Scientists united against tropical diseases. 

DDTD was established in 2011, stemming from a long-standing desire to tackle diseases that are not adequately addressed. We have assembled a high-quality team composed of industrial scientists and academic experts. We are modeled similar to other successful biotech start-ups. Our board of directors consists of leaders with demonstrated success in both start-ups and in established pharmaceutical companies. Our core expertise is drug discovery and we have supplemented this expertise with ad-hoc academic collaborators specialized in tropical diseases.


Marco A. Biamonte, President. Marco brings in expertise in the design of new drugs. Marco was a Senior Scientist at Biogen Idec (San Diego, 2006-2011) and Scientist at Conforma Therapeutics (2001-2006) where he contributed to advancing three compounds to development, including the cancer drugs BIIB021 (Phase II) and BIIB028 (Phase I). Marco holds a Ph. D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Cambridge, UK, and completed his post-doctoral work at the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH-Z).

Robert Epple, Secretary. Robert brings in expertise in drug design. Robert is currently  Associate Director at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF, San Diego, 2000-present). He has worked on many diverse projects and delivered several clinical candidates. Robert completed his Ph.D. at the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH-Z), and performed post-doctoral studies in the group of Nobel Laureate Barry Sharpless at the Scripps Research Institute (San Diego, CA).

Jutta Wanner, Board Member. Jutta reinforces the strength in early drug discovery efforts. She is currently Vice President of Chemistry at Coferon (2013-present). She  previously headed one of the medicinal chemistry departments at Roche, NJ (2004-2013) where she specialized in the early discovery phases in oncology, inflammation and virology. She received her PhD from the University of Kansas and performed her postdoctoral training at The Scripps Research Institute (San Diego, CA).

J. Scott Miller, Treasurer. Scott brings sound financial planning and prudent investment skills. Scott is a Financial Advisor at a major US financial institution (2009-present) where he and his team manage over $130 million in assets. Scott was previously Investment Specialist at Bank of America (2001-2009). Scott received his Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® designation in 2011 and holds a B.S. in Economics and Finance from Elon College.

Supriya Gaitonde, Director of Communications. Supriya brings experience in fundraising and diagnostics. She currently serves on the Board of the Association for Women in Science, San Diego (AWIS-SD) and co-chaired its Corporate Sponsorship Committee (2011-2014). Supriya also worked  as Technical Support Scientist at Quidel and at Life Technologies in their diagnostics division. Supriya received her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in Cancer Biology and did her postdoctoral training at the Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute, San Diego.


nanoComposix. We collaborate closely with nanoComposix, a San Diego based company specialized in highly engineered nanoparticles. In 2013, nanoComposix and DDTD received a SBIR Phase I contract from the Centers for Disease Control to deliver new diagnostics for tropical worms. 

National Institutes of Health. The above diagnostic is made possible by introducing technology from the group of Dr. T. Nutman, Head of Clinical Parasitology at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.



Sabine Hadida. Sabine is Head of Chemistry at Vertex Pharmaceuticals (San Diego, 2002-present). Prior to that, Sabine was at Dupont Pharmaceuticals (San Diego, 1997-2001). Sabine is the co-inventor Kalydeco (Ivacaftor; VX-770), a revolutionary drug for a set of cystic fibrosis patients that harbor a specific mutation. The FDA approved Kalydeco for marketing in 2012.

Dave Rotella. Dave is currently the Herman & Margaret Sokol Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, at Montclair University (Montclair NJ, 2011-present) as well as Adjunct Professor at the Center for Drug Discovery of Northeastern University (Boston, MA, 2010-present) and Adjunct Professor at the School of Pharmacy of the University of Mississippi (Lafayette, 2009-present). Prior to that, Dave has had a productive career in several companies (1991-2010): Wyeth, Pfizer, Lexicon, BristolMyersSquibb, Cephalon where he has participated to a number of molecules that have reached clinical trials, and most notably a schizophrenia drug that has advanced to Phase III trials. Dave has chaired several national and international meetings. 

Tom Von Geldern. Tom Von Geldern, Ph.D. Tom has been an independent consultant to the pharmaceutical and biotech industries since 2007, specializing in medicinal chemistry and discovery strategy and tactics. Prior to this, Dr. von Geldern spent over 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry, most recently serving as a Research Fellow and Senior Group Leader at Abbott Laboratories. In this capacity he led medicinal chemistry efforts resulting in the identification of clinical candidates in the areas of oncology, inflammation, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.