The core members of the Pure MHC team have worked together closely for over a decade, first in academia and then at the company, and have authored more than 130 peer reviewed publications on HLA-related topics.
Pure MHC Management Team
William Hildebrand, PhD
Founder/Chief Scientist-Target Discovery
Curtis McMurtrey, PhD
Director of Immuno-Proteomics
Saghar Kaabinejandian, PhD, Pharm D
Director of Immuno-Oncology
Rico Buchli, PhD
Director of Research-TCRm Development
Steven Lloyd Mayer, MD
Chief Medical Officer
Pure MHC, LLC
1105 Castle Court
Austin, TX 78703
Research Laboratory 655 Research Parkway Suite 556 Oklahoma City, OK 73104
Dr. Mayer has more than 30 years of diversified experience in diagnostics, medical devices, and drug development. Since 2002, he has been a Scientific Consultant, Board member or an Advisor to several healthcare companies including: Abbott Labs, Pure Transplant Solutions, Pure MHC, GlucoSentient Inc., Rules Based Medicine, IAPAC, Mead West Vaco, Organ Recovery Systems and HBM BioVentures. From 1982 to 2002.
Dr. Mayer held roles of increasing responsibility at Abbott Laboratories where he began as a research engineer in Corporate Engineering; then as a Program Manager, Senior Strategic Planner, and Director of Health Economics in the Diagnostics Division; and lastly as a Medical Director of Pharmaco Economics and Outcomes Research and Associate Medical Director in Abbott’s Pharmaceutical Products Division. Dr. Mayer has a Doctor of Medicine and B.S. Chemical Engineering degrees, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
As President of Emergent Technologies, the manager of Pure MHC, Kris Looney is responsible for conceiving and executing key business initiatives; developing strategic plans; and managing business processes including accounting, marketing, intellectual property, , and business development. Kris has more than 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 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.
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 peptide binding assays 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.
Dr. Saghar Kaabinejadian has more than 15 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 currently serves as the Director of Immuno-Oncology at Pure MHC.
She earned her Pharm.D. and Ph.D. degree in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology in 2008 from Tehran University of Medical Sciences. Her Ph.D. research was focused on the identification of novel biomarkers for breast cancer and analysis of 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, Dr. Kaabinejadian 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 (WNV, Kunjin and Zika) and studying the mechanisms underlying processing and presentation of viral epitopes as well as their immunodominance using TCRm mAbs.
In addition, 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 a collaboration with scientists at Washington University, she developed a cell culture system using human melanoma cells with soluble HLA class I molecules and a tandem minigene construct (TMC) to validate the presentation of the personalized neoantigens for testing in a Dendritic cell vaccine clinical trial (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00683670). 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 was the first evidence in humans that vaccines targeting cancer neoantigens promote amplification of T cell immunity. The result of this clinical trial 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 developed an assay for quantitative assessment of HLA class I presentation on dendritic cell-based immunotherapies using TCRm mAbs that directly evaluates DC presentation of vaccine peptides and propose a reliable, reproducible and quantitative assay for monitoring the quality and potency of DC vaccines.
In 2016, Dr. Kaabinejadian joined Pure MHC, LLC, to serve as the Director of Immuno-Oncology where she has been developing and optimizing methods to extract endogenous HLA from solid tumors and liquid biopsies to identify disease associated biomarkers in order to treat or early detection and diagnosis of cancer. She is now directing the Pure MHC’s internal cancer epitope discovery projects.
In 2020, in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pure MHC partnered with OUHSC to identify SARS-CoV-2 epitopes presented by HLA class I as a part of COVID-19 vaccine project. In this project, Dr. Kaabinejadian isolated SARS-CoV-2 viral epitopes from the COVID+ patients plasma samples using Pure MHC’s patented technology to map the hot spots of SARS-CoV-2 polyprotein and identify the viral epitopes that are presented to immune system by HLA.
Dr. McMurtrey earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in 2010. He currently serves as the Director of Immuno-Proteomics at 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 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.
Dr. Hildebrand earned his PhD from Southern Illinois University in 1990 and conducted post-doctoral research at Stanford University with Dr. Peter Parham. He is a Presbyterian Health Foundation Endowed Professor, a George Lynn Cross Research Professor, and a Presidential Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. He is President of the American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (ASHI) and he serves on the Board of Directors for the United Organ Sharing Network (UNOS) and the Organ Procurement Transplant Network (OPTN). He is an ABHI Diplomate and Director of the OUHSC Clinical HLA Typing Laboratory.
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 $70M in grants from regional and federal government agencies as well as from private corporations. To date, he has authored over 140 publications, reviews, and book chapters in peer-reviewed industry works as well as popular science journals; he was Associate Editor of the Journal of Immunology from 2006-2010 and President of the American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics in 2020-2021. 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 and Emergent Technologies, Inc. co-founded Pure Protein, LLC in 1999 where Dr. Hildebrand serves as its Chief Scientist. Later, three additional subsidiary companies were formed, Pure Transplant and Pure Vaccine Solutions in 2003 and Pure MHC in 2013. 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.