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Aura Biosciences Assembles New Bladder Cancer Focused Scientific Advisory Board

By 17 June 2021January 17th, 2023No Comments
Press Release.


Prominent, Multi-Disciplinary Clinicians and Scientists Bring Extensive Strategic Expertise in Urologic Oncology Across All Stages of Research and Development

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Aura Biosciences, a clinical-stage oncology company developing a novel class of virus-like drug conjugate (VDC) therapies for multiple oncology indications, today announced the formation of a new, urologic oncology focused Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). The new SAB will work closely with Aura’s senior management team to advance the Company’s novel VDC technology for the treatment of non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC).

The new SAB will be comprised of seven members: John T. Schiller, PhD, Deputy Chief and Head of the Neoplastic Disease Section, Laboratory of Cellular Oncology at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health (NIH); Piyush K. Agarwal, MD, Director, Bladder Cancer Program, University of Chicago; Trinity J. Bivalacqua, MD, PhD, Director, Urologic Oncology, Johns Hopkins Medicine; Isaac Kim, MD, PhD, MBA, Chief, Urologic Oncology, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey; Seth P. Lerner, MD, Beth and Dave Swaim Chair in Urologic Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine; and Andrea B. Apolo, MD, Head, Bladder Cancer Section, Genitourinary Malignancies Branch, NCI, NIH. This newly formed SAB builds upon Aura’s existing ocular oncology focused SAB that has helped advance the Company’s lead development candidate belzupacap sarotalocan (AU-011) into a Phase 3 ready asset for the treatment of choroidal melanoma.

“The creation of this Scientific Advisory Board is an important step for our continued growth as a leading innovative oncology company,”

said Cadmus Rich, MD, MBA Chief Medical Officer and Head of R&D of Aura Biosciences.

“We are both excited and fortunate to have brought together such an esteemed group of prominent oncology advisors as we advance our VDC platform for the treatment of bladder cancer. These newly assembled members of the SAB bring complementary areas of urologic oncology, drug development and strategic expertise and will be invaluable as we reach the next phase of growth at Aura.”

“On behalf of all of the members of the new SAB, we look forward to working together with the Aura senior leadership team to draw on our complementary expertise and insights to support a shared vision for Aura and drive innovation for patients with bladder cancer,”

said Dr. Agarwal.

The following is more detail about the Aura SAB members:

John T. Schiller, PhD – Dr. Schiller is Deputy Chief and Head of the Neoplastic Disease Section, Laboratory of Cellular Oncology at the National Cancer Institute, NIH, and an NIH Distinguished Investigator. He has received numerous awards for his contributions to papillomavirus virus molecular biology and HPV vaccine development, including the Lasker DeBakey Award in 2017, the American Society for Microbiology’s Joseph Public Health Award in 2014, and National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2014. Dr. Schiller graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.S. in molecular biology and received a Ph.D. from the Department of Microbiology of the University of Washington in Seattle.

Piyush K. Agarwal, MD – Dr. Agarwal is a highly respected urologic surgeon who specializes in the multidisciplinary management of bladder cancer as Director of both the Bladder Cancer Program and the Urologic Oncology Fellowship. He is also an expert in all urologic cancers and was the previous Head of the Bladder Cancer Section in the Center for Cancer Research of the National Cancer Institute. He has conducted several investigator-initiated clinical trials and has served on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s oncologic drug advisory committee.Dr. Agarwal earned his MD degree from Weill Cornell College of Medicine in New York, completed his residency in Urology at University Hospital Cleveland Medical Center in Cleveland and his Urologic Oncology fellowship at MD Anderson Medical Center in Houston.

Andrea Apolo, MD – Dr. Apolo is an internationally recognized expert in bladder cancer research who is a Lasker Clinical Research Scholar in the Genitourinary Malignancies Branch of the Cancer Research Center at the NCI, NIH. She is Head of the Bladder Cancer Section and the Director of the Bladder Cancer and Genitourinary Tumors Multidisciplinary Clinic. She holds an MD degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, completed her internal medicine residency at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and a medical oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering, all in New York.

Trinity J. Bivalacqua, MD, PhD – Dr. Bivalacqua is the R. Christian B. Evensen Professor of Urology and Oncology and Director of Urologic Oncology at the James Buchanan Brady Urologic Institute. As a member of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Bivalacqua participates in multidisciplinary approaches to the treatment of a variety of genitourinary cancers. He has a special interest in cancers of the prostate and bladder. His research laboratory focuses on the tumor immune microenvironment and mechanisms of BCG-resistance namely T-cell signaling and macrophage polarization. He holds graduate and medical degrees from Tulane University, completed his general surgery and urology training at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and completed an American Urological Association (AUA) Foundation post-doctoral fellowship from the AUA Care Foundation in Linthicum.

Isaac Kim, MD, PhD, MBA – Dr. Kim is a board certified urologist who serves as the Chief and Associate Professor of the Division of Urology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Chief of the Section of Urologic Oncology and director of the Prostate Cancer Center at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. He runs a thriving clinical practice and has established a robust research program focused on the biology of castration-resistant prostate cancer. He holds a PhD and MD from Northwestern University, completed a urology residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, a research fellowship in Urologic Oncology at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda and clinical fellowship in endourology, laparoscopy and robotics at the University of California in Irvine.

Seth P. Lerner, MD – Dr. Lerner is Professor of Urology and holds the Beth and Dave Swalm Chair in Urologic Oncology, in the Scott Department of Urology, Baylor College of Medicine. He is Director of Urologic Oncology and the Multidisciplinary Bladder Cancer Program and Vice-chair for Faculty Affairs for Urology. His clinical practice, education, and research activities are devoted to urologic oncology and particularly lower and upper tract urothelial cancer. He holds an MD from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and completed a two-year fellowship at the University of Southern California in urologic oncology and reconstructive surgery in Los Angeles.

About Aura Biosciences

Aura Biosciences, Inc. is a clinical-stage oncology company developing a novel technology platform based on virus-like drug conjugates (VDCs) to target and destroy cancer cells selectively while activating the immune system to create long lasting anti-tumor immunity. The VDC technology platform is based on the discoveries of NIH Distinguished Investigator Dr. John Schiller of the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The company has the goal of developing this technology in multiple cancer indications with an initial focus in ocular oncology, a group of rare diseases for which there are no approved drugs. Aura’s lead product candidate belzupacap sarotalocan (AU-011) is currently in Phase 2 development for the first line treatment of choroidal melanoma, a vision and life-threatening form of eye cancer where standard of care radioactive treatments leave patients with major vision loss and severe comorbidities. Aura has demonstrated the efficacy and safety of AU-011 in a Phase 1b/2 trial, including high rates of tumor control and vision preservation. Future pipeline applications for Aura’s technology include additional ocular oncology indications like choroidal metastases and solid tumor indications like non-muscle invasive bladder cancer. Aura is headquartered in Cambridge, MA. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter.

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