People

Management Team

Founder, President, CEO
Jeffrey H. Price, MD, PhD
Dr. Price received his MD from Loma Linda University and his PhD in bioengineering from UC San Diego.
He began his career in high throughput microscopy research in 1987, which lead him to found his first company, Q3DM Inc in 1999 and was sold to Beckman Coulter Inc in 2003. Dr. Price is also an Associate Professor at The Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute where he trains graduate students from Bioengineering at UC San Diego.

 

Chief Research Officer
Patrick M. McDonough, PhD
Dr. McDonough received his Ph.D. in Marine Biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and has held appointments in cell and molecular biology at the University of California, San Diego Medical School, and San Diego State University Department of Biology. Dr. McDonough's expertise is focused in subcellular structure and dynamics of cardiac muscle, skeletal muscle, fibroblast, astrocytoma, nerve, kidney, and cervical tumor cells using fluorescence microscopy.

Chief Technology Officer
Behrad Azimi, PhD
Dr. Azimi received his Ph.D. in Bioengineering from UC San Diego with focus on developing image cytometry classifiers for drug discovery and diagnostics. He has a decade of experience in bridging the gap between scientists and engineers involved in drug discovery and screening.  Dr. Azimi’s engineering expertise spans the full cycle of product development and includes basic research, industrial design, systems engineering, manufacturing, quality control, product launch and support.With emphasis on strategic R&D in instrumentation, his role at Vala has been to oversee the rapid development of novel imaging technologies that improve the throughput and efficiency of phenotypic screening and drug discovery.

Chief Financial Officer
Michael Geremia, MBA
Michael received his Bachelors of Science in Finance and MBA from San Diego State University.  He is the founder of two start-up ventures, one of which successfully licensed its product to to a multinational consumer product company. Prior to his recent entrepreneurial ventures Mike served as Director of Finance and Corporate Controller for a $70 million organization where he strategically directed all aspects of accounting and finance to develop core strategy and maximize profitability for the organization.

Vice President of Drug Discovery
Daniel R. Rines, PhD
Dr. Rines provides leadership to promote a full suite of assay development, screening services, and technology expansion activities targeting numerous drug discovery areas. Daniel has been conducting biological, and drug discovery related research using computational image analysis since the early 2000’s where he co-developed techniques to identify a host of novel genes involved in microtubule-chromosomal attachment. Before joining Vala, he maintained a Research Investigator position with Novartis (GNF) for ten years where he established an industry leading phenotypic screening platform based on high-content screening (HCS) technology and was responsible for applying this approach to small molecule drug discovery and genomic target identification programs. He received a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of California Davis, and a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from MIT.

Director of Software Engineering
Randy Ingermanson, PhD
Dr. Ingermanson holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from UC Berkeley and has nearly twenty years experience in scientific software development. He has directed a number of complex software projects in industrial physics, applied engineering, and bioscience. Dr. Ingermanson has special expertise in numerical solution of large numbers of nonlinear equations, in object-oriented analysis and design, and in image-processing applications. He is also a multi-published author, with one nonfiction book, six novels, and about a dozen writing awards to his credit.

 

Board of Directors

David C. U’Prichard, PhD
Dr. David C. U’Prichard’s 35-year professional career spans academic research, senior R&D leadership at two global pharmaceutical companies, biotech company leadership, venture capital, and extensive experience on the boards of public and private US, UK and European companies.

In the last decade, Dr. U’Prichard has been a Venture Partner at Red Abbey Venture Partners, Apax Partners, BioMotiv and Arix Biosciences. From 1999 to 2003, he was CEO of 3-Dimensional Pharmaceuticals, which he took public in 2000 and sold to Johnson & Johnson. From 1997 to 1999, he served as Chairman of Research and Development at SmithKline Beecham. He worked for ICI/Zeneca from 1986 to 1997 as Executive Vice President and International Research Director from 1994 to 1997. While at Zeneca and SmithKline Beecham, Dr. U’Prichard oversaw the discovery and development of a number of successful drugs including Seroquel®, Accolate®, Avandia®, and Iressa®. Dr. U’Prichard has served on the boards of several recently successful biotech companies including Life Technologies (formerly Invitrogen) from 2004 until the sale to Thermo Fisher in 2014 for $13.6 Billion, as well as Naurex which was acquired by Allergan in 2015 for $560 Million upfront plus milestones. He is currently President of Druid Consulting LLC, a pharmaceutical and biotechnology-consulting firm. Dr. U’Prichard is also part-time Chief Scientific Officer and board member of BioMotiv, LLC which is the for profit operating company arm of The Harrington Discovery and Development Project, a national initiative to accelerate new drug development inspired by physician-scientists.

Following post-doctoral research at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Dr. U’Prichard was a tenured Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Neurobiology at Northwestern University Medical School. He has held academic appointments at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania, and is an Honorary Professor at the University of Glasgow.

Dr. U’Prichard received his PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Kansas, and his BS in Pharmacology from the University of Glasgow. He has authored more than 100 primary and review publications, was a founding co-editor of Molecular Neurobiology, and has served as a member of numerous editorial boards.

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.

John K. Westwick, PhD
Dr. Westwick is an Entrepreneur-In-Residence with Mercury Fund, a seed and early-stage venture capital firm with over $200 million under management. Mercury invests in compelling and novel software and science-based startup opportunities, where he is actively seeking out new therapeutics and technologies.  Dr. Westwick’s scientific and biotech career spans over 30 years, with a constant focus on defining cellular mechanisms of cancer, inflammatory and metabolic diseases and translating this knowledge into improved therapeutics.  Dr. Westwick has contributed to multiple drug development programs that are currently marketed or in human clinical trials.  Recent work also involves the development of novel technologies for systems biology and stem cell analysis. He is internationally recognized in the field of cellular signaling and drug discovery technology development, with over 200 podium presentations at international scientific conferences, pharmaceutical and biotech companies and over 60 published scientific articles and patents.  The ultimate goal of these efforts is the creation of novel technologies for biopharma companies and new therapies for patients.

Previously, Dr. Westwick was President & CEO of Odyssey Thera, a privately-held therapeutic company with expertise in cell systems biology.  Prior to Odyssey Thera, Dr. Westwick held executive positions at Celgene Corp. and Signal Pharmaceuticals.  Dr. Westwick holds a B.A. degree in Biology from UC-San Diego, a Ph.D. in Molecular Pathology from the UC-San Diego School of Medicine, and completed post-doctoral studies in Medicine and Pharmacology at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine, where he was subsequently named the Lineberger Fellow at the UNC Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

Scientific Advisory Board

Mark Mercola, PhD
Professor, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute
Professor, University of California San Diego

Michael A. Mancini, PhD
Professor, Baylor College of Medicine