Episona | About Us
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What We Are About

We believe epigenetics will fundamentally change the way we see health and disease.

Episona is an epigenetics data company focused on improving healthcare outcomes. We think epigenetics is the common thread between diseases as diverse as male infertility, prostate cancer, and autism. Epigenetics is the study of the environmental and external modifications to DNA that alter gene expression. We study and measure these impermanent changes to DNA to determine how they impact our health.

We are:

Science & Health

Doctors

Getting Started

Scientists

Account & Profile

and Health Advocates

Our goal is to provide useful information about your personal health while building a community that grows our collective understanding of how behaviors, environmental exposures, and aging can alter how our DNA works. Episona’s first product is Seed, a diagnostic test focused on decreasing cost and time to pregnancy for those seeking fertility care.

Team

  • All
  • Advisory Board
  • Directors
  • Consultants
  • Episona Team
  • Founders

Douglas Carrell

Douglas Carrell is a founder of Episona. Doug received his Ph.D. degree in reproductive physiology from the University of Utah in 1995, after receiving a M.S. degree in cellular and developmental biology from Brigham Young University. Dr. Carrell has worked in the area of research and treatment of human infertility for 30 years. Dr. Carrell is the clinical laboratory director of the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Andrology laboratories at the University of Utah, and also directs a number of post-doctoral fellows, Ph.D. graduate students, and research personnel. Dr. Carrell is an international leader in the field of research into genetic aspects of male infertility and early embryogenesis. He has authored more than 150 research papers and book chapters, and has edited 5 medical books related to infertility. Dr. Carrell is a frequent invited speaker at national and international medical and research meetings, and is the Co Editor-in-Chief of Andrology.

Annalisa

Annalisa is Episona’s Office Manager. Annalisa received her Bachelor’s in Anthropology from the University California Los Angeles, with an emphasis on both forensic paleopathology, and cross-cultural medical modalities. She worked as a teaching assistant for Paleopathology, managed its lab and served as the President of the Biological Anthropology Society. Previously, Annalisa has worked as an Emergency Medical Technician on a 911 ambulance, and overseen day-to-day operations in medical management start ups.

La-Toya Williams

La-Toya Williamson is currently the Senior Manager of Business Development at Episona. La-Toya has a multidisciplinary background in healthcare, science and communications. She spent several years as a laboratory technologist at the Mount Sinai Centre for Fertility and Reproductive Health and most recently worked at Osteoporosis Canada as the senior manager of a national initiative to implement a model of care in jurisdictions across Canada. La-Toya’s other professional experiences include, Toronto Public Health where she worked on a city-wide campaign to promote maternal and infant health and as a communications officer at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. La-Toya is a graduate of the University of Guelph, Canada, where she earned both a bachelor of science and master of biomedical science degree. Her master’s studies focused on reproductive health and she completed a portion of her studies in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Philip J. Uren

Philip Uren is the Chief Technology Officer at Episona, where he oversees data analysis and the development of computational models and algorithms. He received his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Tasmania, where his dissertation focused on the development and application of machine learning techniques to gene-finding and characterization. He undertook his post-doctoral training in computational biology at the University of Southern California, in the department of biological sciences, where he worked on understanding post-transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of gene expression. He has more than a decade of experience working on the analysis and modeling of high-throughput biological data.

Harry Tarnoff

Harry Tarnoff is the lead technical consultant to Episona and the architect of the Episona data network. His responsibilities include the public-facing website and user portal as well as the back-end data and analytical systems. He received his B.S. in computer engineering from UCLA while founding DataPlex, Inc., a high-tech R&D company that consults with firms located primarily in Southern California. His team’s work led to the creation of the new disciplines of 3D Printing and “next-generation ultrasound” where EKG-like patches are used instead of probes to efficiently and cost-effectively monitor continuously a patient’s condition. A contributor in both the hardware and software realms, he is named as an inventor on over a dozen U.S. patents.

David Oksenberg

David Oksenberg is currently on Episona’s Board of Directors and is a key initial angel investor. David is also the founder and director of BioCern, inc., which he formed to pursue novel livestock-breeding applications of emerging biotechnologies. He previously served as a United States Army infantry officer, commanding air assault, light, and headquarters infantry units and serving in staff and advisory roles in the Middle East, South Korea, and Germany. He is a 2004 graduate of the Harvard Business School and a 1989 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith is one of the founders of Episona. Andrew received a Bachelor of Arts (psychology; 2000), a Bachelor of Computer Science (2000) and a Ph.D. (theoretical computer science; 2004), all from University of New Brunswick in Canada. During 2002-2003, while completing his dissertation, Andrew worked as a research analyst for the Ontario Cancer Institute developing models of molecular evolution. A deep fascination with how genomes encode regulatory programs led Dr. Smith to pursue postdoctoral research with Michael Zhang at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where he studied transcriptional regulation and designed algorithms for pattern discovery in genomes. Dr. Smith joined USC as Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences in 2008. Within three years he was principle investigator of two R01 grants from NHGRI, one focusing on the design of algorithmic and statistical methods to analyze genome-scale DNA methylation epigenetic data. In 2011, Dr. Smith led the analysis of the first high-resolution human sperm methylome (Molaro, et al., Cell 2011). Dr. Smith’s current research portfolio includes projects on comparative analysis of sperm DNA methylation in mammals, and the dynamics of DNA methylation during male germ cell development.

Stacey Kozakar

Stacey Kozakar’s experience encompasses 20+ years in accounting, finance and operational roles within large, medium and start-up environments. Her career began in public accounting then moved to public companies within private industry and consulting. She has worked in a variety of industries including entertainment, technology and real estate. She holds a Bachelors and Masters in Accounting from the University of Southern California where she graduated Magna Cum Laude and is an licensed Certified Public Accountant.

Simon Harrison

Simon Harrison is the first investor in Episona is on Episona’s Board of Directors. Simon received his BSc from London University in 1969 and his Ph.D. in Physics from Oxford University in 1972. He is a serial entrepreneur, having founded or co-founded 5 technology companies. He retired from active management in 2012 and currently focuses on angel investment and philanthropic activities.

Paul Turek

Dr. Paul Turek is an internationally known thought leader in men’s reproductive and sexual health care and research. Paul is a fellowship trained, board-certified physician by the American Board of Urology (ABU), he has received numerous honors and awards for his work and is an active member in professional associations worldwide. Dr. Turek graduated from Yale College with highest honors (summa cum laude), Phi Beta Kappa, and then attended medical school at Stanford University, where he also took top research honors. He completed his residency in urology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Paul Billings

Dr. Billings is a nationally recognized expert on genomic and precision medicine and a board-certified internist and clinical geneticist. Dr. Billings has devoted his career to improving patient care by expanding the use of medically relevant genomic technologies in clinical settings, most recently as Chief Medical Officer of Life Technologies, Inc. (acquired by Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc. in March, 2014). He is Executive-in-Residence at Janssen Diagnostics, Johnson&Johnson Inc., and Medical Director, the IMPACT Cancer Care Program, ThermoFisher Scientific Inc. Dr. Billings has served in multiple other roles in industry and government, including as Executive Chairman, Melanoma Diagnostics, Inc., and director of Trovagene, Inc., DecisionQ, Inc. and PAX Neuoscience, Inc. He was Co-Founder and first Medical Director of the Cordblood Registry, Inc., past Senior Physician and SVP of Laboratory Corporation of America, Inc. (LabCorp), Co-Founder and Past Director of Omicia, Inc., Founder and EVP of GeneSage, Inc., and past Director of Ancestry.com, Inc. Dr. Billings has served on the Scientific Advisory Board of the FDA, the Genomic Medicine Advisory Committee at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, and the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine’s Roundtable on Genomics. Dr. Billings has held academic appointments at prestigious universities including Harvard University, UCSF, Stanford University and UC Berkeley, and has served as a physician at numerous medical centers. He is the author of over 200 publications, abstracts and books on experimental and clinical medicine. Dr. Billings holds an M.D. degree from Harvard Medical School and a Ph.D. degree in Immunology from Harvard University.

Mohammad Abbasi Dezfouli

Mohammad is a Data Scientist at Episona, where he works on the development of computational models and algorithms to study sperm DNA methylation epigenetic data. Mohammad received his Bachelor of Science (Electrical Engineering 2008) and Master of Science (Biomedical Engineering, 2011) from Sharif University of Technology in Iran. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Bioinformatics and Computational biology at USC where his dissertation is focused on designing computational tools and using statistical analysis to study the genotype-behavior and genotype-environment interactions in Drosophila. During his Ph.D. he completed a Master of Science in Statistics to acquire an in depth theoretical background in statistics and machine learning theory in addition to learning different computational tools. His current focus revolves around the analysis and modeling of high-throughput biological data.

Mike Karsian

Mike is a research assistant at Episona, where he supports product management and distribution. Additionally, he is responsible for evaluating current research in epigenetics and proposing candidate genes for further computational analysis. Mike is an honor’s graduate from the University of California, Los Angeles receiving a bachelor’s degree in anthropology with a special interest on the intersection of medicine and culture. He has volunteered several hundred hours as a translator and cultural liaison in the emergency department at Glendale Memorial Hospital, bridging the language barrier to improve treatment outcomes. He plans to matriculate to medical school in 2017 where he can train to combine his cultural empathy into successful treatment plans.

Christopher Bentley

Chris is Episona’s digital marketing associate. He is responsible for all digital marketing including capturing leads, digital advertising, SEO, web analytics, and content marketing. Chris received his bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Minnesota. His previous experience has focused on digital testing and optimization. He is passionate about marketing strategy and strives to use clear communication to improve customer experience.

Alan Horsager, Ph.D.

Alan Horsager is currently the President & CEO of Episona, a molecular diagnostics company focused in men’s reproductive health. Most recently, he was a Founder and Chief Science Officer of Eos Neuroscience, a company that continues to engineer optogenetic gene therapies for blindness and chronic pain. Prior to Eos and while at the University of Southern California, he worked closely with Second Sight Medical Products to produce the first ever treatment of neurological blindness, a medical device that is now approved by the FDA for the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa. Before joining USC, he was a Project Manager and Researcher at VivoMetrics, a medical device startup that developed a wearable ambulatory monitoring system that continuously collected cardiopulmonary data. Alan received his B.A. in Psychology for the University of Washington and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Southern California where he currently is a visiting Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology. He has numerous scientific publications and issued patents, and has received several career awards including the Burroughs Wellcome Fund CASI award.