Team

Joe Betts-LaCroix

Joe Betts-LaCroix

Cofounder, CEO

Joe Betts-LaCroix began as a scientist at Harvard, MIT, and Caltech. He was part of a three-person team at Caltech that first elucidated the factors governing electron-tunneling rates in proteins, which is published in journals such as Science and JACS, with over 1000 citations so far. His first venture-funded startup, OQO, created the world’s smallest windows computer (Guinness world record 2006) with a team of 110 people, more than 100 patents, and over 10,000 units sold; and was sold to Google. His second startup, Vium, automated animal research to accelerate medical research. Vium, as a team of 75 people, created thousands of advanced mouse cages that monitor environmental factors and HD video in each cage using computer vision + deep neural networks to determine whether experimental drugs are working against models of disease. Recursion Pharma acquired Vium in 2020 and IPO’d in 2021. Joe spent 2.5 years as a part-time partner at Y Combinator and has mentored and invested in numerous bio startups. Joe is presently CEO of his third venture-funded startup, Retro Biosciences, which is creating therapeutics against targets elucidated by its research in aging biology, with the mission of increasing healthy human lifespan by ten years.

Matt Buckley

Matt Buckley

Cofounder

Matt Buckley completed his PhD in the aging research lab of Dr. Anne Brunet at Stanford prior to co-founding Retro. He spent the last several years focused on scaling single-cell transcriptomics and applying machine learning techniques to quantify aging and the effects of age-related interventions. Prior to that he studied bioengineering at UC Berkeley and worked at Illumina. He believes that translating aging biology research into therapeutics is the most high-leverage way to improve the human condition, and that start-ups are a phenomenal way to do this. Outside of Retro, Matt enjoys reading broadly, with concentrations in history and science.

Sheng Ding

Sheng Ding

Cofounder

Sheng Ding is the Founding Dean and Bayer Distinguished Professor at the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Tsinghua University. He is also Founding CEO/CSO of the Global Health Drug Discovery Institute, a Gates Foundation-funded institute finding medicines for the developing world. Prof Ding is also Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at UCSF and William K. Bowes, Jr. Distinguished Investigator at the Gladstone Institutes. He was previously Associate Professor at Scripps Research. Sheng is a scientific cofounder of 6 biotechs since 2007, with multiple IPOs.

Ieva Veya

Ieva Veya

VP of Operations

Trained in psychology, my work experience has been in Project and Operations management, specifically in onboarding complex R&D workflows. Before joining Retro I worked at Airbus R&D division (Acubed) where I wore a lot of different hats and learned that the more challenging the problem I have to solve, the more energy I feel. Building the operations team at Retro has so far been the most rewarding experience of my career, not only because of the complexity but also because of the sense of purpose toward Retro’s mission.

Simón Vidal

Simón Vidal

Head of T Cell Therapeutics

Simón is a stem cell biologist with a keen interest in developing gene and cell therapy methods for regenerative medicine and longevity. Before joining Retro, Simón was a scientist and group leader in the Department of Cell and Gene Therapy and a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Research Biology and Discovery Oncology at Genentech. There, his team helped start from scratch a new stem cell laboratory and stem cell-related programs with the goal of utilizing induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and iPSC-derived T cells for cell therapy applications. Simón conducted his undergraduate and master studies in Chile at the Universidad Andres Bello and received a PhD. from NYU School of Medicine in the laboratory of Matthias Standtfeld. While there, Simón studied the molecular mechanisms of cell reprogramming and discovered novel methods to increase the quality, kinetics, and efficiency of mouse iPSC reprogramming. In his free time, he likes to hike with his wife and dog, spend time with friends and family and go for MTB, gravel, and road bike rides.

Peng Liu

Peng Liu

Staff Scientist

Peng Liu, PhD, joined Retro in February 2022 with his passion on cellular reprogramming and tissue rejuvenation. Peng brings his 10+ years of research experience on cellular reprogramming to the group. Before joining Retro, Peng was a scientist at Fate Therapeutics leading the research and development of hiPSC quality platform. His postdoctoral training was done with Dr. Sheng Ding at Gladstone Institutes working on understanding the molecular mechanisms of cellular reprogramming with transcription factors, small molecules, and CRISPRa engineering.

Trained as a stem cell biologist, Peng deeply believes that mammalian aging is a developmental process dictated by genetics and also regulated by external factors. Peng’s current work is to investigate the cause of aging and age-related diseases in multiple tissues, and help advance a new era of being healthy and old, the redefined “young”.

Alex Trapp

Alex Trapp

Staff Scientist

Alex is building computational biology at Retro. He joined after spending time in Dr. Vadim Gladyshev’s systems aging research group at Harvard, where he developed the first framework for single-cell epigenetic age profiling. Alex studied computational biology at University of Rochester, where he worked with comparative biologist Dr. Vera Gorbunova on characterizing the hematopoietic and immune landscape of the long-lived naked mole-rat. Alex has contributed to a dozen scientific articles published in top journals, and is passionate about bridging experimental and computational biology. Originally from France, Alex enjoys reading, bouldering, and playing the piano.

Ben Ray

Ben Ray

Lab Automation Engineer

Ben is a generalist focusing on existential risk. While attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he founded vrtumind, an AI alignment startup building recommendation algorithms for meditation. He graduated magna cum laude in Molecular Biology, leaving college early to work on his startup full-time. After fighting with the AI cold-start problem, he ventured into hardware, engineering low-cost EEG sleep wearables and deploying products to beta users.

Prior to heading Automation at Retro, he built zero-knowledge circuits for coordination of trust between agents. He sees the translation of aging biology into therapeutics as a critical public interest and envisions open source tooling as the ultimate source of leverage on hard problems in aging therapeutics. At Retro, Ben hacks low-cost robots into performing skilled, highly replicable biological protocols.

Anais Sahabian

Anais Sahabian

Partial Reprogramming Scientist

Anais received her Bachelor of Science degree in Bioengineering at UCLA, her Master’s in Biotechnology at UCI and her PhD in Regenerative Medicine at the Hannover Medical School in Germany. Her expertise is in stem cell biology, specifically iPSC generation, characterization and differentiation into different lineages including lung progenitor cells. In her current role at Retro, she is working with the partial reprogramming team to develop and establish a partial reprogramming pipeline for cell rejuvenation through the use of reprogramming and single cell-RNA sequencing techniques. In her free time, she likes to hike, play sports, and spend time with friends and family.

Jessica Dickerson

Jessica Dickerson

Safety and Facilities Coordinator

Jessica came to Retro in September 2021 to support the team as Operations Coordinator. She now specializes in facility and lab-related operational tasks, keeping Retro compliant in all matters OSHA and EHS.

Prior to working at Retro, Jessica earned her Bachelor’s degree from University of the Pacific in the field of Spanish. She then went on to teach Special Education for 7 years before making a career transition. She is passionate about her children, dogs, improvisational comedy, and spending time outside.

Bryan Macaraig

Bryan Macaraig

Operations Coordinator

Bryan Macaraig joined Retro as an Operations Coordinator after a career in fashion and retail. In his past life he worked at iconic companies including Gucci, Target, Sephora, and Pacsun. These past positions provided Bryan with experience across customer service, merchandising, operations, and supervisory roles. He earned a degree in Visual Communications and Merchandising at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in San Francisco, California. Bryan joined Retro for the team, the growth environment, and the opportunity to contribute to a new and meaningful industry.

Advisors

Alex Ocampo
Vadim Gladyshev
Jeff Kindler
Jörg Goronzy
Alex Wolf
Kristen Fortney

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