Dr. Wataru Akahata, Ph.D., Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer
Prior to founding VLP Therapeutics, Dr. Akahata was a senior researcher at the Vaccine Research Center, National Institutes of Health (NIH). While working at NIH, he gained over 10 years of experience in vaccine development
against emerging infectious disease such as HIV, influenza and alphaviruses. Most notably, Dr. Akahata invented the ckikungunya virus (CHIKV) virus like particle vaccine, which is now under the Phase I trial at NIH. Dr. Akahata was also engaged in the collaboration research with organizations such as the U.S. Army, WHO and other universities involved in the emerging infectious diseases. Dr. Akahata’s research efforts led to a number of patents and CRADA agreement with a major pharmaceutical company and he also received NIH Director’s Award for his work in the development of alphavirus vaccines.
After leaving NIH, Dr. Akahata founded VLP Therapeutics, LLC to focus on developing new generation of vaccines to treat the diseases that lack effective treatments. Dr. Akahata received Ph.D. in Human and Environmental Studies from Graduate School, Kyoto University.
Jacob Licht, COO
Jacob joined the Company in 2017 and oversees business development, fundraising and day-to-day Company operations at VLP Therapeutics. He is a seasoned business development and strategy executive with nearly 20 years of industry experience.
Prior to Emergent, Jacob served in a business development role at GenVec, a gene therapy company; at Monsanto Corporation where he focused on corporate strategy and business development in the pharmaceutical and agricultural biotechnology businesses; and at a boutique contract research organization focused on CNS drug development. Jacob holds a BA from the University of Chicago and an MBA from the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis.
George Moonsammy, MA, PhD., Director, Clinical & Regulatory Affairs
Prior to joining VLP Therapeutics as Director of Clinical and Regulatory Affairs, Dr. Moonsammy spent over 20 years at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) as a biological research scientist in R&D and subsequently in clinical affairs
in the anti-infective and vaccine division. He participated in the US development and launch of several vaccines including ENGERIX-B (hepatitis-B), HAVRIX (hepatitis-A) and LYMERIX (Lyme’s disease). The launch of these vaccines was the initiation of the GSK vaccine business in the US.
As Director of Clinical and Regulatory Affairs at Fraunhofer, Center for Molecular Biotechnology, he oversaw the clinical and regulatory development of plant-derived HINI and H5N1 influenza vaccines and a transmission blocking VLP malaria vaccine and an anthrax vaccine.
Overall, he has participated in the reviewing and writing of several INDs (4), NDAs and BLAs (12) to both FDA and MHRA (UK). He is particularly adept in partnering with outside vendors such as clinical research organizations.
He currently serves on the mentoring committees for both TEDCO and Maryland Tech Council (MTC) and on the speaker’s committee for the annual MTC Biotech conference.
Dr. Moonsammy received graduate degrees at Washington University School of Medicine and The Union University and attended the Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania Graduate Management Program.