Mr. Mark Tornetta is Vice President of Biologics Discovery at Tavotek Biotherapeutics. He has over 29 years of discovery biopharmaceutical experience, 23 years in antibody engineering and 6 years in target discovery working on orphan GPCRs. His biopharma activities involved targets in cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, immune, oncological, and infectious diseases.
His antibody engineering career started at SmithKline Beecham/GSK. After implementing the pCombIII system from Scripps Research Institute, he made his first contribution to phage display by developing a new selection technique called “epitope blocked panning”. This was essential for the discovery of a neutralizing anti-RSV antibody. He moved on to the exploration of de-orphanizing GPCRs where he played a key role in discovering the ligand and future MOAs for the C3aR. During this time, he gained experience as a scientist and project management skills by driving small molecule candidate evaluation from high throughput in vitro cellular assays through to ex vivo modeling assays. He then returned to antibody engineering at Centocor/Janssen Pharmaceuticals of Johnson & Johnson (J&J). He was a key contributor in implementing two phage display platforms. The first was the Morphosys HuCAL system where he performed therapeutic based experiments and developed new selection strategies that routinely generated candidates with sub-nM binding affinities. He also managed Morphosys AG to generate candidates for Centocor research teams and delivered on every target. The second technology was the Fab-pIX display system. He proved that a Fab protein can be displayed on phage by pIX fusion. This enabled the construction of a large Fab library. Over 6 years, he and a team of 5 scientists produced 8000 antibodies to more than 200 targets. His creativity in panning techniques led to the discovery of an antibody currently in Phase II development at GSK. He has expertise in cell surface panning which produced many antibodies to such targets like GPCRs. He also developed complimentary methods such as high throughput panning, micro-scale bacterial expression-purification, and high throughput ranking kinetics.
Mr. Tornetta received his Bachelor of Science in biology from Widener University and a Master of Science degree in Biotechnology at Drexel University. He is an inventor on 19 patents, an author on 16 manuscripts and chaired as well as presented at multiple scientific conferences. He has received numerous awards and most notably 5 Leadership Innovation awards while at J&J.