Farhad Parhami, Ph.D., M.B.A. (Founder and President)

Farhad Parhami was trained as an Experimental Pathologist in the Department of Pathology at UCLA under the mentorship of Professor Judith Berliner. His training and experience include molecular and cellular biology, lipid metabolism, inflammation, and bone and vascular biology. In 1996 he obtained a faculty position and held the title of Professor-in-Residence in the Department of Medicine at UCLA until his separation from the University in July 2016. Dr. Parhami received his M.B.A. degree from the UCLA Anderson School of Management in July 2012.  His research laboratory at UCLA had a number of full time scientists and several staff members, and was involved in training of doctoral and post-doctoral fellows. Dr. Parhami serves as a reviewer for several scientific journals, and is a member of National Scientific Organizations including the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, American Heart Association, American Association for Cancer Research.  In addition to discovering the cross talk between Liver X Receptors and Hedgehog signaling pathway, Dr. Parhami is credited with seminal discoveries including the identification of osteogenic and anti-adipogenic effects of specific oxysterols, the recognition that dyslipidemia causes adverse effects on bone cells and bone formation, and that cholesterol biosynthesis by osteoprogenitor cells is necessary for their proper differentiation and maturation into bone forming osteoblasts. Dr. Parhami has published and continues to publish in many peer-reviewed scientific journals, and is regularly invited to present his research nationally and internationally. Dr. Parhami founded MAX BioPharma Inc. in December 2010 and negotiated an Exclusive License Agreement from UCLA for the intellectual property involving a novel oxysterol technology platform developed in his laboratory at UCLA. Dr. Parhami has been successful in developing MAX BioPharma into a fully functioning biotechnology company that currently has 7 employees, performs R&D in 3 major preclinical programs that utilize novel oxysterols as therapeutic candidates, obtained two SBIR Phase I and two SBIR Phase II grants from the National Institutes of Health, and raised $250,000 of seed funding for the company. In October 2014, Dr. Parhami successfully finalized negotiations with a major biopharmaceutical/device company and licensed one of MAX BioPharma’s programs, resulting in significant value for MAX BioPharma.

Frank Stappenbeck, Ph.D. (Director of Chemistry)

Frank Stappenbeck is the Director of Chemistry at MAX BioPharma. Since joining the company in 2011, he has spent nearly two decades working with drug discovery teams in the pharmaceutical industry, efforts that have produced several clinical drug candidates (Elan Pharmaceuticals, ICOS Corporation, SGX-Pharmaceuticals and Fate Therapeutics). He has worked on drug chemistry problems in the areas of oncology, autoimmune disease, neurodegenerative disease, and regenerative medicine. His experience includes structure-based design, fragment-based drug discovery, and drug screening based on phenotypic assays. Dr. Stappenbeck first became interested in chemistry as an undergraduate student at the University of Göttingen in Germany. After gaining a Ph.D. degree in organic chemistry working with Prof. James D. White at Oregon State University, he completed his postdoctoral training with Prof. Larry E. Overman at UC Irvine. Informed and encouraged by his training, Dr. Stappenbeck has developed an ongoing interest in the chemistry and pharmacological properties of naturally occurring substances, such as alkaloids and sterols, as worthwhile starting points in drug discovery research.

Jason Rifkin, J.D., M.S. (Director of Business Development)

Jason Rifkin is a biotechnology and medical device executive with extensive experience in developmental stage life sciences companies. Jason has managed all aspects of company operations including clinical operations, business development, technology licensing and capital raising. Jason comes from PreScience Labs, an early stage oncology company where he oversaw the build-up of a Phase I clinical trial program. Prior to joining PreScience, Jason held a number of executive positions in which he oversaw the transition of Delcath Systems – a specialty pharmaceutical and medical device company focused on oncology — from a developmental stage company to a publicly traded commercial operation. Earlier, Jason served as Senior Vice President of Clinical Operations, where he oversaw the clinical development program and completion of Delcath’s Phase III and II clinical trials. Before joining Delcath, he practiced law with Fox Rothschild, serving as an associate in the Corporate Department-Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology Group. Jason received a Bachelor’s Degree from The University of Pennsylvania, a Law Degree from Northeastern University School of Law and a Masters of Biotechnology from The University of Pennsylvania, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Gonzalo Payan (Director of Finance & Operations)

Gonzalo Payan serves as Director of Finance & Operations at MAX BioPharma. Prior to joining MAX BioPharma, Gonzalo worked as a Senior Fund Manager at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, where he applied his extensive experience towards managing and budgeting for contracts, grants, and clinical trials. He managed a portfolio of over $50 million dollars comprised of funds received from a variety of sponsors, including the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, St. Jude Medical, and GlaxoSmithKline. In addition to managing the portfolio of funds for the Department of Medicine, Gonzalo also helped establish consortia between UCLA scientists and their collaborators at other universities and pharmaceutical companies around the country. Gonzalo received a Bachelor’s of Science Degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in Actuarial Mathematics.