About Akron Biotech


Akron's world-class Scientific Advisory Board

comprises five key opinion leaders.

The Scientific Advisory Board provides expertise and recommendations with respect to all science and technology issues related to Akron’s product and services research and development activities. 

Scientific Advisory Board Members

Joanne Kurtzberg, MD - Duke University

Director, DTRI Cell and Tissue Therapies Core
Professor of Pediatrics and Pathology
Chief, Division of Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation
Co-Director, Stem Cell Laboratory
Director, Carolinas Cord Blood Bank
Jerome Harris Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics

Joanne Kurtzberg, MD, is an internationally renowned expert in pediatric hematology/oncology, pediatric blood and marrow transplantation, and umbilical cord blood banking. She is director of the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina; director of the Carolinas Cord Blood Bank; co-director of the Stem Cell Laboratory; and chief scientific officer of the Robertson Clinical and Translational Cell Therapy Program. 

Dr. Kurtzberg earned her MD at New York Medical College, interned at Dartmouth Medical Center, completed her residency at Upstate Medical Center, and obtained a fellowship in pediatric hematology-oncology at Duke University Medical Center.  She joined the faculty at Duke in 1983 and is currently professor of pathology and the Jerome Harris Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics at Duke.

Dr. Kurtzberg is known for her pioneering work in umbilical cord blood banking and transplantation, and for her role in developing several anti-leukemia drugs. Her other areas of expertise include the actions of recombinant hematopoietic growth factors, the use of umbilical cord blood in human blood stem cell transplantation, the ex vivo expansion of stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood, and the use of cord blood to correct genetic and acquired brain injuries.

Dr. Kurtzberg has published almost 400 papers in peer-reviewed journals, and 30 chapters in textbooks. Since 1988, she has mentored 29 post-doctoral fellows, and has served as laboratory and clinical preceptor to 69 medical students. She serves on a number of scientific advisory boards, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Advisory Council on Blood Stem Cell Transplantation; is a member of several national and international committees; co-chairs the National Marrow Donor Program Cord Blood Committee; and is a board member of the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT).  Her research focuses on the uses of cord blood treatment of children with malignant diseases, genetic diseases, and brain injury, and on ways to optimize cord blood banking.


Utkan Demirci, PhD - MIT/Harvard

Assistant Professor of Medicine and Health Sciences and Technology at MIT/Harvard University Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH)

Utkan Demirci, PhD, is assistant professor of Medicine and Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard University Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He has been at MIT/Harvard since 2007, leading a team of 30 researchers focusing on nano and microscale technologies.

Dr. Demirci received his BS in electrical engineering (Summa Cum Laude) in 1999 at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, as a James B. Angell Scholar. In 2001 he was awarded an MS in electrical engineering at Stanford University, followed in 2005 by an MS in management science and engineering and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering.

Dr. Demirci applies nano and microscale technologies to manipulate cells in nanoliter volumes to solve real-world problems in medicine. Examples include applications in infectious disease diagnostics and monitoring, cell encapsulation and assembly for cryobiology, and tissue engineering. His research interests involve microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and acoustics in medicine, especially microfluidics for inexpensive CD4 counts for HIV in resource-limited-settings for global health problems; cell-by-cell 3D tissue printing; and high-throughput blood biopreservation through vitrification.

Dr. Demirci has published 53 peer-reviewed papers in journals that include PNAS, PLoS ONE, and Lab-chip; 84 conference abstracts and proceedings; and 10 book chapters. His work has been highlighted in Wired Magazine, MIT Technology Review Magazine, AIP News, BioTechniques, and Biophotonics. 

Dr. Demirci’s awards include the Chinese International Young Scientist Award from the National Science Foundation of China (2010), Harvard Medical School-Young Investigator Award, the Coulter Foundation Early Career Award in Biotechnology, the CIMIT Award, the MIT Deshpande Center Award, and the prestigious Full Presidential Fellowship given by the Turkish Ministry of Education, among many other awards and honors. Dr. Demirci has built international academic relationships between his laboratory and others around the globe. He has been adjunct professor at the School of Aerospace in Xi'an Jiatong University since 2009. 

Sylvia Daunhert, PhD - University of Miami

Chair  - Lucille P. Markey Cancer Center, Associate Director – JT MacDonald Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology - Miller School of Medicine at University of Miami

Sylvia Daunert, PharmD, MS, PhD is the Lucille P. Markey Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Miller School of Medicine and the Associate Director of the Dr. JT Macdonald Foundation Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute of the University of Miami. Prior to joining the University of Miami, Dr. Daunert was the Gill Eminent Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Daunert was also a Distinguished Professor of the College of Arts & Sciences and a University of Kentucky Research Professor. Among others, she is a Fulbright Scholar, an ELAM Fellow, and the recipient of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry van Slyke Research Award, the National Science Foundation-CAREER Award, the Cottrell-Scholars Award, the Lilly Analytical Faculty Award, the American Chemical Society A. F. Findeis Award, the National Science Foundation Special Creativity Award, the Bill Barfield Award from the Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute and the Albert D. and Elizabeth H. Kirwan Memorial Prize. Dr. Daunert is Editor of Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, Executive Editor of Analytical Biochemistry, Annual Reviews in Analytical Chemistry, and member of the Editorial Advisory Boards of several journals. She serves in the Scientific Advisory Boards of professional, governmental, as well as private industrial institutions. Dr. Daunert’s research interests are in Bionanotechnology. Specifically, her group designs molecular diagnostic tools and biosensors based on genetically engineered proteins and cells with applications in the biomedical, environmental, and pharmaceutical fields. Additionally, her group focuses on the development of targeted and responsive drug delivery systems. Dr. Daunert’s work has been featured in over 250 publications, patents, and highlighted by the scientific media and popular press.

Gregg Fields, PhD - Torrey Pines Institute

Full Member and Vice President of Scientific Affairs, Distinguished Chair - Metalloproteinase and Multiple Sclerosis Research 

Dr. Gregg B. Fields received his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry from the University of Florida and Florida State University, respectively. He was a Postdoctoral Scholar with Ken A. Dill at the University of California San Francisco. Dr. Fields joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota in 1991 as an assistant professor. He was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1995 and then achieved the rank of full professor of chemistry & biochemistry at Florida Atlantic University in 1997. In 2008, Dr. Fields became a Robert A. Welch Foundation Distinguished University Chair in Chemistry in the Department of Biochemistry at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Dr. Fields relocated to the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies in 2011, where he is a Full Member, Vice President of Scientific Affairs, and Distinguished Chair of Metalloproteinase and Multiple Sclerosis Research. Dr. Fields' research interests are in the use of chemical approaches to better understand how protein three-dimensional structures influence cellular and enzymatic behaviors. Early studies by Dr. Fields included the systematic examination of mild methodologies for solid-phase synthesis of small proteins. Chemical approaches were used to develop “mini-protein” models for the study of cellular recognition processes, which in turn allowed for the mapping of protein domains involved in tumor cell binding and signal transduction. Mini-protein models have subsequently been utilized to dissect the mechanisms of collagen catabolism, and in the process have provided new avenues for protease inhibitor design. Dr. Fields has authored or coauthored more than 200 scientific publications and presented over 100 invited lectures. Dr. Fields was President of the American Peptide Society (2009-2011).

Ian MacNiece, PhD - MD Anderson

Cell Therapy Laboratory Director at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Board Member - Foundation of Accreditation of Cell Therapy (FACT )

Dr. McNiece received his B.Sc. in Biochemistry from Melbourne University, Melbourne Australia in 1979.  He went on to earn an M.Sc. in Physiology from Melbourne University in 1981, and his Ph.D. in physiology in 1986 undertaking his thesis work at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute in Melbourne in stem cell biology and hematopoiesis.  In 1986 he moved to the US to undertake postdoctoral work at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. In 1988 he moved to Thousand Oaks, California to join Amgen Inc. as a Research Scientist and in 1994 he became Laboratory Head in the Department of Developmental Hematology at Amgen.  He moved to the University of Colorado Health Science Center in Denver, Colorado in 1997, where he was Director of Research for the Bone Marrow Transplant Program and Director of the Stem Cell Biology Program. In 2003 he moved to Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as Professor of Oncology and Director of the Graft Engineering Laboratory in the Cancer Center. Dr. McNiece was appointed to the position of Director of the Division of Biomedical Sciences Johns Hopkins in Singapore in 2004. He was recruited to the University of Miami in June of 2007 as Professor of Medicine and Director of the Experimental and Clinical Cell Based Therapies Program in the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute. In July 2012 he moved to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston as Professor of Medicine and Director Cell Therapy Laboratories. Dr. McNiece’s research has focused on aspects of stem cell biology and in particular control of proliferation and differentiation of stem cells by growth factors. Much of his work has studied aspects of stem cells in clinical marrow and stem cell transplantation leading to clinical trials in mobilization and ex vivo expansion. His current work is focused on control of stem cells by the microenvironment and translation to clinical applications.


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Scientific Advisory Board
Scientific Advisory Board; Ian MacNiece, PhD, MD Anderson; Utkan Deminici, PhD, MIT, Harvard; Sylvia Dauhert, PhD, University of Miami; Gregg Fields, PhD, Torrey Pines Institute; Joanne Kutzberg, MD, Duke University
Akron Biotech's scientific advisory board is composed of five world-class scientific leaders. The purpose of the Scientific Advisory Board is to provide expertise and recommendations with respect to all science and technology issues related to Akron’s product and services research and development activities.