The FireCyte Therapeutics team has decades of experience in company building, including neuroscience, ophthalmology and the discovery of protein therapeutics. We are committed to identifying and developing novel treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.
Bill Yelle

Bill Yelle, M.S., M.B.A.

Co-Founder & CEO
Bill Yelle

Jonathan Levenson, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer
Bill Yelle

James W. Bryson, Ph.D.

Head of Protein Engineering
Bill Yelle

Dean Cestari, M.D.

Massachusetts Eye and Ear
Bill Yelle

Dong Feng Chen, M.D., Ph.D.

Scientific Founder, FireCyte
Schepens Eye Research Institute
Massachusetts Eye and Ear
Bill Yelle

Eric Furfine, Ph.D.

Mosaic Biosciences
Bill Yelle

Thomas V. Johnson, M.D., Ph.D.

Johns Hopkins Wilmer
Eye Institute
Bill Yelle

Lucy Q. Shen, M.D.

Harvard Medical School
Massachusetts Eye and Ear
Bill Yelle

James B. Summers, Ph.D.

St. Andrews Advisors
Dementia Discovery Fund
Bill Yelle

Meredith Fisher, Ph.D.

Mass General Brigham Ventures
Bill Yelle

Shawna Frazier, Ph.D.

AbbVie Ventures
Bill Yelle

Roger Kitterman, M.B.A.

Mass General Brigham Ventures
Bill Yelle

Howie Rosen, M.S., M.B.A.

Independent Consultant
Bill Yelle

Bill Yelle, M.S., M.B.A.

Co-Founder & CEO

Bill Yelle, M.S., M.B.A., has over 30 years in the biopharmaceutical industry, with experience ranging from large pharma to early-stage, venture-backed companies across a wide range of therapeutic areas.

Prior engagements include Entrepreneur in Residence at MGH-Brigham Ventures, Executive Chair at Envisia Therapeutics, and CEO of Aldea Pharmaceuticals. Bill was Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Licensing for Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (formerly Sepracor Inc.) and responsible for the consummation of 30+ material transactions, including the company’s sale to Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma for $2.6 billion. He was also instrumental in Sepracor’s transition from an early-stage clinical organization into a fully integrated pharmaceutical company. Prior to Sepracor, he served in various positions in Pfizer’s U.S. Pharmaceuticals Group. In addition to FireCyte, Bill currently serves on the board of Violet Therapeutics.

Bill has an M.B.A. in Management/Marketing from Columbia University, an M.S. in Organic Chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley, and a B.S. cum laude from the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

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Jonathan Levenson, Ph.D., is a trained neuroscientist with over 18 years in neuropsychiatry, neurodegeneration, and neuroinflammation, Jonathan is the ideal scientific leader for our programs. 

Prior to FireCyte, Jonathan was Vice President of Translational Medicine at Tiaki Therapeutics, where he helped develop an integrated neuroinflammatory translational platform that more faithfully recapitulated disease processes occurring in patients. Jonathan was the Head of Preclinical and Nonclinical Research and Development at Proclara Biosciences, where he was key in moving two assets that targeted and remodeled amyloid aggregates from early research into the clinic – one for Alzheimer’s disease and one for systemic amyloidosis. Before that, Jonathan was Senior Scientist at Galenea. Jonathan has held academic appointments at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Baylor College of Medicine. 

Jonathan has a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Houston and did his postdoctoral training at the Baylor College of Medicine in the Department of Neuroscience. He has authored or co-authored over 70 research publications focused on neuropharmacology, development of tools to model neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disease, and the treatment of neurological diseases.

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James W.  Bryson, Ph.D., is an experienced pharmaceutical executive with extensive expertise in protein expression and purification, biophysical characterization, biotherapeutics discovery, protein engineering, and biotherapeutics developability assessment. 

Over 25 years in the biotech and pharma industry, Jim assumed increasing leadership of teams delivering high quality protein reagents enabling small molecule, peptide, and protein therapeutics drug discovery. As Director and Executive Director of Protein Sciences at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Jim helped establish and drive the expansion of BMS’s biotherapeutics discovery capabilities through leadership roles in external alliances (Domantis, Adnexus), integration of acquired biotech companies and platforms (Adnexus, Medarex, Zymogenetics), and due diligence, in-licensing, and optimization of drug candidates. Jim is a passionate advocate for incorporating stability and developability assessment early in candidate selection to ensure seamless and efficient transition of candidates from Discovery to Development, and rapid progression from candidate nomination through process development and pre-IND Tox to FIH. Jim is currently a consultant supporting drug discovery and optimization for academics, biotech and small pharma organizations, including serving as an Advisor for the Therapeutics Development Center of the Harrington Discovery Institute.

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Dean Cestari, M.D., joined the full-time faculty of Massachusetts Eye and Ear, a primary teaching hospital for Harvard Medical School, in 2006 and currently holds the rank of Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School. He is very involved in medical education and is the Director of the Neuro-ophthalmology Fellowship program at The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Dr. Cestari’s efforts as a clinician-scientist focus on the evaluation and treatment of patients who present with neuro-ophthalmic disease. He is also very involved in the medical and surgical treatment of Thyroid Eye Disease with strabismus and diplopia. He just published the surgical textbook “Learning Strabismus Surgery, A Case Based Approach.” He supervises clinical fellows, second year residents, and visiting medical students, and performs adult strabismus surgery and mentors second year residents in the operating theater. He is routinely invited to give talks locally, nationally and internationally. He is recognized as an optic nerve expert and an expert in NAION.

Dr. Cestari completed residencies in both Neurology and Ophthalmology at the Cornell University Medical College’s New York Presbyterian Hospital, as well as fellowship training in neuro-ophthalmology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School. He is one of approximately 10 physicians in the United States who is board certified by both the American Board of Ophthalmology and the American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology.

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Dong Feng Chen, M.D., Ph.D., is the Scientific Founder of FireCyte and an Associate Scientist at Schepens Eye Research/Massachusetts Eye and Ear. In addition, she is Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and a member of the Ph.D. Program in Neuroscience.

Dr. Chen is focused on the study of mechanisms that control neurodegeneration and nerve regeneration in the retina and brain with the eventual goal of developing therapies for neural injuries and diseases, such as glaucoma, ischemic optic neuropathy, and Alzheimer’s disease. Key discoveries include achieving full-length optic nerve regeneration from the eye in genetically engineered neonatal mice and uncovering the novel immune and T-cell mediated autoimmune mechanisms underlying neuron loss in glaucoma and ischemic optic neuropathy. Her work has broad implications beyond the eye.

Dr. Chen has an M.D. from Peking University Health Science Center, a Ph.D. in Anatomical Science and Neurobiology from the University of Louisville School of Medicine and did her postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Department of Biology and Neuroscience. Dr. Chen is a Fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (FARVO).

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Eric’s combination of leadership roles in biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies along with his extensive experience in developing protein therapeutics for ocular indications bring an unique and ideally suited drug discovery skill set to FireCyte.

He is a visionary leader and drug hunter in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry. Eric is currently CSO and Co-CEO at Mosaic Biosciences where he leads an experienced and innovative protein therapeutics discovery team. As CSO and President of R&D at Eleven Biotherapeutics, Eric’s leadership drove an IPO that financed Phase 3 clinical studies and a lucrative licensing deal on a second therapeutic asset. His building the Adnectin protein therapeutic discovery platform at Adnexus resulted in the acquisition of the company by BMS, where subsequently five adnectins were advanced into clinical studies. As VP Preclinical Development at Regeneron, Eric played pivotal roles in developing game-changing drugs, such as Eylea.

Eric received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Brandeis University.

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Thomas V. Johnson, M.D., Ph.D., is a glaucoma physician specializing in the treatment of complex glaucoma in children and adults. In addition, he is the principal investigator of a translational neuroscience laboratory working to better understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms that lead to retinal ganglion cell death in glaucoma while developing neuroprotective and neuro-regenerative treatments for the disease.

Dr. Johnson is the Shelly & Allan Holt Rising Professor of Ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute. His laboratory is at the forefront of regenerative medicine as applied to glaucoma and is developing methods to restore vision for patients with optic neuropathy through transplantation of human stem cell derived neurons into the eye and repair of the damaged visual pathway. Dr. Johnson is an editorial board member of Ophthalmology Science. He was a Gates-Cambridge Scholar and has been the recipient of the National Eye Institute Scientific Director’s Award, the AFER/ARVO Merck Innovative Ophthalmology Research Award, the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Artemis Award, and was named a top 40-under-40 ophthalmologist in 2022. A 2023 bibliometric analysis of published literature found that Dr. Johnson is one of the top 10 most impactful authors of research involving applications of stem cells in glaucoma worldwide. Dr. Johnson is the Chairman of the Organizing Committee for the international RGC Repopulation, Stem Cell Transplantation, and Optic Nerve Regeneration (RReSTORe) Consortium and his laboratory is funded by the NIH, DoD, Research to Prevent Blindness, the BrightFocus Foundation, The Glaucoma Foundation, and the American Glaucoma Society.

Dr. Johnson completed his undergraduate degree at Northwestern University, his Ph.D. in neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, and his medical degree at Johns Hopkins University. He then remained at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute where he completed his ophthalmology residency and glaucoma fellowship and served as the Assistance Chief of Service from 2019-20.

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Lucy Q. Shen, M.D., is an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and the Glaucoma Fellowship Director at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Shen has organized several symposia on the clinical care of glaucoma patients, including co-chairing surgery day at the American Glaucoma Society Annual Meeting in 2021.

As the director of the MEE Glaucoma Fellowship Program, Dr. Shen has been actively teaching medical students, residents and fellows. In addition, Dr. Shen has been conducting clinical research in glaucoma diagnostics. She leads a group of international research fellows, medical students and undergraduate students, and collaborates with basic scientists and bioinformatics experts to better characterize glaucoma based on pathophysiology and clinical manifestations. She has over 60 peer-reviewed original publications. She has received grant support from the National Institute of Health for her work on the autoimmune etiology in primary open angle glaucoma and received a research grant from The Glaucoma Foundation to support her work in the vascular pathology of glaucoma.

Dr. Shen received her B.S. degrees in Biology and Chemical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and her medical degree cum laude from Harvard Medical School. She completed an internship in Internal Medicine at the Brigham and Women’s hospital, a residency in ophthalmology and a fellowship in glaucoma at the Jules Stein Eye Institute, University of California Los Angeles.

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James B. Summers, Ph.D., has over 30 years of drug discovery and pharmaceutical research management experience. He currently serves on the board of directors, scientific advisory board and as an advisor to several biotechnology companies and is a Venture Partner with the Dementia Discovery Fund.

Previously, Jim was Vice President of Neuroscience Research at AbbVie, where he led efforts located in Lake County, IL, Cambridge, MA, and Ludwigshafen Germany focused on the discovery of new drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, pain, and psychiatric disorders. Under his leadership, teams have advanced more than twenty compounds into clinical development. Jim established new research sites in Cambridge Massachusetts and Shanghai China, was an architect of strategies that defined the future direction of global research organizations, and championed multiple successful outlicensing deals, biotech collaborations and venture investments.

Jim earned a Bachelor of Science degree summa cum laude in chemistry from Denison University and a doctorate in organic chemistry from Harvard University.

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Meredith Fisher, Ph.D., is a Co-founder and Director at FireCyte, Mediar Therapeutics, Kyss Therapeutics and Violet Therapeutics. Additionally, she holds board seats at Claris Bio and ZielBio and serves as a board observer for Scorpion Therapeutics and Amolyt Pharma.

Meredith is a Partner with Mass General Brigham Ventures, where she focuses on early-stage investments and company creation. Previously, she was director of private investments in the private/family office at Bracebridge Capital, where she led investments in early-stage life science companies. She previously led business development for Ginkgo BioWorks, was senior director at PureTech Ventures, and was a scientist in anti-viral drug discovery for Idenix Pharmaceuticals and Anadys Pharmaceuticals.

Meredith received an undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke College, an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, and a PhD from Harvard University. While at Harvard, she co-founded Harvard Graduate Women in Science and Engineering (HGWISE).

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Shawna Frazier, Ph.D., is an experienced life science venture capital investor with prior investments in private and public biotech companies, participating in Series A financings through IPO and beyond. She also has Corporate Strategy and Business Development experience and was Co-Founder and Scientific Advisor of a bay area startup developing therapeutics for neurological and ocular indications earlier in her career.

Shawna is a Director at AbbVie Ventures, where she focuses on early stage, novel and potentially transformational opportunities in therapeutics. In addition to FireCyte, Shawna currently maintains BOD/Observer roles in Parvus Therapeutics, Nitrase Therapeutics, Jnana Therapeutics, Trishula Therapeutics, Quanta Therapeutics, and Ribometrix. A biochemist/biophysicist by training, her prior research experience spans the areas of cellular physiology, electrophysiology, molecular engineering, synthetic biology and gene therapy.

Shawna received an accelerated B.S./M.S. dual degree in Biochemistry from Kansas State University and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics with an emphasis in Neuroscience from Caltech.

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Roger Kitterman, M.B.A., is an experienced venture capital investor with more than 25 years in the industry and has guided multiple venture-backed companies through the earliest stages of development.

Roger is Senior Vice President, Venture, Business Development and Licensing and Managing Partner of Mass General Brigham Ventures. In these roles, he leads the Venture Fund and BD&L teams, as well as our translational development programs. Roger has been with the Mass General Brigham Ventures, which has over $450 million under management since its launch in 2008. He has also been the startup CEO for three venture-backed companies and is a founder of Mass Medical Angels. He has previously served as a partner at life science-focused venture funds in the Boston area. Roger began his venture capital career in Eastern Europe with the Bulgarian- American Enterprise Fund, a $55 million venture capital fund.

Roger holds an M.B.A. in Finance and Business Development from the Columbia Business School and an A.B. from Harvard College.

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Howie Rosen, M.S, M.B.A., is an independent consultant and serves on the board of directors of Entrega, Firecycte, Hammerton, Hopewell Therapeutics (Chairman), and Kala Pharmaceuticals (Chairman 2014-2015),

From 2004 to 2008, Mr. Rosen was Vice President, Commercial Strategy at Gilead Sciences, Inc. where his responsibilities included strategic marketing, global brand management, health economics, competitive intelligence, market research and Gilead’s overall portfolio and business planning. Prior to joining Gilead, Mr. Rosen was President of ALZA Corporation where he was responsible for all aspects of managing ALZA as an independent 1000-person operating company within the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies. Previously at ALZA as Vice President, Product Development, he was responsible for product development activities, portfolio management and corporate and new product planning. Over his 10 years at ALZA, Mr. Rosen also had responsibilities for mergers and acquisitions, R&D planning, and technology ventures. Prior to joining ALZA, Mr. Rosen managed the west coast practice of Integral, Inc., was Director, Corporate Development at GenPharm International, Inc. and was a consultant in the San Francisco office of McKinsey & Co. Mr. Rosen is a past member of the Stanford University Advisory Council on Interdisciplinary Biosciences and the Stanford School of Engineering Advisory Council. Mr. Rosen is a member of the Biomedical Engineering Advisory Board at City College of New York and the Industrial Advisory Board for the University of North Carolina/North Carolina State Joint Biomedical Engineering Department and is a program advisor for the Harvard M.S./M.B.A. in Biotechnology and Life Sciences.

Previously he was a member of the BODs of Talphera (CEO 2015-17), Aria Pharmaceuticals, Alcobra, ALDEA Pharmaceuticals, CNS Therapeutics, CoTherix, Metera Pharmaceuticals, NTF Therapeutics, PaxVax, Pearl Therapeutics (Interim President and CEO), and Pharsight Corporation. Mr. Rosen is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Stanford and a Lecturer in Management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is also a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), where he is a Councilor and Past-chair of the Bioengineering Section, and a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). He is co-inventor on 7 US patents.

Mr. Rosen received an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he graduated first in his class as the Henry Ford II Scholar. Mr. Rosen has an M.S. in Chemical Engineering from MIT and he graduated with distinction from Stanford University with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering.

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