Zivko Nikolov, PhD, Professor and NCTM Director
Dr. Zivko Nikolov is a professor of Bioprocess Engineering at Texas A&M University and has been the Director of the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing (NCTM) since 2018. Under his leadership, NCTM has greatly expanded its workforce development and training programs serving medium to large biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing organizations, advancing the center to become a highly-respected educator in this field. Nikolov has garnered numerous sponsored projects for NCTM from such sponsors as the Health and Human Service’s Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority (BARDA) and the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL).
Nikolov is a recognized expert in bioprocessing of transgenic plants for production of high-value protein products and therapeutic proteins, having published more than 100 scientific articles and book chapters in the area of bioprocess engineering and protein recovery. He actively collaborates with several biotech companies and serves as a scientific advisor and consultant on bioprocessing. Before joining Texas A&M in 2003, he was Vice President of bioprocess development with ProdiGene Inc. from 1999 to 2003, Professor at Iowa State University (1987-1999) and Senior Scientist at Michigan Biotech Institute (1986-87). After joining Texas A&M University in 2003 as Dow Professor in bioprocessing engineering, he developed an internationally recognized program in bioprocessing and purification of recombinant proteins from transgenic plants.
Jenny Ligon, Assistant Director, Workforce Development
Since 2012, Jenny Ligon has overseen the development of innovative multidisciplinary and multi-generational technical training and professional development programs for the biopharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing industries as the Assistant Director of the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing. In this capacity, Ligon manages the development of new educational programs and outreach campaigns, including curriculum development, STEM initiatives, and subcontractor management. She has nearly two decades of project management, public relations, and business development and administration experience in both the public and private sectors. She also holds a second appointment as the Director of Education of the Center for Cross Border Threat Screening and Supply Chain Defense, a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence.
Michael Johanson, MS, Assistant Director, Operations
Michael Johanson has led the upstream operations team at NCTM since July of 2019. He has been leading the Gene Therapy Training Network project and has been involved in Covid 19 research and training projects over the last 2 years. He has served as Assistant Director of Operations since March of 2021. Prior to his experience at NCTM, Michael was the program coordinator for Blinn College’s Biotechnology Laboratory Sciences program. During his time there 100% of the graduates from the program were placed in industry jobs upon graduation. During his time at Blinn, Michael also developed online course material for the Biology department and served as course coordinator for freshman biology. Michael holds a M.S. in Genetics from Texas A&M University and B.S. in Biology Education from Brigham Young University.
Debbie Oakes, Senior Administrative Coordinator I
Debbie has been with TEES since 2002 when she joined the Offshore Technology Research Center (OTRC) as their business coordinator. Debbie joined the NCTM in 2017, and splits her time between NCTM and OTRC. She is NCTM’s business director and HR liaison. In addition to day-to-day accounting and business functions, Debbie also acts as liaison between project PI’s, sponsors, the Center and TEES to insure timely execution of administrative tasks related to project management.
Baley Reeves, PhD, Research Scientist
Baley Reeves leads the downstream operations team at NCTM, and has over 15 years of experience in downstream processing and over 11 years of experience in biomanufacturing workforce training. She has expertise in the recovery and purification of recombinant proteins, vaccines, and gene therapy products, as well as experience in cGMP manufacturing and process development. Prior to joining NCTM, Baley was a Senior Scientist at the Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center (BTEC), where she developed and taught courses for biotech industry leaders, regulatory agencies, and the WHO. She has also worked on numerous vaccine-related projects, including a global survey of the vaccine manufacturing landscape with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Baley holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University, where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow. She has authored articles on protein purification in Trends in Biotechnology, Protein Science, Protein Expression and Purification, and Microbial Cell Factories, as well as articles on biomanufacturing training and education, published in Chemical Engineering Education.
Umesh Bageshwar, PhD, Research Scientist
Umesh Bageshwar is responsible for NCTM’s analytical activities and is primarily involved in downstream operations, while also providing support to the center’s upstream activities. Umesh has been affiliated with TAMU for more than 20 years, having served as Assistant Research Professor at TAMU’s Health Science Center prior to joining NCTM. He holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology, with advanced training in the fields of protein chemistry, biochemistry, protein-protein interactions, cell biology, x-ray crystallography and protein transport across cell membranes. Umesh serves as a reviewer of several reputed journals and has published his research work in top journals including Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Journal of Cell Biology, Molecular Microbiology, Protein Expression and Purification, Protein Engineering, Design and Selection, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Molecular Biology of the Cell and Biophysical Journal. He holds an international patent for designing and constructing a super-nitrogen fixing organism.
Andrew Syvyk, PhD, Research Scientist
Andrew Syvyk focuses on upstream operations also helping with downstream activities at NCTM and has more than 20 years of experience in transgenesis and recombinant DNA technologies and bioinformatics. He has expertise in DNA vector design, recombinant protein expression, purification, and analysis in mammalian cell culture. Andrew holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from The Institute of Animal Biology (Ukraine) and a Masters degree in Biotechnology with a William R. Johnson Outstanding Thesis Award from Stephen F. Austin State University.
As a Research Scientist at UT Southwestern Medical center, he constructed several vectors for the controllable expression of genes of interest that were subsequently used in the development of genetically modified stem cell lines followed by generation of transgenic rat animal models, for which he was recognized by the International Society for Transgenic Technologies in 2020, and became a recipient of the 2021 IQ Consortium and AAALAC International Global 3Rs Award. As a Postdoctoral Associate at TAMU Health Science Center, he has also worked on a Guinea Pig microarray analysis project related to the development of an antiviral vaccine.
Steven Bravo, Research Engineer II
Steven Bravo serves as the NCTM’s equipment and instrumentation specialist. He supports research efforts, workforce trainings, and leads internal continual improvement projects. Steven has expertise in metrology and computer systems, as well as industry experience working in a cGMP environment. Prior to joining the NCTM, Steven worked in Quality Assurance at iBio CDMO where he managed the instrument calibration and PM program. Steven joined the team in 2021, but has had a longer relationship with the center as a previous student worker during his undergraduate education. He holds a B.S. in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Technology from Texas A&M University and an A.A.S. in Therapeutics Manufacturing from Blinn College.
Lyndsey Torrez, Laboratory Coordinator
Lyndsey Torrez is NCTM’s Laboratory Coordinator and Building Proctor Liaison. For more than fifteen years, he has worked in and managed some of Texas A&M University’s most prestigious labs. These include the Laboratory for Genome Technology at the Borlaug Institute for Biotechnology, the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory in Serology and Bacteriology, and the Bio Energy, Testing & Analysis (BETA) Lab of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. He has also performed research in cotton breeding genetics for resistance to plant parasitic nematodes in the TAMU Plant Pathology and Microbiology Department. He is member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of 2006 and holds a B.S. in Bioenvironmental Science.