our people

Ventria Team

Management Team

Vladimir AkoyevVladimir Akoyev, Ph.D., Vice President Analytical Development
Dr. Akoyev leads the team responsible for process development, manufacturing and analytical method development. His expertise includes a wide spectrum of biophysical and biochemical methods of protein characterization including mass spectrometry, HPLC, capillary electrophoresis, spectroscopy, scanning calorimetry, and ultracentrifugation. Before joining Ventria in 2010, Dr. Akoyev was a Senior Scientist at Kansas State University. Prior to this, he was a Research Scientist in the Institute of Cell Biophysics at the Russian Academy of Sciences, where he received his Ph.D. in Biophysics and Hematology.

Randall AlfanoRandall Alfano, Ph.D., Vice President, Product Development
Dr. Alfano currently leads the product development team, where he utilizes his expertise in media design and optimization for biomanufacturing, cell-based vaccines, cell therapies and culturing stem/primary cells. Prior to joining the Company, Dr. Alfano was the Process Development Manager for XBiotech in Austin, TX where he specialized in the development and optimization of the company’s cell culture processes in mammalian cells for cancer biologics. Previously, he was promoted from Postdoctoral Fellow to Senior Scientist at the Cancer Research Institute of Scott and White Hospital where he developed in vivo animal models for metastatic prostate cancer and was instrumental in developing thorough in vitro and in vivo models for immunostimulatory antigens. Dr. Alfano received his Ph.D. from Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine.

Ron Backman,

Ron Backman, Vice President, Quality
Ron Backman, Vice President of Quality, leads Ventria’s Quality Assurance, Quality Control, Facilities and Supply Chain teams. He has over 21 years of biopharmaceutical Quality and Supply Chain experience with increasing responsibilities throughout his career. He joined the company in 2018 after previously managing Product Quality, Stability and Microbiology services at KBI Biopharma, a global contract development & manufacturing organization in Durham, NC. Prior to KBI Biopharma he managed Quality Control and Support at Diosynth Biotechnology. He started his career in the Quality department of Boehringer Ingelheim. He received his Bachelor of Science in Biology from Kansas State University.

Crissa A. Seymour Cook

Crissa A. Seymour Cook, Outside Counsel
Mrs. Cook is a Patent Attorney and advises Ventria Bioscience Inc. on its intellectual property, including all domestic and foreign patent and trademark matters, related contracts, due diligence matters, enforcement, and dispute resolution. Mrs. Cook is a Partner with Hovey Williams LLP, an intellectual property law firm. She also serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Kansas School of Law where she teaches courses in patent law and patent practice.

Marcus Curl

Marcus Curl, Vice President, Product Applications
Mr. Curl leverages his experience working with researchers in cell therapy and vaccine development fields. He has been instrumental in developing and advancing laboratory techniques by serving as a liaison between customer facilities and Dr. Alfano’s development lab.

As such, he has developed unique perspectives on recognizing production risks and addressing those risks through proper excipient selection, method development, and process validation. Mr. Curl received his B.S. in Biology from Pitzer College.

Katherine Deeter, Chief People Officer
Mrs. Deeter leads talent recruiting and retention as well as Company culture development. She joined the Company in 2013 and has been involved in several areas of increasing responsibility including lab supply and purchasing, customer order management, customer service and event planning. Mrs. Deeter received her Bachelors in Liberal Arts and Sciences from the University of Kansas.

Scott E. Deeter

Scott E. Deeter, President and CEO
Mr. Deeter is the Company’s Chief Executive Officer. He serves as a Director of Iteris, Inc. (NASDAQ: ITI), the global leader in applied informatics for transportation and agriculture. Previously, he started and led a joint venture between Cargill and F. Hoffmann-La Roche that commercialized pharmaceutical intermediates and functional food ingredients. He served as President and CEO of CyberCrop and was a member of the Technology and Life Sciences Group of Salomon Brothers. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas (BSc-Economics); University of Chicago (MBA); and London School of Economics (MSc-Economics).

Seymour Fein, M.D.Seymour Fein, M.D., Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Fein began his career at Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. as a senior research physician and was responsible for a clinical development program that led to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of recombinant interferon-alpha for cancer treatment. Dr. Fein was also the medical director of Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals (U.S.) where he was responsible for therapeutic areas including gastroenterology, oncology, and cardiology. He later served as medical director for Rorer Group (now part of Sanofi) and Ohmeda (now part of Baxter). Dr. Fein founded and has been managing partner of a clinical and regulatory consulting organization and has worked closely with the Division of Gastroenterology and Inborn Errors Products at the FDA. He has participated in the development of and FDA approval of numerous drug products in many therapeutic areas. Dr. Fein has successfully overseen entrepreneurial drug development leading to the FDA approval of two orphan drug products in the field of gastroenterology.

L. Mark Lagrimini, Ph.D., Vice President for Upstream Product Development
Dr. Lagrimini provides leadership for the Molecular Biology and Product Development groups based in Junction City, KS. Most recently he served as the Vice Provost for Research and Extension at the University of California. In this role Dr. Lagrimini oversaw the University’s nine Research & Extension Centers. He is an emeritus professor in the Department of Agronomy & Horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he served as department head from 2005-2011 and led a research program in plant biotechnology. He was a project leader at Syngenta in RTP, NC, and prior to that was an Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science at The Ohio State University. Dr. Lagrimini received his B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Illinois and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Iowa.

Sofia Pezoa, Ph.D., Director, Cell CultureSofia Pezoa, Ph.D., Director, Cell Culture
Dr. Pezoa joined InVitria in 2020 and is leading the development of new products and product applications in gene therapy, vaccines and cell therapy. Prior to joining InVitria, she received a Ph.D. in Cell Biology, Stem Cells and Developmental Biology from University of Colorado Anschutz. During her graduate studies, Dr. Pezoa’s research focused on craniofacial development. Dr. Pezoa also completed a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Syracuse University.

Kevin Sitts, Vice President, Manufacturing & Supply ChainKevin Sitts, Vice President, Manufacturing & Supply Chain
Mr. Sitts leads manufacturing and supply chain operations. Previously, he managed manufacturing operations for Pfizer in McPherson, KS with 380 operations personnel responsible to supply millions of units of drug product per year with multiple manufacturing lines operating 24 hours per day and seven days per week. In addition, Mr. Sitts was Director of Manufacturing for Tolmar Pharmaceuticals, a maker of injectible cancer therapeutics (Eligard) where he managed Tolmar’s site in Windsor, Colorado with 80 operating personnel. Previously, he led sterile manufacturing for Meridian Medical Technologies in St. Louis and was with Amylin Pharmaceuticals in San Diego prior to its purchase by Eli Lilly & Co. Mr. Sitts graduated from Kansas State University.