Aromyx is a privately-held company located in Palo Alto, California. Its early technology was funded by DARPA and the company was accelerated by both the Stanford StartX Accelerator, Plug and Play innovation center and the Propel(X) deep technology platform. Investors include Oriza Ventures Technology Fund, Merus Capital, Eric Di Benedetto, former executives of Affymetrix and Illumina, Rationalwave Onshore Equity Fund, TEEC Angel Fund and Stanford StartX Fund.
A team of experts
Aromyx members have founded more than ten startups and possess a wealth of entrepreneurial and corporate experience. Our team and science advisors include 14 Ph.D.s with unique knowledge about using synthetic DNA and advanced robotics in building sensor systems based on olfactory receptors and in processing the signals and analyzing olfactory and taste data.
Founder, CEO and Chairman of the Board
Chris Hanson has more than 20 years of experience in early-stage companies, with special expertise in moving new technologies from research and development to marketable products and significant revenue.
He has recruited a superior team of scientists and technologists to build Aromyx into a world class company that is creating a new category of big data for taste and scent.
Chris most recently spent ten years at IBM’s Almaden Research Center, orchestrating several R&D programs and obtaining U.S. government funding from NIH, NSF, IARPA, DARPA and other agencies of the Department of Defense, the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force. Program areas included sensors, machine learning, neural networks, distributed computing in space, big data, visual analytics, cyber security, advanced materials research and quantum computing.
Earlier in his career he worked in sales management positions at Seagate Technology, as well as at a number of Silicon Valley start-ups. He began his career at the National Security Agency and the U.S. State Department, after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University.
Chris speaks fluent Russian.
Dr. Bill Harries
Dr. Harries brings his 30+ years of research experience with integral membrane proteins to bear on the difficulties of designing, expressing, and incorporating human olfactory and taste receptors into a scalable sensor platform that Aromyx is developing for the food and beverage, and consumer packaged goods industries.
Dr. Harries earned his Ph.D. in human anatomy and cell biology with a minor in biochemistry from Wayne State University School of Medicine. Dr. Harries has extensive graduate and undergraduate teaching experience and is a former assistant professor at the University of San Francisco. Dr. Harries’ structural biology research has focused on the structure/function relationships of integral membrane proteins such as water channel proteins, receptors, and transporter proteins. Dr. Harries has determined several high resolution X-ray structures of aquaporin protein family members and has authored numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, review articles and book chapters on the membrane protein structure and function.
Dr. Harries was the manager under Robert Stroud of the Center for Structures of Membrane Proteins (CSMP) and the Membrane Protein Expression Center (MPEC), both specialized centers of the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, Protein Structure Initiative at the University of California San Francisco. He was responsible for developing state of the art membrane protein expression, purification, crystallization, and structure determination methods and instrumentation.
Vice President, Engineering
Mr. Costello is a broadly-experienced Engineering Leader bringing new technology to market. An accomplished software engineer, he designs and delivers groundbreaking and disruptive technology to government and private industry. While earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from Cal State Hayward, he wrote control and analysis software for commercial radiation detection systems used to monitor employees at nuclear reactors and weapons plants. At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), he worked on high-profile projects including image analysis for Nova Laser targets, realtime laser control/monitoring systems and remote sensor software for the Department of Energy’s Argus Security System.
His successes include leading Agile software, firmware and advanced application teams at Palm, Leica Geosystems and Adobe Systems. Most recently, Mr. Costello led the Immersive Computing Platform team supporting applications using analytics, visualization and cloud/web technogies at HP Inc.
Vice President, Marketing and Sales
Mr. Cushman has experience in sales and sales management in IT, data, software, hardware, services and pharma. He has also created three startups, and led development of e-commerce and computer security efforts at IBM Research. He has extensive M&A, business development and strategy experience.
Chief Financial Officer
Prior to Aromyx, Mr. Milne was CFO of f’Real! Foods, where he helped grow revenue 700% in nine years, maintaining profitability and leading to a successful exit.
Mr. Milne brings 36 years of financial and risk management experience in early-stage growth companies, as well Fortune 500 corporations, to the Aromyx team.
Mr. Milne has also been in CFO roles of nanotechnology company Nano-Tex and has extensive corporate experience as VP of Corporate Development at Kaiser Aluminum and Finance Director at Chevron Corporation and its subsidiaries, leading the $20 billion Tengiz Chevroil joint venture in Kazakhstan.
Keith earned a B.S. in Biological Sciences from Stanford University, and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is also an Aromyx investor.
Aromyx Board of Directors
Dr. Luke V. Schneider
Aromyx Board Member
Chief Scientific Officer, Target Discovery, Inc.
Dr. Schneider is the founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Target Discovery, Inc. (TDI), a privately-held cancer diagnostics company. Prior to founding TDI, Dr. Schneider founded and served as the first Director of the Phosphor Diagnostics and Combinatorial Methods Centers at SRI International. He managed the Aerosol Drug Delivery Program at SRI, the birthplace of Inhale Therapeutics and Dura Pharmaceutical’s Dry Powder Inhaler. While at SRI, Dr. Schneider led the team that won the first and was a member of the team that won the second Monsanto Million Dollar Challenges. Dr. Schneider also served as SRI’s Director of Technology Development, helping to spin out Pangene, Facilichem, CombiCat, TagTech, and RepliScent. Dr. Schneider’s own research interests over the last decade have been in systems biology modeling. He developed and validated the first mathematical models for histidine protein kinase regulatory systems in bacteria that explained how the response turned itself off. He also developed models for GPCR signal transduction, integral to the technology being developed by Aromyx. Dr. Schneider holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University, an M.S.E. and B.S.E.S. in Chemical Engineering, and a B.A. in Biology from the University of South Florida, has coauthored more than 15 papers and has 22 issued U.S. patents.
Aromyx Board Member
Senior Advisor – Private Equity and Venture Capital, Aeris Capital AG
Mr. Hartford brings over 40 years of experience as a private equity investor, venture capitalist and entrepreneur to Aromyx. He has extensive experience in software and systems engineering, management and investing in the high tech world, and as a corporate and securities attorney.
In 2006, Mr. Hartford was a Founding Partner at Aeris Capital where he managed global investments in private equity and venture funds, as well as in later stage technology companies. Beginning in 2016, Mr. Hartford transitioned to Senior Advisor at Aeris. Mr. Hartford served on the board of the European Venture Capital Association for four years.
Mr. Hartford has a B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh; J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and is a mentor at the Haas Graduate School of Business at UC Berkeley. He has also been an adjunct professor at Cal State University and in Moscow for the National Economy. David is a frequent speaker and contributor to industry conferences world-wide on private equity and technology topics.
Science and Industry Advisors
Leaders from microbiology, food & beverage and consumer packaged goods
Joel D. Mainland, Ph.D.
Louise Slade Assistant Member, Monell Chemical Senses Center
Adjunct Professor, University of Pennsylvania
As an accomplished olfactory neuroscientist, Dr. Mainland is a vital member of the Aromyx advisory team. Joel studies the relationship between molecular structure and olfactory perception using techniques from olfactory psychophysics and molecular biology. He developed a high-throughput cell- based screening assay to measure the response of olfactory receptors to odorants, which he uses to identify key molecular features and receptor residues that alter the interaction between odors and receptors. In addition, Dr. Mainland studies how genetic variation in olfactory receptors alters odor perception, both in normal function as well as ansomic individuals.
He is a lab head at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, where he directs the Chemosensory Receptor Signaling Core.
Joel earned his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from U.C. Berkeley and his B.A in Neuroscience from Columbia University.
Dr. Avery N. Gilbert
President, Synesthetics, Inc.
Dr. Avery N. Gilbert is a leading smell scientist, entrepreneur and author, who brings a wealth of knowledge to our company. He is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and a scientific pioneer in the areas of olfactory mental imagery, multisensory correlates of odor perception and the psychological factors that bias odor judgments.
Gilbert is a fragrance industry innovator who created a sensory psychology research group for a major international fragrance company, founded three olfactory-related startup companies, and served as an advisor to three others. His book “What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life” was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Science & Technology, and shortlisted for the Royal Society Science Book Prize.
Dr. J. Bruce German
Director, Foods for Health Institute at U.C. Davis
Professor, Department of Food Science & Technology at U.C. Davis
Dr. J. Bruce German is a renowned professor, chemist, biologist, researcher and author of more than 400 publications. His experience and knowledge in food science is invaluable to Aromyx.
He researches the role of fats and other components in the diet and develops ways to assess health and metabolism in response to foods. Milk is the model he uses as a genetic blueprint for foods to support health.
Dr. German earned his Ph.D. in Food Chemistry from Cornell University. He earned both his Msc in Plant Biochemistry and H.BSc in Biology from the University of Western Ontario.
James H. Kaufman, Ph.D.
IBM Distinguished Research Staff Member
Dr. James H. Kaufman is a scientist in the Advanced Discovery Laboratory at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif. He is currently principal investigator for a new project, Sequence the Food Supply Chain, exploring metagenomics for food safety and Eclipse project co-lead for the SpatioTemporal Modeler.
James is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Distinguished Scientist of the Association for Computing Machinery, and an IBM Distinguished Research Staff Member. During his career with IBM Research, Dr. Kaufman has made contributions to several fields, including physics, materials science and computer science.
Dr. Kaufman received his B.A. in Physics from Cornell University and his Ph.D. in Physics from U.C. Santa Barbara.
Alex Woo, Ph.D.
CEO, W2O Food Innovation
Dr. Alex Woo brings to Aromyx a wealth of expertise in food science, with a particular emphasis in neuroscience, a focus for the company.
Alex is the CEO if W2O, a boutique food technology firm. He specializes in creating “Better Foods” with niche expertise in taste & smell neuroscience and plant-based ingredients.
He has had held various R&D leadership positions in top companies, including Pepsi, Starbucks, Cargill and Wrigley. His focus was leading large technical teams to achieve successful business results.
Dr. Woo earned his Ph.D. in Food Science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Professor of Food Chemistry, Oregon State University
Professor Qian’s expertise in flavor chemistry, wine and dairy technology is a great value to Aromyx. His lab research at Oregon State is specifically focused on aroma and flavor compound identification and characterization; flavor compounds chemical and biochemical generation; and flavor retention and deterioration during processing and storage.
Professor Qian has extensive experience in aroma analysis and solvent less sample preparation techniques, such as solid phase micro-extraction, solid phase dynamic extraction and stir bar sorptive extraction. Michael was previously a flavor chemist with Land O’Lakes. Michael earned his a PhD in Food Science from the University of Minnesota, his MS from the University of Illinois and BS from Wuhan University.
Winemaker and General Manager, J. Bookwalter Winery
Mr. Caleb Foster has established himself as one of Washington State’s top winemakers, and his knowledge is important to Aromyx, as we develop our presence in that market.
Caleb’s winemaking career spans two decades across three continents, and he is a force in the movement to make Washington State a major wine center. He has experience working at wineries such as, Woodward Canyon, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Rapaura Vintners, Buty and Bookwalter.
He has won several awards, including Wine & Spirits Magazine award for Winery of the Year while at Buty winery and his wines are top listed year after year in Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Tanzer, Decanter and Food & Wine Pocket Guide.
Mr. Foster earned his B.A. degree from Choate Rosemary Hall and Whitman College.
Dr. James R. Broach
Distinguished Professor and Chair, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Penn State College of Medicine
Director, Penn State Institute for Personalized Medicine
Professor Emeritus, Princeton University
Dr. James Broach brings multiple decades of scientific expertise to the Aromyx advisory board. He has published more than 175 articles in the area of molecular biology, holds a number of patents in drug discovery technologies and has trained more than eighty graduate students and postdoctoral fellows over the course of his career.
He was Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University from 1984-2012, where he served as Associate Director of the Lewis Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics and Co-Director of the Center for Computational Biology.
Dr. Broach served on the Scientific Review board of the Frederick Cancer Center of the National Cancer Institute and has served as a member of both the Genetics and the Genomics Study Sections and Chair of the Genomics, Computational Biology and Technology Study Section of the National Institutes of Health. He has chaired a number of ad hoc NIH study sections, including those for EUREKA, ENCODE and MIRA.
Dr. Danny N. Dhanasekaran
Professor, Department of Cell Biology at the University of Oklahoma
Dr. Danny Dhanasekaran advises Aromyx in its olfactory studies at the cellular level. He has led groundbreaking research teams in the study of the biology and behavior of olfactory receptors.
He serves as Director of the Center for Basic Cancer Research at Oklahoma University Cancer Institute and is the Editor-in- Chief of the Journal of Molecular Signaling.
Dr. Dhanasekaran earned his B.S. degree in chemistry from St. John’s College, his M.S. in molecular biology from Madurai University and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Indian Institute of Science.
Dr. Robert Stroud
Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UCSF
Dr. Robert Stroud is a world-class researcher, author and expert in the field of biochemistry and biophysics.
He is a foremost expert on cellular signaling and communication across cell membranes at the molecular level. His lab focuses on understanding how macromolecular structure encodes specificity and affinity, at protein – protein and at protein – ligand interfaces, and how this can be used for product and drug design.
Dr. Stroud is a member of the National Academy of Sciences USA, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. He earned his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees from the University of London and his M.A. and B.A. degrees from the University of Cambridge.