Ursula Ramirez

Structural Biology and Biochemistry

Ursula Ramirez, Ph.D. leads structural biology studies at Vironika as a Principal Scientist.  She is an X-ray crystallographer, Computational Biologist, and Biochemist with over 13 years of experience in drug discovery.  Ursula has demonstrated success in leading early-stage structure-based drug discovery projects using X-ray crystallography, computational methods and in vitro biochemical assays. She spent nine years doing drug discovery research at Fox Chase Cancer Center before joining Vironika. Her experience includes homology modeling, computational docking, protein crystallization, co-crystallization of macromolecules with small molecule effector molecules, biochemical assay development, and protein structure-function analysis.  


Takahiro Yano

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Takahiro Yano, Ph.D. leads the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry effort at Vironika. He has extensive research experience in microbiology, biochemistry, and biophysics specializing in infectious diseases with more than 40 peer-reviewed publications in these areas. Dr Yano was a program leader at the JST ICORP in Tokyo, and a Senior Investigator at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.  His expertise is in drug discovery and development of High-Throughput Screening (HTS) campaigns targeting a microbial pathogens. He has developed novel enzyme-based, cell-based, and membrane-based HTS screening assays.


Mark McDonnell

Medicinal Chemistry

Mark McDonnell, Ph.D. leads the medicinal chemistry effort. His research experience encompasses 20 years in the research laboratories of Johnson and Johnson, and Fox Chase Chemical Diversity Center Inc. His expertise lies in the synthesis of small molecule bioactive agents and he has lead several projects from hit identification through lead optimization in the oncologic and CNS therapeutic areas. He is a co-inventor on more than two dozen U.S. patents and applications.

Scientific advisors


Paul Lieberman

Paul Lieberman, Ph.D. is Founder of Vironika, and is a Professor of the Wistar Institute.  He is the Scientific Director of the Molecular Screening Facility at the Wistar Institute.  His expertise is in viral oncology and viral chromosome biology, and has investigated the biochemical and cellular biological properties of EBV and EBNA1 for over 15 years.  He was trained with Dr. Arnold Berk, Director of the MBI at UCLA, and with Drs. Gary and Diane Hayward at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in viral oncology and pharmacology.


Allen Reitz

Allen B. Reitz, Ph.D. received a Ph.D. with Prof. Murray Goodman at UC, San Diego, and conducted research at Johnson & Johnson for ~26 years.  Since 2008, he has been an entrepreneur, founding Fox Chase Chemical Diversity Center, Inc. (, among other small business research ventures.  He is also co-founder and President of the non-profit Pennsylvania Drug Discovery Institute, a regional service and outreach organization to promote biomedical research.  He is co-inventor of eight NCEs that have entered human clinical trials, including trigriluzole and mazapertine.

Nicholas Siciliano

Dr. Siciliano currently serves as the CEO of Invisible Sentinel, a global molecular solutions Company that provides novel microbial detection tools to ensure consumer safety and product quality.  He also serves as the President and co-founder of Paratope Technologies, a life sciences education company, and Immuno-Spy, a consulting company for vaccines and immunotherapies. Dr. Siciliano received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Villanova University and a Ph.D. in Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis from Thomas Jefferson University. He is a member of Invisible Sentinel’s Board of Directors and serves on several biotech start-up Advisory Boards. He is also a lecturer in entrepreneurship at Thomas Jefferson University. He holds multiple utility and design patents for diagnostic technologies, and has published scientific manuscripts in the fields of bacteriology, virology, immunology, molecular biology, and cancer immunotherapy.