Harnessing Poop For The Cure™, Omics, and Machine Learning to Create Novel Immunotherapies

Date: Thursday, November 14, 2019

6:00 PM Social Hour, Light Meal
7:00 PM Lecture

Place: Takeda, 9625 Towne Centre Drive, San Diego Map

RSVP: By November 6, 2019 https://culler.eventbrite.com

Stephanie Culler, PhD Co-Founder and CEO Persephone Biome, San Diego


Stephanie Culler, Ph.D., is the co-founder and CEO of Persephone Biome, a business taking a unique approach to oncology, by understanding and leveraging the rich metabolic capabilities of the gut microbiome to develop better therapeutic drugs. Dr. Culler oversees the company’s strategic growth and directs the discovery and product development platforms of the company. She is also a recent graduate of the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator, recipient of the Biocom Catalyst Award and has spoken at TEDx San Diego. She received her B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from UC San Diego and her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology. Dr. Culler has over a dozen publications and patents on synthetic biology and microbial based technologies.

Persephone Biome uses artificial intelligence to rapidly decode the gut microbiome and its interaction with the immune system, enabling the development of novel microbe-based products to improve cancer therapies. We are focused on a class of groundbreaking and curative immunotherapy cancer drugs known as checkpoint inhibitors. Unfortunately, 70% of cancer patients fail to respond to therapy and recent literature published in Science Magazine demostrated that gut microbes influence and modulate the efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors. These results have tremendous implications on using live biotherapeutics (FDA approved probiotics) to fully enable the curative power of immunotherapy The presentation will discuss how machine learning and deep systems analysis of large omics datasets acquired from patient samples (Poop For The Cure™) are used to decode the metabolic relationship between the microbiome and the immune system. Using an iterative engineering approach, live biotherapeutics are rapidly developed. We will discuss how microbiome research is challenged by the lack of infrastructure and standard collection methods. Poop For The Cure™, a citizen scientist campaign for stool collection, has alleviated these research barriers. Data collected from systems-based analyses of patient biospecimens and pre-clinical studies will also be presented.