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Officers 2022–2023


Nicola Stagg

Vice President:

Tod A. Harper

Vice President-Elect:

Jason Pinkstaff


René Viñas

Past President:

Robert Li

Senior Councilor:

Saurabh G. Vispute

Junior Councilor:

Jessica D. Sims

Postdoctoral Representative:

Muthanna Ali Sultan

Student Representative:

Alkeiver Cannon

To email the Biotechnology Specialty Section Leadership, please send an email to


Nicola Stagg, PhD, DABT

Dr. Stagg is an Executive Director, Head of Toxicology at Turning Point Therapeutics, a clinical-stage precision oncology company. She is responsible for the strategic, scientific and operational nonclinical safety assessments, occupational toxicology assessments and nonclinical bioanalytical of Turning Point Therapeutics' pipeline in all stages of discovery and development. Previously, she was at Genentech for 8 years, most recently as Principal Scientist/Toxicologist and Toxicology Oncology Therapeutic Area Lead in Safety Assessment. Prior to joining Genentech, Dr. Stagg worked as a Manager of Toxicology at Agensys, LLC, the oncology division of Astellas Pharma on ADCs and other biotherapeutics and as a Senior Toxicologist at Dow Agrosciences. Dr. Stagg received her doctorate in the field of Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of Arizona. She also holds a MS from North Carolina State University and a BS from Arizona State University. Dr. Stagg is a diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology (DABT) and has 15 years of experience as a toxicologist conducting non-GLP/GLP nonclinical toxicology assessments for global regulatory submissions. She is author of 20 peer-reviewed journal articles, 1 book chapter, 2 patents and over 25 external presentations/conference chair positions.

Tod A. Harper, PhD, DABT

Tod Harper PhD, DABT is a nonclinical safety scientist at Amgen where he serves as a project toxicologist supporting potential therapeutics from discovery through development. At Amgen Tod is also a part of the Genetic Toxicology Unit where he is involved in genetic toxicology regulatory strategy and development of new genetic toxicology assays to advance or fill gaps from the current battery of assays. Additionally, he is responsible for regulatory guidance and development of strategies to better assess safety of oligotherapeutics in the nonclinical space. Tod was previously at Syngenta Crop Protection as a Technical Expert in Human Safety supporting discovery and development of potential crop protection products. Prior to joining industry Tod was a postdoctoral scholar at Oregon State University studying the role of PAH-DNA adducts in development of lymphoma after in utero exposure. Tod received his PhD in Pharmacology & Toxicology from the University of Texas Medical Branch where his dissertation focused on the physiological functions of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor. Tod currently represents Amgen on several external working groups including the HESI Genetic Toxicology Committee (GTTC), the EFPIA Oligonucleotide Working Group, and the DIA Oligonucleotide Safety Working Group.

Jason Pinkstaff, PhD, DABT, ERT

Jason Pinkstaff is a nonclinical regulatory toxicologist at Pfizer, where he provides nonclinical regulatory strategy for pipeline products across all stages of development and across several therapeutic areas principally in biologics. Jason recently joined Pfizer (Drug Safety) with over 20 years of research and development experience in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry. Prior to joining Pfizer, Jason has held positions of increasing responsibilities within Pharmacology and Toxicology and has supported the nonclinical development of biologics across several therapeutic areas and modalities. Jason received his Ph.D. in Neurobiology from University of California, Irvine and his B.S. in Biology from University of California, Los Angeles. He is author/co-author of over 35 peer-review publications and patents and has been a SOT member since 2012.

René Viñas, PhD, DABT

Dr. Viñas is a Regulatory Affairs Toxicologist at Upside Foods where he works with cross-functional business teams to provide subject matter expertise for global R&D projects while enabling innovation and affirming the safety of the company’s ingredients. Prior to his current role at a start-up company, Dr. Viñas has held diverse safety and regulatory roles while working for The Coca-Cola Company and at the Consumer Brands Association (formally the Grocery Manufacturers Association). Given his diverse background, Dr. Viñas has acquired experience working with suppliers, trade, and scientific associations to ensure adequate generation and amplification of the supporting science necessary for robust ingredient advocacy strategies. Dr. Viñas has also served as chair for the International Council of Grocery Manufacturers Associations on various Codex Alimentarius committees (i.e., CCCF & CCFA) where he advocated for the food and beverage industry in the global scientific arena.
Prior to venturing into a career in industry, Dr. Viñas was an ORISE Fellow at US FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) where his work centered on the development of risk assessment approaches for nanomaterials associated with medical devices, including nanomaterial characterization, nanoparticle exposure assessment, and toxicological characterization of nanoparticles. Dr. Viñas received his PhD in Pharmacology & Toxicology from The University of Texas – Medical Branch in 2013 where his research focused on the endocrine disrupting potential of novel chemical replacements for bisphenol-a (BPA). He is the author of several scientific articles and book chapters as well as a long-time active member of SOT and associated Specialty Sections and Special Interests Groups.

Robert Li, PhD, DABT

Dr. Robert Li is currently the Chief Executive Officer of LintonPharm, a biotech company focusing on the discovery and development of next generation of immunotherapies for cancer. Dr. Li is a seasoned drug developer and toxicologist/immunotoxicologist with over 15 years of biopharmaceutical experience in translational research and safety assessment to support drug discovery and development of both small and large molecules, with particular expertise in immunology and cancer immunology. Prior to Linton, Dr. Li held multiple leadership roles such as toxicology project lead, immunology therapeutic area lead, and cross functional team lead in global pharmaceutical companies including BMS, Genentech, and Vir Biotechnology. Dr. Li received a Ph.D. in immunotoxicology from the University of Toronto, followed by a postdoctoral training at Hoffmann-La Roche.

Saurabh G. Vispute, PhD, DABT

Dr. Saurabh G. Vispute is a board-certified toxicologist currently serving as Principal Scientist within Drug Safety Research and Development at Pfizer, where he contributes to non-clinical safety assessment of small molecules and biologics. Prior to joining Pfizer in 2018, Dr. Vispute served as a Study Director at Charles River Laboratories in Reno, NV since 2016. He is primarily involved in design, conduct, interpretation, and reporting of exploratory, mechanistic, and regulatory toxicology studies in rodent and non-rodent animal models. Dr. Vispute obtained PhD in Pharmacology from St. John’s University, NY and is a registered Pharmacist with a bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy from Mumbai University, India. He is an author/co-author of more than 10 peer-reviewed publications and his research has been awarded and recognized by various scientific organizations. In addition, he serves as an ad hoc reviewer for peer reviewed journals and volunteers on scientific abstract screening and award review committees since 2015.

Dr. Vispute is a full member of Society of Toxicology (SOT), member since 2013 and is currently serving Vice President-Elect of Association of Scientist of Indian Origin (ASIO), Special Interest Group of SOT. He is a recipient of ASIO-SOT Young Toxicologist Award 2019 as well as SOT domestic and international ToxScholar Grant. He is currently serving as a member of American College of Toxicology (ACT) eLearning sub-committee. Previously, Dr. Vispute had served as Chair of ASIO Newsletter Committee and a member of ACT’s Early Career Professional sub-committee (2016-2018). In addition, he had served as a mentor in SOT’s undergraduate education program as well as in a NIH-funded Toxicology Mentoring and Skills Development Training (TOXMSDT) program cohort (2017—2018).

Jessica D. Sims, PhD, DABT

Dr. Sims is a Senior Scientist in the Safety Assessment Department at Genentech, Inc. where she provides toxicology support to small and large molecule project teams from discovery through late-stage development and IND filing. She received her doctorate in Cellular and Molecular Physiology from Tufts University-School of Biomedical Sciences in 2011 and was a postdoctoral scholar at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center from 2011–2015. Dr. Sims is author/co-author on 10 peer-reviewed publications. She has been a member of the SOT since 2020 and has served as a mentor for the NorCal SOT Mentoring Program.

Muthanna Ali Sultan, BVSc, MVSc

Muthanna Sultan, a Veterinarian Medical Doctor (VMD) who received a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery from University of Mosul-Iraq in 2005, then followed by a master’s degree of public health from the University of Mosul-Iraq in 2007. Dr. Sultan will receive his PhD degree in May 2021. He is currently involved in the Integrated Biomedical Science Graduate program at University of South Carolina.

Dr. Sultan has published papers related to ARDS like COVID-19 in the Pharmacology Journal and Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, while other manuscripts that are currently in the process of publication. Dr. Sultan has served as the department head of pathology at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tikrit-Iraq, where he was involved in both research and teaching rom 2008-2012, until he joined a PhD program in the United States. He also served as a member of the American Association of Immunologists (AAI). Mr. Sultan also served as a judge for oral talks and posters at the South Carolina Academy of Science (SCAS), as well as at the University of South Carolina, University of Winthrop, University of Coastal Carolina, and other universities.

Dr. Sultan has been a member of the SOT since 2016. He is a member of the Graduate Students Leadership Committee (GSLC) for SOT. He has been serving as the Graduate Student Representative at the Biotechnology Specialty Section for SOT. He has also served as a session chair for SOT in 2018 and 2020. Dr. Sultan was awarded first place by the Biotechnology Specialty Section in 2018 and 2020 for the Graduate Student Achievement Award. He received an honorable mention by the Molecular and Systems Biology Specialty Section in 2018, as well as he received many travel awards by SOT and other conferences. Dr. Sultan was also a first-place winner at the Complementary and Alternative Medicine/COBRE External Advisory Committee Meeting. He has been a speaker and poster presenter at many international conferences including the American Association of Immunologists (AAI) as well as at the Society of Neuro Immunology and Pharmacology (SNIP). Dr. Sultan has more than 8 semesters of teaching experience at the University of Tikrit and the University of South Carolina. He received a Future Faculty Award related to teaching, presented by the Council of Graduate School, the Association of American College and Universities and National Science Foundation. Dr. Sultan also received a certificate for online teaching by the University of South Carolina.

Alkeiver Cannon, BS

Alkeiver Cannon is a PhD candidate at the University of South Carolina, School of Medicine where she explores how epigenetic mechanisms induce immunological changes in inflammatory and autoimmune disease states​. She is pursuing her doctorate in Biomedical Sciences and has been a member of the SOT since 2019. Ms. Cannon was a 2021 recipient of the Biotechnology Student Achievement Award and looks forward to being a contributing member of the Biotechnology Specialty Section.