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Our Story

Dr. Mark Suckow, former faculty member and Associate Vice President of Research at the University of Notre Dame has dedicated his research career to understanding ways to stimulate the immune system against cancer. Specifically, his research focused on tissue vaccines, a way to utilize a patient’s own tumor tissue and antigens unique to in vivo growth of the cancer. Utilizing this approach, he demonstrated an effective anti-tumor response is associated with the enormous menu of antigens that are part of the tumor and surrounding stromal tissue. 

However, around Christmas 2010, he received terrible news that his family’s Labrador retriever, Sadie, was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma and given less than a month to live. It was Dr. Suckow’s daughters that convinced their father to utilize the research he had been working on in his lab to develop a personalized cancer treatment for Sadie. Using a portion of Sadie’s resected tumor, he created the immunotherapy that was given back to her over the course of a month. Her metastatic cancer with multiple tumor nodules began to recede and stopped spreading. 

Sadie survived for more than three years, cancer free, before dying of natural causes. Dr. Suckow’s research led to the formation of Torigen Pharma, a company focused on providing personalized cancer immunotherapies to the veterinary market.    


Meet the Team


Ashley Kalinauskas

Chief Executive Officer

Ashley is the founder and CEO of Torigen Pharmaceuticals—a startup that resulted from her graduate thesis project at the University of Notre Dame. Ashley graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2012 with an undergraduate degree in Pathobiology and went on to complete her Masters at the University of Notre Dame, graduating in 2013. Torigen and its first product, an experimental autologous cancer vaccine, are based upon the research of former University of Notre Dame professor Dr Mark Suckow.


Dr Mark Suckow

Chief Technology Officer

Dr Suckow is a professor in the Department of Veterinary Population Medicine and the Director of the Research Animal Resources group at the University of Minnesota. His background in veterinary medicine and research interest in vaccines, vaccine adjuvants, and cancer models led him toward research using animal models and having import to human health. In particular, his work has focused on the use of vaccines derived from tumor tissue as a way to create personalized vaccines. With expertise in animal modeling, cancer biology, immunology, pathology, biomaterials, and surgery, Dr Suckow has published over 90 peer-reviewed manuscripts and 20 books and book chapters. He has served as PI on numerous grant-funded projects, as well as a Co-PI on many more. His expertise with animal models has allowed him to interface collaboratively on diverse projects, including those related to toxicology, wound healing, and hemostasis and coagulation biology.


Brad Poff

Chief Operating Officer

Over the past 29 years Brad has successfully brought products to the human medical device market while contributing in roles ranging from R&D, preclinical, clinical, regulatory and general management. He has worked on drug eluting stents, surgical sealants, intra-ocular lenses, pulmonary artery pressure monitors, spacers to reduce radiation to normal tissues in radiation oncology, pacemakers and defibrillators as well as catheters for central venous access and dialysis to name a few. Brad is a medical device development executive adept at leading teams or working as an individual contributor to efficiently introduce new products to the market. Veterinary medical training along with experience in many therapeutic areas over the past 29 years enables quick uptake and credibility as a fellow scientist with physicians.  During his career, he has intentionally focused on products that address a significant unmet clinical need and it is his desire to change medical practice through the products he helps get approved and introduced to the market.


Dr Terry Dew

Chief Medical Officer

Terry is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. Having completed over 40,000 surgical procedures, he has extensive experience in soft tissue, neurologic and orthopedic diseases. Cancer in companion animals has represented approximately 25% of his case load, thus he has personally struggled with the poor treatment results, the lack of a centralized reporting database and statistically valid treatment regimens. Immunotherapy, specifically Vvax-01 represented an opportunity to address these issues and possesses a great potential to provide advances in human cancer therapy. While maintaining a clinical practice he continued to publish research with over 20 peer reviewed publications and provided continuing education internationally to practicing surgeons and veterinarians. Apart from oncology, he has significant experience in developing surgical implants and have participated in early clinical trials of total joint prosthesis and cruciate ligament implants.


Torigen Pharma inc

400 Farmington Ave
R1855 CB129
Farmington, CT 06032

Telephone: 888.303.3332