Synthekine Expands Board of Directors, Management Team and Scientific Advisory Board with New Key Appointments

June 3, 2021 / MENLO PARK, Calif. — Synthekine Inc., an engineered cytokine therapeutics company, today announced that it has appointed Mardi Dier to its board of directors, Robin Knifsend as senior vice president of finance and operations and Antoni Ribas, M.D., Ph.D., to its scientific advisory board.

Ms. Dier is the CFO and executive vice president of Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical. She previously served as CFO and CBO of Portola Pharmaceuticals until its acquisition by Alexion Pharmaceuticals in 2020. Before this, Ms. Dier served as vice president of investor relations at Chiron Corporation from 2003 to 2006. Earlier in her career, she worked as an investment banker at Prudential Securities, and prior to that she worked in the audit department at KPMG Peat Marwick. Ms. Dier received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Stanford University and a master’s of business administration from the Anderson School at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

“I have been thoroughly impressed by Synthekine’s rapid progress since its launch, including advancing two lead programs toward IND, expanding the pipeline and building a world-class team focused on developing selective cytokine therapeutics,” said Ms. Dier. “I am excited to join the company at such a pivotal time, and I look forward to supporting the company’s continued growth.”

Ms. Knifsend brings more than 25 years of experience to her role, spanning equity financings, research and development collaborations, and commercial product launches. Prior to joining Synthekine, she was senior vice president of finance and principal accounting officer at CytomX Therapeutics and responsible for leading the transformation of its finance, tax and planning functions. Previously, Ms. Knifsend had several roles of increasing responsibility at Actelion Pharmaceuticals US where she oversaw finance and corporate services, helped launch three pharmaceutical products and led the finance integration into Janssen Pharmaceuticals after the acquisition by Johnson & Johnson. She holds a bachelor’s of science degree in agricultural and managerial economics from the University of California, Davis, and is a certified public accountant in the state of California.

“We are delighted to welcome Mardi to our board of directors. Mardi’s experience in successfully raising capital, her relationship with investors, and her strategic and operational expertise will be a tremendous asset for Synthekine in our next stage of growth,” said Debanjan Ray, CEO of Synthekine. “We also look forward to Toni’s valuable contributions to our scientific advisory board, given his leadership in cancer immunotherapy. Finally, I am very pleased to work with Robin again. Her deep experience in building and leading a top-notch finance organization will be invaluable as we advance our lead programs to the clinic.”

Dr. Ribas is the director of the tumor immunology program at Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and director of Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at UCLA. Dr. Ribas received the ESMO Award for Translational Research in 2020 in recognition of his research on gene-engineered adoptive cell transfer (ACT) therapies, PD-1 blockade and BRAF-targeted therapies. He received his medical doctorate from the University of Barcelona and completed his fellowships in hematology/oncology and surgical oncology at the UCLA School of Medicine.

“Synthekine has a broad portfolio of promising cytokine therapeutic candidates,” said Dr. Ribas.
“Recently published and presented research for their lead cytokine programs highlight their selective activity and ability to be directed to specific cell types for therapeutic benefit, and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Synthekine to further advance these programs.”

About Synthekine

Synthekine is an engineered cytokine therapeutics company developing disease-optimized treatments. The company uses immunological insights to guide targeted protein engineering to generate transformative medicines for cancer and autoimmune disorders. Using the principles of cytokine partial agonism and immunological specificity, Synthekine designs differentiated therapeutics to be both safe and efficacious. Its lead programs have shown promising efficacy and tolerability in preclinical studies, and it is developing additional cytokine partial agonists that selectively modulate key pathways of the immune system. For more information, visit

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