Meet The Team: Scientific Advisors Khaled Amara and Ali Zirakzadeh
June 21, 2022
Khaled and Ali’s extensive research backgrounds are an invaluable resource internally and for our many customers.
Q – What are your roles at Immuneed, and what does that mean? What are your specialties?
Ali: Both me and my colleague Khaled work as Scientific Advisors. Our educational background as immunologists and professional experiences enable us to quickly get up to speed on any customer project, taking on the role of advisor for our clients. It is exciting to meet so many innovative national and international companies and design studies, bringing new therapies one step closer to the patient.
I have over twelve years of experience working with B cells and preclinical T cell-based adoptive immunotherapy in cancer patients. During these research years, I gained valuable experiences within several fields of malignancies, including urinary bladder, prostate, colon, penile and pancreatic cancer, and malignant melanoma. Initially, I studied biological engineering and then did my Ph.D. and postdoctoral work in immunology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. During that time, I first heard about Immuneed and thought they had an exciting platform, and when a position was available, I saw it as the perfect opportunity for me to contribute.
Khaled, I joined the Rheumatology Unit at Karolinska Institute in 2009 and worked there for twelve years studying B cell biology, monoclonal antibody production, and T cells. Before that, I obtained a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in immunology and biotechnology in Tunisia. I joined Immuneed in October 2021. I was fortunate that I had applied for a prior position, and when the company needed a Scientific Advisor, they had my CV, so they contacted me and invited me to apply!
At Immuneed, we work with many different types of molecules, and the role of the Scientific Advisors is to be subject matter experts and ensure our clients’ needs are met. We work closely internally and with the client to genuinely support the client’s objective, whether for IND (Investigational New Drug) or purely experimental purposes.
Q – What do you most enjoy about your work, and what do you find most challenging?
Ali – We highly enjoy working as a team, delivering essential insights to our clients. I would not call it challenging, but it requires a high focus. Quality is our lead star, and we will not stop until we are 100% satisfied. Our colleagues are fantastic, and we work on many various projects. From the lab to the project leaders and the CEO, there is a tremendous support.
Khaled – I agree with Ali; the work environment is just excellent. We are continuously learning from our customers. Because every client comes to us with unique needs, we are constantly challenged, as no two projects are the same.
Q – If you could tell potential clients anything about Immuneed, what one thing would you want them to know?
Ali – The first thing I would tell someone about our platform is that we use fresh, whole blood from healthy donors, which is kept circulating at 37 degrees C. This creates a physiologically relevant environment similar to human blood circulation. Plus, we look at several different readouts in our studies simultaneously, such as cell activation, cytokine release, complement activation, coagulation, and hematology values, all at the same time.
“The client can thoroughly understand how their new compound would likely behave when entering the human blood circulation”
Khaled – The key to qualitative analysis is the gentle handling of blood. Some of the cells are extremely sensitive, and with our method, we minimize the negative impact that chemical and physical handling can have. Our current and previous clients are our best advertisers in a way, as they are delighted with our service, as we have gained their trust, so they often recommend our company to others.
Q – What sort of things do you both like to do with your time off?
Khaled – I think both Ali and I are very fond of soccer and are pretty happy as our teams qualified for the world cup! I am forced to eat cookies every day as my wife loves baking, and we both enjoy spending time with our two beautiful children.
Ali – Besides soccer, I have an Instagram account dedicated to my photography of summer skies, which I love. I also enjoy movies, traveling, and hanging out with friends.
Q – What is one thing you would like people to know about Immuneed?
Khaled – My experience working at Immuneed has greatly exceeded my expectations. We provide a unique opportunity to characterize novel drugs before clinical trials.
Ali – When I see how far Immuneed has come as a company in such a short time, I am amazed at the number of customers we have and our global reach. The vast interest from pharmaceutical and biotech companies indicates the high demand for Immuneed’s unique preclinical platform and mirrors the teamwork and quality the company provides.
Sofia is responsible for the commercial operations at Immuneed, with a strong focus on strategic marketing & customer excellence. Previously, she worked as Customer Success Manager for a technical software startup and brought her strong knowledge in customer relations management and digitalization with her to Immuneed. She graduated from the University of Gothenburg with a Master's degree in Business Creation and Entrepreneurship in Biomedicine.
Animal Testing – from Mandatory to Optional to Last Resort