Acepodia Appoints Thorsten Graef, M.D., Ph.D., as Chief Medical Officer and Michael Brock as Chief Strategy Officer

Key executive hires strengthen Acepodia’s expanding leadership team and position the company for upcoming growth catalysts

SAN MATEO, Calif., May 11, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Acepodia, a biotechnology company developing next generation solid tumor and hematologic cancer cell therapies, today announced the appointments of Thorsten Graef, M.D., Ph.D., as chief medical officer and Michael Brock as chief strategy officer. These key executive hires add to Acepodia’s growing management team, which comprises a deep bench of leading industry experts. Both Dr. Graef and Mr. Brock will be based at the company’s headquarters in San Mateo, California.

“These experienced and accomplished industry executives add to the strategic expansion of our world class leadership team and will play pivotal roles in the company’s development as we continue to pioneer next generation natural killer cell therapies,” said Sonny Hsiao, Ph.D., co-founder and chief executive officer of Acepodia. “Dr. Graef’s strong expertise in clinical drug development and knowledge of global regulatory environments will be invaluable as we advance our pipeline of novel antibody cell conjugation investigational therapies, and Mr. Brock’s decades of experience guiding public and private biopharmaceutical companies, financially and operationally, will be an asset to the company as we develop, focus, and execute on overall strategy.”

“As Acepodia progresses toward corporate and clinical development milestones this year, we are committed to building a strong infrastructure of top people and key capabilities on which we will continue to grow the business,” said Patrick Yang, Ph.D., co-founder and executive chairman of Acepodia.

Thorsten Graef, Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Graef brings to Acepodia more than a decade of experience as a global drug development leader across top-tier public life sciences companies building and overseeing broad clinical development organizations, global multidisciplinary groups and cross-functional teams. Most recently, Dr. Graef served as vice president of Oncology Early Development at AbbVie, Inc., overseeing clinical activities, including the development and regulatory preparations of 20+ clinical assets. In addition, he held a series of senior leadership roles at Pharmacyclics LLC prior to AbbVie, Inc.’s acquisition of the company in May of 2015, and also served as medical director of Merck Research Lab, Oncology at Merck & Co., Inc. Prior to his time in the life sciences industry, Dr. Graef was an attending physician in the hematology, oncology and immunology department at the University Hospital of Düsseldorf in Germany. He received his M.D. in internal medicine and his Ph.D. in molecular medicines from Heinrich-Heine University Medical School in Düsseldorf and completed his postdoctoral research fellowship at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Graef has published more than 50 original peer-reviewed publications, including in top journals such as NEJM, Lancet, Blood, PNAS and Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Michael Brock, Chief Strategy Officer

Mr. Brock brings to Acepodia more than 20 years of strategic healthcare investment banking experience and leadership, including expertise in industry capital raising, M&A, business development, and strategic analysis. For the past decade, Mr. Brock was a managing director in Wells Fargo Securities’ Healthcare Investment Banking group, where he was responsible for the coverage of public and private biopharmaceutical companies. Prior to that, he was a director in Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Healthcare Investment Banking group, and he held a series of roles of increasing responsibility and leadership within the department, which followed his time as an associate in Healthcare Investment Banking at SG Cowen Securities Corporation. Mr. Brock received his Bachelors of Science degree from Clemson University and his Masters of Business Administration degree from the Mason School of Business at the College of William & Mary.

Acepodia previously announced the appointment of Jimmy Lai as chief financial officer. Anita Kawatra recently joined the company as an advisor on corporate affairs.

These four individuals join the company’s strong and experienced management team, including Mark Gilbert, M.D., executive vice president of Research & Development, Joe McCracken, D.V.M., senior vice president of Business Development, Bill Mackin, Ph.D., vice president of Regulatory Affairs and Michael Kurman, M.D., vice president of Clinical Operations.

About Acepodia

Acepodia is a privately held biotechnology company focused on eradicating cancers with potent and targeted first-in-class cell therapies. The company’s next generation allogeneic, off-the-shelf natural killer (NK) cell therapies are based on a proprietary NK cell line (oNK) and NK-like gamma delta T cells that have been selected for their potent anti-tumor activity. Acepodia’s flexible drug development platform is designed to supercharge immune effector cells’ tumor affinity through its unique Antibody-Cell Conjugation (ACC) technology that links tumor-targeting antibodies to the surface proteins of immune effector cells. Its lead product candidate, ACE1702, is the first antibody-conjugated NK cell therapy in clinical development for the treatment of HER2-expressing solid tumors. For more information, visit

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