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The DSS Team

  • 2016 02 DSS modeling team 4
  • Paul B. Watkins, M.D.
    Chairman, Board of Directors, DILIsym Services, Inc.
    Director, DILI-sim Initiative
    Howard J Ferguson Distinguished Professor, Schools of Pharmacy, Medicine and Public Health; Director, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy Institute for Drug Safety Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Paul B. Watkins, M.D., is a professor of pharmacy, medicine, and public health at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), and the director of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy Institute for Drug Safety Science (IDSS) since its formation in 2009. He serves as chairman of the Board of Directors for DILIsym Services, Inc., a company creating and using DILIsym® software to improve the development of safer drug therapies, and director of The DILI-sim Initiative, a public-private partnership consisting of major life science companies charged with developing the DILIsym® software.

    As an internationally recognized expert in drug safety and a clinically trained hepatologist, Dr. Watkins has extensive research experience in drug-induced liver injury (DILI), which includes basic investigation in drug metabolism and transport, clinical studies, causation assessment, and regulatory affairs. He has been continuously funded for over 30 years by the National Institutes of Health for basic and translational research, and he is one of the most frequently cited authors in the field of pharmacology. He is chair of the steering and genetics committees for the U.S. Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network supported by the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Watkins is the recipient of numerous awards including a MERIT award from the National Institutes of Health, the 2014 Agilent Thought Leader Award, and the 2015 Rawls-Palmer Innovation in Medicine Award and he has been elected to several honorary societies including the Association of American Professors (AAP). He has served on many advisory boards, including almost a decade on the GlaxoSmithKline Scientific Advisory Board.

    Prior to serving as director of the IDSS, Dr. Watkins was director of the UNC Translational and Clinical Sciences (TrACS) Institute and principal investigator on the university’s $60 M Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) supported by the National Institutes of Health. His academic career started at the University of Michigan where he became Professor of Medicine and Professor of Pharmacology and director of the General Clinical Research Center.

    Brett A Howell, Ph.D.
    Chief Executive Officer, DILIsym Services, Inc.
    Associate Director, DILI-sim Initiative

    Brett A Howell, Ph.D., is the chief executive officer of DILIsym Services, Inc., a company developing and using DILIsym® software to improve the development of safer drug therapies, and has served on the Board of Directors of the company since 2016. He is also an associate director of the DILI-sim Initiative since 2011. In addition to being involved in operations, training and software architecture, Dr. Howell contributes technically in the areas of PBPK modeling, immune response, consulting project leadership and biomarkers.

    Dr. Howell has published over 20 scientific papers in the areas of PBPK/PD modeling, in vitro toxicity testing, novel drug delivery systems, and drug safety. He has given invited scientific presentations at numerous national and international meetings, including the Society of Toxicology annual meeting, the Japanese Society of Toxicology annual meeting, the annual FDA/AASLD Drug-Induced Liver Injury meeting, the American Conference on Pharmacometrics (ACOP) annual meeting, the European Microsomes and Drug Oxidations annual meeting, and the Drug Information Association (DIA) annual safety meeting. He serves on the editorial board for the prominent Quantitative Systems Pharmacology (QSP) journal, “CPT: Pharmacometrics & Systems Pharmacology,” published by the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

    Prior to joining DILIsym Services, Dr. Howell was a research investigator and research scientist at The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences, a non-profit organization that focused on translational biomedical research. He holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Florida and Bachelor of Science degrees in chemical engineering and textile engineering from North Carolina State University.

    Scott Q Siler, Ph.D.
    President, DILIsym Services, Inc.
    Associate Director, DILI-sim Initiative

    Scott Q Siler, Ph.D. is the president of DILIsym Services, Inc., a company developing and using DILIsym® software to improve the development of safer drug therapies. He has served on the Board of Directors of the company since 2016. He is also an associate director of the DILI-sim Initiative since joining in 2011. He is co-project lead on the development of the DILIsym® software and is a project manager for DILIsym® services projects contracted by pharmaceutical companies. In addition to his duties in helping manage and advance the business of DILIsym Services, Dr. Siler continues to be a scientific contributor to DILIsym® services projects and development. Dr. Siler is leading the company’s efforts in the development of NAFLDsym™ software, computational model of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) that can be used to predict efficacy for treatment modalities developed for treating NAFLD.

    Dr. Siler worked for more than 12 years integrating physiology and mathematics with Entelos, a provider of in silico modeling and simulation products and consulting services. Dr. Siler also managed and contributed to the development of the Metabolism PhysioLab. Additionally, while at Entelos, he led multiple projects evaluating potential treatments for type 2 diabetes.

    Dr. Siler graduated with a Ph.D. in nutrition and a bachelor of arts in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of California, Berkeley.

    Jeffrey L. Woodhead, Ph.D.
    Scientist, DILIsym Services, Inc.
    Developer, DILI-sim Initiative

    Jeffrey Woodhead, Ph.D. is a scientist for DILIsym Services, Inc., and a software developer working on the DILI-sim Initiative modeling team. He focuses on constructing mathematical models and designing experimental studies related to bile acid homeostasis, transport and toxicity. His work has been published in peer-reviewed journals in the area of optimizing acetaminophen overdose treatment using the DILIsym® software model.

    Dr. Woodhead received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University in 2011 under the tutelage of Dr. Carol K. Hall, where he modeled the self-assembly of block copolymer nanoparticles in the presence of solutes. He has a bachelor of engineering in chemical engineering and history from Vanderbilt University. Dr. Woodhead was the initial Secretary of the International Society of Pharmacometrics (ISoP) Special Interest Group on Quantitative Systems Pharmacology, and is currently an active member of the ISoP.

    Lisl Shoda, Ph.D.
    Senior Scientist, DILIsym Services, Inc.
    Developer, DILI-sim Initiative

    Lisl Shoda, Ph.D., is a senior scientist for DILIsym Services, Inc., and a software developer working on the DILI-sim Initiative modeling team.

    Dr. Shoda’s research focuses on predicting and improving the understanding of drug actions on innate and adaptive immune responses. The complexity in predicting drug effects is likely related in part to the pleiotropic effects of many immune mediators and the network of feedback systems evolutionarily designed to aggressively defend against a multitude of pathogens while minimizing auto-injurious or autoimmune reactions. One approach is to use in silico methods to reproduce immune responses through the explicit mapping of known effects and feedback networks. Currently, Dr. Shoda is leading an effort to represent the contribution of the adaptive immune response to drug-induced liver injury (DILI) in the DILIsym® software model. The incorporation of what is known about T cell responses in the liver, including both drug- and non drug data, is expected to organize our current understanding within a unifying framework and to identify key uncertainties that can drive future experimental design to improve our understanding of T cell mediated liver injury.

    Prior to DILIsym Services, Dr. Shoda worked for over ten years at Entelos, Inc. modeling type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, and skin biology at Entelos, Inc. She has previous laboratory experience studying immune responses to parasitic pathogens. Dr. Shoda earned her Ph.D. in wildlife science and fisheries from Texas A&M University and received her bachelor of science in zoology from Duke University.

    Kyunghee Yang, Ph.D.
    Scientist, DILIsym Services, Inc.
    Developer, DILI-sim Initiative

    Kyunghee Yang, Ph.D., is a scientist for DILIsym Services, Inc. and software developer working on the DILI-sim Initiative modeling team. Dr. Yang’s research focuses on the computational modeling of drug-induced liver injury (DILI) regarding interference of bile acid transport by hepatotoxic drugs.

    Dr. Yang received her B.S. in pharmacy and M.S. in pharmacokinetics from Seoul National University, South Korea, and Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her graduate research focused on defining the mechanisms of DILI involving the interactions in efflux of bile acids and drugs. As a result of her research, she earned numerous fellowship awards.

    Dr. Yang has published scientific papers in the areas of drug metabolism and transport, regulation of drug metabolizing enzymes during pregnancy, and systems pharmacology modeling of DILI. She has been invited to speak at multiple scientific meetings including the FDA DILI Conference and ASCPT Annual Meeting. She has worked closely with the DILIsym modeling team since 2011 and joined the team in 2014.

    Diane Longo, Ph.D.
    Scientist, DILIsym Services, Inc.
    Developer, DILI-sim Initiative

    Diane Longo, Ph.D., is a scientist for DILIsym Services, Inc. and a software developer working on the DILI-sim Initiative modeling team. She joined the DILIsym software modeling team in April 2014.

    Prior to DILIsym Services, Dr. Longo worked in the biotechnology industry for five years as a research scientist at Nodality where she led studies using clinical samples to assess inter-patient variability, to explore pathophysiological mechanisms, and to profile potential therapeutic compounds in disease areas such as autoimmunity and cancer.

    Dr. Longo received her bachelor of science in systems and information engineering from the University of Virginia and earned her Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of California at San Diego. Her graduate work focused on the utilization of an integrated experimental-computational approach to analyze the dynamic response of signaling networks and gene regulatory networks.

    Grant Generaux, M.S.
    Scientist, DILIsym Services, Inc.
    Developer, DILI-sim Initiative

    Grant Generaux, M.S., is a scientist for DILIsym Services, Inc. and a software developer working on the DILI-sim Initiative modeling team. He joined the DILIsym® software modeling team in June 2015.

    Grant worked in Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics (DMPK) at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for 10 years, with the majority of that time focused on using mechanistic PBPK/PD to improve decision making during drug discovery and early development. He also focused on predicting metabolic- and transporter-based drug-drug interactions. While at GSK, he was one of the key individuals who drove the evaluation and adoption of SimCYP for pre-clinical drug-drug interaction prediction and analysis, and was the recipient of the GSK “Exceptional Science Award” on three separate occasions as a result of the impact that SimCYP, and PBPK use in general, had on decision-making within the pre-clinical and clinical pipeline.

    Grant has been an invited speaker at the Land O’Lakes conference on Drug Metabolism and Applied Pharmacokinetics, as well as the HIV & Hepatitis Clinical Pharmacology Workshop. He obtained his bachelor of science in genetics from the University of Kansas in 2000 and his master of science in pharmacometrics from the University of Maryland at Baltimore in 2014.

    Jahid Ferdous, Ph.D.
    Postdoctoral Fellow, DILIsym Services, Inc.

    Dr. Jahid Ferdous is a postdoctoral fellow at DILIsym Services, Inc. He joined DILIsym Services as a postdoctoral fellow to work on the DILI-sim Initiative modeling team in January 2016. Dr. Ferdous works on the computational modeling of drug-induced liver injury (DILI) due to mitochondrial DNA depletion by hepatotoxic drugs, and is developing a model for adaptive biogenesis. He is a member of American Society for Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics and of the International Society of Pharmacometrics.

    Prior to DILIsym Services, Dr. Ferdous worked as a postdoctoral fellow at The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences, and as an adjunct faculty and postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of South Carolina.

    Dr. Ferdous received his bachelor of science in chemical engineering from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) in 2005, and a master of science in chemical and biomedical engineering from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore in 2009. He then moved to the United States where he completed his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at the University of South Carolina in 2014. His dissertation was focused on identifying performance criteria of fully bioresorbable scaffolds for safe endovascular application.

    Christina Battista, Ph.D.
    Postdoctoral Fellow, DILIsym Services, Inc.

    Christina Battista, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow at DILIsym Services, Inc., and at the Institute for Drug Safety Sciences located within the Eshelman School of Pharmacy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

    Christina joined the DILI-sim Initiative modeling team in September 2015. She, along with Lisl Shoda, is exploring the role of the immune system in drug-induced liver injury (DILI) with a particular focus on mechanistic modeling of the adaptive immune system, in hopes of investigating cases of idiosyncratic DILI. Christina also works on modeling and evaluating new exemplar compounds to be included in future versions of DILIsym® software.

    Dr. Battista received her bachelor of science and master of science in applied and computational mathematics from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2011. Her master's thesis modeled parathyroid hormone and cell signaling dynamics in bone remodeling to predict the efficacy of osteoporosis treatments. Dr. Battista earned her Ph.D. in applied mathematics with an interdisciplinary concentration in physiology from North Carolina State University in 2015. Her research focused on parameter estimation and modeling one-dimensional blood flow in viscoelastic arterial networks.

    In June 2016, Dr. Battista received an ORISE fellowship to investigate mechanistic drug safety within the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) at the FDA under the guidance of Darrell Abernethy. Christina is also a member of the Pi Mu Epsilon and Alpha Sigma Lambda honor societies and was named a John Wiley Jones scholar at RIT. She has presented her research at numerous engineering, math, and biology conferences. Most notably, Dr. Battista has given presentations at the World Congress of Biomechanics and the Joint Mathematics Meetings. Her current work will be presented at future pharmacology conferences, such as the American Conference on Pharmacometrics (ACoP).

    M. Bud Nelson, Ph.D., J.D.
    Director of Operations and General Counsel, DILIsym Services, Inc.

    M. Bud Nelson, Ph.D., J.D., is focused on building an innovative technology-based culture around software development and the life sciences in North Carolina through his current roles as Director of Operations and General Counsel at DILIsym Services, Inc.

    Dr. Nelson has served on the management teams of numerous healthcare startups, including a Duke University-based incubator (MedBlue Incubator, Inc.), several life science companies, and in his current role as part of the management team and as a board member of DILIsym Services, Inc. He has more than 20 years of experience with intellectual property matters and has served as the intellectual property counsel for several biotech companies, including BioCrystal Ltd., Trimeris, Inc., Affinergy Inc., b3 bio, inc., as well as for The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences. Additionally, Dr. Nelson is an inventor on several patents and published patent applications.

    Dr. Nelson holds a law degree, and Master’s & Ph.D. degrees in Immunology and Microbiology, from the University of Buffalo. He also has Bachelor’s degrees in Medical Technology from SUNY Upstate Medical Center, and Biology from SUNY Geneseo. He is a member of the American Intellectual Property Law Association, a member of the State Bar of North Carolina, and is a registered attorney with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

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