Our Team

Julia Peng
CO-FOUNDER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

BS Economics, The Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania)

Julia Peng has worked in numerous industries and companies including JP Morgan, NATO Association, and The Wharton School. She was a fellow at NEXT Canada, Halcyon Foundation, and represented Canada at the OECD. Julia earned her BS in Economics from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, with concentrations in Finance & Healthcare Management. She studied as a Joseph Wharton Scholar.

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Alice Yang
CO-FOUNDER, CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER

MSc Immunology, University of Toronto

H. BSc Immunology & Human Biology, University of Toronto

Alice Yang leads product development for both divisions of VivaVax. She was a researcher at the Sunnybrook Research Institute, and a visiting researcher at the University of Szeged. Her areas of technical expertise include protein thermodynamics, with most of her research work in molecular interactions and preclinicals.

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Nina Heiderzadeh
MATERIALS SCIENTIST

PDF Polymer Engineering, Queen's University

PhD Polymer Engineering, Amirkabir University of Technology

MSc Polymerization Process Engineering
BSc Polymer Engineering

Ruby Rafanan
RESEARCH SCIENTIST

PhD Molecular Science, Ryerson University

MSc Molecular Science, Ryerson University

BSc Applied Chemistry & Biology, Ryerson University

Ben Merrick
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

MSc Biomedical Commercialization, McMaster University

BSc Life Sciences, Queen's University

Smith School of Business

Fariha Rahman
OPERATIONS & BIOMEDICAL RESEARCHER

MEng Biomedical Engineering, Ryerson University

BSc Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto

Alexander Caschera
RESEARCHER

MSc Molecular Science, Ryerson University

BSc Chemistry, Ryerson University

Advisors

Ray Muzyka
BUSINESS ADVISOR

Originally trained as a medical doctor, Dr. Ray Muzyka co-founded BioWare, a video game development studio focusing on story and character, in the early 1990s. He practiced Emergency/Family Medicine for two years full time, with medicine transitioning to part-time over the following decade as he focused on his role as BioWare’s CEO. BioWare was acquired by Electronic Arts in 2007 and Ray took on the roles of Senior Vice President at Electronic Arts and General Manager of EA’s BioWare division, which grew over the next five years to span eight development locations worldwide with ~2000 staff (1400 full time). He retired from video games in October 2012, with his third ‘career chapter’ at ThresholdImpact focused on sustainable, profitable impact investing – mentoring and angel investing in information technology, new media and medical innovations with social entrepreneurs. He is an active angel investor and entrepreneurial mentor. Dr. Muzyka is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), the A100, and the Ashoka Support Network. He is a member of the Board of Governors of the University of Alberta (serving as Chair of the Human Resources Committee and on the Learning and Discovery Committee, as well as a member of the University of Alberta Advancement Council), is Chair of the University of Alberta’s entrepreneur Venture Mentoring Service, is Chair of the Alberta Research and Innovation Advisory Committee and is a Venture Advisor at iNovia Venture Capital. He also serves on a number of private company boards. He previously served on the Board of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences from 2001-2008 and was on the Board of Trustees of the Stollery Children’s Health Foundation from 2012-2015. Dr. Muzyka was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2018. He was also inducted into the JA Alberta Business Hall of Fame in 2018, into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences’ Hall of Fame in 2011 and received the International Game Developers’ Choice Awards 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Muzyka received the inaugural Alumni Innovation Award in 2015 from the University of Alberta. He was named as the 2017 Allard Chair in Business at the MacEwan University’s School of Business, and as an Honorary Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary Club International in 2016, in recognition for his philanthropic efforts. Other awards include entry into Canada’s Top 40 under 40 and Ernst and Young’s 2001 Entrepreneur of the Year (IT, Prairies). He obtained his Bachelor of Medical Science from the University of Alberta in 1990, his Doctorate of Medicine from the U of A in 1992, and his Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Western Ontario (Ivey School of Business) in 2001.

Andrea Matheson
BUSINESS ADVISOR

With a track record of startup success and senior leadership in both the public and private sectors, Andrea Matheson has been bridging the gap between big business and entrepreneurship for over two decades. After starting her career in finance, she went on to grow three startup businesses, and she’s spent the last decade advising and investing in technology businesses in Toronto and Waterloo. Andrea served as Interim CEO at NEXT Canada, and during her time at NEXT Andrea spearheaded the launch of NextAI, a program that helps entrepreneurs build commercially-viable artificial intelligence companies. In addition to her work at NEXT, Andrea advises growing startups on change management, helping them identify their blind spots and manage change as they scale. Andrea also strongly believes in the power of intrapreneurship, and throughout her career she has held executive leadership roles at public and private companies including CGI Group Inc. and Proponix Inc., where she was part of founding team and scaled the business from idea to $175 million USD in 18 months. Andrea continues to be a startup mentor, advisor, and investor. When she’s not helping scaling businesses, Andrea is involved with community endeavours including The Jean Tweed Centre in Toronto, and she’s passionate about fitness and travel.

Craig Usswald
BUSINESS ADVISOR

With 15 years of leadership experience in public and private sector supply chains, Craig joined VillageReach to advance the organization’s supply chain portfolio and provide technical support to its supply chain programs.  He also leads VillageReach’s supply chain community of practice, developing standards, tools and methods for the organization. Prior to VillageReach, Craig worked at Deloitte Consulting in both public and commercial settings, and led the Logistics and Distribution Unit within the USAID-funded SCMS project.  He also has served in engineering and sales, as managing director for Incledon Engineering, and country director for System 21 Consulting. Craig is returning to his birthplace of South Africa for this position after ten years living and working in the United States. He holds an MBA from Heriot Watt University.

Geoff Werth
BUSINESS ADVISOR

Geoff serves as Senior Vice President at Wynne Health Group and has more than 20 years of experience in healthcare policy and the healthcare industry, having held senior positions both on and off Capitol Hill. During this critical period for our healthcare system, Geoff has engaged directly with Congress on behalf of healthcare companies, providers and patient groups through his roles as senior vice president of Summit Health Care Consulting, director of federal government relations for The US Oncology Network, and government affairs associate at the American College of Surgeons. Geoff worked directly with Congress on improving cancer care delivery during the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and has helped providers effectively navigate the implementation of the ACA and the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. Prior to this, Geoff worked for seven years on Capitol Hill as a policy advisor to former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt during passage of the Sarbanes Oxley Act. He also worked extensively with the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee as a senior advisor to Congressman Bart Stupak during the passage of the Medicare Modernization Act. Geoff has had the opportunity to work constructively with Congress on many important healthcare policy issues, including health information technology, advanced medical imaging, radiation oncology, cancer research funding, prescription drug reimbursement and distribution, and the introduction of new models of care within the Medicare program. Geoff has bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Maryland. He became involved in politics in Chicago while working within the healthcare industry on cutting-edge medical equipment at The University of Chicago Medical Center and in research and development for Abbott Laboratories.

Barkev Keoshkerian
SCIENCE ADVISOR

Dr. Barkev Keoshkerian has over 38 years of experience at Xerox Research Centre of Canada, focusing on fields of polymer chemistry, colloid science (latex polymerization), pigment dispersions, ink design, and coatings.  He is the recipient of multiple excellence in research awards for polymer synthesis and its applications, and is currently a professor of applied research at Seneca College. 

Bryan Koivisto
SCIENCE ADVISOR

After finishing his BSc at the University of Waterloo (2000), and PhD at the University of Victoria (2006), Dr. Koivisto held an NSERC PDF position at the University of Edinburgh investigating the utility of molecular machines for light harvesting (2006-2008). Dr. Koivisto then joined the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy at the University of Calgary (2008-2011). There he continued to focus his research interests by investigating the conversion of light energy into solar fuels. In 2012, Dr. Koivisto joined the Department of Chemistry and Biology at Ryerson University. As an associate member of Ryerson’s Centre for Urban Energy, Dr. Koivisto’s work investigates the design of bio-inspired light-harvesting dyes for dye-sensitized solar cells. Since 2012, Bryan has established a vigorous research program to better appreciate the utility of organic dyes light-harvesting. After receiving promotion to Associate Professor in 2014, Dr. Koivisto has continued to embrace mentorship and innovation in scientific discovery, and has developed a number of programs designed to promote evidence-based experiential learning. As such, he was appointed the founding Director of the ScienceDiscovery Zone (May 2016); a non-traditional STEM startup incubation ecosystem hosted at Ryerson University.

Helen Manich
BUSINESS ADVISOR

Helen Manich is an accomplished Senior Executive with 30 years of success across the telecommunications, wireless, satellite, alternative energy, and cybersecurity (hardware, network, and software) industries. Leveraging extensive experience in business development, the creation, and execution of marketing strategies for organizations from startup to Fortune 500, she is a valuable asset for growth-oriented & disruptive technology companies requiring expert assistance in aligning strategic plans with financial objectives. Her broad areas of expertise include strategic planning, CRM database analytics, competitive analysis, finance, brand management, marketing, international development, corporate realignment, revenue optimization, cash flow, profitability, growth strategy, and disruptive technology. Throughout her executive career, Helen has held leadership positions at organizations including her own company, Manich Strategic Inc, and Current to Current Corporation, Talk America, McCaw Cellular/AT&T Wireless, US West Cellular, Earle Palmer Browne, & MCI. She has worked with US and international companies to develop and implement innovative marketing strategies, collaborating with clients including Vonage, Telstra, Columbia Energy, Xtreme Spectrum (acquired by Motorola), Wireless Online, and Tenzing (acquired by Boeing). She has established strategic partnerships and alliances with companies including American Express, American Airlines, Visa International, and Wireless Carriers. Helen led the early market development of AT&T Wireless Services, McCaw Cellular, and US West Cellular, with the success of her strategy leading to US West Cellular increasing 10 points in market share in just 18 months. Helen holds a BS in Economics, Business, & Political Science, Cornell University. She presented as an Executive Lecturer in Marketing and is the Co-Founder of the Program for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the University of Washington. Helen currently mentors international social entrepreneurs and guides them along the Path to the Revenue Stream during their residency at the Halcyon Incubator in Washington, DC.

© VivaVax Inc. 2019
44 GERRARD STREET E
TORONTO, ON, CANADA M5B 1G3
 
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