Co-founder of PhoenixSongs, Marsha Roach leads a scientific team to develop stem cell-derived cellular model by isolating stem/progenitor cells from multiple human tissues, including but not limited to liver, biliary tree, brain, umbilical cord, and then differentiating them into functionally mature cell types for research and drug discovery. Ms. Roach manages external partnerships with many of the leading pharmaceutical companies, Contract Research Organizations, other biotech companies and academic collaborators to develop these stem cell-derived model systems and validate function compared to gold standard assays.
During her 14-year tenure at Pfizer, she pioneered the use of stem cell-derived cell types in drug discovery. Ms. Roach developed the first stem cell-derived neural model that was used in an industry-first high throughput screen that screened 2.4 million small molecules which resulted in the discovery of novel small molecule AMPA type glutamate receptor potentiators. In addition Ms Roach lead a research team in producing ES cell-derived hepatocytes that were functionally indistinguishable from primary hepatocytes in drug metabolism assays.
While at Pfizer, Ms Roach also had an Adjunct Faculty position with Dr. Jerry Yang at the Center for Regenerative Biology, University of Connecticut. In this position Ms Roach taught stem cell technology to graduate students, post doctoral fellows and faculty. Embryonic stem cell lines were isolated from mouse, rabbit and bovine blastocyst stage embryos.
Ms Roach earned her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from the University of Illinois in the area of animal science, molecular embryology and developmental biology. While earning her Master’s degree, she also worked as a Research Specialist managing an embryology laboratory.
Executive Vice President of Media Development and Production, Justin Beam has the principal responsibility for the development and production of media formulations for the growth, differentiation and maintenance of novel cellular models and stem cell-based model systems as well as client interactions with customers to develop and manufacture their cell culture media on a contract basis.
Mr. Beam mentored with Richard Malavarca, founder of Specialty Media and co-founder of PhoenixSongs, for development and production of both in house media formulations and customer’s custom media formulations. Mr. Beam continues to follow the tutelage of Mr. Malavarca providing high quality media for cellular application. In addition, Mr. Beam mentored with Ms. Roach culturing multiple lines of neural and hepatic stem cells.
Mr. Beam received his BS in biology from Southern Connecticut State University.
Richard Malavarca was co-founder of PhoenixSongs Biologicals, Inc. and established the media production part of the business and training media production scientists. PhoenixSongs’ Cell Culture Media program included the development and manufacture of media formulations for growth, differentiation and maintenance of novel stem cell-based model systems as well as media for customer’s cell culture model systems.
Mr. Malavarca brought over 30 years of experience in research and product development in both academic and commercial laboratories including Harvard medical school, the Roche institute, and Merck. Mr. Malavarca founded Specialty Media (now a part of Millipore), which was the first company to introduce commercial media for Murine embryos as well as Murine embryonic stem cells. In addition, he was co-founder of Cell and Molecular Technologies (now a part of Life Technologies), a CRO which developed animal models, cell lines, and supplied ready to use cells to pharmaceutical companies for cell based high throughput screening. Upon the sale of his companies, Mr. Malavarca was Director of R&D for the stem cell product area at Millipore and most recently director of expression technologies developing novel upstream products for Millipore’s Bioprocess division.
Founder of PhoenixSongs, Dr. Reid has more than 45 years of experience in doing cell and molecular biological studies on differentiated epithelial cells in culture, on matrix biology and chemistry, proteoglycan/glycosaminoglycan biology and chemistry, and on stem cell biology particularly of murine, rat, porcine and human livers and human, porcine and murine biliary tree tissues and pancreas.
Dr. Reid and associates have published the first reports of the identification, isolation (by immunoselection technologies) and establishment in culture under wholly defined conditions of rodent hepatoblasts, rodent hepatic stellate cell precursors, human hepatic stem cells and hepatoblasts, and most recently, human, porcine and murine biliary tree stem cells and pancreatic progenitors.
The biliary tree stem cells are multipotent and give rise to liver, biliary tree and to pancreas both ex vivo in defined vulture conditions and in vivo with transplantation of the cells into liver or pancreas. Genetic signature and biological studies on these populations are providing new insights into the stem cell and maturational lineages relevant to hepatic and pancreatic organogenesis throughout life. In addition Dr. Reid and associates have defined ex vivo culture conditions that are wholly defined for monolayer cultures or for organoid cultures that include serum-free, hormonally defined media and defined matrix components and that support lineage-stage-specific cell-cell relationships of the epithelia and their native mesenchymal cell partners (e.g. angioblasts, precursers to endothelia or stellate cells, or mature endothelia or stellate cells).
In addition, she and her associates have spearheaded novel methods for transplantation of cells utilizing grafting strategies that ensure localization of the donor cells to the target site and that provide a requisite microenvironment to facilitate engraftment and integration of the donor cells within the target organ or tissue.
Her background and experience established Dr. Reid as an innovative leader in the areas of endodermal stem cell populations, lineage biology in liver, biliary tree and pancreas, 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional cultures of differentiated endodermal cells under wholly defined conditions, and in grafting methods by which to transplant the cells into relevant target organs.