell Therapy Discovery at Janssen Pharmaceuticals, overseeing the strategy and management of teams to advance both autologous and allogeneic cell therapy development candidates. Before joining Janssen, Michael held roles of increasing responsibility at Juno Therapeutics (acquired by Celgene Corporation) and Celgene (acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb) where he served as head of late-stage research. In this role, he led pre-clinical efforts that enabled two investigational new drug (IND) applications in multiple myeloma for the anti-BCMA CAR T, JCARH125, and five IND/IND amendments and documentation for a BLA filing in support of the anti-CD19 CAR T, Breyanzi®. Breyanzi® is a CAR T-cell therapy approved in the U.S. and the European Union to treat certain types of lymphoma including large B cell lymphoma (LBCL). Michael began his industry career at Gilead Sciences where he explored the use of Zydelig® and other small molecules as immuno-oncology agents for use in solid tumors. 

Michael was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Netherlands Cancer Institute and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He received his PhD in Cancer Biology from the University of Arizona and his BS in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from University of California, Santa Barbara. 

Shishir Gadam, PhD

Chief Technical Officer

Dr. Shishir Gadam joined CARGO Therapeutics as CTO in January 2022. 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 building strong technical teams and accelerating development and commercialization of new products and technology.

Most recently, Shishir was Vice President of Global Cell Therapy Manufacturing Science and Technology at BMS (acquired Celgene, which acquired Juno Therapeutics, his previous company). He played an instrumental role in the global licensure and launch of the CAR T-cell products Breayanzi® (lisocabtagene maraleucel) and Abecma® (idecabtagene vicleucel) 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 spent 12 years at Genentech/Roche 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® (tocilizumab), Perjeta® (pertuzumab), Ocrevus® (ocrelizumab) and Tecentriq® (atezolizumab). 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® (Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent Vaccine, Recombinant).

Shishir earned a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a Masters in Chemical Engineering from West Virginia University and a BS in Chemical Engineering from the Institute of Chemical Technology in 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.

Kari Leetch

Chief People Officer

Kari Leetch joined CARGO as Chief People Officer (CPO) in July 2023.   

Kari is a seasoned people leader with 25 years of experience building and scaling strong and effective teams and organizations from early stage through commercialization. Prior to joining CARGO, Kari was Senior Vice President, Human Resources at ChemoCentryx, Inc. where she scaled the company through commercialization and was instrumental in its acquisition by Amgen. Prior to ChemoCentryx, Inc., she held leadership roles at Risk Management Solutions, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Cepheid where she developed and delivered the organizational and people strategies to support growing global footprints. 

Kari earned a BS in Business Administration from the University of San Diego.  

Bethany Rogers

SVP, Product Strategy and Commercialization

Bethany Rogers joined CARGO Therapeutics as SVP, Product Strategy and Commercialization in February 2023 from Atara Biotherapeutics, where she most recently was Vice President, Program Team Lead, Hematologic CAR-T therapies. She brings over 25 years of broad biotechnology experience within cell therapy, hematology-oncology, and immunology, spanning process development and clinical manufacturing, R&D, and commercialization. During her five years at Atara, she also served as Vice President, Marketing where she drove commercialization strategy and marketing for EBVALLOTM (tabelecleucel), the first ever approved allogeneic T-cell immunotherapy. Prior to Atara, Bethany held commercial positions of increasing responsibility at AbbVie/Abbott Laboratories in both US, Regional, and Global roles. During her 14 years with AbbVie, she was responsible for multiple HUMIRA® (adalimumab) launches, the HUMIRA Franchise in Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Marketing for IMBRUVICA®(ibrutinib) in the US. Bethany began her career as a Bioprocess Engineer at Merck and Company, responsible for cell culture process development, technology transfer, and contract manufacturing for various live virus vaccine candidates.

Bethany earned Bachelor of Science degrees in Chemical Engineering and Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Master of Business Administration from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.

Leadership Team

Faisal Shawwa

SVP, Finance

Faisal Shawwa joined CARGO Therapeutics as SVP, Finance & Accounting in August 2023. Faisal has over 25 years of experience and an established track record of building and leading Finance, Accounting, IT, Facilities, External Reporting, and Compliance functions. Most recently he was CFO at Engine Room, an outsourced Finance and Accounting service provider where he supported several early, late stage, and public companies as a CFO. Prior to Engine Room, Faisal was SVP of Finance and Administration at Tranquis Therapeutics, a clinical stage immuno-neurology company developing medicines for neurodegenerative and aging-related diseases. Faisal joined Tranquis to lead their IPO readiness initiatives, build out G&A functions, and support cross-over financing efforts.  Prior to Tranquis, he was VP of Finance and Principal Compliance Officer for Catalyst Biosciences, a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company focused on protease therapeutics to address unmet medical needs in disorders of the coagulation systems. Faisal was responsible for guiding the financial transformation of the company and led Catalyst’s successful initial public offering, follow-on financing, strategic collaborations with major pharma partners, and in-licensing/out-licensing transactions.  Prior to his role at Catalyst Biosciences, he held finance leadership positions of Head of Finance and Principal Accounting Officer for two Commercial banks, Preferred Financial Group and Provident Funding.  

Faisal received his MBA in finance and BS degree in business administration from Notre Dame de Namur, Graduate School of Business.  

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 PhD 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.

Kanika Chawla, PhD

Head of Process Sciences

Dr. Kanika Chawla joined CARGO Therapeutics as Vice President of Process Sciences in January 2022. She is a proven and strategic CMC leader and technical expert with over 15 years of experience in CAR T-cell and gene therapy and biologics.

Most recently, as Head of Technical Operations and Process Sciences at Arsenal Bio, Kanika played an instrumental role in building the Technical Operations organization and establishing ArsenalBio’s first non-viral, CRISPR-mediated manufacturing process, along with associated analytical methods, for CAR-T therapies targeting solid tumor cancers. Prior to ArsenalBio, while at VIR Biotechnology, 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 sotrovimab, an antibody therapeutic for COVID-19, with GSK. 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 a PhD and MS 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 obtained a BS in Chemical Engineering.

Sandra Chen

Head of Clinical Quality and Risk Management

Sandra Chen joined CARGO Therapeutics as Head of Clinical Quality Assurance and Risk Management in June 2023.  She brings over 25 years of experience in Clinical Operations and Quality Assurance in the biopharmaceutical sector providing strategic compliance and quality leadership across all functional departments. 

Most recently, Sandra served as Head of Internal Quality Assurance at InClin, Inc., where she was responsible for promoting a culture of partnership across all departments to ensure GCP compliance and risk identification and mitigation strategies.  During her 15 years at InClin, she developed and implemented Quality Management Systems in addition to supporting clients targeting multiple disease indications from Phase I-IV through Regulatory Inspections. 

Sandra obtained her BS degree in Biology from the University of California at Davis and is a Registered Quality Assurance Professional in Good Clinical Practices (RQAP-GCP).

Anissa Irwin

Head of Quality Assurance and Systems

Anissa Irwin joined CARGO Therapeutics as Head of Quality Operations and Systems in January 2023.  Anissa has over 25 years of Quality, Compliance and Regulatory experience in the biotechnology industry working for leading edge companies such as Amgen, Genentech, Biogen IDEC, Juno Therapeutics (a BMS Company), and Seattle Genetics. 

Prior to joining CARGO, Anissa led the External Supplier Quality Team in the Cell Therapy Division of Juno Therapeutics.  In this role, Anissa and her team established Quality oversight processes for CDMO management as well as performed batch release for starting materials to Cell Therapy Drug Product Manufacturing.  In this role, Anissa was also a key contributor to the global licensure and launch of the CAR T-cell products Breayanzi® (lisocabtagene maraleucel) and Abecma® (idecabtagene vicleucel) with a particular focus on regulatory filing support and CDMO inspection readiness.  Prior to Juno Therapeutics, Anissa held Site Quality, Global Quality, and Regulatory Affairs roles at Genentech over the course of a 14-year tenure.  At the time of the Roche acquisition of Genentech in 2009, Anissa joined the newly formed Global Quality Team to provide leadership to the program for creation of a single Pharmaceutical Quality System (PQS), successfully bringing all Biologic Drug Substance and Drug Product Sites together on a single Quality System. 

Anissa holds a BA degree from University of California at Santa Cruz and a MBA with a focus on Healthcare Management from the University of LaVerne). 

Rob McCombie

Head of CMC Regulatory

Rob McCombie joined CARGO Therapeutics as Executive Director of CMC Regulatory in March 2022. He has over 17 years of experience in developing biologics and cell therapy products.

Most recently, as Head of Regulatory Affairs at Orca Bio, Rob played a pivotal role in developing the CMC and clinical regulatory strategy to prepare the company’s lead cell therapy program for registrational clinical studies. Previously, at Sangamo Therapeutics, Rob led Regulatory and CMC providing technical guidance and leadership for the development of a broad variety of cell and gene therapeutic modalities. Prior to Sangamo, Rob held roles of increasing responsibility at Genentech, Amgen and UCB in the technical development and CMC regulatory affairs functions.

Rob earned an MSc in Biochemical Engineering from University College London (UCL). He obtained a BEng in Chemical Engineering from The University of Edinburgh.

Frank McDonald

Head of Clinical Data Management

Frank McDonald joined CARGO Therapeutics as Head of Clinical Data Management at in April 2022. He has worked over 23 years in the oncology therapeutic area with experience in solid tumors and hematology including T-cell therapies.  Frank has been involved in many NDA filings and helped build out the Avastin portfolio at Genentech. He has led teams to build out end-to-end oncology data standards and data dashboards to track company, vendor, and study level Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Key Risk Indicators.  Prior to CARGO, he was the Head of Clinical Data Management at PACT Pharma working on personalized TCR-T therapy studies.  

Frank obtained his degree in Biomedical Sciences from Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, UK.   

Shabnum Patel, PHD

Head of MSAT

Dr. Shabnum Patel joined CARGO Therapeutics as Head of Manufacturing Science & Technology (MSAT) in July 2022. She is a strategic technical operations and CMC leader with over 14 years of experience in immuno-oncology, cell therapy, and infectious diseases.  

Most recently, as Director of CMC & Technical Operations in the Center for Cancer Cell Therapy at Stanford University, Shabnum oversaw the process development, manufacturing, and CMC operations teams. She played a key role in the submission of multiple INDs to support Phase I/II CAR T clinical trials in leukemia, lymphoma, DIPG, and glioblastoma, for both adult and pediatric populations. Prior to Stanford, while at the Children’s National Hospital, Shabnum played an instrumental role in developing virus-specific T cell and NK cell therapies for infectious diseases (HIV, Zika), post-transplant viral infections (EBV, CMV, AdV), and cancer, to support multiple clinical trials.  

Shabnum earned her BS in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics from the University of California, Los Angeles and her PhD in Immunology from The George Washington University in Washington D.C. Shabnum has co-authored over 25 scientific publications in journals such as Nature, Nature Medicine, and Blood covering immunotherapy for cancer and infectious diseases. 

Mary Rodley

Head of CMC Strategy and Operations

Mary Rodley joined CARGO Therapeutics as Head of CMC Strategy & Operations in June 2023. Mary is an experienced CMC strategy and matrix team leader with over 13 years of experience in biopharma including 7 years of experience in cell therapy. 

Most recently, Mary led the Cell Therapy CMC team leadership and technical writing organization at Juno/Celgene/Bristol Myers Squibb where she supported the entire cell therapy portfolio and had a focus on improving the interface between Research and CMC to accelerate the pipeline. Prior to that, she served as the CMC team leader for BREYANZI®, playing a critical role in the success of the US, EU, and JP registrational submissions and approvals. 

Mary earned her BS degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Johns Hopkins University. In 2019, she received the HBA Rising Star award from Celgene in recognition of her significant contributions to the organization and proven attention to furthering her career. 

John Rossi

Head of Translational Medicine

John Rossi joined CARGO Therapeutics as Vice President of Translational Medicine in April 2022. 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, as Senior Vice President of Research and Head of Translational Medicine at CERo Therapeutics, John guided 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) where he supported global approvals of Yescarta® (axicabtagene ciloleucel) and Tecartus® (brexucabtagene autoleucel) as well as INDs to advance investigational autologous T-cell therapy products (KITE-363 and KITE-222) into the clinic. John represented Kite through numerous external scientific presentations and collaborative manuscripts with leading academic researchers in the cell therapy field. John discovered 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’s early experience included clinical pharmacology and biomarker development at Amgen, leadership of global biomarker development for Phase 3 registrational trials in oncology (trebananib, AMG386), and preclinical through Phase 2 clinical trials of various liquid and solid tumor product candidates.

John earned an MS in Molecular Biology from Portland State University. He obtained a BS in Biology from Pitzer College.

Brian Schoelkopf

Head of FP&A

Brian Schoelkopf joined CARGO as Head of Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) at CARGO Therapeutics in June 2023 He has held finance positions with several clinical to commercial stage biotechnology companies developing therapeutics across multiple disease areas and employing multiple modalities.  Brian joined CARGO from NGM Biopharmaceuticals where he was Head of FP&A and Investor Relations.  Prior to NGM Bio, he worked at Atara Biotherapeutics, an allogeneic cell therapy company, where he held roles in both FP&A and Investor Relations. Brian started his career in biotech at Amgen where he held positions in Corporate Finance, Corporate Strategy, Treasury and Operations Finance.  

Brian earned a BA degree and a MBA from The University of California, Los Angeles. 

Matt Siegel, PhD

Head of Translational Research

Dr. Matthew Siegel joined CARGO Therapeutics as Head of Translational Research in June 2021. He has two decades of drug discovery experience including expertise in biochemistry, enzymology, cell biology and immunology. He has contributed to drug development from early stage discovery through a successful Phase 2 clinical program.

Most recently, as Vice President of Research at Anwita Biosciences, Matthew worked on the discovery and development of multi-functional antibody/cytokine fusion proteins in the fields of oncology and autoimmunity. At Ardelyx, as Director of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, 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 earned a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University and a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame.


Christophe Suchet 

Head of IT

Christophe Suchet joined CARGO Therapeutics as Head of IT in July 2023. Christophe t is a seasoned executive with over 25 years of experience in IT leadership positions mostly in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry and consulting.  His various leadership positions contributed to developing key strengths such as establishing and executing on robust IT strategies, working in a global environment, and enabling fast business growth. As VP of IT, Christophe has built and led teams at fast growing biotech startups, most recently at InstilBio.  Prior to InstilBio, he led IT at Kite Pharma and Pharmacyclics. Christophe also previously worked at Genentech where he held various senior leadership IT positions. He has managed large and global applications groups including ERP, Enterprise, R&D and Commercial applications. Earlier in his career, Christophe worked in consulting at KPMG Consulting and PricewaterhouseCoopers.  

Christophe holds a MS degree from Agro Paris Tech, and a BS in accounting. He has completed various executive development programs including the CIO Pocket MBA from Boston University.  

Beth Vasievich

Beth Vasievich, PhD

Head of Commercial Planning

Beth Vasievich joined CARGO Therapeutics as Head of Commercial Planning in June 2023. She brings extensive cell therapy commercialization experience through multiple launches as well as deep oncology expertise and a strong strategic mindset to her role at CARGO 

Mostly recently, Beth was Vice President, Portfolio Strategy and Commercial Operations at Gamida Cell leading commercial planning and commercial operations for the launch of OMISIRGE (omidubicel-onlv), an advanced cell therapy for patients in need of an allogenic stem cell transplant and overseeing pipeline strategy for their NK cell therapies.  Previously, Beth worked at Atara Biotherapeutics where she led commercial planning for the portfolio including the company’s first allogenic T cell therapy, EBVALLO (tabelecleucel) and pipeline of autologous and allogeneic CAR Ts.  Beth also spent eight years at Genentech/Roche in roles of increasing responsibility in global product strategy, portfolio management, and business development. 

Beth earned BS degrees in Biomedical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering and Material Science, from Duke University and a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Jing Yi, PHD

Head of Data Sciences

Dr. Jing Yi joined CARGO Therapeutics as Head of Data Science, Global Development Team Leader for CRG-022 in May of 2023. Jing has over 17 years of industry experience with a proven record in oncology clinical development and medical affairs, and in functional and cross-functional leadership. 

Jing has been involved in many successful global regulatory interactions and approvals, including e g Tecentriq and Avastin across various tumor types. She has built and led multiple high performing cross-functional teams and initiatives. Prior to joining CARGO, Jing spent more than 2 years at Erasca as the senior VP of Data Science and PTL of ERAS-601 program. Jing was the Global Development Team Leader at Roche/Genentech prior to joining Erasca, where she led a cross functional team and was accountable for the overarching strategy, development and implementation of cancer immunotherapy in Lung and Head/Neck Cancers. She also managed a group of medical directors and clinical scientists. Prior to her cross-functional leadership role, she was the biometrics lead of multiple molecules and managed a group of statisticians who supported many pivotal studies at Roche/Genentech. 

For her many contributions, Jing received the Roche Product Development Breakthrough Award and ReThinkD Innovation Awards twice, as well as multiple Recognition Awards and Key Contributor Awards. 

Jing received her PhD. in Statistics from the University of California, Berkeley.