IQ Microphysiological Systems Affiliate
An Affiliate of the International Consortium for Innovation and Quality in Drug Development
Dr. Jason Ekert is Senior Director, GSK Fellow and Head of the Complex In Vitro Models (CIVM) group at GlaxoSmithKline. He is responsible for an integrated enterprise strategy for R&D applications of complex human-relevant and translatable complex in vitro models (eg Spheroids, Organoids, Microphysiological systems and bioprinting). He leads a cross-functional matrix team at GSK that is a multi-disciplinary team which coordinates activities, collaborates externally and identifies ready soon platforms that can positively impact the GSK portfolio.
Before joining GSK he worked at Janssen in biotherapeutic drug discovery in target discovery, drug validation and mechanism of action studies applying complex cell-based assays across multiple therapeutic areas. Jason received his PhD from Adelaide University. Post-doctoral training was performed at University of California, Davis and Coriell Institute for Medical Research.
Jason Ekert, PhD, MBA, UCB
Past Chair (2022-2023)
Rhiannon is a Scientific Associate Director in Discovery Toxicology at Bristol Myers Squibb San Diego where she oversees an in vitro toxicology laboratory and serves as a project toxicologist for discovery phase programs. Her laboratory interests include the use of complex in vitro models and microphysiological systems in the identification and characterization of tox liabilities to support discovery programs. In her role as a project toxicologist, she is responsible for the proactive design and execution of nonclinical toxicology studies to support successful candidate nomination. Previously, Rhiannon worked as a Senior Scientist in Translational Safety Sciences and project toxicologist for discovery and development phase programs at Theravance Biopharma. Collaborating with representatives from safety assessment, DMPK, and pharmacology, she implemented and served as lead for an internal working group aimed at expanding knowledge and integrating the use of complex in vitro models in the drug development process at Theravance Biopharma.
Rhiannon achieved a BS in biochemistry and BFA in dance from the University of Oklahoma where she was also selected as a McNair Research Scholar. She attained her PhD from the University of Arizona by investigating the impact of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease progression on ADME-related genes, drug disposition, and toxicity using a combination of human liver tissue data and rodent models of disease. In her postdoctoral studies at the University of North Carolina and the Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences, Rhiannon shifted her focus to in vitro liver models to investigate the regulation of efflux drug transporter function and zonal differences in nuclear receptor activation and hepatocyte response. Rhiannon then leveraged her in vivo and in vitro liver knowledge to lead a team focused on improving functional features of a 3D bioprinted liver model and expanding disease modeling capabilities while at Organovo. Rhiannon is a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology and an active member of the Society of Toxicology and the American College of Toxicology.
Rhiannon N Hardwick, PhD, DABT, BMS
Anna is a Senior Principal Scientist within Cellular and Mechanistic Toxicology group in Drug Safety Research & Development at Pfizer where she provides strategic guidance on the utility and context-driven application of novel complex in vitro models. She received a dual major PhD in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Environmental Toxicology from Michigan State University where she continued as a Postdoctoral Research Associate and subsequently as a Research Assistant Professor investigating mechanisms linking coagulation and liver repair in models of liver injury.
Anna has co-authored 43 peer-reviewed publications. Anna has been a productive member of the Society of Toxicology for the last 15 years and is looking forward to contributing her enthusiasm and energy to the IQ MPS Leadership.
Anna K. Kopec, PhD, Pfizer
Vice Chair (2022-2023)
Dr. Rhiannon David is Director of Microphysiological Systems (MPS) in Clinical Pharmacology and Safety Sciences at AstraZeneca, Cambridge, UK, where she is responsible for the overall strategy to implement advanced cell models (including organoids and MPS) to address gaps and improve the human-translation of pre-clinical safety assessment.
Prior to joining AZ, following completion of her PhD at the University of Birmingham, Rhiannon undertook postdoctoral research at Imperial College London where she developed an interest in novel techniques that would improve the in vivo relevance of in vitro assays. After joining AZ in 2015, Rhiannon led the development and application of a bone marrow MPS for improved pre-clinical safety assessment. In her current role as Director of MPS in Safety Innovation, Rhiannon leads a multidisciplinary matrix team to drive and coordinate the development and integration of advanced cell models to bring safer medicines to patients quicker.
Rhiannon David, PhD, AstraZeneca
Vice Chair Elect (2023-2024)