Scientific Advisory Board


Bruce Beutler, MD

A pioneer in the study of innate immunity, Bruce Beutler isolated several key cytokines early in his career (TNFα, MIP1α, MIP1β, and others). He went on to discover the elusive sensing mechanism by which host cells recognize microbial invaders, including bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and viruses. Moreover, in work spanning nearly four decades, he identified proteins central to many other biological processes, notably neurobehavioral function, metabolism, and development. His discoveries have led to therapies for crippling and life-shortening diseases that affect millions of people. His work in the innate immunity field was rewarded with a Nobel Prize in 2011, shared with Jules Hoffmann and Ralph Steinman.

Argyrios Theofilopoulos, MD

Dr. Theofilopoulos has been working at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California since 1972, where he was trained in immunopathology under the guidance of the Institute’s director and founder, Dr. Frank Dixon. In 1983, he was promoted to professor and eventually chairman of the Department of Immunology and Microbial Science. After seven years of tenure in this position, he currently serves as vice chairman of the same Department. Dr. Theofilopoulos’ research is focused on defining the molecular and genetic basis of autoimmune diseases. His current work addresses the pathogenic role of nuclei acid-sensing Toll-like receptors and the immunological cross talk between the innate and adaptive immune system implicated in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases as well as cancer. He has published more than 300 articles and edited several textbooks on these and related topics.

Davorka Messmer, Ph.D.

Davorka is the inventor of the hp91 adjuvant technology that Batu Biologics recently licensed from UC San Diego. Messmer joined Batu Biologics to support the continued development and research of this immunostimulatory peptide shown to potentiate the efficacy of vaccines as a TLR-4 agonist. Her extensive experience in immunology and cancer vaccines will help to solidify the scientific rationale for Batu’s lung cancer vaccine, ValloVax™, as the company progresses towards clinical trials. Messmer is currently the assistant director of biology at Inception Sciences, focusing on small molecule drug discovery for cancer and neurological diseases of significant unmet need.

Vijay Mahant, Ph.D.

Dr. Mahant graduated from LUT (UK) and he received his second post-doctorate from UT Health Science Center at Houston/MD Anderson, TX, USA).  Dr. Mahant is a scientist and an entrepreneur with 30 years of experience in immuno- and molecular diagnostics.  He has held executive positions and  he is founder/co-founder of diagnostic companies with diverse experiences  in RD, worked with hospitals /medical institutes such as Mayo Clinic (‘87-’89, “New Generation” ultra-sensitive TSH test  (evaluated and validated by Dr. George Klee , President  of American Thyroid Association ) and worked (2005) with Long Beach Memorial Hospital in setting up a molecular diagnostic lab. Dr. Mahant has been involved in fund raisings, Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) and he has 25 issued patents and 15 patents pending; he has authored and/or co-authored publications. He has developed more than 35 products  with multi million dollars in revenues. Dr. Mahant has managed intellectual property, including in and out licensing and he has experience in government regulations (FDA and foreign) and provided technical support for many of the products.

Dennis Van Epps, Ph.D.

Dennis Van Epps, Ph.D. is an experienced Research and Development Executive with over 25 years of industry experience in large corporations and small startup companies that have gone public. He obtained his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago and went on to become a tenured Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Pathology and Microbiology at the University of New Mexico Medical School. He later joined Baxter Healthcare Corporation as a Director of Immunology in their Corporate Research Facility and became Vice President of Research for the Immunotherapy Division. He later joined CancerVax Corporation as Vice President of R&D and served as a Corporate Officer. He then joined Allergan as Vice President Research for the Medical Device Division focused on implantable and injectable aesthetic devices and served as Vice President of New Device Technology Assessment exploring new product opportunities prior to the acquisition of Allergan by Actavis in 2015. He has published over 140 scientific articles in immunology, cell therapy, neuroimmunology, stem cell technology and inflammation and has been an inventor on over 20 patents.

Deyu Fang, Ph.D.

Deyu is an immunologist and professor working in the Department of Pathology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Fang will provide Batu Biologics oversight in the development of ValloVax, assisting in the design and implementation of IND-enabling experiments. Dr. Fang has several lung cancer mouse models that can be used to quantify the anti-tumor activity of ValloVax™. Additionally, Dr. Fang has won several awards throughout his research career, including NIH Type 1 Diabetes Pathfinder Award and the AAI (American Association of Immunologist) Young Investigator Travel Award. Dr. Fang is a recipient of over 12 of NIH grants since 2009 to present. With the current active three of RO1 NIH, his research focuses on T cell activation, immune tolerance and autoimmunity.

Bradley Messmer, Ph.D.

Brad is an associate project scientist at UC San Diego focusing on the application of novel technologies to address problems in cancer diagnosis, monitoring and treatment. In 2012, Messmer founded Uroboros Technologies, LLC, which is dedicated to producing the next generation of cancer therapeutics with the DeNAno platform, a novel method of screening and generating checkpoint inhibitors. He is also the founder of Abreos Biosciences, which develops powerful immunoassay reagents that use laminar flow technology for counterfeit drug detection. He is both a recipient of and a reviewer for the NCI’s Innovative Molecular Analysis Technologies (IMAT) grant program. Dr. Messmer’s current position at UC San Diego provides an excellent channel for academic collaboration with Batu Biologics.