Founder, CEO, and Board Member: Lao Saal, MD PhD
A childhood cancer survivor himself, Lao is passionate about improving cancer diagnosis and treatment. Lao trained at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, where he received MD and PhD degrees, with distinction, in 2008. After clinical postdoctoral research at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Lao established an independent research group at Lund University, Sweden, in 2009. Since then, as Associate Professor and Head of the Translational Oncogenomics Unit, he has led a team spearheading research in circulating tumor DNA, mutational analyses of cancer, and RNA-sequencing. This research forms the basis of SAGA Diagnostics. He is an author of over 40 publications in leading journals such as Nature Genetics, Science, and PNAS.
Director of Corporate and Business Development: Åke Nilsson
Åke is a seasoned businessman with over 30 years experience in leadership and management roles at small and large life science companies such as Astra (now AstraZeneca), Apoteket, and Melacure Therapeutics, focusing on strategic business development, in- and out-licensing, M & A, and international marketing. He serves as Director of Corporate and Business Development.
Co-Founder, CTO, and Board Member: Anthony George, MSc
Anthony graduated cum laude with a BSc in computer science and engineering from the University of Toledo, Ohio, in 2005 and performed Masters studies in molecular biology and genetics at Lund University, Sweden, on “Targeted High-Throughput Deep-Sequencing of Cancer Associated Genes and SNP Array Analysis of Human Breast Cancer”. He is co-inventor of the IBSAFE technology and serves as Chief Technical Officer of SAGA Diagnostics.
Director, Operations: Johanna Asklin, PhD
Johanna has over 12 years’ experience in commercial project management and business development, beginning at Intercell AG (now Valneva), then the Danish Statens Serum Institut from 2008-2014, and as Head of Life Science at LU Innovation for with a focus on the commercialization of cancer research, during which time she also served on SAGA’s Board of Directors. Johanna earned her PhD in immunology and microbiology from Gothenburg University in 2006. Today she is Director of SAGA’s Operations.
Director, Finance: Henrik Simonsen, MSc Econ
Henrik is a veteran strategic CFO, with over 20 years of executive and corporate finance experience in the life sciencies. Formerly CFO of Nuevolution AB (publ), he led their SEK 250 million Nasdaq First North IPO, 110 million directed issue, and listing change to Nasdaq Stockholm. Now Henrik directs SAGA’s financial activities, investor relations, and HR.
Manager, Clinical Laboratory and Quality Assurance: Karolina Holm, PhD
Karolina graduated in 2011 with a PhD in experimental oncology from Lund University, studying the genetic and epigenetic characterization of breast cancer. She has over 6 years of clinical diagnostics laboratory experience, performing NGS mutational analyses for lung carcinoma and malignant melanoma, as well as screening for BRCA1/2 hereditary cancer mutations. Today she is Manager of SAGA’s Clinical Laboratory and Quality Assurance.
Senior Laboratory Analyst: Yilun “Alan” Chen, MSc
Alan has been working with advanced genomic methods to analyze human cancers since 2010, and earned his Master of Science in Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology from Lund University in 2012. He is the Senior Laboratory Analyst at SAGA, an expert in the analytical and laboratory methods for measuring circulating tumor DNA using KROMA and IBSAFE methods, as well as a developer of new diagnostic products.
Senior Programmer: Robert Rigo, MSc
Robert has a background in molecular biology and computer science, with a Masters in Molecular Biology from Uppsala University in 1995 as well as a Masters in Bioinformatics from Lund University in 2015, and has had industry positions at Sony Ericsson and Pharmacy & Upjohn, among others. At SAGA, Robert is a Senior Programmer developing software systems supporting the ultrasensitive measurement of mutations.
Senior Bioinformatician: Christian Brueffer, MSc
Christian studied Scientific Programming at Aachen University, and earned his Masters of Science in Bioinformatics from Lund University in 2013. He has extensive experience in cancer research, machine learning, and the bioinformatic analysis of high-dimensional datasets such as gene expression profiling using next-generation sequencing. He is Senior Bioinformatician at SAGA, developing new analytical pipelines and algorithms.
Medical Laboratory Analyst: Patricia Saxenborn
Patricia graduated from the University of Skövde in 2018 with a Master of Science in Systems Biology with focus on tumor biology. She was an instructor and laboratory engineer at the University, and previously also worked at Unilabs in the clinical chemistry workflows. At SAGA, she analyzes tissues and blood samples with our advanced ultrasensitive methods.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Chairman of the Board: Greg Batcheller, JD, LLM
Greg brings a strong track record from his previous positions in the life science industry as a executive decision maker, company founder, and commercial lawyer. He was CEO of DuoCort, is a Partner at P.U.L.S., and co-founded Laccure. He is currently involved with a number of companies including NeuroVive, Xintela, and Monocl Software. Greg is an accomplished dealmaker and has successfully negotiated many international licensing and M&A deals in Europe, the U.S., and China.
Board Member: Henrik Winther, PhD
Henrik has been at the forefront of companion diagnostics for over 10 years. From 2006, he was R&D Director at Dako A/S and spearheaded the development the FDA-approved HercepTest CDx breast cancer assay, and was a dealmaker in the acquisition by Agilent Technologies in 2012. From 2013-2017, Henrik continued at Agilent in Santa Barbara, CA, as VP and GM of the Companion Diagnostics Division, and in addition to scaling up the division 5x, he increased revenues by 45% each year.
Board Member: Christine Widstrand, PhD
Christine has over 15 years of experience of research and development and holds a PhD in Analytical Chemistry. She has been the co-founder of several companies in the life science field, including founding and serving as CEO of MIP Technologies (2000-2009), and has been a board member of a dozen start-ups. Today, Christine is the Executive Vice President at LU Holding AB and has the overall responsibility for the development of their 40 portfolio companies.
Board Member: Walter Stockinger, PhD
Walter is a seasoned healthcare investor and Managing Partner at Hadean Ventures, a Nordic venture firm specializing in the life sciences. He has previous experience in strategy consulting at Boston Consulting Group, and in VC since 2009 at the London office of one of the largest healthcare VC firms. Walter also has basic research background, with Master’s and PhD in biochemistry from the University of Vienna, and five years postdoc fellowship at Harvard University with publications in Cell and EMBO.
SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY BOARD
Scientific Advisor: Anne-Lise Borresen-Dale, PhD
Anne-Lise is world-renown cancer researcher, emeritus Head of the Department of Genetics at the Norwegian Radium Hospital in Oslo, Norway, and former President of the European Association for Cancer Research. She is true a pioneer in the field of cancer genomics and application of high-throughput methods and has authored over 400 publications and won numerous awards including the 2015 Distinguished Lectureship in Breast Cancer from the American Association for Cancer Research.
Scientific Advisor: Niklas Loman, MD PhD
Niklas is a highly experienced Clinical Oncologist and Senior Attending Physician at the Department of Oncology, Skåne University Hospital, and served as Head of Section for Breast Cancer, CNS, and Melanoma, and Clinical Head of Diagnosis for Breast Cancer for Region Skåne (1,100 new diagnoses/year). He earned his PhD in 2003 from Lund University and has published over 50 articles on cancer genetics, with major contributions in the area of hereditary cancer and clinical trials.