Thomas J. Kelleher, PhD – Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Thomas Kelleher is a biotechnologist with more than 30 years of leadership experience in the industrial production of recombinant biopharmaceuticals, antibiotics and industrial enzymes. He has worked for and with consulting engineering firms to complete seven commercial production facilities. He was a Director of Process Development at Amgen during the 12-year expansion of its commercial sales from $9 to $20 billion/yr.  Dr. Kelleher was the Senior Director of Manufacturing and Process Development at Cubist where he led manufacturing, process development, plant construction and long-term contractual supply agreements for the FDA Licensing of Cubicin, an antibiotic of last-resort for Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus (VRE) and MRSA “super bugs”. Cubicin was the first new-class of antibiotic in 32 years. It has now served 2 million patients and has licensed sales that exceeded $1 billion dollars in 2012. Prior to these leadership assignments, Dr. Kelleher held positions of increasing responsibility at Biowork-IMS Inc., ZymoGenetics/Novo Nordisk, Chiron/Cooper Laboratories and Millipore/Worthington Biochemicals.  Kelleher’s Ph.D. thesis was on lignocellulosic biochemistry in fungi.

His areas of expertise include :

  • Production of recombinant biopharmaceuticals, antibiotics and enzymes
  • Industrial consultation for process development
  • GMP production of injectables and biologicals

Thomas W. Jeffries, PhD – President and Founder

Dr. Jeffries has forty years of leadership experience in microbial biochemistry, physiology and metabolic engineering of yeasts. Throughout his career he has directed research and development into renewable fuels, chemicals, and materials – as well as sustainable technologies. He began working full time to build Xylome in January of 2013. Dr. Jeffries’ professional experience includes roles as Scientist, Senior Scientist and former Director of the Institute for Microbial and Biochemical Technology at the USDA Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin. As a USDA Professor, he taught Biotechnology and Industrial Microbiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 20 years, and retired in 2012 as Emeritus Professor. Dr. Jeffries provides strategic direction to the scientific team by selecting yeast platforms, commercial targets and metabolic approaches, and he conducts process and strain development.

His areas of expertise include :

  • Physiology and metabolic regulation of yeasts and fungi, genetics and biochemistry of yeasts,
  • Fermentation, yeast metabolic engineering, genetic transformation, expression analysis, and genomics
  • Thermochemical and biochemical pretreatments for the bioconversion of cellulosic and hemicellulosic materials to fuels and chemicals.

Joanna D. Bundus, PhD – Director of Research

Dr. Bundus has joined Xylome with advanced degrees and professional experience in genetics, molecular biology, and genome analysis. From an early start in yeast research as an undergraduate at Western University in London, Canada, she completed a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto where her research productivity resulted in several grants and awards including a L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science Award. She was the Lead Teaching Assistant (among 40 TA’s) for an undergraduate first year biology class of 1800 students, and supervised eight undergraduate student projects, which resulted in two publications. Following post-doctoral positions at the University of California, San Diego and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Dr. Bundus has joined the Xylome team to lead its molecular biology and strain development research.

Her areas of expertise include :

  • Evolutionary and population genetics
  • Large scale experimental design and data analysis
  • Genome sequence analysis

José Miguel Laplaza, PhD – Principal Scientist

A molecular geneticist by training that has successfully led metabolic engineering, fermentation, and process development teams. Dr. Laplaza has over twenty years of biotechnology experience in industrial and governmental settings. Prior to joining Xylome, he was CTO of Circular Industries, working on producing chemicals from used cooking oil. Previously, he was the founder of Levadura Biotechnology, where he developed a new way of making polyketides from fermentation as a precursor for cannabinoids. In addition, he was VP of Development in Verdezyne, where he developed and commercialized the production of bio-based dodecanedioic acid by fermentation, among other projects. He worked at Cargill, where he contributed to multiple projects for different business units in molecular biology and fermentation. In addition, he was a microbiologist at the Forest Product Laboratory of the US Forest Service, where he used biotechnology to add value to cellulosic sugars. Dr. Laplaza received a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of California, Davis. His dissertation was on protein degradation in plants and yeast.

His areas of expertise include:

  • Alternative Yeasts Genetics and Physiology
  • Synthetic Biology
  • Fermentation
  • Process Development
  • Scale-Up and Tolling


Michele M. Hooper, MD, MS – Medical Safety

Dr. Michele Hooper, MD – a graduate of the McGill University Medical School –   

  • Had a distinguished career as Vice President of Medical Safety at Gilead for the new class of CAR-T cancer immunotherapies.
  • Held positions of increasing responsibility up to the level of Executive Medical Director at Amgen.
  • Managed product Safety in Inflammation, Oncology and Clinical Development for product such as Enbrel.
  • Provided strategic direction for benefit risk assessment of Phase 2, 3 and 4 products including Regulatory Filing activities.
  • Co-chaired Global Regulatory and Safety Policy Expert Review Group responsible for drafting corporate responses to regulatory agencies, legislative policies and conducted due diligence for mergers and acquisitions at Amgen.

Dr. Hooper’s areas of expertise include

  • Pharmacovigilance and Pharmacoepidemiology
  • Clinical trial Development
  • Medical Affairs

Dr. Hooper’s Academic career was in Rheumatology, where she championed new concepts of psoriasis as a systemic inflammatory disease and designed multipronged study with the Mayo Clinic to assess heart disease in psoriasis.  At Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Dr. Hooper was a member of the University Hospital’s Institutional Review Board. Earlier she was an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Clinical Associate Professor of Orthopedics, Clinical Program and Clinical Trials Unit Director, Division of Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology with experience in Private Rheumatology Practice, Rochester, NY. Dr. Hooper’s Board Certifications include Rheumatology at the University of Virginia,  Allergy/Immunology at the University of Rochester, residency at Rochester General Hospital and intern at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Canada. She is a member of the American College of Rheumatology and Drug Information Association and author of 28 peer reviewed publications, 2 book chapters and numerous abstracts.

James F. Kelleher, JD – Legal & Contracts

James Kelleher is a graduate of UMass, Boston, The Wharton School of Advanced Executive Education and St. John’s University School of Law. recently retired as Chief Legal Officer at Liberty Mutual Insurance. In that capacity he

  • Was an advisor to senior executives, CEOs, and Liberty Mutual Holding Company board members
  • Adeptly distilled and translated complex legal aspects into a business case for growth, resiliency and impact.
  • Leveraged 40 years of experience in the highly regulated property & casualty industry with specific expertise in risk assessment, ESG, US and global insurance regulation, major litigation, M&A, investments, and finance.
  • Is a deeply experienced corporate and not-for-profit board director who respects the boundary between board and management and views challenges from all stakeholders’ perspectives, drives consensus through thoughtfulness and honesty.

James Kelleher is a multidimensional problem-solver who easily pivots between corporate, litigation, and public policy matters with an understanding of key drivers and stakeholder perspectives around the world. Able to build and unify diverse, world-class teams with cultures of high performance, integrity, and giving back. Community champion who encourages others to use their expertise to become torchbearers for causes close to their hearts.

Dale A. Monceaux – Fermentation Process

Dale A. Monceaux is a leading ethanol technologist with more than 35 years experience in process technology development and plant design, construction, commissioning, startup and operations in petrochemical and renewable fuels. He founded AdvanceBio, LLC – a renewable energy and chemicals firm, and In his prior role as Sr. Vice President for Katzen International, Inc., Dale resolved numerous process engineering problems for grain ethanol production facilities.

Dale Monceaux has

  • Developed advanced enzymatic hydrolysis, fermentation, distillation and separation processes commercially applied in corn, wheat, barley based dry-mill fuel ethanol facilities as well as starch slurry, cassava, cane sugar and molasses plants with production capacities up to 100 million gallons per year.
  • Consulted on a broad range technologies related to conventional feedstock (starch and sugar based) as well as biomass (lignocellulosic) based biofuels and biochemical projects.
  • Technology development and design activities include notable developments in the areas of
    • 2nd Generation Ethanol projects
    • pretreated biomass liquefaction
    • large-scale fermentation system design and management
    • fermentation organism nutrient optimization
    • stillage processing

Phillip R. Disher, MBA – Marketing Consultant

Phillip Disher is an innovative voice in the world of marketing whose creativity, unique experience and knowledge has contributed to the successful strategic development, management and execution of various national and international brand campaigns. He holds a MBA with a concentration in Business Analysis from Georgia State University and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His diverse, cross-industry experience includes high-profile projects with several of the world’s most recognized brands such as

  • Dow Chemical
  • United Nations Foundation
  • Coca-Cola
  • FIFA