Who We Are

Michael R. Boyd, MD, PhD; Co-founder & President

Michael received his M.D., and a Ph.D. in pharmacology and organic chemistry, from Vanderbilt University. He was recruited to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in 1976, and he served there for 27 years in a variety of roles focusing on anticancer drug discovery and development, and experimental therapeutics of cancer. Positions at NCI included: Head, Molecular Toxicology Section, Clinical Pharmacology Branch; Chief, Laboratory of Experimental Therapeutics and Metabolism; Executive Director, Developmental Therapeutics Program and Associate Director, Division of Cancer Treatment; Chief, Laboratory of Drug Discovery Research and Development; and, Director, Molecular Targets Development Program. Michael’s bibliography lists 460 research publications, and 150 U.S. and international patents. While at NCI, Michael was the recipient of multiple NCI Technology Transfer Awards, U.S. Public Health Service Commendation and Meritorious Service Medals, the Achievement Award of the Society of Toxicology, Pfizer Awards in Pharmacology, and the Lupiloff Award in Clinical Oncology. In 2002 Michael moved to the University of South Alabama (USA) in Mobile, Alabama where he led the development of a new cancer research institute and clinical oncology center. As the founding Director of the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute, Michael helped raise over $165M start-up funding, and he recruited more than 300 new staff and faculty, including nationally and internationally well-known and accomplished cancer researchers, physician-scientists and educators. The USA Mitchell Cancer Institute became the university’s most prolific generator of new intellectual property, and during 2008-2014, more than 30 new MCI patent applications were filed, multiple formal public-private partnerships in drug & diagnostic discovery/development were formed, and 4 new companies were founded based on MCI research. Michael retired from the University of South Alabama in 2014, and subsequently co-founded ADT Pharmaceuticals, where he currently serves as President. The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has recognized Michael as among the nation’s top 400 inventors (99th percentile) named on U.S. Patents since 1976.

Gary A. Piazza, PhD; Co-founder, Consultant & Chief Scientist

Gary received a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Fox Chase Cancer Center, and held his first academic appointment as Research Assistant Professor at Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital. Gary then gained extensive experience working in the pharmaceutical industry as a Staff Scientist with the Proctor and Gamble Company from 1989-1994 and as Senior Director of Biology with Cell Pathways Inc. from 1994-2001. Gary returned to academic research in 2001 when he was appointed Director of Pharmacology at the Institute for Drug Development, and Adjunct Associate Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio. In 2003 Gary was recruited by the Southern Research Institute (SoRI) in Birmingham, Alabama, where he served as Principal Investigator on numerous grants and contracts, and as Program Director for the NIH Molecular Libraries Screening Center at SoRI; he also was appointed concurrently as Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. In 2011, Gary was recruited to the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute, where he currently holds the appointments of Professor of Oncologic Sciences and Pharmacology; Leader, Chemoprevention and Experimental Therapeutics; and, Chief of the Drug Discovery Research Center. Gary’s research interests have focused on identifying novel molecular targets and small-molecule inhibitors for cancer drug discovery and development. He has served as Principal Investigator on many NIH/NCI R01 grants continuously since 2004 and he directs a university-based, multidisciplinary research team including graduate students, post-docs, and faculty with expertise in medicinal chemistry, biochemistry, cell biology, and pharmacology. Gary’s university lab is equipped for synthetic chemistry, robotic equipment for high-throughput screening, and instrumentation for high-content screening/imaging. Gary is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, which is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors and is based upon a nominee’s patent portfolio. In 2014, Gary co-founded ADT Pharmaceuticals along with co-founder colleagues Michael Boyd, Adam Keeton and Xi Chen.

Adam B. Keeton, PhD; Co-founder, Consultant & Senior Research Biologist

Adam received his Ph.D. in pathology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, followed by postdoctoral training at the Southern Research Institute (SoRI). He subsequently was appointed as staff scientist at SoRi, and thereafter advanced through the SoRI positions of Associate Research Biologist and Research Biologist. In 2011, Adam was recruited to the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute, where he currently holds an academic appointment of Assistant Professor of Pharmacology, and he serves as director of the Drug Discovery High-Throughput Biology Core Facility, collaborating with drug discovery scientists, locally, nationally and abroad. Adam has extensively published in the peer-reviewed literature, and he is named inventor on numerous patents and patent applications. Adam’s career-long focus has been on the discovery of novel cancer therapeutics. At SoRI he developed or adapted cell growth, signal transduction, fluorescence microscopy, and gene regulation methods for high-throughput screening automation. At the MCI Adam has designed, implemented, and manages a state-of-the-art laboratory for high-throughput and high-content drug discovery screening. He has contributed pivotally to showing cGMP PDE as a target for the tumor cell growth inhibitory activity of a novel family of indene derivatives. These studies have further revealed that cGMP PDE inhibition leads to the elevation of intracellular cGMP levels, activation of protein kinase G, and the suppression of Wnt/β-catenin transcriptional activity to induce cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. In 2014, Adam co-founded ADT Pharmaceuticals along with co-founder colleagues Michael Boyd, Gary Piazza and Xi Chen.

Xi Chen, PhD; Co-founder, Consultant & Senior Research Chemist

Xi received his Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry from SUNY Buffalo, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Georgia. He was recruited to the Southern Research Institute (SoRI) in Birmingham, Alabama, where he served as Research Chemist from 1998-2012. Xi has more than 20 years of experience in the synthesis of chemically diverse compounds including nucleosides, nucleotides, heterocyclics, phospholipids, and peptides, as well as experience in process chemistry with emphasis on organic sulfur and phosphorus chemistry, and liquid- and solid-phase combinatorial chemistry. While at SoRI, Xi designed and synthesized numerous novel small-molecule leads for anti-influenza, anti-tuberculosis, anti-viral, and anti-tumor drug development. In 2013 Xi was recruited to the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute as Assistant Professor of Oncologic Sciences, where his research has focused on small-molecule inhibitors of “undruggable” targets for anti-cancer drug discovery and development. Xi has contributed pivotally to the discovery of novel molecules which selectively inhibit RAS and/or PDE-10, including multiple potential anti-cancer drug development leads for lung cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer. Xi’s university lab and his ADT lab are fully equipped for state-of-the-art synthetic chemistry, and he has developed a large, chemically diverse library of indenes with extensive documentation of structure-activity relationships for inhibition of tumor cell growth based on RAS or PDE10 inhibition.  Xi’s research also has focused on the optimization of potency and selectivity of a diverse collection of RAS-inhibitory prodrugs and bioisosteres, as well as the improvement of drug-like properties such as bioavailability, delivery and distribution. In 2014, Xi co-founded ADT Pharmaceuticals along with co-founder colleagues Michael Boyd, Gary Piazza and Adam Keeton.

Joshua C. Canzoneri, PhD; SBIR Principal Investigator; ADT Grants & Contracts Program Manager; ADT Facilities Manager

Joshua received a PhD in chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology with an emphasis on biochemistry, drug design and delivery, and analytical chemistry, where he was supported by a GAANN predoctoral fellowship from the Georgia Tech Center for Drug Design, Development and Delivery. Joshua completed a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in the lab of Gary Piazza at the Drug Discovery Research Center, USA Mitchell Cancer Institute, with a focus on drug discovery, enzymology and assay development. In 2015, Joshua was recruited to full-time employment with ADT Pharmaceuticals, where he has played a key role in securing three NIH/NCI SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) grants, and one SBIR contract, awarded to the company. Joshua has served as Principal Investigator or co-PI on all the SBIR grants, and he serves as Co-Investigator on the current SBIR contract which is focused on chemoprevention of lung cancer via PDE10 inhibition. All these SBIR projects were designed to support the discovery and development of novel Ras and PDE10 inhibitors for cancer therapy or prevention, and Joshua continues to play a lead role in the further development of ADT’s SBIR project portfolio. Joshua has served as a peer reviewer for the following NIH/NCI SBIR study sections: Digestive Sciences, Novel Approaches for Local Delivery of Chemopreventive Agents, and Emerging Technologies and Training in Neuroscience Integrated Review Group, Pediatric Formulations Review Panel. Within ADT, in addition to his leadership in the scientific and administrative responsibilities for ADT’s SBIR programs, Joshua serves as Manager of all ADT research facilities.

Yulia Y. Maxuitenko, PhD; Consultant & Preclinical Experimental Therapeutics Specialist

Yulia received her PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology from Dartmouth College, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at Dartmouth Medical School. Soon thereafter she was recruited to the renowned CRO, Southern Research Institute (SoRI) in Birmingham, Alabama, where for the following 16 years she pursued a distinguished career in preclinical experimental therapeutics of anticancer agents.  At SoRI Yulia worked in the Cancer Therapeutics and Immunology Department where she became an expert in the evaluation of potential anticancer drugs with the emphasis of the use of preclinical animal models to predict clinical outcomes, and she served as study director on over 1,200 studies.  In addition, she gained experience in other disease animal models such as chemoprevention, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.  Yulia conducted preclinical evaluations of such FDA-approved chemotherapeutic drugs as Halaven® (for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer), Nexavar® (for the treatment of hepatocellular and renal cell carcinoma), Clolar® (for the treatment of pediatric refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia), and Tysabri® (for the treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis).  During her tenure at SoRO she held positions of increasing responsibility and was a manager of the In Vivo Therapeutics Group, directing all animal anticancer testing at SoRI performed on a contract basis for government, academia, and the pharmaceutical industry. In 2014 Yulia joined Biscayne Pharmaceuticals Inc. as Director of Pharmacology and Toxicology to lead the preclinical development of the company’s anticancer compound discovered by Dr. Andrew V. Schally, a Nobel laureate and pioneering endocrine drug development.  There she directed preclinical contract research organizations in the conduct of the IND-directed studies of Biscayne’s drug candidate including efficacy, safety toxicology, pharmacokinetics and bioanalytical studies.  In 2016 Yulia was recruited to the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute an Associate Professor of Oncologic Sciences to guide all preclinical animal testing conducted by the Institute. Concurrently, she assumed a key leadership role in ADT Pharmaceuticals, advising the company on all aspects of preclinical animal testing of the company’s new anticancer drug development leads and candidates.

Mark D. Hankins, MS, JD; Business Development & Licensing Counsel

Mark is a patent attorney and a Certified Licensing Professional.  He holds a Juris Doctor from University of Georgia School of Law, and a Master of Science in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University. Mark began his healthcare career as a Technology Licensing Specialist at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Subsequently he has accrued more than 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry, including positions with start-up companies, large pharmaceutical companies, emerging pharmaceutical companies, and government/non-profit organizations. Mark has served extensively as executive consultant to early stage and start-up companies focused primarily on therapeutic products and medical devices. Additionally, he served as Director of Licensing at the Medical University of South Carolina, and CEO of Codevax, a vaccine start-up company.  He has held Vice President of Business Development positions for CIMA Labs and Cardinal Health, and senior business development and licensing positions with Sanofi Pasteur in both the US and Canada. In addition to his consulting work, Mark currently serves as Assistant Director for Technology Transfer at Northern Illinois University. From the inception of ADT pharmaceuticals to the present, Mark has continued to provide exemplary guidance to the company in its business and technology development activities.