Who We Are
Chief Executive Officer
Mark Pykett serves as Chief Executive Officer of Myrtelle. He joined the company in 2021 at its inception, bringing over 25 years of pharmaceutical industry executive management experience. Prior to Myrtelle, Mark was Chief Scientific Officer at PTC Therapeutics where he oversaw the company’s discovery, research, and translational activities. Before PTC, he was CEO of Agilis Biotherapeutics (acquired by PTC), CEO of Navidea Pharmaceuticals, President and Chief Operating Officer of Alseres Pharmaceuticals, President of CyGenics and CEO of Cytomatrix (acquired by CyGenics). He is or previously was a board member of both public and private companies, including the biotech companies, and the not-for-profit organization HealthBuilders, developing healthcare infrastructure in Rwanda. Mark holds a BA from Amherst College, a VMD and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from Northeastern University. He also completed post-doctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University. Mark has dedicated a substantial portion of his career to advancing innovative medicines for rare diseases. He counts among his most rewarding experiences the approval of Evrysdi for spinal-muscular atrophy (SMA), the development of the gene therapy Upstaza for AADC deficiency, the approval and commercial launch of Lymphoseek for cancer, and the scientific innovations Altropane for Parkinson’s disease and the stem cell immunotherapy platform CytoMatrix. Mark is passionate about bringing novel therapies to patients who all too often are overlooked or left behind in the quest for new cures.
Vice President, Head of Toxicology
Jeff Allen is Vice President, Head of Toxicology at Myrtelle and has been with the company since 2021. He has been involved with evaluating safety and efficacy of locally delivered therapeutics, especially to the brain and spinal cord, for the last 20 years. Prior to Myrtelle, Jeff was Associate Director of Toxicology at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and responsible for safety assessment of all CNS programs. Jeff was Associate Director of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Inovio Pharmaceutical working on DNA plasmid vaccines. Previously, he was a Senior Study Director at MPI Research, now Charles River-Mattawan, in the Surgery and Medical Device Division where he specialized in preclinical safety studies involving CNS direct delivery of therapeutics including gene therapies, cells, and oligonucleotides. He was a Senior Scientist at Medtronic in the Neuromodulation group exploring new uses for implanted drug delivery devices for neurologic disorders. Prior to joining industry, he was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of California, San Diego studying the toxicity of intrathecal opiates.
Jeff received a double major in Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and a PhD in Pharmacology from Wake Forest University. His post-doctoral training was in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of California, San Diego. He has had a lifelong fascination with the brain and became especially interested in pediatric neurological diseases while working in the Departments of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh as an undergraduate.
Senior Vice President of Finance
Jenna Barton serves as Senior Vice President of Finance at Myrtelle. She joined the company in 2021, bringing more than 15 years of financial and operational leadership experience with life science companies to her role. Most recently Jenna was Sr. Director of FP&A at Black Diamond Therapeutics where she oversaw the development of the company’s long range strategic planning, budgeting, and forecasting processes, and partnered with the executive leadership on investment prioritization for its programs. Prior to Black Diamond, Jenna was the Director of R&D Finance at Sage Therapeutics where she led a cross functional team that supported Research, Discovery, Clinical Operations and Program Management. Previously she held positions of increasing responsibility at Biogen, Philips Healthcare and Lonza Biologics. Jenna holds a B.S. in Finance from the University of New Hampshire and an MBA from Suffolk University.
Jenna feels fortunate to work in an industry where patients and families are the priority, there are opportunities to partner with other passionate professionals who are committed to drug development, and advancing science is at the forefront of what we do daily.
Director of Clinical and Regulatory Program Operations
Olga Flamini serves as the Director of Clinical and Regulatory Program Operations at Myrtelle where she supports communications and operations with clinical sites and regulatory agencies and oversees electronic data capture and clinical databases. Olga brings more than 9 years of experience in medicine and neuroscience research. Prior to joining Myrtelle in 2021, Olga was the project manager for IND submission for a gene therapy treatment for Canavan Disease and obtained her PhD in Neuroscience from Rowan University (2021), where she focused on the effects of stress on norepinephrine functioning in the central nervous system, earned the award for Outstanding Academic Achievements in Doctoral Research, and authored five first author publications. In 2018, Olga proudly received the Trainee Professional Development Award from Society of Neuroscience.
Before moving to the United States to earn her PhD, Olga practiced medicine Ophthalmology 2012 to 2016 and specialized in retinal laser surgery. She was named the Best Young Basic Science Ophthalmological Researcher in Russia in 2013 and earned her medical degree from the Moscow State University of Medicine and Dentistry in 2012.
Improving patient care and bringing patients new treatments is what led Olga to this field of work is improving patient care. Through her combined medical and scientific expertise, she hopes to improve the quality of patient lives.
When not at work you can usually find Olga on a dance floor enjoying her passion for Latin-American dances, at a table playing chess, in the water scuba-diving or at her piano learning how to play.
Head of Clinical Operations at Myrtelle
Cheryl Demos Fludas serves as Head of Clinical Operations at Myrtelle, where she oversees clinical trial implementation and vendor management. Cheryl joined the Company in 2022, bringing more than 25 years of experience in clinical operations management roles across a multitude of therapeutic indications in pharma and in the CRO space. Cheryl recently served as Clinical Operations Program Lead for two rare disease indications while at Novartis Gene Therapies (formerly AveXis). Cheryl holds a B.A. in Classics from Loyola University of Chicago.
Cheryl is drawn to the fast-paced energy and challenges of the biotech sector and being part of the development of innovative therapies for rare diseases.
Cheryl enjoys live music and theater in Chicago, travel, cooking and entertaining for friends and family.
Vice President, Head of Communications & Community
Jordana Holovach serves as Vice President, Head of Communications and Community at Myrtelle, where she oversees all internal and external communications, brand management and community engagement and advocacy. Jordana joined the Company in 2021, bringing more than 20 years of experience in leadership roles in the non-profit/rare disease sector. Jordana most recently served as founder of Jordana Holovach Communications consulting for non-profits and patient groups by developing strategic marketing campaigns, public relations, social media programs, advocacy, and brand management.
She began her career in public relations at two of New York’s top consumer public relations firms, but then quickly pivoted when her first child, Jacob was diagnosed with Canavan disease. From 2000-2014, Jordana was Director of Jacob’s Cure, the non-profit organization she founded to fund research and raise awareness for Canavan. Jordana assembled an influential board of directors, supporters, and critical partnerships with various companies and corporations while also increasing visibility of Jacob’s Cure and Canavan disease on Capitol Hill where she garnered key legislative support and built critical relationships at the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Jordana obtained her B.S. in Marketing from the Fashion Institute of Technology as well as an Associate Degree in Buying and Merchandising. She adores watching her daughters play soccer, but when they are not on the field, you can usually find her at a table playing Canasta.
Jordana understands that rare disease is only rare until it happens to you or someone you love. When her son Jacob was diagnosed with Canavan disease, she had learned of a novel gene therapy trial in New Zealand involving 2 Canavan children which exhibited modest but exciting results. After being told of the devastating symptoms Jacob would experience and his fatal diagnosis, there was hope where none existed before. She immediately went ‘all-in’ to focus on Canavan to support another gene-therapy trial for Jacob and other children. Fundraising, lobbying for federal funding and awareness campaigns led to FDA approvals and Jacob’s enrollment in the first US gene-therapy trial for a brain-based disorder in 1998 and a subsequent trial in 2000.
Her deep, personal understanding of the rare disease space drives her work and passion at Myrtelle, connecting patients with treatment possibilities and providing hope.
Executive Director of Quality Assurance
Stephanos Karakasidis serves as the Executive Director of Quality Assurance at Myrtelle, where he oversees all quality systems, processes, and initiatives for the organization as well as implementation of a risk-based audit program, CAPA management, audits, and quality metrics. He joined the Company in 2021, bringing more than 15 years of experience in various roles in the biotech and Contract Testing Organizations. Most recently, he served as the Director of Quality Control, at the University of Pennsylvania’s Gene Therapy Program, where he oversaw the characterization testing and release of viral vectors. Previously, he has held positions of increasing responsibilities at WuXi Advanced Therapies and Charles River Laboratories.
Stephanos obtained his B.S. in Biology from Guilford College and an M.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Georgetown University. His passions include the rare disease arena, with the focus on making difference in people’s life through development of novel therapies.
In his spare time, he likes to go hiking with his wife and two boys, traveling back to Greece to visit family and friends, and reading.
Senior Vice President, Global Regulatory Affairs
Nancy Barone Kribbs is a Senior Vice President at Myrtelle, serving as the head of Global Regulatory Affairs. She joined the company at its inception in 2021 and brings more than 25 years of experience in drug development. Nancy most recently served as Vice President, Head of Regulatory Affairs at Aruvant Sciences where she led the company in European Medicines Agency (EMA) Scientific Advice, development of the Pediatric Investigation Plan, and in obtaining EMA Orphan Drug and PRIME designation for ARU-1801, a lentiviral gene therapy for sickle cell disease. Previously, as Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at Agilis/PTC, Nancy developed gene therapies for rare neurological diseases including AADC deficiency (Upstaza), Friedreich Ataxia and Angelman Syndrome. Also, at Avexis, Nancy worked on the development of Zolgensma, a gene therapy for the rare disease Spinal Muscular Atrophy. In previous years, Nancy led the Cardiovascular portfolio for Regulatory at Sanofi, where her responsibilities included Plavix and Avapro, and at Bristol Myers-Squibb she developed Myalept for Lipodystrophy, a rare metabolic disease. At Cephalon, Nancy was instrumental in the approval of Provigil for the rare CNS disease, narcolepsy. Her earlier career was spent in academic research in sleep disorders, at The Pennsylvania State University and at the University of Pennsylvania Institute of Neurological Sciences, and School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry.
Nancy holds a B.S. in Psychology from Xavier University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Toledo. In other pursuits, Nancy is a professional musician, and you might catch her playing trombone at all kinds of events and venues on the east coast.
Nancy is grateful for her opportunity at Myrtelle, to help bring innovative therapies to patients with serious, incapacitating, and life-threatening genetic disorders.
Vice President, Head of Pharmacology
Rick Layer serves as Vice President, Head of Pharmacology and Translational Science at Myrtelle. He joined the company in 2021, bringing more than 25 years of experience in the development of CNS therapies within the medical device, pharmaceutical, and gene therapy industries. Most recently, Rick was Sr. Director of Pharmacology and Preclinical Development at Renascent Biosciences where he led gene therapy research and translational efforts for neurodegenerative and kidney diseases. Prior to Renascent, he headed research groups at InVivo Therapeutics and Cognetix, Inc., was director of Program Operations at Alseres Pharmaceuticals, and cofounded Ganglion Therapeutics where he was Chief Scientific Officer. Rick is a co-author of over 35 scientific publications, review articles, and book chapters, a co-inventor on over 10 patents, and an enthusiastic banjo player. Rick is a graduate of Gettysburg College, obtained his M.Sc. at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and his Ph.D. in Pharmacology at The Ohio State University. He conducted his post-Doctoral research training at the Laboratory of Neuroscience, NIDDK, of the National Institutes of Health. A central, driving force for Rick is the desire to bridge the gap between basic scientific research and the development of new therapeutic interventions that improve patients’ lives.
Director of Accounting
Senior Vice President of Technical Operations
Christopher J. Morrison serves as Senior Vice President of Technical Operations at Myrtelle, where he oversees all internal and external vector manufacturing, process development, supply chain, analytical development and quality control activities. He joined the company in 2021, bringing more than 15 years of pharmaceutical industry and academic bioprocessing experience. Most recently Chris was Vice President of Technology Development at Adverum Biotechnologies where he oversaw all process development and MS&T activities from research to late-stage clinical manufacturing. Prior to Adverum, Chris has held various CMC related positions of increasing responsibility in a number of viral gene therapy startups, including ApicBio, Gemini Therapeutics, Voyager Therapeutics and Dimension Therapeutics (now part of Ultragenyx). Having worked on over 20 different rAAV therapeutic projects to date, Chris has led the development and implementation of both early and late-stage manufacturing processes for numerous products of assorted serotype and genomic construct produced by Sf9-Baculovirus, HeLa-Adenovirus or HEK293 transient transfection-based production systems. Chris began his industrial career at Pfizer, working on the downstream purification processes for various CHO based therapeutics. He holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a Ph.D. in Chemical and Biological Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Chris’ drive coming to work every day is to help establish and drive the maturity of the viral gene therapeutics field by setting a high bar of CMC excellence, ultimately leading to more cutting-edge therapies being reliably delivered to waiting patients in a safe and effective manner.
Office Manager/Executive Assistant
Cassandra Santiago is Myrtelle’s Office Manager/Executive Assistant, overseeing office operations and staff support for Massachusetts and remote employees. Hired in fall 2021, she brings more than 15 years of administrative and facilities management experience to our team, with previous admin roles at diverse organizations including Arthur J. Gallagher, Society of Grownups/MassMutual, and PayPal/eBay. Cassandra enjoys motorcycle riding and country music and is passionate about creating and maintaining a workplace that fosters teamwork, collaboration, and innovation.