Leadership

Isaac Ciechanover, M.D.

CEO & President

Dr. Isaac Ciechanover is a physician, investor and entrepreneur driven by a passion to improve the practice of medicine. Motivated by the belief that the majority of medical discoveries still lie ahead, he has dedicated the past 20 years to working with entrepreneurs and life sciences organizations to advance medicine through innovation and technology. He founded Atara Biotherapeutics in August 2012. Previously, he was a partner in the life sciences practice at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Earlier as Celgene’s Executive Director for Business Development, he spearheaded the company’s venture capital efforts and led licensing and M&A activities with an aggregate value of more than $6.7 billion. Also at Celgene, he was Global Project Leader for the company’s first clinical-stage biologic therapy. Isaac has also held business development and venture capital roles at Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Pequot Ventures’ healthcare practice and Pfizer. Intellectually curious (and undeterred by student debt), Isaac holds a B.A.  from Stanford University, an M.Phil. in Epidemiology from Cambridge University, an M.D. from Weill Cornell Medical College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. For fun, he enjoys cycling, scuba diving and building Lego with his two children. His all-time favorite albums are Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon,” Radiohead’s “OK Computer” and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Italian opera, Pagliacci, with Herbet Von Karajan conducting.

Dietmar Berger, M.D., Ph.D.

Global Head of Research and Development

Dr. Dietmar Berger joined Atara Biotherapeutics in May 2018 and serves as Global Head of Research and Development.  He is an accomplished physician-scientist and biotech research and development leader with deep experience building high-performing teams and strategic leadership of cancer immunotherapy development.

Prior to joining Atara, Dr. Berger was Senior Vice President and Global Head, Product Development, Clinical Science Hematology and Oncology at Roche/Genentech. In this role, he led medical strategy for the company’s global clinical development portfolio for cancer medicines, including global filings and approvals of Gazyva®, Cotellic®, Alecensa®, Tecentriq® and Hemlibra®. Formerly, he was Vice President of Global Clinical Development for Roche/Genentech’s HER2 breast cancer franchise, supporting the development and marketing approvals of Perjeta® and Kadcyla® across several new indications. Previously, he led oncology clinical development at Bayer and held positions of increasing responsibility at Amgen.

Dr. Berger also led research groups focusing on preclinical and clinical drug development, tumor models, angiogenesis, and immunotherapy as Head of the Clinical Research Center at the University Medical Hospital, Freiburg, Germany, and at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA. He received the Cancer Award of the German Cancer Society for his research on angiogenesis and earned his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Freiburg. Dr. Berger is board certified in Internal Medicine, Hematology and Oncology. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, as well as traveling, movies and opera.

Christopher Haqq, M.D., Ph.D.

EVP, R&D and Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Christopher Haqq is the EVP, Chief Scientific Officer, and joined Atara Biotherapeutics in September 2012. He brings 20 years of clinical, academic and drug development experience from biopharma companies large and small. He was recently Vice President for Clinical Research and Development at Cougar Biotechnology and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen, where he was the lead clinician for a pivotal prostate cancer study leading to market approval for Zytiga® (abiraterone acetate). Previously at Amgen, he led early development studies of the anti-insulin like growth factor type 1 receptor AMG 479 (ganitumab) antibody. He has served as medical monitor for more than 10 clinical trials and has contributed to drug development programs for a wide range of molecules. Chris has worked closely with the European Medicines Agency, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other global regulatory agencies–filing IND applications, new drug applications, special protocol assessments and their international equivalents. Earlier in his career, Chris practiced as a medical oncologist and led a translational science laboratory as an Assistant Adjunct Professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the University of California, San Francisco. In his post-graduate training, also at UCSF, he served as an Intern and Resident in Internal Medicine, Fellow in Medical Oncology and Fellow in Molecular Medicine. Chris completed his M.D. and Ph.D. at Harvard Medical School and his B.S. at Stanford University. He is board certified in Medical Oncology and Internal Medicine. Chris is an inventor of several patents and an author of more than 50 medical publications. In his free time, he enjoys astronomy and photography.

Joe Newell

EVP, Chief Technical Operations Officer

Joe Newell joined Atara Biotherapeutics as the EVP, Chief Technical Operations Officer in April 2017 with global responsibility for Technical Operations and Facilities.

Prior to joining Atara, he was Vice President, North America Manufacturing at Alexion Pharmaceuticals, a company dedicated to treating patients with life-threatening ultra-rare disorders. He was responsible for bulk drug substance production of Soliris® and the transgenic manufacturing operations for Kanuma®, the only FDA-approved treatment for lysosomal acid lipase deficiency (LAL-D).

Previously, Joe spent several years at Amgen where he served in a number of global leadership roles in Manufacturing and Supply Chain, including an expatriate leadership assignment in Puerto Rico, where he was part of launch efforts for Prolia®, Xgeva® and Repatha®.  Earlier in his career, he held leadership and entrepreneurial roles with Catalent Pharma Solutions, Matrix Pharmaceutical and SRI International.

Joe holds a BS in Biology from California Polytechnic University, Pomona.  Away from work, he is dedicated to his wife and three children.  For fun, he enjoys the outdoors, sports and a variety of restoration projects.

Gad Soffer

EVP and Chief Strategy Officer

Gad Soffer is the EVP, Chief Strategy Officer, and joined Atara Biotherapeutics in March 2013. Previously at Celgene, he led the global project team responsible for product development and lifecycle management for Abraxane, a breast, lung, and pancreatic cancer treatment also in development for melanoma. He also led numerous business development transactions at Celgene while advising on venture investment and strategic partnerships. Earlier, Gad was a healthcare consultant with Easton Associates. He earned an M.B.A. at Harvard Business School, an M.S. at Columbia University and an A.B.from Harvard University. In his free time, Gad enjoys geology, fly-fishing, canoeing and snowshoeing. In 2001, he was inducted in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Steve Bertram

SVP, Global HR

Steve Bertram is the SVP of Global Human Resources, and joined Atara Biotherapeutics in August 2016. Prior to joining Atara, Steve was with Amgen where he held a number of business facing HR executive level roles with both domestic and global accountabilities and staff.  Functional areas of HR leadership included Global Development, Global Commercial, Translational Sciences, Discovery Research, and Technical Operations.

Prior to Amgen, Steve was with the Coca-Cola organization in Atlanta supporting their flagship global Marketing team.  Steve began his career with The Upjohn Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan holding roles of increasing accountability in corporate, commercial and international organizations.  Steve holds a BBA from Western Michigan University in Business and an MBA from Michigan State University.

Away from work, Steve enjoys time with his wife and three kids.  For fun he enjoys scuba diving, canoeing in Michigan, attending sporting events and travel.

AJ Joshi, M.D.

SVP, Medical Affairs

Dr. Manher (AJ) Joshi joined Atara Biotherapeutics in August 2016, and serves as its Senior Vice President, Global Medical Affairs. At Atara, AJ is responsible for global medical affairs and the health outcomes and market access research functions.  He brings over 15 years of clinical, drug development and commercialization experience in orphan and large markets.  He has built and led medical organizations through several launches across a broad range of therapeutics areas including neuromuscular disease, neurosciences, genetics, metabolic diseases, urology, and dermatology. AJ’s previous medical affairs and organizational leadership roles include US Medical Affairs Therapeutic Area Head at Allergan, SVP Strategic Development and Medical Operations at Synageva, and Vice President Medical Affairs and Operations at Genzyme.

Dr. Joshi received his MD from the Boston University School of Medicine, his BA from Boston University, and completed his Internship and Residency in Medicine at Yale. In his free time, AJ enjoys photography, traveling, and playing the guitar.

Derrell D. Porter, M.D.

SVP, Global Commercial Head

Dr. Derrell Porter joined Atara Biotherapeutics as SVP, Global Commercial Head in May 2017 with responsibility for worldwide commercial operations.

Prior to joining Atara, he was a Vice President with Gilead Sciences, where he was responsible for corporate strategy, long term commercial planning, and global launch preparation for pipeline compounds in all of Gilead’s therapeutic areas – Oncology, HIV, Liver Diseases (HCV, HBV, and NASH), CV, and Inflammatory Disorders. During his tenure at Gilead, he oversaw the commercial preparation for 8 global brands and expanded the team’s pricing/market access as well as competitive intelligence capabilities. Before Gilead, he was with AbbVie and Amgen, where he held multiple US, EU and global roles including VP/GM, EU regional marketing lead, sales manager and corporate development director.

Earlier in his career, Derrell was a McKinsey & Company management consultant in Los Angeles and worked on global biopharmaceutical engagements. Dr. Porter currently serves on the board of directors for Biosortia Pharmaceuticals.

Derrell holds a B.S. from UCLA, an M.D. from University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine where he was a Gamble Scholar, and an M.B.A. from The Wharton School. In his free time, he enjoys biking, reading non-fiction, cooking, and traveling with his two children.

Kanya Rajangam, M.D., Ph.D.

SVP and Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Kanya Rajangam joined Atara Biotherapeutics as SVP and Chief Medical Officer in August 2017. Before joining Atara she served as Chief Medical Officer at Cleave Biosciences, overseeing clinical development programs in hematologic and solid tumor malignancies.  Previously, Dr. Rajangam was a Senior Medical Director at Onyx Pharmaceuticals, where she played a key role in the successful FDA and EMA submissions of the multiple myeloma product KYPROLIS® (carfilzomib). Prior to this, Dr. Rajangam was Associate Medical Director at Exelixis, where she designed early-stage oncology clinical studies, including for COMETRIQ® (cabozantinib) and COTELLIC® (cobimetinib).

Kanya earned her medical degree from St. John’s Medical College in Bangalore, India and completed a surgical residency at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in India. She then earned her doctorate in biomedical tissue engineering from Northwestern University.

 

Mina Kim

SVP, General Counsel

Mina Kim joined Atara Biotherapeutics as SVP, General Counsel in April 2018.  Ms. Kim has nearly 20 years of corporate legal experience, most recently as General Counsel of the publicly listed company Sunrun Inc., where she was responsible for corporate governance, SEC reporting, tax, corporate and project finance, litigation and employment law. Before joining Sunrun in March 2014, Ms. Kim served as General Counsel of Fly Leasing Limited and Vice President of legal at BBAM Aircraft Management. Earlier in her career she held positions of increasing responsibility at Williams-Sonoma and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP. Ms. Kim holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA and her B.A. from Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH.

 

Utpal Koppikar

Chief Financial Officer

Utpal Koppikar joined Atara Biotherapeutics as Chief Financial Officer in June 2018. Prior to joining Atara, Mr. Koppikar held several senior financial leadership positions at Gilead Sciences, including as Vice President of Corporate and Operations Finance, responsible for R&D, corporate, G&A, process development and manufacturing, and strategic sourcing. During his tenure, he led the three-year financial planning process and financial integration of Kite Pharma upon that company’s acquisition by Gilead in October 2017. In a previous role at Gilead as Vice President of Finance Europe, Middle East and Australia, Mr. Koppikar played a key role partnering with commercial for multiple product launches in the HIV and HCV franchises. Prior to Gilead, he served in multiple finance roles of increasing responsibility at Amgen. He began his career at Honeywell Aerospace (formerly AlliedSignal).

Mr. Koppikar earned his B.S. in aerospace engineering at the University of Maryland and received a M.S. in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Stanford University. He also holds an MBA in finance and marketing from The Anderson School at UCLA.

José Eduardo Vidal, Ph.D.

SVP, Quality Assurance and Process Sciences

Dr. José Eduardo Vidal joined Atara Biotherapeutics in August 2018 and as SVP, Quality Assurance and Process Sciences. Prior to Atara, Dr. Vidal served as Vice President, Drug Substance Operations at Amgen where he oversaw 1,200 employees and managed a $500 million budget across their global drug substance manufacturing network.  Previously at Amgen he was Executive Director, Process Development, where he collaborated closely with manufacturing and quality to accelerate the delivery of a product portfolio comprised of over ten Phase 3 products.

José also held several senior roles at Pfizer, where he was responsible for leading Quality Operations across multiple sterile manufacturing plants, as well as at Wyeth and Biovail in local and global technology, manufacturing and quality operations.

José received his bachelor’s degree in molecular biology, master’s degree in molecular endocrinology and biochemistry and his doctorate in biochemistry and cellular molecular biology all from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras.