Executive Team

Carmine Stengone

President & Chief Executive Officer

Carmine Stengone has more than 15 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, including positions in executive management, corporate development, finance, strategic planning, licensing, alliance management and venture funding.

Mr. Stengone joined Avelas Biosciences in January 2012 as chief business officer and became chief executive officer and a member of the board of directors in January 2014. During his time with Avelas, Mr. Stengone has led all business activities, including securing a series B financing to drive AVB-620 into clinical development. In addition to his responsibilities with Avelas, Mr. Stengone serves as senior vice president, business development for COI Pharmaceuticals. In his previous role as vice president of corporate development for Afraxis Holdings, Mr. Stengone led and executed a $187.5 million license agreement with Roche’s subsidiary, Genentech. Mr. Stengone was also co-founder and CEO of Afraxis, Inc., a spin-out company from Afraxis Holdings. Prior to joining Afraxis, he was with Phenomix Corporation as the senior director of business development and on the executive management team. Mr. Stengone has also worked at Anadys Pharmaceuticals and Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development.

Mr. Stengone received his MBA from the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. He also holds a M.S. degree in organic chemistry from Duke University and a B.S. in chemistry from Wake Forest University.

Jesus “Tito” Gonzalez, PhD

Chief Scientific Officer

Tito Gonzalez brings over 15 years of leading industry R&D, and management experience to Avelas. He has played an integral role in the discovery, development and commercialization of a variety of molecular, imaging, assay and instrumentation technologies for biology, drug discovery, and pharmaceutical applications. Some examples include: fluorescent probes for detecting cellular membrane potential; Voltage/Ion Probe Reader (VIPR™); electrical stimulation coupled with optical detection (E-VIPR) for ion channel drug screening; and drug candidates for pain and Cystic Fibrosis (CF). One, Kalydeco™, is an approved breakthrough drug for treating CF patients.

Prior to Avelas, Dr. Gonzalez held the position of Sr. Director, Biology at Vertex Pharmaceuticals where he led both drug discovery project teams and a biology team to support drug discovery projects targeting pain, CF, and multiple sclerosis. In addition he led the ion channel program, which included therapeutic concepts, target selection, project advancement and platform technologies. Prior to Vertex, Dr. Gonzalez was the Director of Ion Channels at Aurora Biosciences leading a multidisciplinary group responsible for developing high-throughput ion channel drug screening technologies and providing assay development services to the pharmaceutical industry.

Dr. Gonzalez earned a BA in chemistry cum laude from Rice University and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Princeton University. He conducted postdoctoral studies on imaging probes for neurobiology at the University of California at San Diego as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellow.

Steven Chen, MD, MBA

Chief Medical Officer

Steven Chen joined Avelas Biosciences in July 2014 as the vice president of clinical affairs.  He is also a practicing surgeon in San Diego, California and the director of surgical oncology at OasisMD.

Previously, Dr. Chen served as the chief of breast surgery at UC Davis Medical Center, followed by a position as an associate professor of surgery and as the associate program director of the surgical oncology training program at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California. Dr. Chen maintains an active surgical oncology clinical practice, while also maintaining clinical research interests in quality of care measures, health outcomes, and cost-effectiveness. He has been a peer-reviewed funded researcher and is an author on numerous abstracts and publications.  He serves on the board of the American Society of Breast Surgeons and the Frederick A Coller Surgical Society.  Dr. Chen serves on committees for a number of professional societies including the American Medical Association, the Society of Surgical Oncology, and the American College of Surgeons, as well being an active member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Society of University Surgeons.  He is on the Editorial board of the Annals of Surgical Oncology and the Journal of Surgical Education.

Dr. Chen received his medical degree and completed general surgery and critical care residencies at the University of Michigan, followed by a surgical oncology fellowship at the John Wayne Cancer Institute. He also obtained his MBA at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.