About Us & News

Pure Protein holds intellectual property on the manufacture of soluble HLA proteins which are used in a proprietary method of immunogenic epitope discovery and validation. Receptor Logic, Inc. holds IP on a proprietary method for generating T-cell receptor mimics from defined epitopes. Together, these technologies provide the capability to identify novel disease targets, validate “Usual Suspect” targets, and subsequently “drug” those same targets with monoclonal antibodies (T cell receptor (TCRm)) and other immunotherapeutic modalities. Such modalities include antibody drug conjugates and bispecific antibodies, T cell eliciting vaccines, and via T cells expressing a chimeric antigen receptor derived from the TCRm. Moreover, Pure MHC’s TCRm can readily be optimized for use in diagnostics as well as for other pre-clinical development assays.

Pure People

Pure MHC is set apart by its exceptional personnel. The team has wide-ranging expertise in many areas including biochemistry, immunology, pharmaceutical biotechnology, microbiology, and organic chemistry.

Team Bios

 

Dr. William Hildebrand
Founder/Chief Scientist-Target Discovery

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Dr. Rico Buchli
Director of Research-TCRm Development

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Dr. Curtis McMurtrey
Director of Epitope Discovery

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Dr. Saghar Kaabinejadian
Director of Immuno Oncology

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Dr. Jane C. Yaciuk
Director of Operations

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Tommy Harlan
CEO

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Kris Looney
President

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In The News

 

http://www.emergenttechnologies.com/

Dr. William Hildebrand
Founder/Chief Scientist – Target Discovery

Dr. Hildebrand earned his PhD from Southern Illinois University in 1990 and conducted post-doctoral research at Stanford University under Dr. Peter Parham. He is a Presbyterian Health Foundation Endowed Professor and a George Lynn Cross Research Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

Dr. Hildebrand has been a CLIA-Accredited Clinical HLA Laboratory Director and an American Board for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics Diplomat since 1998. He has been awarded over $40M in grants from Oklahoma and federal government agencies as well as from private corporations. To date, he has authored over 120 publications, reviews, and book chapters in peer-reviewed industry works as well as popular science journal; he was Associate Editor of the Journal of Immunology from 2006-2010. Dr. Hildebrand has served on editorial, advisory, and national review panel boards including that for the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI), the American Society for Hematology, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the National Marrow Donor Program. He has appeared on numerous radio and television news programs and in public service announcements highlighting his research; likewise, he is a frequent invited keynote speaker and advisor to international conferences and private industry companies. Dr. Hildebrand holds 77 patents (issued or pending) in fields related to the discovery and use of the soluble HLA protein technology he has developed.

Dr. Hildebrand founded Pure Protein, LLC in 1999 and still serves as its Chief Scientist. He founded two additional subsidiary companies, Pure Transplant and Pure Vaccine Solutions in 2003 which, when merged with the technology of Receptor Logic Inc. in2013, gave rise to the creation of Pure MHC, LLC.  The “Pure” companies were founded on the principle that a ready source of native HLA proteins can contribute to modulating and understanding autoimmune, transplant, allergy, pathogen, and vaccine-derived immune responses.  Pure MHC embodies Dr. William Hildebrand’s vision for the future of MHC research and development by offering breakthrough therapeutic target discovery and validation with further drug and assay development applications.

Dr. Rico Buchli
Director of Research-TCRm Development

Dr. Buchli earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Basel in 1996. He served as Postdoctoral Researcher at UC Davis under Drs. Sergei Grando and Dick Robbins before accepting a Research Assistant Professor position at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center. He joined Pure Protein, LLC in 2001 as the Director of Research.

Dr. Buchli has over 15 years of experience in molecular biology, biochemistry and immunology, including expertise in protein purification, characterization and detection through the use of antigen-specific antibodies. He has also previously served as a consultant to several clinical transplantation HLA platform providers such as Dynal Biotech and Lifecodes. He has authored 50+ publications, served on several journal review boards, and mentored students from the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics. Appointed by the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Buchli serves as an Honorary Consul of Switzerland, and he is an appointed member of the Oklahoma Governor’s International Team (GIT). He is also the recipient of the Albert M. Kligman Award in Dermatology and The Journal Record’s “On the Brink Innovator Award.” Dr Buchli is a co-inventor on multiple International and U.S. patents.

Using Pure Protein’s patented sHLA core technology for large-scale production of secreted sHLA proteins, Dr. Buchli has designed unique methods for sHLA stabilization and application in multiple assay systems including a patent-pending peptide binding assay utilized by customers such as the FDA and other research entities, both public and private. He also leads development of products for use in clinical transplant screening and other HLA-research related applications to include ELISA, Luminex-bead and Chip-microarray platforms. Since 2005, Dr. Buchli has provided technical and manufacturing support for Receptor Logic’s TCRm antibody generation platform. In 2012, he lead optimization of their mouse immunization strategies using Pure Protein’s soluble HLA including developing a semi-quantitative immune surveillance assay and hybridoma fusion product screening; Dr. Rico Buchli continues to lead the TCRm development pipeline for Pure MHC.

Dr. Curtis McMurtrey
Director of Epitope Discovery

Dr. McMurtrey earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in 2010. He is currently a Staff Scientist at OUHSC, and serves as a consultant for Pure Protein and its subsidiaries including Pure MHC, LLC.

Dr. McMurtrey has studied HLA and its role in immunity since 2005. He is a member of American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (ASHI), and holds the distinction of having won four ASHI Top Scholar Awards, more than any other scientist in the 40-year history of ASHI. Dr. McMurtrey is most notable for his work on West Nile virus epitope discovery and validation with HLA-A*02:01 and B*07:02; epitopes he discovered have been successfully tested in a WNV vaccine (collaboration with Drs. Hansen and Diamond at Washington University). His most recent accolades come from discovery of MR1 ligands from Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) as well as over 200 novel ligands from Toxoplasma gondii utilizing Deep Ligand Sequencing (DLS).

Dr. McMurtrey has expertise in BSL-3 containment techniques, protein purification, HLA ligand isolation, HPLC separation, mass spectrometric analysis, ELISPOT, and multicolor flow cytometry as well as provides bioinformatics expertise. To date, he has directed mass spectrometry (both IDA and SWATH) acquisition as well as comparative analysis and interpretation for a wide variety of MHC ligands including those from tuberculosis, toxoplasmosis, influenza, WNV, HIV and multiple cancers. Dr. Curtis McMurtrey oversees DLS acquisition and analyses and also manages database library collection and storage of all discovered epitopes for Pure MHC’s Epitope Discovery pipeline.

Dr. Saghar Kaabinejadian
Director of Immuno Oncology

Dr. Saghar Kaabinejadian has more than 12 years of experience in cancer research, with specific expertise in characterization of the peptides that are presented by HLA of the cancerous and/or infected cells.

 

She earned her Pharm.D. and Ph.D. degree in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology in 2008 from Tehran University of Medical Sciences. During Ph.D. her research was focused on identification of novel biomarkers for breast cancer and analysis the effects of chemotherapeutic agents on the expression of selected cancer biomarkers at transcriptional and translational levels. After graduation she held positions as quality control (QC) consultant and production manager in the pharmaceutical industry.

 

In 2011, she joined Dr. Hildebrand’s lab as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow to further pursue her research interests in the identification of biologic properties unique to infected/cancerous cells. She also served as the project manager of the NIH-funded project “Discovery and Targeting of West Nile Virus Epitopes” during which she gained extensive experience working with different flaviviruses, including WNV, Kunjin and Zika including growing and titrating these viruses, infecting the cells and monitoring progression of viral infection in bioreactor using both flowcytometry and RT-PCR. Dr. Kaabinejadian also studied mechanisms underlying processing and presentation of viral epitopes as well as their immunodominance using TCRm mAbs.

 

Also, to pursue her passion for cancer research, Dr. Kaabinejadian worked with other researchers on several cancer projects, including identification of Platinum-resistance biomarkers in ovarian cancer and studying the processing and presentation of neoantigens on the surface of melanoma cells. In this study in collaboration with scientists at Washington University, she developed a novel cell culture system using human melanoma cells with soluble HLA class I molecules and a tandem minigene construct expressing the patient neoantigens to identify and validate personalized neoantigenic peptides for each patient to assign true neoantigens for testing in a Dendritic cell vaccine clinical trial. Indeed, among the first three vaccinated patients, one patient developed a complete response after sequential anti-PD-1 therapy. In this patient, vaccine induced neoantigen-specific T cells were detected more than one year after the last vaccination. This observation that was the first evidence in humans that vaccines targeting cancer neoantigens promote amplification of T cell immunity was a huge success and was published in journal of Science in 2015 and captured media attention nationally and internationally.

 

In addition to identification of targets for immunotherapy of cancer and infectious diseases, Dr. Kaabinejadian has developed a novel assay for quantitative assessment of HLA class I presentation on dendritic cell-based immunotherapies using TCRm mAbs. This is the first quantitative assay that directly evaluates how well DC present vaccine peptides and propose a reliable and reproducible assay for monitoring the quality and potency of DC vaccines.

 

In 2015, Dr. Kaabinejadian became a staff scientist at OUHSC and currently serves as the Director of Immuno Oncology at Pure MHC, LLC.

 

Dr. Jane C. Yacuik
Director of Operations

Dr. Yaciuk earned her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in 2008. She then completed a three year NIH Kirschstein NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship in the lab of Dr. Pepe Alberola at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation before joining Dr. Hildebrand’s lab as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 2012.

Dr. Yaciuk has managed projects and authored several publications related to antigen presentation and T cell recognition since 2003. In 2006 she was awarded OUHSC’s Dean’s Award for Outstanding Research for her work characterizing T cell tolerance in the context of antigen presentation of ribonucleoproteins in autoimmune diseases, and that same year she was recognized by the American College of Rheumatology with a Medical and Graduate Student Achievement Award. In 2008 Dr. Yaciuk was recognized as an inaugural recipient of the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics (OSSM)’s Awesome Achievement Award. While an Associate Research Scientist at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Dr. Yaciuk was Primary Investigator of her Kirschstein National Research Service Award fellowship studying the role of PTPRkappa in Lck regulation during T cell development. Most recently she was recognized with an OUHSC College of Medicine Award for Excellence for her HIV epitope discovery work highlighting 37 previously unreported virus-derived HLA-A*11:01 peptide ligands recovered from HIV-1-infected, CD4+ T cells which were confirmed for binding HLA as well as demonstrated patient CTL reactivity; this work was subsequently published in the Journal of Virology in November 2014. In addition to research, Dr. Yaciuk has taught Journal Club for OUHSC’s Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences, lectured for the Oklahoma Center for Neuroscience’s Neuroimmunology graduate course, and mentored students from elementary through post-doctoral level.

Dr. Yaciuk has gained extensive experience with tissue culture, pathogen production, peptide binding assays, and TCRm monoclonal antibody analyses in the Hildebrand Lab and at Pure Protein, LLC. She also provides more than 10 years of flow cytometry proficiency which has been especially important for monitoring the level of infection of bioreactors and for testing TCRm antibodies. Her expertise also includes IRB and IBC protocol submission and oversight as well as progress reporting, manuscript and grants/contracts preparation as well as administration of other research/legal documents such as provisional patents, subcontracts, fee for service agreements, MTA’s, etc. Dr. Yaciuk’s extensive research experience as well as project management and reporting capabilities demonstrate that Dr. Jane Yaciuk is particularly suited for overseeing Operations for Pure MHC.

Tommy Harlan
CEO

Tommy Harlan is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Emergent. Since 1998, Emergent has been focused primarily on life and material sciences technology commercialization – funding and managing start-up companies, and structuring and negotiating deals with market leading pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies, research institutions and universities. Mr. Harlan’s value realization management approach has propelled Emergent into high yield, multi-billion dollar markets including the global markets of drug discovery, nanotechnology, clinical immunology, medical device coatings, and material sciences. As a principal and strategic visionary, Tommy has participated in virtually every phase of early stage ventures, including the development and growth of 19 companies formed from university-licensed technologies. Prior to the establishment of Emergent, he built a reputation in the computer software engineering and data processing industries where he founded and successfully developed companies including Microprocessor Industries, Mandata, Inc. and Harlan-Lasater. Mr. Harlan holds a B.S. in Economics from Southern Methodist University and an interdisciplinary M.S. in Theory and Research from the University of Pennsylvania. Tommy is an adventure sports enthusiast, and while not in the office, alternates his time between the mountains of Colorado and exploring scuba diving sites all over the world.

Kris Looney, MBA
President

As President of Emergent, Kris Looney is responsible for conceiving and executing key Emergent business initiatives; developing strategic plans; and managing business processes including accounting, marketing, intellectual property, Emergent Partner Solutions Services, and business development. Kris has nearly two decades of experience as a business generalist with a background in start-ups, management, accounting, marketing, negotiation and sales. Before joining Emergent, Kris served as the COO and Interim CEO of the American Red Cross of Central Texas, where he balanced multiple stakeholder needs with service responsibilities in a competitive philanthropic environment. Prior to that, he was the CFO of Transformation Enzyme Corporation, where his financial management and business development helped a bootstrapped entrepreneurial start-up to become a leader in the nutritional supplement market. Kris has a B.A. in marketing and an M.B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. Outside of the office he is an ardent Longhorns fan and runner.