Our Team

PARMedics is aiming to revolutionize chronic pain treatments. Starting with their first compound in 2008, the team has since developed hundreds of compounds that target specific molecules responsible for symptoms of asthma, pain, inflammation, and migraines — more accurate targeting results in less chance of side effects.

Kathryn DeFea, PHD | Co-founder and CEO

Dr. DeFea received her BA in Physiology from UC Berkeley and her PhD in Biomedical Sciences from UCSF. She was a postdoctoral scholar studying insulin signaling at Stanford University and did a postdoctoral  fellowship at UCSF,  working on protease-activated-receptor (PAR-2) and neurokinin-1 receptor (NK1R) signaling. As a Professor of Biomedical Sciences at UC Riverside, her lab focused on Protease-activated-Receptor-2 signaling through b-arrestins, and the role of biased signaling in airway inflammation. Her lab had a long-term collaboration with Dr. Boitano on the role of pathway-specific PAR-2 signaling in asthma. She also collaborated with several researchers examining the role of a beta-arrestins in neuronal plasticity and pain. Dr. DeFea retired from academia to pursue work in the private sector, serving on scientific advisory boards and as a consultant on opioid and cannabinoid signaling. She has also been engaged in non-profit work developing problem based  curriculum for science education. She brings extensive research experience on Protease-activated-Receptor signaling, as well as managerial skills.

Scott Boitano, PHD | Partner & Co-founder

Dr. Boitano is a Professor of Physiology at the University of Arizona with extensive experience in airway physiology. He received his BA in Plant Pathology from UC Berkeley and his PhD in Genetics and Cell Biology from Washington State University. Dr. Boitano’s primary research interest is in cell respiration. This encompasses the analysis and observation of cell physiology, cell-cell communications and cell-pathogen interactions.  His lab has had longstanding research projects examining the upper airway epithelium, focusing on asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other pathogen-mediated respiratory disorders. He has pioneered cellular models for studying defects in alveolar cell physiology that underlie specific airway conditions following disease, insult and injury in the lung. Dr. Boitano has characterized a number of high affinity PAR2 agonists and antagonists that were instrumental in elucidating the role of the receptor in respiratory disease. He provides world-class expertise in airway physiology and disease.

Gregory Dussor, PHD | Partner & Co-founder

Dr. Dussor earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and his PhD from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. His research focus is on uncovering pathological mechanisms and therapeutic targets for migraine headache. Since the most likely mechanism contributing to migraine pain is activation of peripheral nociceptive signaling from the meninges, experiments in the Dussor laboratory have focused on identifying cellular mechanisms of dural afferent activation/sensitization as well as understanding plasticity at the central terminals of these neurons. Published manuscripts resulting from this work have identified targets within the afferent nociceptive system that innervates the meninges, including acid-sensing ion channels, several TRP channels, and IL-6 signaling mechanisms. They have also identified non neuronal cells (fibroblasts) as potential contributors to afferent signaling from the meninges. Dr. Dussor has moderated two webinars on migraine hosted by the Pain Research Forum and has been interviewed on KERA’s Think! program. He also is a recipient of a “Future Leaders in Pain Research” award from the American Pain Society, serves as Associate Editor for the journal PAIN, and regularly participates in several NIH study section panels. He has received funding for his work from the NIH, the Migraine Research Foundation, the National Headache Foundation, and several industry sources.

Josef Vagner, PHD | Partner & Co-founder

Dr. Vagner is a Research Professor at the University of BIO5 Research Institute and the Director of the Ligand Discovery Laboratory. He is an expert in the field of drug discovery and development, and he is focused on the design, synthesis, purification, characterization and screening of compound arrays.He has published over 70 original research papers and 31 patents. He is a frequent presenter at national and international meetings (American Chemical Society and Peptide Societies). Dr. Vagner designed and developed of compounds for in vivo pharmacologic applications and translation programs. He has over 25 years experience in synthesis and structural analysis of de novo ligands for various biological targets, including a recent focus on ligands targeting GPCRs and multivalent ligands. These experiences include 10 years of work in the pharmaceutical industry (Sanofi/ Selectide, Novo Nordisk, Discovery Partner International) where he specialized in combinatorial chemistry and array synthesis of small molecules. During his time in industry, he supervised teams of workers who successfully accomplished the synthesis of more than ten large libraries (with >10,000 compounds each).

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