NAVAN Appoints Cell Therapy Executive and AgBio Expert to Strategic Advisory Board

Heidi Hagen and Dr. Howard Grimes Named Strategic Advisors

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, May 21, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- NAVAN, Inc. (NAVAN), a privately-held biotechnology company enabling the development of next generation cell and gene therapies through its novel, non-viral NanoStraw platform, announced today the appointment Heidi Hagen, Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer for Vineti, Inc., and Howard Grimes, Ph.D., Associate Vice President and Associate Vice Provost for Institutional Initiatives at The University of Texas at San Antonio, to its Strategic Advisory Board.

Michael J. Nowak, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of NAVAN, stated, "Having recently closed our seed funding round with strong strategic and investor backing, I'm happy to expand our Strategic Advisory Board with the addition of a pioneer in cell and gene therapy and a leading plant molecular biologist. Their individual strengths address key aspects of our growth strategy: from Heidi's strategic and operational expertise in building and scaling novel cell therapy manufacturing capabilities to Howard's leadership in facilitating interdisciplinary collaborations that will help us extend our platform's potential to new markets beyond human biotech, such as agricultural biotech."

Heidi Hagen added, "Having worked to develop and lead innovation in the cell therapy space for the past 20 years, and having overseen a variety of critical components in the cell manufacturing value chain, I am proud to be advising NAVAN as it endeavors to shift the paradigm to make cell therapy more affordable and easily accessible. One of the main challenges facing the industry is the complexity and high cost of goods, but with NAVAN's NanoStraw platform being modular and easy to operate NAVAN will enable the industry to focus on scale-out instead of scale up and to develop more local, point-of-care solutions."

Dr. Howard Grimes also commented, "I am excited to be part of the NAVAN story and to work with its diverse team of scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs as they build this innovative and disruptive technology into a transformative platform with far-reaching applications. I look forward to advancing NAVAN's capabilities, not just in the biopharma sector, but also into new avenues such as agricultural biotechnology, an industry that has immediate and clear need for improved transfection techniques into plant cells."

About NAVAN's Strategic Advisory Board
Heidi Hagen and Dr. Howard Grimes join Dr. Albine Martin and Dr. Phyllis Gardner as strategic advisors to NAVAN.

Dr. Albine Martin is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Johns Hopkins University and BioHealth Innovation and brings more than 20 years of operating and general management experience within three public companies. She has successfully advanced a broad range of technologies from bench to market within the biotechnology, diagnostics and life sciences sectors. She has previously served in general management and leadership roles to drive growth and market adoption of disruptive innovation at Precision Biologics, Compugen, Life Technologies and Digene Diagnostics.

Dr. Phyllis Gardner has spent more than 25 years in academia, medicine and industry, including as Senior Associate Dean for Education and Student Affairs at Stanford University, where she is a Professor of Medicine. She took a leave of absence to work at ALZA Corporation, a major drug delivery company, as a Principal Scientist, Vice President of Research and as Head of ALZA Technology Institute. She has conducted extensive research in cell biology, including gene therapy, and is widely published in the fields of cell biology and pharmacology.

Heidi Hagen is a Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer for Vineti, Inc., a company that is scaling and digitizing cell and gene therapies through an advanced software platform and data analytics. She is also a member of the Board for Vericel, a publicly traded cell therapy company in Cambridge, MA. Ms. Hagen has been an advisor for a variety of cell therapy companies and as an executive has overseen commercial and clinical operations that have produced more than 100,000 doses of cell therapy worldwide.

Ms. Hagen has a proven track record in leading operations and commercializing innovative technologies worldwide. She is the former Global COO for SOTIO a.s. in Prague, Czech Republic. Before joining SOTIO she worked at Dendreon for 10 years as Senior Vice President of Operations, where she was responsible for Technical Operations, among other duties. She built the commercial US Provenge facilities and operations (the first active cellular immunotherapy approved in both the US and EU) and led all operations for the US and the EU. Before Dendreon, she spent 10 years with Immunex Corporation in a senior operations role on products including ENBREL® and LEUKINE®.

Howard Grimes, Ph.D., is currently serving as Associate Vice President and Associate Vice Provost for Institutional Initiatives at The University of Texas at San Antonio where he is organizing the creation of a national institute for cybersecurity in advanced manufacturing processes. Previously, Dr. Grimes served as the Vice President for Research at Washington State University and provided the leadership that grew research expenditures from ~$170M to greater than $320M in less than five years.

Dr. Grimes is an accomplished plant molecular biologist and is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has a distinguished list of academic papers and publications, and has written numerous thought leadership and op-ed pieces on topics ranging from climate change and biofuel production to the role of research universities in regional economic development.


NAVAN, Inc. (NAVAN) is an early-stage private biotechnology company developing a novel, proprietary NanoStraw platform to enable the next generation of cell and gene therapies. A non-viral physical delivery technology, NanoStraws provide direct access to the cytosol of a cell and enable the delivery of Any Cargo into Any Cell in a gentle, non-perturbative manner. High cell viability, the ability to have multiple deliveries of different cargos into a cell, and no cargo size limitations are hallmarks of the platform. Cell transformation via NanoStraws will drastically reduce the complexity, cost and technical challenges involved in cell therapy manufacturing, allowing NAVAN to actively pursue the development of innovative therapies in a broad range of indications with its strategic collaborators and partners.

Dr. Nowak recently presented on NAVAN's novel, cargo-agnostic and non-perturbative NanoStraw platform transfection technology at the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine's (ARM) 2019 Cell & Gene Meeting on the Med in Barcelona, Spain. NAVAN invites all interested parties to watch the webcast of the presentation at

NAVAN is a resident company at JLABS @ SSF located at Oyster Point in South San Francisco, CA. The company has been generously supported by the National Science Foundation through a Phase II STTR award, is a Stanford University spin-out with exclusive license to its core technology, and has recently closed its seed financing round led by Amgen Ventures, HTGF, and Hemi Ventures.

For more information on NAVAN, please visit

Contact Information

Sarah Boyatzis, Chief of Staff

For Investors & Media Inquiries:

Tiberend Strategic Advisors, Inc.
Tirth T. Patel, Investor Relations
(212) 375-2694

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