Our Team

Western Oncolytics is led and advised by a distinguished group of company-builders and pioneers in the field of oncolytic viral immunotherapy

Leadership

Stephen H. Thorne, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Officer & Acting CEO

Steve Thorne co-founded Western Oncolytics in 2014 and currently serves as Chief Scientific Officer and acting CEO. He is a leader in the field of oncolytic viral immunotherapy and previously founded Jennerex, which is currently advancing Pexa-Vec through late-stage clinical trials. Steve was previously a Professor of Cell Biology and Immunology at the University of Pittsburgh and received his B.A. from Oxford University, UK and Ph.D. from Imperial College of London. Steve has served in postdoctorate roles at Surrey University, Cancer Research UK, and Stanford University and has authored more than 65 scientific publications in the field.

Helena Chaye, Ph.D., J.D.
Acting COO

Helena has over 20 years of experience in biotechnology industry having held leadership positions in operations, corporate affairs, business development and IP management primarily in oncolytic virotherapy development. Most recently, Helena served as Chief Business Officer at SillaJen Biotherapeutics, Inc. where she managed all operations including corporate and business development strategies, R&D strategy and intellectual property. Prior to joining SillaJen, Helena was the VP of Corporate Affairs & IP at Jennerex Biotherapeutics where she held a variety of leadership positions including head of Op Tech where she oversaw first GMP production of Pexa-Vec (currently in Phase 3). Helena received her B.S. Biochemisty and her Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of British Columbia and her J.D. from Dalhousie University.

Ian Magazine
Acting CFO

Ian Magazine is currently acting CFO of Western Oncolytics. Ian has extensive experience as a founder, investor and finance and operating executive for a host of enterprises as a serial entrepreneur in the life sciences and technology industry. Ian was an initial member of Nextel’s management team, leading the company through early strategic investments, intensive M&A growth, and ultimately acquisition in 2005 by Sprint for $35B. Ian has also led successful financing rounds and acquisitions of emerging companies as CFO of PNA Innovations, VP of Finance and Operations of 4DK Technologies, and COO of Reinheimer & Company. He holds a B.A. in Economics from SUNY at Binghamton and completed M.B.A. courses at Pace University.

Elizabeth Duckett, J.D.
General Counsel

Betsy joined Western Oncolytics as consulting General Counsel in 2017, managing the company’s legal affairs. She has more than 16 years of experience across all legal matters within the biotech and pharmaceutical industry. Betsy has held senior leadership roles with RainDance Technologies and Elan Pharmaceuticals, and has worked as a consulting in-house counsel for Sunovion, Accuray, Genentech, and Actelion. Prior to going in-house, she was an attorney in the life sciences tech licensing group at Morrison & Foerster and a patent litigation associate at Oblon Spivak. She is a registered patent attorney and holds a J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and a B.S. in Chemistry from William & Mary.

Katy Wack, Ph.D.
VP, Development

Katy is the VP Development of Western Oncolytics, where she leads research, pre-IND and clinical programs for all pipeline products,and also directs the process development lab. Prior to joining Western Oncolytics, Katy was lead scientist and project manager at Omnyx, where she designed and managed their PMA clinical study for a class III medical device. Katy is well-published across several bioengineering applications and holds a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from University of Pittsburgh, an M.S. from MIT in Toxicology and Bioengineering, and a B.S. from Carnegie Mellon.

Carrie Miller, M.Sc.
Director, Analytical Development

Carrie joined Western Oncolytics in 2017 as the Director of Analytical Development. She brings over 10 years of experience in biopharma drug development, assay development, quality control, and cGMP manufacturing. Prior to Western Oncolytics, Carrie served as Assistant Director of Cell Therapy at Noveome Biotherapeutics where she oversaw the implementation of cGMP manufacturing to their cell therapy technology. Carrie holds an M.Sc. in Biological Science from Duquesne University and a B.S. in Biology from Gannon University.

Scientific and Clinical Advisors

Jon Wigginton, M.D.
Advisor

Dr. Wigginton is the Chief Medical Officer and SVP Clinical Development at Macrogenics. He is a physician-scientist and cancer immunotherapy drug developer with over 15 years of leadership experience in clinical oncology research in academia/industry. Dr. Wigginton was previously the Therapeutic Area Head, Immuno-Oncology and Executive Director, Discovery Medicine-Clinical Oncology at Bristol-Myers from October 2008 to August 2013, where he oversaw early clinical development of the I-O portfolio, including PD-1 and PD-L1. During his academic career, Dr. Wigginton held several positions at the National Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Research (NCI-CCR), including Head, Investigational Biologics Section, Pediatric Oncology Branch. He is a Past-President of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC). Dr. Wigginton holds an M.D. and B.S from the University of Michigan.

Lisa H. Butterfield, Ph.D.
Advisor

Lisa H. Butterfield, Ph.D., is a Professor of Medicine, Surgery, Immunology, and Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Pittsburgh and Director of the Immunologic Monitoring and Cellular Products Laboratory (IMCPL) at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. She obtained her Ph.D. in Biology at UCLA, followed by postdoctoral fellowships in Cellular Immunology and Cancer Gene Therapy at UCLA. She is the President of the Society of Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC, 2016-2018). She is a member of AAI and AACR and serves on committees and participates in educational efforts for those societies. Dr. Butterfield also serves as Director of the ECOG-ACRIN National Clinical Trials Network Immunology Reference Laboratory, as well as Melanoma Committee Lab Liaison and on the Immune Biomarkers Committee.

Joy Cavagnaro, Ph.D.
Advisor

Joy Cavagnaro is the President and Founder of Access BIO, a former FDA Director at the Center for Biologics Evaluation and previously served as VP of Regulatory Affairs at Human Genome Sciences. She has extensive expertise in vaccines and gene therapy, with 25 years experience across industry, academia, and government. Joy serves on the Steering Committee for the NIH National Gene Vector Laboratory and is a member of the Clinical and Regulatory Affairs Committee of the American Society of Gene Therapy. Joy holds a Ph.D. from UNC Chapel Hill and a B.S. from University of Miami.

Jennifer Grandis, M.D.
Advisor

Dr. Grandis is a Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (OHNS) at UCSF and, until July 1, was the Associate Vice Chancellor—Clinical and Translational Research (AVC-CTR). Prior to joining UCSF, she served as the UPMC Endowed Chair in Head and Neck Cancer Surgical Research and Distinguished Professor of Otolaryngology and Pharmacology and Chemical Biology at the University of Pittsburgh. She has published over 320 peer-reviewed articles and has contributed to more than 50 review articles and book chapters. Dr. Grandis received her M.D. from University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and an undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College.

Terry Hermiston Ph.D.
Advisor

Dr. Hermiston is the CEO and Founder of Coagulant Therapeutics and GLAdiator Biosciences. Dr. Hermiston led the US Biologics Research team at Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceutical’s worldwide pharmaceutical research organization. With a biotechnology career spanning just over two decades, Dr. Hermiston has published over 60 research papers and reviews, holds over 20 patents and has additional patents pending. Prior to joining Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Hermiston was the principal scientist and scientific director for the global department of gene therapy research and gene technologies for Berlex Biosciences and its Germany-based parent company, Schering AG. Dr. Hermiston served in roles of increasing responsibility with Onyx Pharmaceuticals and completed a National Institutes of Health (NIH) fellowship in microbiology and immunology at St. Louis University School of Medicine.

John Nemunaitis, M.D.
Advisor

Dr. Nemunaitis co-founded Gradalis, Inc. in 2010 and serves as its Chief Medical Officer and Director. Dr. Nemunaitis also serves as an Oncologist and Executive Medical Director of the Mary Crowley Cancer Research Centers (MCCRC) and serves as its Director of the U.S. Oncology (USON) phase I research program. He also serves on the scientific boards of Transgene SA, OSE Pharma SA, Heat Biologics, Inc., Therion Biologics, and Point Therapeutics. He has been exploring novel targeted therapies for treating cancer patients for over 20 years. Dr. Nemunaitis holds a B.A. and M.D. from Case Western Reserve University.

Board of Directors

Stephen H. Thorne, Ph.D.
Director

Steve Thorne co-founded Western Oncolytics in 2014 and currently serves as Chief Scientific Officer and acting CEO. He is a leader in the field of oncolytic viral immunotherapy and previously founded Jennerex, which is currently advancing Pexa-Vec through late-stage clinical trials. Steve was previously a Professor of Cell Biology and Immunology at the University of Pittsburgh and received his B.A. from Oxford University, UK and Ph.D. from Imperial College of London. Steve has served in postdoctorate roles at Surrey University, Cancer Research UK, and Stanford University and has authored more than 65 scientific publications in the field.

Dietrich Stephan, Ph.D.
Director

Dietrich Stephan is the CEO and General Partner at LifeX Capital. He is a renowned geneticist and life sciences entrepreneur, recognized for his early leadership in the field of Precision Medicine. Dietrich served as the Chair of the Department of Human Genetics at University of Pittsburgh from 2013 to 2018 and was the founding Chairman of the Department of Neurogenomics at TGen. He has founded several companies including Navigenics, Amnestix, Aueon, Silicon Valley Biosystems (now Lifecode), and DiaVacs. Dietrich holds a Ph.D. from University of Pittsburgh and a B.S. from Carnegie Mellon.

Kurt Rote, M.B.A.
Director

Kurt Rote co-founded Western Oncolytics and led the company through technology licensing from the University of Pittsburgh, seed and Series A fundraising, and Western’s partnership with Pfizer for WO-12. Kurt previously served as Head of Product Development and Marketing at BiognoSYS AG and in Strategy and Business Development roles at Holcim US Inc. He holds an M.B.A. from the International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland and a B.S.E from Duke University.

Richard Jones, M.B.A.
Director

Rick Jones is a seasoned executive and serves on the board of several companies in addition to Western Oncolytics, including Pegasystems, Inc. and Colo5 LLC. He was a former President, COO, and Vice Chairman at Pegasystems. Rick has positions of Chief Executive Officer of Fleet Investment Services, Inc., Executive Vice President for FMR LLC, Principal at Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., European Head at Hewitt Associates, Inc. and Member-Operating Committee at Barnett Banks, Inc. Rick holds an M.B.A. from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and B.S. from Duke University.

Tom Leonard
Director

Tom Leonard is a serial entrepreneur with a successful track record of founding and leading companies in the tech space. In addition to Western Oncolytics, he serves on the boards of Caretta Data and DMEautomotive. Previously, Tom was COO and CIO of DMEautomotive. He has also co-founded and led several ventures including Clear Voice Research, Red Rocket Solutions, Encore Development, and TML Systems. Early in his career, Tom was a General Manager at Symantec and a Software Architect at Harris Corporation. He holds an M.S. and B.S. in Computer Sciences from Florida State University.