Universal Cells is a Seattle-based company that is producing engineered stem cell lines that can avoid rejection and be used in allogeneic cell therapy treatments for the people who need them. One Cell, Many Therapies.
President, Chief Intelligence and Liaison Officer
Noboru Yamaji is the President and Chief Intelligence and Liaison Officer of Universal Cells. He has more than 30 years of industrial experience with Astellas, where he has been involved in research activities for biologics and corporate-wide strategy making for antibody and regenerative medicine/cell therapy and its implementation as Head of the corresponding research departments. He has experience in working at bio venture companies, Genetics Institute in Cambridge, MA as a visiting scientist from 1991 t0 1993 and Agensys in Santa Monica, CA as Director, Target Discovery for monoclonal antibodies in the oncology field from 2008 to 2012.
Dr. Yamaji received a Masters degree and Ph.D from the University of Tokyo. He once served as vice chairperson of the Steering Committee of the Forum for Innovative Regenerative Medicine (FIRM), an industrial association for regenerative medicine in Japan.
Associate Director, NK Cell Biology and Pharmacology
Tamar Boursalian joined Universal Cells in 2019, bringing with her over a decade of experience in drug discovery specializing in the areas of immunology, oncology, type 1 diabetes, and other autoimmune and inflammatory indications. Prior to joining Universal Cells, she spent 7 years at Seagen, followed by 7 years at Novo Nordisk, contributing to monoclonal antibody, combination therapy and antibody drug conjugate discovery, as well as translational research and clinical program support.
Tamar grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and moved to Seattle in 1998 to do a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Washington. She received a BS degree in biochemistry from University of California, Berkeley, and a PhD in Immunobiology from Yale University.
Executive Director, Clinical Gene Editing & Strategy
Kim Clary is the Executive Director, Clinical Gene Editing & Strategy at Universal Cells. She has broad knowledge and expertise in many diverse areas including Gene and Cell Therapy, Intellectual Property, Contracts, Alliance Management, Program Management, Product Development, Facilities Operations, and Materials Management.
Dr. Clary received her Doctorate from Southern Illinois University in Microbiology and Immunology and has over 25 years of experience. Prior to working at Universal Cells, she spent 5 years as Vice President of Alliance Management at the Infectious Disease Research Institute in Seattle, and 20 years as Associate Director of Intellectual Property at Targeted Genetics.
Director of Research
Ryan received a Ph.D in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. There his research focused on using gene editing and in vitro models to understand the impact of common cancer associated mutations on tumor cell biology. Following this, he joined Universal Cells and has taken on positions of increasing responsibility within the research group. He currently oversees projects related to further development of gene-edited Universal Donor Cells and the development of various therapeutic cell types.
Director, Cell Editing and Process Development
Rebecca JohnsonDirector of Operations & Facility Engineering
Becky joined Universal Cells in 2022, bringing over 20 years of experience working in several different life science venues, including the University of Washington, a life-science dotcom, start-up biotechnology ventures, and as the Director of Facilities and Operations for the Institute for Systems Biology. Becky has lived in the Seattle area since 1998, transitioning from the bench to the business of science early on in her career while at Leroy Hood's High Throughput Sequencing Center at the University of Washington.
Becky is a native Minnesotan, where she earned her Bachelor's Degree studying Biology and Classical Languages from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota and later, her Commercial Real Estate Certificate from the University of Washington.
Associate Director, Human Resources
George Padilla joined Universal Cells in 2019, bringing his people and culture expertise to a fast-paced, growth focused, cell therapy biotech firm. George leads the HR and Talent Management function at Universal Cells and supports Astellas Pharma West Coast affiliate locations as a regional Sr. HR Business Partner.
George is a well-rounded HR Leader with 20+ years of broad based HR experience. He specializes in Talent Management and Recruiting, Employee Relations and is an overall Employee Experience Champion. As a graduate of California State University, Los Angeles, he started his career as a Regional HR Manager in the hospitality industry, later transitioning to the medical device industry as Director of Human Resources for St. Jude Medical (Abbott Labs).
Lisa PetekDirector, Core Technologies
Lisa joined Universal Cells in 2016, bringing over 14 years of experience working in research labs at the University of Washington in the departments of Medical Genetics and Pediatrics. Her work at the University of Washington was focused on the development of recombinant AAV as a tool for in vitro gene editing, as well the generation of pluripotent stem cell based disease models. Since joining Universal Cells Lisa has built a department which encompasses rAAV production and the development of molecular and cell based assays used to characterize gene edited PSC lines.
Lisa grew up in eastern Washington and earned a B.S. in biochemistry at Washington State University.
Executive Director, Head of Research & Development
Mary Prieve joined Universal Cells in 2022, bringing nearly two decades of experience in the development of cellular and nucleic acid therapeutics to treat indications in oncology, infectious disease, and metabolic disorders. She has built and led teams with diverse sets of backgrounds including hematopoietic stem cell expansion and differentiation, genetic engineering, mRNA and siRNA formulation and delivery, and animal pharmacology.
Prior to Universal Cells, Dr. Prieve spent 3 years at Deverra Therapeutics where she led the preclinical research team to develop an NK cell product and file two INDs to treat patients with COVID-19 and AML. She grew up in California and moved to Seattle in 1999 to do a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Washington. She received a BS degree in chemistry from University of California, Santa Barbara and a PhD in biological sciences from University of California, Irvine.
Universal Cells was established to commercialize gene-editing, stem cell engineering and immune rejection technologies for the treatment of human diseases.
The technologies were developed by Dr. David Russell, Founder of Universal Cells and a Professor Emeritus of Medicine at the University of Washington. He received his BS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an MD from Cornell University, and a PhD from Rockefeller University.
Dr. Russell has made major contributions in the fields of gene therapy, viral vectors, vector integration, gene editing, insertional mutagenesis, and the genetic manipulation of human stem cells. He published the original report of AAV-mediated gene editing in 1998, which was the first example of gene editing in normal human cells, for which he received a Presidential Early Career Award from the White House. Dr. Russell has been recognized for his contributions by election to the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians, and he served as President of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy. Over the last decade, he has focused on the creation of gene-edited universal donor stem cells that escape allogeneic rejection. He founded Universal Cells to develop and commercialize universal donor stem cells for the treatment of human diseases.
Astellas - Our Parent Company
Astellas Pharma Inc purchased Universal Cells in February 2018 and we are now a wholly owned subsidiary. Astellas is committed to bringing value to their patients by becoming a leader in Cell Therapy, with a particular emphasis on allogeneic, pluripotent stem cell-derived products. Our relationship with Astellas provides us with unparalleled support for our programs, allowing us to focus entirely on the development of safe and effective cell therapy products.Visit Astellas