True product innovation is a team-driven process that combines sound science with extensive, practical industry knowledge. To make a real difference in the marketplace requires more than an effective product line; it requires a management team with practical, on-farm experience and the understanding of how the products provide real value to customers. That’s the Aptimmune Difference.
Aptimmune is led by highly experienced management professionals with combined expertise in animal health sales and marketing, immunology, vaccine manufacturing, regulatory compliance, and swine production.
Heather Bessoff, DVM, Chief Executive Officer.
Heather Bessoff, DVM, is CEO of Aptimmune Biologics, Inc. Prior to joining Aptimmune, Dr. Bessoff worked as a senior leader with biotech start-up companies, introducing new technologies into animal health and agriculture to reach their full market potential. Bessoff also held leadership roles with Pfizer, Inc. and Pfizer Animal Health in R&D, Strategy and Operations and with Elanco as Director of Emerging Businesses. She started her professional career in livestock practice and herd management consulting. She earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Connecticut College of Agriculture and Natural Resources with an Animal Science/Pre-Vet Major.
Dr. Federico A. Zuckermann, MVZ, PhD, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer
For over three decades, Dr. Zuckermann has investigated the immune response of swine to major porcine viruses including PRRS virus. He is the inventor of seven patents and has authored over 80 scientific publications. In 2010, Dr. Zuckermann founded Aptimmune Biologics, Inc. to commercialize vaccine technologies he developed at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, namely a novel porcine macrophage cell line termed ZMAC, and a naturally non-virulent strain of PRRS virus. He is past-President of the American Association of Veterinary Immunologists; received numerous research awards; and over $3,000,000 in federal and private research funding. He has consulted or performed research for companies including: Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer, Bayer Animal Health, Abbott Nutrition and United Animal Health. Dr. Zuckermann earned a DVM equivalent degree with honors from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and a PhD in Immunology from the University of Texas Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt University. He joined UIUC in 1989, where he holds the position of Professor of Immunology.
Andy Smythe, Technical Sales and Marketing Director
Andy brings over 30 years of proven experience in the Pork Business to the Aptimmune Biologics Team. Beginning his career with Carroll’s Foods of Virginia, then holding positions in Key Account Sales, Production and Human Resource Management for PIC USA, then followed by leading Coastal Plains Pork as their CEO. The last ten years Andy has focused his skills in the Swine Health space with Novartis, Elanco and now Aptimmune Biologics. He is a graduate of West Virginia University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science and holds a Business Management Certification from Belmont University.
Gabriela Calzada, Senior Research Scientist
Dr. Calzada has over 20 years of continuing experience in research. She received her DMV and M.Sc. degrees in Mexico before moving to the U.S. to complete a Ph.D. in Pathobiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In here, she gained extensive experience on animal trial design and monitoring, as well as in immunology against major swine diseases such as PRRSv. Dr. Calzada is the inventor of a patent and has been awarded for federal research funding. She began her career in vaccine development at Biotell, a CMO of animal health products in Mexico, where she was responsible of viral vaccine production for small animals. At Aptimmune, Dr. Calzada leads research and vaccine development of novel mucosal vaccines. She works closely with international consultants, Contract Research Organizations and Contract Manufacturing Organizations to ensure all aspects of vaccine manufacturing occur in compliance with protocols and regulations.
Board of Directors
The Aptimmune board of directors consists of 7 members which includes Federico Zuckermann and Heather Bessoff (President), with the addition of highly regarded scientists and business leaders.
Robert Nordgren, PhD, Chairman of the Board
Dr. Nordgren has played a significant role in research and development for numerous prestigious animal health companies resulting in the registration of more than 80 products over the past 32 years. He received his master of science in veterinary parasitology and his doctorate in veterinary immunology from Texas A&M University, which led him to his career in product research and development (R&D).
Working with pharmaceutical powerhouses such as Merial and Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmetica, Inc., he was responsible for developing and implementing processes for vaccine innovation and expansion to domestic and global markets. He also served as a principal member of numerous veterinary education committees including the USDA and DHS advisory boards for veterinary public health needs.
Rick Ryan, PhD, MBA
Rick is a General Partner at Cultivation Capital Life Sciences, a venture firm that focuses on late seed/Series A investments in life science companies. Rick’s career spans forty years in the life science industry, with roles ranging from R&D to general management.
He has held executive leadership positions in multinational corporations (Monsanto, Millipore) as well as early stage ventures (Embrex, LINCO Research, Apertus Pharma). While at Monsanto he was part of the team developing new animal drugs from biotechnology. Currently, Rick is also Co-Founder/CEO of Apertus Pharma, a manufacturer of generic API and finished dosage forms.
Rick received a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Central College, Pella, IA. He has a PhD in biochemistry from the U of Illinois and an Executive MBA from Washington University St. Louis.
Brian J. Kinman
Brian is a retired Partner with the Accounting Firm, PwC. During his 38 years in public accounting he served various national and global leadership roles in the firm where he created and ran practices focused on the identification and management of enterprise risk for Firm clients. During his last two years with the Firm he led the Midwest Region’s Consulting Practice where he was responsible for all IT implementation engagements provided to clients of PwC.
Since retiring from PwC Brian has become a full time investor. He was asked to assume the role of Chairman and CEO of the St Louis Arch Angels, a member- based Angel Investing Network.
Brian is a graduate of St. Louis University and member of SLU’s graduate school faculty.
Peter Reinecke is the founder and managing director of Arsenal Capital Management, LLC (ACM), which began operations in February 2013. Prior to starting ACM, he was a member of a private investment company focused on early stage growth companies. In his capacity as Managing Director of ACM he is a board member of Bonfyre, Inc., Juristat, Deck Commerce, Harbor MedTech, PowerPost, WellOpp, Kypha, Synek, Common Place Holdings, and TransMed Systems. Mr. Reinecke is also the founder and senior partner of a multi-family office based in St. Louis, MO.
From 1995 until 2012 he was a registered principal with LPL Financial. Mr. Reinecke held professional positions with Coopers & Lybrand and Price Waterhouse beginning in 1983 and 1988 respectively. He was awarded his CPA certification in 1982 and his CFP in 1994. Mr. Reinecke graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a BS in Business Administration with an Accounting emphasis in 1979.
G S Ramesh
G S Ramesh is the Animal Nutrition and Health Group President for Kemin Industries Worldwide. He assumed his current role in 2017, and has been with Kemin for more than 15 years.
Ramesh has 32 years of experience in the human food, animal feed and food production industries. He served as president of Kemin Animal Nutrition and Health for India and Asia from 2002 to 2016. Prior to joining Kemin, Ramesh worked in the food industry in various positions, gaining knowledge and experience in operations, purchasing, research and development (R&D), marketing and management.
He began his career in operations at Kissan Products, a fruit and vegetable products processor in India that is a division of United Breweries. He then joined Hindustan Unilever, working in operations and R&D across several product categories. After working at Hindustan Unilever for eight years, Ramesh became part of the startup team of The Pillsbury Co. in India. He headed the R&D function for The Pillsbury Co. for over four years. During this time, he established an R&D center and team, rolled out the innovation funnel process and contributed to designing and building The Pillsbury Co.’s first flour mill in India.
Just before joining Kemin, Ramesh served as vice president of technical for Ballarpur Industries, which supplies processed food to major supermarket chains around the world.
Ramesh earned a post-graduate degree in food technology from GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, India.