Developing and delivering precise in vivo cell engineering to patients


Our Purpose

Advancing the clinical promise of cell-based therapies by…

Enabling precise in vivo engineering of cells with payloads necessary to benefit patients across multiple disease categories.

Capstan is combining the power of in vivo cell therapy with the precision of genetic medicines to develop new treatment options for patients across oncology, fibrosis, inflammation-related diseases, and monogenic blood disorders.

Our founders include inventors of the first clinically approved CAR T and of mRNA technology that are enabling RNA medicines. Together, they have established preclinical proof-of-concept for tLNP-mediated in vivo engineering of CAR T cells (Rurik et al. 2022).

Our Science

Precise in vivo engineering to develop safe, breakthrough therapies that have
the potential to reach more patients

Our technology is comprised of three inter-connected pillars:

  1. Non-viral delivery systems

    Lipid nanoparticle-based systems with potential for safe, repeat in vivo dosing to unlock novel clinical applications.

    Cell type-specific targeting molecules

    Antibody or antibody fragments functionalized onto the nanoparticle surface, creating targeted lipid nanoparticles (tLNPs) for precise delivery of payloads.

    Disease-specific payload design

    mRNA encoding for Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CARs), gene editing machinery, and other therapeutic proteins.

Our precise in vivo engineering technology has several potential competitive advantages for developing best-in-class medicines:

Repeat dosing and drug-like pharmacokinetics

Tunability to fit safety and efficacy bars depending on disease indication

Scalable manufacturing

Potential administration in earlier disease stages and in outpatient settings

Cell type-specific targeting of disease-relevant cells

Potential multiplexing capabilities with broad range of payloads

Our Approach

Our technology enables us to pursue two distinct approaches to treating disease: engineering immune cells and targeting pathogenic cells

Engineering of immune cells

We can deliver mRNA-encoded CARs to specific subsets of immune cells, engineering them to eliminate pathogenic cells that express antigens recognized by the CAR.

Targeting of pathogenic cells

By delivering mRNA-encoded gene editing machinery to pathogenic cells, we can modify the cells’ DNA to treat genetic disease.

Our Team

Meet our team of experts and ecosystem of founders and board members

Laura Shawver, Ph.D.

President and Chief Executive Officer

Haig Aghajanian, Ph.D.

Co-Founder and Vice President of Research

Steven M. Albelda, M.D.

Professor of Medicine, UPenn

Miguel Arcinas

Vice President of Corporate Development

Michael Baran

Representing Pfizer Ventures

Adrian Bot, M.D., Ph.D.

Founding Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Vice President of R&D

Erez Chimovits

Representing Orbimed

Lee Cooper

Representing Leaps by Bayer

Athena Countouriotis, M.D.

Board Chair

David Diamond, Ph.D.

Vice President of Intellectual Property

Jonathan A. Epstein, M.D.

Professor, Executive Vice Dean and Chief Scientific Officer, UPenn

Rajul Jain

Representing Vida Ventures

Carl H. June, M.D.

Professor, Director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies and Director of the Parker Institute, UPenn

Priya Karmali, Ph.D.

Chief Technology Officer

Andrew Levin

Representing RA Capital

Bruce Levine, Ph.D.

Professor in Cancer Gene Therapy, UPenn

Michael J. Mitchell, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, UPenn

Hamideh Parhiz, PharmD, Ph.D.

Faculty Member, UPenn

Jeffrey Pepe, Ph.D., J.D.

General Counsel

Ellen Puré, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair of Biomedical Sciences, UPenn

Michael Rosenzweig, DVM, Ph.D.

Executive Vice President, Portfolio Strategy and Product Development

Nandita Shangari

Representing Novartis Venture Fund

Karen Smith

Independent Director

Justin Thacker

Chief Financial Officer

Drew Weissman, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor of Medicine, UPenn

Thomas A. Wynn, Ph.D.

Vice President of Discovery, Pfizer

Our Investors

They put their trust in us

Publications and News

Learn more about our past, present and future

Publication - 29 Aug, 2022

Cell & Gene Therapy Insights

In Vivo engineering of CAR T cell therapies

Publication - 21 Apr, 2022

The New England Journal of Medicine

Fighting Cardiac Fibrosis with CAR T Cells

Publication - 28 Feb, 2022

Nature Metabolism

CAR-based therapies: opportunities for immuno-medicine beyond cancer

Publication - 6 Jan, 2022


mRNA shot spawns CAR-T cells in the body to repair heart disease damage

Publication - 6 Jan, 2022


mRNA vaccine technology has helped repair broken hearts in mice

Publication - 6 Jan, 2022


CAR T cells produced in vivo to treat cardiac injury

Publication - 3 Jun, 2021

Cell Press

Highly efficient CD4+ T cell targeting ..

Publication - 19 Dec, 2019

The New England Journal of Medicine

When the CAR Targets Scar

Publication - 11 Sep, 2019


Targeting cardiac fibrosis with engineered T cells

Press Release - 23 Mar, 2023

Capstan Therapeutics to Participate in Upcoming Investor Conferences

Press Release - 22 Mar, 2023

Capstan Therapeutics Appoints Justin Thacker as Chief Financial Officer and Jeffrey Pepe, J.D., Ph.D., as General Counsel

Press Release - 22 Feb, 2023

Capstan Therapeutics to Participate in Cowen 43rd Annual Health Care Conference

Press Release - 24 Jan, 2023

Capstan Therapeutics to Participate in SVB Securities 2023 Global Biopharma Conference

Press Release - 12 Oct, 2022

Capstan Therapeutics Announces Appointment of Athena Countouriotis, M.D., as Board Chair and Strengthens Leadership Team with Key Appointment

Press Release - 14 Sep, 2022

Capstan Therapeutics Launches with $165 Million to Deliver on the Clinical Promise of Precise In Vivo Cell Engineering


Join our team

We are seeking people who share our passion and purpose of pushing the boundaries of medicine by enabling precise in vivo engineering of cells. Capstaneers are nimble, innovative and collaborative, working together toward the goal of providing treatments to patients in need.

Want to be a Capstaneer? Let’s talk.

For more job opportunities, please inquire [email protected]


Find our headquarters

San Diego

9880 Campus Point Dr
Suites 130 / 220


B Labs 4th Floor – Cira Center
2929 Arch St.