Management Team

Manuel Litchman, M.D. – President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

Dr. Litchman has served as President and Chief Executive Officer and has been a member of Mustang’s Board of Directors since April 2017.  Dr. Litchman joined Mustang from Arvinas, LLC, where he served as President and Chief Executive Officer. While at Arvinas, Dr. Litchman oversaw the advancement of the company’s pipeline of protein-degradation therapeutics for the treatment of cancers and other diseases toward Investigational New Drug applications, as well as the execution of multi-target discovery collaborations with Merck and Genentech.  Prior to Arvinas, Dr. Litchman spent more than 18 years with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, where he held positions of increasing responsibility related to the development of Novartis’ oncology pipeline. Most recently, Dr. Litchman served as Senior Vice President and Executive Global Program Head, CTL019, Cell & Gene Therapies Unit, where he led a collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania investigating chimeric antigen receptor modified T cells (CAR Ts) directed against CD19 on B cell malignancies. Prior to the CTL019 collaboration, Dr. Litchman served as Novartis’ Vice President and Head, Oncology Business Development & Licensing. Earlier in his career, Dr. Litchman was a senior equity analyst at Ursus Capital and directed oncology / immunology clinical research at Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. Dr. Litchman received his M.D. from Yale University School of Medicine, and his B.A. from Princeton University. He completed his internal medicine residency and hematology-oncology fellowship at New York-Presbyterian Hospital / Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Brian Achenbach – Vice President, Finance and Corporate Controller

Mr. Achenbach has served as Vice President, Finance and Corporate Controller since November 2017. Mr. Achenbach brings to Mustang more than 25 years of experience in finance and accounting, including approximately 15 years in the pharmaceutical and medical product industries. Most recently, Mr. Achenbach served as Vice President and Corporate Controller at Amerigen Pharmaceuticals Limited, where he oversaw finance and accounting functions as the company established itself as a commercial organization in the U.S. and China. Prior to Amerigen, Mr. Achenbach served as Vice President of Finance for the Americas and Vice President of Global Financial Planning & Analysis at ConvaTec Group Plc, a global medical products and technologies company, where he led finance and accounting operations in the U.S., Canada and South America. Earlier in his career, Mr. Achenbach held roles of increasing responsibility in finance and accounting at Mylan N.V., Andrx Corporation (acquired by Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. in 2006) and IVAX Corporation (acquired by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. in 2005). Mr. Achenbach holds an M.B.A. in finance from Roosevelt University in Chicago, and a B.A. in economics from the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Sadik Kassim, Ph.D. – Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Kassim has served as Chief Scientific Officer since March 2018. Dr. Kassim joined Mustang in March 2017 as Vice President of Process and Analytical Development, where he led process development, analytical development and manufacturing strategy for Mustang’s CAR T therapies and oversaw preclinical research and pipeline expansion activities. Prior to Mustang, Dr. Kassim was Head of Analytical Development for Novartis’ Cell and Gene Therapies Unit, where he played a key role in the Biologics License Application filing for Kymriah™ (CD19 CAR T) in pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Earlier in his career, Dr. Kassim was a research biologist in the Surgery Branch at the National Cancer Institute, where he was involved in early research that led to the development of Kite’s Yescarta™ (CD19 CAR T) for lymphoma, held a senior research position in the Discovery Immunology Group at The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and was a research fellow in the University of Pennsylvania’s (Penn) Gene Therapy Program. Dr. Kassim holds a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from Louisiana State University School of Medicine, and a B.S. in ecology and evolutionary biology, as well as in cell and molecular biology, from Tulane University.

Knut Niss, Ph.D. – Chief Technology Officer

Dr. Niss has served as Chief Technology Officer since March 2018. Dr. Niss joined Mustang in March 2017 as Vice President of Operations, where he initiated and oversees the establishment of Mustang’s cell therapy manufacturing facility. Prior to Mustang, Dr. Niss was Cell Therapy Asset Leader at Biogen, where he oversaw CMC-related activities for gene-edited hematopoietic stem cell and lentiviral gene therapy programs for sickle cell disease and hemophilia, respectively. Earlier in his career, Dr. Niss was Senior Technical Project Leader at Novartis’ cell therapy manufacturing facility in Morris Plains, New Jersey, where he directed the transfer and implementation of the CTL019 process from Penn to Novartis. He also served as Senior R&D Program Manager at EMD Millipore, where he established processes for the large-scale expansion of adult and pluripotent stem cells. Dr. Niss began his career in senior research positions in Pfizer’s Regenerative Medicine and Immunology groups. He holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology from Humboldt University of Berlin, and an M.S. in microbiology from the University of Göttingen in Germany. Dr. Niss completed his postdoctoral research at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Martina Sersch, M.D., Ph.D. – Chief Medical Officer

Dr.  Sersch joined Mustang as Chief Medical Officer in October 2018. Dr. Sersch is an experienced drug developer and physician with specialty training in oncology, infectious and tropical diseases. She has more than 17 years of experience in early- and late-stage clinical development in academia and industry. Prior to joining Mustang, Dr. Sersch served as executive director at Amgen, where she successfully led supplemental Biologics License Application filings in the area of hematology, as well as indication strategies for early- and late-stage compounds in hematology. Prior to Amgen, Dr. Sersch held positions of increasing responsibility on regional and global levels in oncology drug development, including novel immuno-oncology drugs at IRAD Oncology, Genentech, Roche and Pfizer. At Roche, Dr. Sersch was instrumental in the biologics strategy, where she led initiatives globally and regionally with a specific focus in Asia Pacific and China, including supporting the development of regional guidelines for drug development. Dr. Sersch obtained her medical and graduate degrees from Heidelberg University in Germany and subsequently trained in England, South Africa and the United States.

Susan Sobolov, Ph.D. – Vice President of Program Management

Dr.  Sobolov joined Mustang as Vice President of Program Management in August 2018. Dr. Sobolov began working with Mustang in November of 2017 when she joined Fortress Biotech as Vice President of Program Management.  Prior to Fortress, Dr. Sobolov was a Research and Development Team Leader at Alexion where she led the late stage development of Strensiq™, an enzyme replacement therapy for hypophosphatasia, and led Alexion’s collaborations with Blueprint and Moderna. Before joining Alexion, Dr. Sobolov was Global Head of the PMO at Novartis Institute of Biomedical Research.  Earlier in her career she was Vice President and Program Executive for Incivek™ in late stage development at Vertex.  Dr. Sobolov began her industry career at Pfizer as a medicinal chemist in oncology providing development support for Tarceva™ and rose through positions of increasing responsibility to Senior Director and Global Development Team Leader in Neuroscience. She holds a PhD., MS, and M.Phil degree in organic chemistry from Yale University. Dr. Sobolov completed an American Cancer Society post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School in enzymology and molecular biology.