Management

Kaley Wilson, Ph.D.
Interim CEO

KWDr. Kaley Wilson is currently the Director of Business Development at Quark Venture, a Vancouver based venture capital group that invests globally in health science.  Investing out of the $500M USD Global Health Sciences Fund, Dr. Wilson is responsible for identifying and performing due diligence on potential investment opportunities.

From January 2018 until September 2019, Dr. Wilson was also the CEO of ARTMS Products Inc. a global leader in the development of disruptive medical isotope production technologies. Following its seed financing, Dr. Wilson joined ARTMS to help grow the company and to implement a global sales and marketing strategy.

Dr. Wilson is also an Advisor and Mentor for Ontario Bioscience’s Capital Access Advisory Program (CAPP), a member of GlycoNet’s Commercialization Committee, NMIN’s Research Management Commitee and an Observer on the Boards of Quark Venture’s portfolio companies PHEMI and Canary Medical.  Prior to joining Quark Venture in October 2016, Dr. Wilson was Associate Director, Partnerships, at the Centre for Drug Research and Development.

Dr. Wilson obtained her PhD at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada, where she worked in close collaboration with senior scientists at INEX Pharmaceuticals on the immunomodulatory activity and vaccine potential of lipid encapsulated nucleic acids. During her Ph.D. Dr Wilson was the recipient of a number of prestigious scholarships and awards including the Doctoral Research Award, Canadian Institutes for Health Research (2005-2008); Trainee Research Award, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (2003-2005) and the PGS-A Scholarship, NSERC (2002-2004). Dr. Wilson was also the 2008 recipient of the Gattefosse Canada/Canadian Society for Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Award.

Michael Parr, PhD
President and Chief Scientific Officer

Michael Parr is the company’s President and Chief Scientific Officer. With more than 15 years of experience in the industry, Dr. Parr has played a key role in developing and guiding a number of programs into clinical trials. His experience spans a variety of technologies, ranging from biologics to drug and gene delivery systems, as well as diverse therapeutic areas such as neurodegeneration, inflammation, and oncology.  Prior to founding Sitka, Dr. Parr spent 6 years as the Director for Commercial Project Development at CDRD Ventures Inc. (CVI), where he was responsible for developing and managing the CVI portfolio.

From 2006-2008, he served as Program Manager at Angiotech Pharmaceuticals, guiding two late-stage novel biomaterial-based drug products in oncology and pain indications toward IND submissions. Previously, Dr. Parr served in a variety of roles of increasing responsibility during his 7 years at Biogen-Idec, most recently as Associate Director of Oncology. During his tenure at Biogen-Idec, Dr. Parr played central roles in bringing his project through research and into clinical trials, as well as being an important member of several late stage development and translational medicine teams.  Dr. Parr earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of British Columbia and completed post-doctoral training at Harvard University.

  • 2008-2014: Director Commercial Project Development, CVI
  • 2006-2008: Program Manager, Angiotech
  • 1999-2006: Associate Director, Biogen-Idec
  • 1995-1999: Post-Doctoral, Harvard University
  • 1995: PhD, University of British Columbia
  • 1990: BSc, University of British Columbia

Robert Geckeler
Chief Development Officer

RGMr. Geckeler has over 25 years of pharmaceutical industry experience spanning a wide range of product formats and therapeutic areas, including pain management, CNS disorders, cardiovascular disease, and oncology. He has managed and led global therapeutic development programs ranging from first-in-man and proof-of-concept studies through pivotal registration trials and product registration and launch efforts. As an independent consultant, Robert has supported a number of early- and mid-stage clinical programs for startup pharmaceutical and biotech companies, providing broad support for their development activities. Most recently, he served on the board of Cerion NRx and was the EVP of Operations at Telephus Biosciences. Prior to that, he was VP of Development at Xenome Ltd., and has held project leadership and management positions at Elan, Arena, and Avera.

Across those roles, his responsibilities have included oversight of all aspects of the clinical-stage development effort, business development, the assessment of market opportunities, and life cycle management for marketed products. Mr. Geckeler also has cutting-edge experience in the Digital Health sector, gained while leading account management at OneHealth, an online and mobile platform that used social networking and programs to facilitate patient self-management of chronic conditions (now part of Virgin Pulse).

Robert has a B.A. in Biology from Washington University in St. Louis and an MBA from San Diego State University. Prior to joining the pharmaceutical industry, he worked in the viral immunobiology unit at the Research Institute of Scripps Clinic in La Jolla.

Technology Development Team

Richard Liggins, PhD
With 15 years of industrial drug development experience, Dr. Liggins has expertise in polymeric drug delivery, formulation optimization and scale-up. Dr. Liggins has developed intellectual property in diverse technology areas including formulation composition, processing methods, and therapeutic methods, with over seventy US and international patents and patent applications filed in eleven patent families (two issued). With a background in both drug and device development, Dr. Liggins has contributed to CMC development in clinical IND filings (from pre-clinical research through to GMP manufacture of Phase III materials) as well as supporting device-oriented IDE filings. Dr. Liggins is the technical project champion, overseeing the technical development work and coordinating activities conducted in the CDRD laboratories with those at the collaborator sites (Vancouver Prostate Centre and the University of British Columbia)..

  • 2006-present: Head, Analytical & Preformulation, CDRD
  • 1998-2006: Scientist, Angiotech Pharmaceuticals
  • 1998: PhD, University of British Columbia
  • 1993-1998: Registered Pharmacist
  • 1993: BSc, University of British Columbia

Helen Burt, PhD
Helen Burt joined the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1980 and is the Angiotech Professor of Drug Delivery, and Associate VP Research at UBC. Dr. Burt has developed numerous drug delivery technologies with over 30 applications in 8 patent families (several licensed to pharmaceutical companies) and over 140 peer-reviewed publications. She has received the NSERC Synergy Award for Innovation, CSPS Award of Leadership in Canadian Pharmaceutical Sciences, and YWCA Woman of Distinction Award for Science, Research and Technology. Dr. Burt is a founding scientist in the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), a member of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and has served on the Board of Directors of the Provincial Health Services Authority. Dr. Burt’s laboratory was instrumental in the initial application of the core polymer technology as a drug-delivery platform, and is actively working on mechanism-of-action studies for STK-01 in collaboration with the CDRD.

  • 2011-present: Associate Vice President, Research, UBC
  • 2004: Co-founder of the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD)
  • 2004-present: Angiotech Professor of Drug Delivery, UBC
  • 1980-present: Faculty member, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, UBC
  • 1980: PhD, Pharmaceutics, University of British Columbia
  • 1975: BSc Pharm, University of Bath, England

Jayachandran Kizhakkedathu, PhD
Dr. Kizhakkedathu’s expertise combines advanced polymer chemistry with tailored biological analysis. His research career has been spent on matching the molecular level interactions of synthetic polymers with biological systems, to design novel biomaterials in a translational setting. Since joining the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and the Centre for Blood Research (CBR) at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Kizhakkedathu has developed an interdisciplinary research program on the application of synthetic polymers. He take an integrative, interdisciplinary approach with an understanding of the pathophysiology of diseases in combination with well-designed biological assays and animal models towards the discovery of novel polymers as therapeutics. His research has been published in leading journals including Nature Biotechnology, Nature Materials, Science Translational Medicine, Nature Communications, Biomaterials and Journal of the American Chemical Society. Dr. Kizhakkedathu is an Associate Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Kizhakkedathu is involved in the development of a scalable manufacturing process.

  • Associate Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Medicine, UBC
  • Associate Member, Department of Chemistry, UBC
  • 2013: UBC Faculty of Medicine ‘Distinguished Achievement Award’
  • 2011: Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Career Scholar
  • 2011: Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine ‘Excellence in Research and Discovery Award’
  • 2005: CIHR New Investigator

Alan So, MD, FRCSC
Alan So is the Chair of the Urology Surgical Tumour Group at the BC Cancer Agency and a Surgeon at the Prostate Centre at Vancouver General Hospital.
Dr. So conducts numerous clinical trials as a member of National Cancer Institute of Canada GU Clinical Trials Group and Canadian Uro-Oncology Group and currently leads the Clinical Trials Unit at the Vancouver Prostate Cancer (VPC). His research under the guidance of Dr. Martin Gleave of the VPC focuses primarily on bladder cancer, and he leads the animal tumor model work for STK-01. Dr. So also advises on clinical strategy.

  • 2010-present: Associate Professor, Urological Sciences, UBC
  • 2002-2005: Fellow in Uro-oncology, Vancouver Prostate Centre
  • 2002: Fellowship of Royal College of Surgeons of Canada
  • 1997: MD, University of Alberta
  • 1995: B.Sc. University of Alberta