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, PhD, Chief Executive Officer.

Prior to being named Aptimmune CEO, Dr. Bessoff worked with a number of biotech start-up companies and investors with new technologies in animal health and agriculture to reach their full market potential including serving as the Chief Business Development and Commercial Officer at EpiBiome, a precision microbiome engineering company, where she oversaw all business relationships and commercial activities. Bessoff also held roles with Elanco as Director, Emerging Businesses, and with Pfizer as both Business Director for Pfizer Animal Genetics and Director of Strategic Marketing, New Products Marketing. She earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and Bachelor of Science from the University of Connecticut College of Agriculture and Natural Resources with an Animal Science/Pre-Vet Major.


Federico Zuckermann, PhD, Founder and Chief Science Officer.

Dr. Zuckermann is professor of immunology at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois and has 25 years of experience and research of the pig’s immune system, including 12 years of PRRS research. He is author of 21 publications and articles on the immune response of swine to PRRS virus.



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.


Perry Harms, DVM, Technical Consultant.

Dr. Harms brings 25 years of veterinary medicine experience in swine health and production to his work with Aptimmune. Currently, he is providing consultation to pork producers and allied industries through his consulting business, Pharms Resources, LLC. Most recently, Dr. Harms was with Smithfield Foods as the General Manager of Smithfield Premium Genetics and as a senior veterinarian coordinating veterinary services for approximately 600,000 sows worth of commercial production. Additional prior roles include a partner at Carthage Veterinary Services and diagnostician at the veterinary diagnostic laboratories at Iowa State and Texas A&M Universities. He earned his bachelor’s degree, doctorate in veterinary medicine, and Master of Science degrees in veterinary pathology from Iowa State.



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.


Paul Olivo, M.D., PhD

Dr. Olivo has over twenty years of experience as an executive in the biotechlogy industry.

In 2000 Dr. Olivo was named President and CSO of Apath, LLC. He was instrumental in the effort to license the company’s key hepatitis C virus patents. He also led the development of a novel technology to develop antiviral drugs. Dr. Olivo is the former Senior Medical Director of Quidel, a medical diagnostic device company. He is Managing Director of Common Place Holdings, and presently focuses on the promotion of start-up companies in the life sciences.



Robert Easter, PhD

Dr. Easter joined the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences faculty, serving as a professor, research scientist, the Head of the Animal Sciences Department and later went on to serve as Dean of the College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Services.

In 2006 President George W. Bush appointed Dr. Easter to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and in 2007 was appointed chair of BIFAD. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Animal Science and a recipient of the society’s non-ruminant research award.


Peter Reinecke
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.


Steve Wilhelm

Mr. Wilhelm has more than 40 years of experience as an executive in the finance industry, an entrepreneur, and angel investor. Currently, he is a partner at Wilhelm & Wilhelm, LLC., an accounting firm he co-founded in 1971 in St. Louis, Mo. His role in the business includes serving as an active CPA and as a tax business consultant for numerous regional businesses.

In 1997, Mr. Wilhelm co-founded and was named the CFO of Environmental Restoration, LLC. (ER), a provider of cost effective hazardous waste material management and removal services. ER is the USEPA’s largest provider of environmental emergency response services, responsible for eight EPA regions as a prime contractor and has more than 500 employees split between 25 locations.

Mr. Wilhelm is an active investor in multiple start-up companies across the country including Aptimmune in which he represents more than $2 million in funding.