Douglas Krafte, PhD
Senior Vice President
Dr. Douglas Krafte joined Ligand in 2020, following Ligand’s acquisition of Icagen. Dr. Krafte has 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, managing research sites and R&D programs. Prior to joining Ligand, he was Chief Scientific Officer at Icagen and an executive officer of the company where he helped establish collaborative programs with Roche and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Dr. Krafte previously was Executive Director & Site Head for the United States arm of Pfizer’s Pain & Sensory Disorders Research Unit, where on the Emerging Science Fund he evaluated a wide range of asset and technology opportunities across all therapeutic and platform areas. He has also held positions at Boehringer Ingelheim and Aurora Biosciences, focused on drug discovery projects and technology development. Dr. Krafte is the author of multiple peer-reviewed scientific papers and several patents and has advised entrepreneurial groups for local North Carolina universities. He is currently a non-academic student advisor for the Neuroscience Department at UNC-Chapel Hill. Dr. Krafte completed his postdoctoral training at the California Institute of Technology in Molecular Neurobiology, received a Master of Science and Doctorate in Physiology from the University of Rochester and a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology from Vanderbilt University.
Shetaun Deering, MBA
Director of Operations
Shetaun Deering began her career with Icagen in July 1997. She assumed the position of Director of Operations in April 2020 and is a key member of the senior management team. Ms. Deering oversees high-level human resources duties, evaluating and continuously improving organizational policies and procedures to increase productivity and efficiency. In addition, Ms. Deering is responsible for all non-scientific operations at Icagen. She has worked in the pharmaceutical and biotech environment for 24 years and acquired her master’s degree in Human Resource Management from Strayer University and her Business Administration degree in Computer Information Systems from North Carolina Central University.
Anil Nair, PhD
Vice President of In Silico Discovery
Anil Nair joined Icagen in 2016 following a successful career at Sanofi, which began in 2001. During this time, Dr. Nair had positions of increasing responsibility including Global Coordinator for Structure, Design and Informatics. He is a member of the leadership team and coordinates all activities in computational chemistry, medicinal chemistry and in silico drug discovery at Icagen. Dr. Nair received his doctorate degree at Banaras Hindu University in Quantum Chemistry and had a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Missouri.
Neil Castle, PhD
Vice President of Biology
Neil Castle, PhD, has served as Icagen’s Vice President of Biology/Research since March 2016 and is a member of the senior leadership team overseeing the company’s biology activities. Prior to 2015, Icagen was part of Pfizer’s Neuroscience and Pain Research Unit, where Dr. Castle was Director of Biology and a member of the Pain Research Unit leadership team. Dr. Castle helped found the company and has taken on increasing levels of responsibility, including direct responsibility of leading multiple partnered programs. Dr. Castle previously was a Postdoctoral Fellow and then Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and received his Bachelor of Science and Doctorate in Pharmacology from University College London.
Director of Biology
Brett Antonio is currently Director of Biology and joined Icagen in 2000 following jobs at Novalon and Cubist Pharmaceuticals. He is a member of the Icagen leadership team and responsible for managing many aspects of biological assay development and execution, including HTS, plate-based pharmacology, molecular biology and cell culture. Mr. Antonio received his Bachelor of Arts from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Mark Chapman, PhD
Associate Research Fellow
Mark Chapman joined Icagen in 2000 and is currently a member of the leadership team. He has a great depth of expertise in ion channel biology and has led multiple internal drug discovery projects as well as programs with pharmaceutical partners. Dr. Chapman received a Doctorate of Pharmacology from Duke University and followed that with postdoctoral training at Duke prior to joining Icagen.
Chris Silvia, PhD
IT/Associate Research Fellow
Chris Silvia has more than 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. He began his employment with Icagen in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, where he cloned and expressed ion channels and holds several patents related to ion channel molecular biology. Dr. Silvia has had increasing levels of responsibility in the information technology (IT) and informatics area, including during the company’s tenure as part of Pfizer, where Dr. Silvia managed global rollouts of data management software. He is currently responsible for all of Icagen’s IT and business technology activities.
Dr. Silvia completed his postdoctoral training at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Duke University and received a Doctorate in Pharmacology from Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from the University of Rhode Island.
Aaron Gerlach, PhD
Director of Drug Discovery Alliances
Aaron Gerlach, Ph.D., serves as our Director of Drug Discovery Alliances. He has been with Icagen since 2003, serving as a project lead for internal and collaborative research partnerships in addition to contributing to the development of Icagen's business opportunities. Dr. Gerlach brings more than 25 years of ion channel target expertise and over 20 years in the neuroscience field. He serves on the scientific advisory board of the Pitt Hopkins Research Foundation, where he advises on research directed toward a treatment for this rare genetic form of autism. Dr. Gerlach received a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh in Cell Biology and Physiology with subsequent postdoctoral training at the Vollum Institute at Oregon Health and Science University.