In physics, torque is the force that lets a simple flywheel move a 1000 ton freight train.
At TORQUE we are leveraging the full potential of the immune system to fight cancer by engineering precise control of dose, timing, and location of immune agonists.
Immune cell activation has been the goal of several therapeutics that have entered clinical development. Most approaches have been flawed and have ignored nature: immune cells are instructed by transient exposure to cytokines and cell-cell interactions in their microenvironments. Yet most therapies do not target microenvironment and give continuous, systemic exposure. The result is toxicity and minimal benefit to the patient.
TORQUE has engineered new ways to control immune cells by optimizing dose, timing, and location of immune agonists in the microenvironment. Our technologies achieve this in two different ways using either:
(i) targeted immune agonists that are administered systemically and target tumor tissue and draining lymph nodes
(ii) immune agonists that are delivered to the tumor and lymph nodes as cargo on the cell surface of Adoptive Cell Therapies (ACT).
We have shown pre-clinically that both approaches can successfully eradicate tumors. The choice of modality will be made based on the ability of the patient’s immune system. When the patient’s immune cells can recognize the tumor, TORQUE’s systemically administered immune agonists may be sufficient to kick start a full response. In patients where this is not the case – for instance if the tumor is not recognized – targeted ACT with cell attached immune agonists may successfully promote a full response.
Ulrik is a co-founder and CEO of Torque. He was previously a founder of Merrimack (NASDAQ:MACK) where he served as the Chief Scientific Officer until 2015 and remains on the board of directors. At Merrimack, Ulrik was responsible for R&D and the early phases of clinical development. He also served as Chief Executive Officer of Silver Creek Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a majority-owned subsidiary of Merrimack, from July 2010 to March 2014. Ulrik holds a PhD in molecular biology from the University of Copenhagen and did research at UCSF and MIT.
Bart Henderson, MBA
Bart is a co-founder and President of Torque. He was previously President and Founder of Rhythm and its subsidiary, Motus (acquired by Allergan), with responsibility for business development, finance, marketing, and manufacturing operations. Prior to that, he was Entrepreneur-in-Residence at MPM Capital , Chief Business Officer of Radius where he was a founding employee, head of sales and marketing at Vertex, head of business development at Microbia (now Ironwood Pharmaceuticals Inc.), and also held marketing management positions at Amgen and Merck. He received an MBA from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and a BA from Amherst College.
Thomas Lars Andresen, PhD
Thomas is a co-founder and leads discovery at Torque. Since 2007 he has been a Professor and group leader of the Colloids and Biological Interfaces group at DTU Nanotech, and was head of the DTU Center for Nanomedicine and Theranostics. Thomas is an expert in biomaterial engineering and drug delivery. Thomas founded NANOVI in 2011 and was formerly Head of R&D at LiPlasome Pharma. Thomas has a strong experience in the fields of organic chemistry, biophysics, nanotechnology and nanomedicine, drug delivery and cancer biology, and holds a track record of more than 100 research or review articles and multiple patent applications.
Keith W. Marshall, PhD, MBA
Keith leads finance at Torque. Keith spent 15 years in investment banking primarily focused on strategic, financial, and cross-border advisory work for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. He began his banking career at JPMorgan H&Q after working in biotechnology at Immulogic Pharmaceuticals. Keith holds a PhD in pharmaceutical chemistry from UCSF and MBA from University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Doug Cole, MD, has served as a member of our board of directors since August 2015. He has been a general partner of Flagship Ventures, where he has focused on life science investments, since 2001. At Flagship, Dr. Cole has led investments in Agios Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:AGIO), Alvine Pharmaceuticals, Avedro, CombinatoRx (NASDAQ:ZLCS), Concert Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:CNCE), Editas (NASDAQ:EDIT), Quanterix , Receptos (NASDAQ:RCPT), Seventh Sense Biosystems, and Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:TTPH). He co-founded Flagship portfolio companies Ensemble Therapeutics, Permeon Biologics, Moderna Therapeutics, and Syros Pharmaceuticals. He currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Agios, Denali, Editas, Ensemble, KSQ, and Quanterix and formerly served on the Board of Directors of Avedro, AVEO Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AVEO), CombinatoRx, Concert, CGI, Moderna, Morphotek, Permeon, Receptos, Resolvyx, Selecta, Seventh Sense, Syros, and Tetraphase. Dr. Cole holds a B.A. in English from Dartmouth College and an MD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
John M. Dineen
John M. Dineen has served as a member of our board of directors since January 2016. John is an Operating Advisor to Clayton, Dublier & Rice, LLC, a private equity firm based in New York. John serves as the Chairman of Healogics Corp and on the Board of Merrimack (NASDAQ:MACK). From 1986 to 2015, Mr. Dineen served in a variety of leadership roles in the US, Europe and Asia with the GE Company. During his tenure at GE he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of GE Healthcare, Chief Executive Officer of GE Transportation, President of GE Plastics, General Manager of GE’s Power Equipment business and General Manager of GE Appliance’s, Microwave and Air-Conditioning businesses. John holds BS degrees in Biology and Computer Science from the University of Vermont.
Doug Lauffenburger, PhD
Doug Lauffenburger, PhD, has served as a member of our board of directors since January 2016. Doug is the head of the Department of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a pioneer in applying engineering principles to biological research. His expertise spans multiple disciplines including chemical engineering, bioengineering, biotechnology process engineering, biophysics, quantitative cell and structural biology, systems biology, and applied mathematics. He has filed numerous patents, authored a key textbook on receptor biology, and published more than 200 peer-reviewed articles. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and has served on numerous bio/pharma industry scientific advisory boards including for Pfizer, Astra-Zeneca, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, and Merrimack. Doug received his BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois and his PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota
Vikas Sinha has served as a Non-Executive Director on our board of directors since March 2017. From 2005 to 2016, Mr. Sinha has served as the Chief Financial Officer of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biotechnology company. Prior to joining Alexion, Mr. Sinha held various positions with Bayer AG in the United States, Japan, Germany, and Canada, including Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Bayer Pharmaceuticals Corporation, USA, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Bayer Yakuhin Ltd., in Japan, and Manager, Mergers and Acquisitions with Bayer AG in Germany. He also was a member of the Pharmaceutical Management Committee for North America. Mr. Sinha holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Asian Institute of Management. He is also a qualified Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and a Certified Public Accountant in the United States.
Bart Henderson, MBA
Bart Henderson, MBA, is a co-founder and President of Torque and has served as a member of our board of directors since July 2017. He was previously President and Founder of Rhythm and its subsidiary, Motus (acquired by Allergan), with responsibility for business development, finance, marketing, and manufacturing operations. Prior to that, he was Entrepreneur-in-Residence at MPM Capital , Chief Business Officer of Radius where he was a founding employee, head of sales and marketing at Vertex, head of business development at Microbia (now Ironwood Pharmaceuticals Inc.), and also held marketing management positions at Amgen and Merck. He received an MBA from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and a BA from Amherst College.
Ulrik B. Nielsen, PhD
Ulrik Nielsen, PhD, is a co-founder and CEO of Torque and has served as a member of our board of directors since August 2015. He was previously a founder of Merrimack (NASDAQ:MACK) where he served as the Chief Scientific Officer until 2015 and remains on the board of directors. At Merrimack, Ulrik was responsible for R&D and the early phases of clinical development. He also served as Chief Executive Officer of Silver Creek Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a majority-owned subsidiary of Merrimack, from July 2010 to March 2014. Ulrik holds a PhD in molecular biology from the University of Copenhagen and did research at UCSF and MIT.
Darrell Irvine, PhD, is a co-founder of Torque and Chairman of our SAB. Darrell is a Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He also serves on the steering committee of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard. His research is focused on the application of engineering tools to problems in cellular immunology and the development of new materials for vaccine and drug delivery. Current efforts are focused on problems related to vaccine development for HIV and immunotherapy of cancer. This terdisciplinary work has been recognized in numerous awards, including a Beckman Young Investigator award, an NSF CAREER award, selection for Technology Review’s ‘TR35’, election as a Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. He is the author of over 70 publications, reviews, and book chapters and an inventor on numerous patents. Darrell holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Physics from University of Pittsburgh and a PhD from MIT in Polymer Science.
Ulrik B. Nielsen, PhD
Ulrik Nielsen, PhD, is a co-founder and CEO of Torque. He was previously a founder of Merrimack (NASDAQ:MACK) where he served as the Chief Scientific Officer until 2015 and remains on the board of directors. At Merrimack, Ulrik was responsible for R&D and the early phases of clinical development. He also served as Chief Executive Officer of Silver Creek Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a majority-owned subsidiary of Merrimack, from July 2010 to March 2014. Ulrik holds a PhD in molecular biology from the University of Copenhagen and did research at UCSF and MIT.
Catherine M. Bollard, MD, MBChB
Catherine M. Bollard, MD, MBChB, is Professor of Pediatrics and Immunology at The George Washington University and the Chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Children’s National, Washington DC. She is a distinguished hematologist and immunotherapist, a member of the Division of the Blood and Marrow Transplantation, and the Principal Investigator and Co-Director of the Immunology Initiative of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Health System. Prior to Children’s National, she was at the Baylor College of Medicine, where she was a tenured Professor in the Department of Pediatrics. Prior to that, she served as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Texas Children’s Hospital. Dr. Bollard received her medical degree from Otago University Medical School in New Zealand.
Malcolm Brenner, MD, PhD
Malcolm Brenner, MD, PhD, is Founding Director of the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), Texas Children’s Hospital and The Methodist Hospital. He is a Distinguished Service professor, in the Departments of Pediatrics and of Medicine at BCM. Malcolm’s clinical research interests span many aspects of stem cell transplantation, using genetic manipulation of cultured cells to obtain therapeutic effects. Efforts in Malcolm’s laboratory to analyze the cell of origin when relapse occurs in patients with acute myelogenous leukemia led Malcolm’s team to be the first to label autologous bone marrow cells genetically after purging, prior to being reintroduced to the patient. His group recently pioneered the first clinical use of a new safety switch for cellular therapy. He has won many awards for his work and in 2011 these including the ASGCT Outstanding Achievement Award and the American Society of Hematology Mentor Award. Malcolm received his medical degree and subsequent PhD from Cambridge University, England.
Dane Wittrup, PhD
Dane Wittrup, PhD, is the C.P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering and Biological Engineering at MIT and Associate Director of MIT’s Koch Institute. In 2012, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. He was also elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011. Dane is co-founder and acting Chief Scientific Officer at Adimab and is a fellow of the American Institute of Biomedical Engineers. He has also served as the J. W. Westwater Professor of Chemical Engineering, Biophysics, and Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He previously worked as a postdoctoral research associate in Amgen’s Yeast Molecular Biology Group. Dane holds a PhD and MS in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology and a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of New Mexico.
Cassian Yee, MD
Cassian Yee, MD, is Clinical Oncologist and Professor in the Departments of Melanoma Medical Oncology and Immunology, Director of Solid Tumor Cell Therapy, and Co-Director of the Adoptive Cellular Therapy Platform at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Yee’s research over the last 20 years has been focused on developing immune-based therapies for the treatment of patients with cancer. His specialty, in the area of adoptive cellular therapy, involves the isolation of rare tumor antigen-specific T cells from the peripheral blood, manipulation of immune modulating factors to enhance their effector function and in vivo persistence, and expansion to numbers sufficient for adoptive transfer. He is an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigators, recipient of Clinical Translational Scientist Award from Burroughs Wellcome Fund, CPRIT Clinical Investigator award, and co-Leader of the Stand Up to Cancer—American Association for Cancer Research / Cancer Research Institute Immunotherapy Dream Team. Dr. Yee completed his medical degree in Canada followed by an internal medicine residency at Stanford before going on to an oncology fellowship at the University of Washington. He ascended to the position of Professor at the University of Washington and Full Member at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Peter Zandstra, PhD
Peter Zandstra, PhD, is a Professor at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering and at the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research. Peter is also a Professor at the University of British Colombia (UBC) in the Departments of Medical Genetics and Chemical Engineering and Biological Engineering. He graduated with a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering degree from McGill University, obtained his PhD from UBC in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, and continued his research training as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Research in the Zandstra Laboratory is focused on the generation of functional cells and tissues from adult and pluripotent stem cells. Peter is the Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Bioengineering and is a recipient of a number of awards, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and the Till and McCulloch Award. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Royal Society of Canada (Science). In addition to his academic roles, Peter is the Chief Scientific Officer at the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM) and Chief Technology Officer at ExCellThera, a clinical-stage company focusing on the development of stem cell-based therapies for leukemia and other blood diseases.
TORQUE believes that working in multidisciplinary teams is essential to innovation.
We have diverse backgrounds in immunology, protein engineering, nanoparticle engineering, computational biology, drug development and medicine (to name a few). We are always looking for talented individuals with entrepreneurial spirits.
If you think you can help, please explain how in an email to: