About SAGA Diagnostics

SAGA Diagnostics AB is a personalized cancer diagnostics and disease monitoring company focused on molecular genetic analyses of a powerful cancer biomarker: circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA). The company was founded in 2016 as a spin-out from a highly successful research group at Lund University, with a mission to improve precision cancer medicine, provide more accurate treatment monitoring, and improve patient survival using minimally-invasive liquid biopsy cancer testing services and kits.

The SAGA team consists of renowned scientists, highly qualified staff and an experienced management team who work together to launch SAGA’s ultrasensitive services and products as part of the ongoing revolution in cancer research, drug development, and clinical diagnostics. SAGA’s proprietary tests can help patients, oncologists, and drug developers detect actionable mutations, stratify patient groups, and monitor treatment response, residual disease, and disease recurrence at an unprecedented sensitivity.

The Team

Lao Saal, MD PhD

Founder and CEO

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. Since then, as a Berta Kamprad Associate Professor and Head of the Translational Oncogenomics Unit, he has led an award-winning team spearheading research in circulating tumor DNA, mutational analyses of cancer, and RNA-sequencing. He has published more than 45 articles in leading journals such as Nature Genetics, Science, and PNAS, which have been cited more than 8700 times. This research forms the basis of SAGA Diagnostics.

Åke Nilsson, MSc

Director of Corporate and Business Development

Åke is a seasoned businessman with extensive experience in leadership and management roles at small and large life science companies such as AstraZeneca, Apoteket, and Melacure Therapeutics, focusing on strategic business development, in- and out-licensing, M&A, and international marketing. He has an MSc degree in Biology from Gothenburg University.

Anthony George, MSc

Co-Founder and CTO

Anthony graduated cum laude with a BSc in computer science and engineering from the University of Toledo, Ohio, in 2005 and earned a Master of Science in molecular biology and genetics at Lund University, Sweden, with a thesis entitled “Targeted High-Throughput Deep-Sequencing of Cancer Associated Genes and SNP Array Analysis of Human Breast Cancer”. He is co-inventor of the SAGAsafe® technology.

Rocco Crescenzo, MD

CMO

Rocco is an experienced medical officer, having served in global clinical and regulatory leadership roles in the US and UK at Pfizer, Novartis, and GlaxoSmithKline, where he helped to advance a number of clinical programs in breast, renal, and hematological cancers. He is licensed in the UK and Pennsylvania, USA, board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology, and was formerly the co-director of the Temple University Cancer Center.

Johanna Asklin, PhD

Director of Operations

Johanna has vast experience in commercial project management and business development, beginning at Intercell AG (now Valneva), then the Danish Statens Serum Institut, and as Head of Life Science at LU Innovation with a focus on the commercialization of cancer research, during which time she also served on SAGA’s Board of Directors. Johanna received her PhD in immunology and microbiology from Gothenburg University.

Henrik Simonsen, MSc Econ

Director of Finance

Henrik is a veteran strategic CFO, with over 20 years of executive and corporate finance experience in the life sciences. 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. Henrik has a Master of Science Econ from Copenhagen University, Denmark.

Annina Hube, PhD MBA

Director of Market Access

Annina has been working with cancer diagnostics since 2011, with companies such as Abcam, Vela Diagnostics, and NEO New Oncology GmbH, in roles from marketing, communications, supply chain, and project management. She has a PhD from University of Bremen and MBA from FOM Hochschule.

Karolina Holm, PhD

Manager of Clinical Laboratory Quality Assurance

Karolina graduated in 2011 with a PhD in experimental oncology from Lund University, Sweden, studying the genetic and epigenetic characterization of breast cancer. She has extensive clinical diagnostics laboratory and regulatory experience from performing NGS mutational analyses for breast and lung carcinoma and malignant melanoma, as well as screening for BRCA1/2 hereditary cancer mutations.

Miguel Alcaide, PhD

Senior Molecular Diagnostics Scientist, dPCR

Miguel is an accomplished scientist in molecular diagnostics. Following his genetics PhD from the University of Seville, he had post-doctoral experiences at Harvard University, University of British Columbia, and at Simon Fraser University where as a research associate he developed in-depth expertise in cancer liquid biopsy assay development. Miguel strengthens the R&D unit with emphasis on development of new dPCR diagnostics.

Sofia Birkeälv, PhD

Molecular Diagnostics Scientist, NGS Lead

Sofia earned her PhD degree at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, University of Cambridge, studying the "Genetic alterations defining human primary melanoma and mechanisms of immune evasion." She has solid knowledge of next-generation sequencing application design, bioinformatics, as well as industrial experience from both AstraZeneca and BioInvent. At SAGA, Sofia is a key member of the R&D team with focus on NGS-based diagnostics.

Yilun “Alan” Chen, MSc

Senior Medical Diagnostics Scientist

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, Sweden, in 2012. He is the Senior Laboratory Analyst at SAGA, an expert in the analytical and laboratory methods for measuring circulating tumor DNA using SAGAsafe® and SAGAsign® methods, as well as a developer of new diagnostic products.

Robert Rigo, MSc MSc

Senior Programmer

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, Sweden, 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.

Christian Brueffer, MSc

Senior Bioinformatician

Christian studied Scientific Programming at Aachen University, and earned his MSc in Bioinformatics from Lund University, Sweden, 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.

Patricia Saxenborn, MSc

Medical Laboratory Analyst

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 worked at Unilabs in the clinical chemistry workflows. At SAGA, she analyzes tissues and blood samples with our advanced ultrasensitive methods.

Cecilia Forsberg, MSc

Medical Laboratory Analyst

Cecilia has a MSc in Molecular Biology from Lund University and is an experienced research engineer with deep knowledge of cancer genetics analyses, most recently at the BRCA-laboratory in Lund. Previously, she worked in the life science industry at Alligator BioScience and Active Biotech. At SAGA, Cecilia applies our ultrasensitive methods to analyze clinical samples for biopharma and other clientele.

The Board

Greg Batcheller, JD, LLM

Chairman of the Board

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. Greg holds a JD from University of Toronto and a LLM from Lund University, Sweden.

Henrik Winther, PhD DVM

Board Member

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. Henrik was SVP Business Development at Immunovia AB, and is currently SVP Business Development at Biovica AB. He holds a DVM and PhD in cell biology and histology from University of Copenhagen.

Christine Widstrand, PhD

Board Member

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.

Walter Stockinger, PhD

Board Member

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.

Lao Saal, MD PhD

Board Member

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. Since then, as a Berta Kamprad Associate Professor and Head of the Translational Oncogenomics Unit, he has led an award-winning team spearheading research in circulating tumor DNA, mutational analyses of cancer, and RNA-sequencing. He has published more than 45 articles in leading journals such as Nature Genetics, Science, and PNAS, which have been cited more than 8700 times. This research forms the basis of SAGA Diagnostics.

Anthony George, MSc

Board Member

Anthony graduated cum laude with a BSc in computer science and engineering from the University of Toledo, Ohio, in 2005 and earned a Master of Science in molecular biology and genetics at Lund University, Sweden, with a thesis entitled “Targeted High-Throughput Deep-Sequencing of Cancer Associated Genes and SNP Array Analysis of Human Breast Cancer”. He is co-inventor of the SAGAsafe® technology.

Our Advisors

Anne-Lise Borresen-Dale, PhD

Scientific Advisor

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 truly 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.

Niklas Loman, MD PhD

Medical Advisor

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, Sweden, and has published over 50 articles on cancer genetics, with major contributions in the area of hereditary cancer and clinical trials.

Maria Fe Paz, MD PhD MBA

Strategic Advisor

Maria has over 15 years of technical, entrepreneurial, and leadership experience in molecular diagnostics and precision medicine. She is President and CMO of Inflection Point Biomedical Advisors, General Partner of Article25 Capital, and the former CMO for Rosetta Genomics. For more than 5 years, she also was founder and president of Labceutics and CMO for The Diaceutics Group.

Florian Eckhardt, PhD MBA

Strategic Advisor

Florian is seasoned executive in medical diagnostics, since 2003 having worked in senior management and BD roles at companies such as Epigenomics AG, and ThermoFisher Scientific, as well as being the CEO of DST Diagnostische Systeme und Technologien GmbH from 2013-2018. He is also a senior investment director at Hadean Ventures, and previously was an investment manager at Inventages.